So I’ve been listening to this for a couple of days now and the massive overriding feeling that I have had during this time is being in some sort of tripped-out cave… the walls shifting and sliding about like some freaked out episode of the Twilight Zone. The space in which I found myself felt at the same time oppressive and heavy, and yet within this my mind felt free to explore the darkness… the bleak solitude in which I found myself.
There must be something about Fungal Abyss that makes me feel this way, because when I went back to read what I had previously written about them I came across this, my conclusions for their ‘Bardo Abgrund Temple‘ album:
For me ‘Bardo Abgrund Temple’ has been inhabiting a lysergically infused cave just waiting to be discovered.
I am sure that this is no accident from a band whose ‘process’ is to take some mind altering substances and just start playing. No two performances are the same, and so anything that is captured and released is a unique moment in time… a never to repeated head space… a sonic cave that does indeed melt away when the moment drifts away.
From this point of view ‘Benevolent Malevolence’ is more like the other Fungal Abyss Album that I have written about, ‘Karma Suture‘ in that it comprises two long tracks, each covering one side of the vinyl. However there the comparison really ends because these two tracks feel very different to the two on ‘Karma Suture’.
The first one, ‘Croak Toke Parallax’ has a title that does not so much hark back to the Twilight Zone, but some freaked out stoner version of the Big Bang Theory. You immediately get the feeling of being in long grass, surrounded by animals… there is a sinister force (more malevolent than benevolent) that is sending my consciousness into a particular direction… the music helping me create a palace of the mind. But if it is a palace then it is one from the stone age as I am transported through the undergrowth… the feeling of the grass passing my face, yet no feeling of ground on my feet. I feel uneasy, I don’t feel safe… if ever an album should have a ‘safe word’ it should be this one. We’re seven minutes in now… it’s like no time has passed at all and I now feel like I’m underground… strange human voices are now entering my head… this does not comfort me. They phase out and there is something more dynamic happening. So far everything has been passive… I now feel like I’m in a long tunnel… the sort that may lead to the massive caverns of ‘The Forbidden Planet’… something is here that is going to be revealed to me at any minute as, at the twelve minute mark, Fungal Abyss kick it up several gears and begin to break out the stoner acid.
That cavern turned out to not so much be technological as spiritual… a feral chanting adding a great deal to the atmospherics of this piece. The band are now seriously possessed and riding on the edge of a riff that threatens to break out any minute… the trip is really on now… faster and faster… here we go… where? Who cares? I caught the wave and now I’m flying… what happened to that cave? I’m in space now… oh fuck this is going supernova… the intensity… the light… the power… and, actually, the groove!
[Your listener has been out fo a little walk. He needed some air before embarking on the second track].
Well I don’t take drugs, never have, but if I did I’d have what these guys are taking… and actually listening to that I really don’t have to. What an absolute trip… now lets see how the second, other, track on the album goes.
‘Chaos Condor’ starts in a similarly abstract way… actually more so. Where as the sounds at the beginning of ‘Croak Toke Parallax’ evoked the natural world, these blips and beats are more suggestive of technology… this feels more like the space rock of previous Fungal Abyss records. Rather than terra firma I feel as if I’m on a space ship bound for a deeper part of the galaxy. I’m in stasis, and yet somehow sentient; my body redundant but my senses still active. The track progresses as such to suggest that what I perceive is gradually solidifying as melodies begin to ooze from the primordial sounds. Again there is a sense of something darker… a presence… yet it is only a feeling. Eleven minutes in already and again I can hardly believe it has gone so fast so engrossed am I.
The music gradually brings me into full consciousness and just after twelve minutes a guitar line emerges that is just perfect… full of soul… a ray of positivity amidst the previous emptiness… almost Middle Eastern in feeling, which seems to gradually disappear into a sea of fuzz. I now longer feel as if I am flying through space as sailing… and then drowning. From something quite complex has come something that is relatively simple musically before that guitar just goes off into the, well, abyss. Again the track has built up brilliantly as the band gets deeper and deeper into their collective trance before the thruster brakes are applied and I find myself suddenly dropping out of hyper-drive in a state of what feels like sonic nakedness.
Well, what can I say? Listening to these Fungal Abyss tracks has been another amazing experience. And, just as they are unique recordings, I am sure that my experience of them here would be equally unique. I could do this whole process again and write something completely different. What I would say, and maybe you guessed from the write up, is that the first jam in particular totally possessed me while I was listening to it and I would argue that few bands could do that for me with such effectiveness.
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