Waterford has given us blaas and The Bonk, the latter of which return with their second avant-pop album Greater Than Or Equal To The Bonk on Drogheda’s thirtythree-45 label. The experimental project from Philip Christie (formerly of Choice Music Prize winning indie band O Emperor) has grown from a love of collaborating, having worked with Mick Flannery, Junior Brother, Cal Folger Day and Dan Walsh of Fixity, who is also a multi-instrumentalist with The Bonk.
Influenced by a passion for 1960s garage, The Bonk’s energy comes from improvisations between seven main collaborators who have pushed the momentum of their organic abstractions with live performances up and down the country. In this new record, there’s an obsession with repeating phrases until their meaning is forgotten and reformed as new textures.
As seen in May Feign, this is not just in the instrumentation but in the playful overhandling of language. Meanwhile, tense brass and guitar adds cacophonous counterpoints to Christie’s timbre on Trying On Oblivion. There are hints of Can and Quatro’s Pleasure Seekers over a Silver Apples beat in How Shallow? This in turn releases into the calm of Algebra, which feels like floating down the Suir on an inflatable lido.
The Bonk is not just fun to say, but may at first confuse music fans who have just added Vox’s explainer on Trout Mask Replica to their “Watch Later” on YouTube. However, much like an onomatopoeic knock to the head, their sound is dizzying to figure out in the moment, but best when allowed the time to reveal its effects to you.
The Bonk – Greater Than or Equal To The Bonk
Words: Leigh Arthur
Photo Credit: Paul Sauvage