Bong, interview 2008

October 9, 2018 § Leave a comment

After watching Bong live at the weekend, it struck me to dig out this old interview I did with Dave Terry for Zero Tolerance many years ago. Bong’s album ‘Beyond Ancient Space’ is embedded below as an accompaniment.


On the edge of a white-sand desert, in a city made of onyx, black-eyed priests sit in their temples and whisper fearfully of a time when men will come from the burning wastes with unearthly songs on their lips and wild looks in their eyes. That time is now. The time of Bong!

Taking musical cues from the mantric doom of Jerusalem era Sleep and lyrical inspiration from the cosmic worlds of Jules Verne and Lord Dunsany, Bong have travelled from the far North to sing of eerie worlds where strange perfumes hang in the air. “Aah…the waft of Stygian black lotus on the breeze,” sighs Dave Terry, Bong’s bassist and vocalist. “We are far from those lands now but wish to take our audiences back there once more, if only for a fleeting glimpse.” Yet those initiates willing to listen will find more than just a fleeting glimpse. The title-track of ‘Bethmoora’, Bong’s online EP, is twenty minutes of skirling, droning doom whilst live performances are notorious for stretching out beyond the allotted time – a recent gig in Leeds featured three tracks over two hours – and becoming strange rituals where elongated riffs are supplemented by the band’s use of that much-overlooked of metal instruments, the sitar. “The feel of our music lends itself well to the sitar,” explains Dave, “but it was not something we sought, rather stumbled upon on our travels.” Strange as the presence of a sitar may sound, it works perfectly and sits as another esoteric element within Bong’s influences of drone, doom and off-kilter krautrock.

For such an organic outfit, it’s surprising that all of Bong’s music to date has been released freely onto the internet but there is a method behind this approach. “I have always supported freedom of media, and will continue to do so,” asserts Dave. “I encourage people to copy and distribute as they wish.” This approach is a refreshing change from the often business-focussed concerns about digital distribution and the so-called death of the music industry but it’s tempered by a worldly appreciation for physical artefacts. “We have a 12” release of ‘Wizards of Krull’ on Heidenwut Productions in the near future, and,” he adds, temptingly, “several other tracks ready to release. We hope to see you on our travels for we have many more tales to tell.”

Watch and wait, brethren, for you will know their coming by the aspects of their name: the heady smoke that clouds the brain and the long, low tolling of the ritual bell.



Dead Reckonings #21

September 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

My article on R Muuray Gilchrist, concentrating on the mythic and floral symbolism in his weird short story ‘The Crimson Weaver’, has been published in Hippocampus Press’ Dead Reckonings 21, the Spring 2017 edition.

I couldn’t be more pleased for my piece to be the opening article in this re-imagined version of a classic journal, especially alongside other writing by the likes of Ramsay Campbell and ST Joshi.

“[Gilchrist’s] finest works of what we would now call weird horror – where “suicide, madness, drunkenness, disfigurement, dwarfs, hereditary diseases and strange deaths abound” – sit perfectly between the gloomy corridors of Poe and the awful vistas of Clark Ashton Smith.”

Almost Insentient, Almost Divine {Review}

October 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

Almost Insentient, Almost Divine
DP Watt
Undertow Publications (2016)

It’s commonly accepted practice, when reviewing story anthologies, to make brief mention of the work as a whole and then pick out a handful of key tales to work through in detail. This is not one of those reviews.

almost-finalAlthough the stories in DP Watt’s collection are almost universally excellent, it’s the sense of world building that develops through them which is the most impressive part of this book; a weirdly out-of-time Mitteleuropa, cut through with theatricals and theatricalities, where masks fall from mannequins only to reveal yet more masks underneath, puppet-mummers snigger in darkened rooms and the human players shimmer between realities, sometimes never to return. Even the handful of stories that don’t fit directly into this milieu are haunted by fragments of a greater whole; mysteriously indistinct figures that lurk outside the circle of firelight or even atavistic thoughts that echo beguilingly from the darkness. The sense of theatre, of the blood-smeared grand-guignol being acted to its terrible conclusion whether wittingly or not, pervades the book and gives the observant reader a more subtle interpretation of that most contentious of themes; the weird. « Read the rest of this entry »

Year’s Best Weird Fiction: Volume One {Review}

September 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

Year’s Best Weird Fiction: Volume One
Edited by Laird Barron & Michael Kelly
Undertow Publications (2014)

I’ve arrived slightly late to Undertow’s ‘Year’s Best Weird Fiction’ series, this first volume being released in 2014 and presenting the best short tales from the previous year, but the door to the weird is always ajar, so let’s push it open, ignore the protesting creaks and distant mutters, to take look inside.

The conceit of the volume is more clearly explained in its title than in any preamble I could give, and is clarified still further by guest-editor Laird Barron’s short and succinct introduction 9780981317762_outside_front_cover(his description of ‘the weird’ as “a sense of dislocation from mundane reality; the suspension of the laws of physics, an inversion or subversion of order, a hint of the alien” is as good a one as I’ve come across), that I may as well cut straight to the meat and pull out some of the choicest cuts from this weird platter.

Before that, however, it’s worth noting that this volume is remarkable in that, even if some of the stories are not to my precise tastes, none of them are poor; the content has been so well-distilled down from what must have been a screed of submissions, taken from journals like Shadows & Tall Trees and Fungi amongst others, into so select a congregation that all aspects of the weird are covered – from the slight to the outre and from the subtle to the blatant, all are gathered here – so even those that might not quite hit the mark of personal taste are at least technically interesting for the voice they bring to the storytelling circle. Even so, a good handful of stories stand out for me as worth specific comment… « Read the rest of this entry »

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