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CD Feature/ Bong-Ra: "Full Metal Racket"

img  Tobias

Every true fan will tell you that Metal is his life, but few can stake that claim as proudly as Jason Köhnen. Long before he ever considered DJing a serious option and sampling was still an alchemical process devised by freaky ravers in their bedrooms, he was roaming the underground scene of the Netherlands, living his dream, being cheered and ripped-off. For all their sonic satanism, his “Grindkrusher” and “Sick Sick Sick” 12 inches from 2005 and 2006 were really nostalgic and deeply romantic tributes to his youth, to the genre, to best of the good times.

Vice versa, combining these two by now sold out items on a single disc is not just an act of replenishing stocks or of making formerly Vinyl-only material available for those without a turntable. With Bong-Ra’s tenth anniversary being celebrated this month and his very first two releases now up for grabs as free downloads, it is also a satisfied look back at where Köhnen came from and what he has achieved in a decade of noise.

The liner notes to “Full Metal Racket” may therefore be short, but they surely manage to conjure up some vivid images. Köhnen talks about the thrill of supporting bands like Carcass, Cathedral, My Dying Bride and Karma to Burn, emphasises the influence the Earache label has had on his musical education and revels in memories of “bad record deals, shitty tours and having to compromise in musical ideas”. It is a great introduction to the tracks at hand, because it shows that there is nothing to regret in the past – nor in leaving it behind.

Purists should therefore be warned that this record  is not a Metal album per se. Even though “Necrogoat” rides on a riff like a surfer on a tsunami, “Slaytronic” receives waves of droning feedback like a believer swallows the host and “Bloody Cenotaph” sounds like a Death Metal Band in the sauna, even the most oldschool guitar contortion is distorted by the heltering and skeltering breakbeats and horror-samples cracking their leather whip incessantly. By no means is this a retro-oriented work. In fact, it is not even trying to emulate the genre with electronic means.

Instead, what “Full Metal Racket” is about, is trying to show what was so utterly fantastic about Köhnen’s teenage idols by using his current forms of expression. Even though a sampler has replaced the drummer and a sequencer has rendered strenuous jam sessions unnecessary, it is still the very same unfettered enthusiasm that powers up these tracks. Just like when he was playing with Prejudice or Celestial Seaon, each piece is not only an abstraction, but an act of finding one’s place in the world, of saying what you approve of and what you hate, who you are, who you want to be and how noone should even try to mess with that.

From the two original EPs. “Sick Sick Sick” is more geared towards the bizarre funk of riffs and the percussive aesthetics of drum n bass, while “Grindkrusher” is the harsher effort, with blastbeats taking turns with endlessly held doom chords. There is even some gurgling grunting on the maddening frenzy of “Ram Waster”, an impressive reminder of the insanity and relentless enegery of Grindcore.

It would be easy to conclude that the metal elements of the album should be seen as quotations only and as references. That view would however neglect a vital aspect of “Full Metal Racket”, namely the fact that you can not dance to it. The sheer force of these acoustic cannonades has taken breakbeats beyond the notion of the dancefloor into a hyperreality even robots could no longer move their feet to. This idea of extending music into a place never before deemed accessible or even desirable is one of the essential philosophies of Metal – and the core reason why this record works so perfectly as a tribute.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Bong-Ra
Homepage: Ad Noiseam Records

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