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a.a. bondy endernessA.A. Bondy 

Enderness

Fat Possum

CD/White vinyl/Digital

10 May perhaps 2019

There’s an enveloping sadness to Auguste Arthur Bondy’s initial album in eight years. With its melancholic mood, magnificent music and lyrics filled with existential dread, it is absolutely nothing much less than the soundtrack to our lives.

The sadness that cloaks Enderness is a mood that is only enhanced when you understand that his Bondy’s house burned down the day following he completed operate on this extraordinary labour of like, on which he plays each and every instrument, possessing recorded, made and mixed the album in a barn close to his forest property in the Catskills.

Melancholia haunts a record that is not possible to classify: textured with a veil of synthesisers, it is got accents of blues, folk and nation, but would in all probability prove as well experimental for purists of any of these genres.  It is a far far cry from the grunge of his initial band, Verbena, whom he joined (as ‘Scott Bondy’) straight from higher college in his modest Louisiana hometown close to the banks of the Mississippi.

Maybe the mighty river is what infused his genes with the blues, even though his subsequent incarnation was as an acoustic troubadour following moving eastwards from Louisiana to Alabama and, at some point, upstate New York, recording a trio of understated but progressively extra majestic solo albums.

This, his fourth solo endeavour, is a hypnotic, trance-like affair that wraps the listener in an embrace that is simultaneously warm and intimate, however somehow also cold and disturbing: therefore, maybe, the neologism of the album title, the term combining an finish-of-days sense of finality with a suggestion of a tenderness that remains tantalisingly out of attain.

A sense of ennui infects these songs, which are condensed into an all-as well-short however thematically great 37 minutes, of which almost ten of these minutes are taken up with a handful of instrumentals that could have come straight from Bowie and Eno’s 1970s collaborations in Berlin (the synth melody of The Tree With The Lights clearly evokes Warszawa from Low).

The rest of them exude a smothering sense of impending doom, an inevitable consequence of the significant life modifications undergone by Bondy given that given that his prior album, Believers, in 2011: “In 2012 I quit producing music and joined an MDMA surf club in Los Angeles,” he says in the quite cryptic notes supplied with the album.

“Years passed. Men and women died. I drank heavily and began meditating. I avoided musicians but in some cases prayed with Anita Baker. In October 2016 following becoming held beneath for as well lengthy by the sea in Oxnard, CA, a thing shook loose and I began writing songs once more. This started a period of writing in which I located all of the songs on Enderness. I recorded and played every little thing myself. The day following I completed a wildfire burned my residence down.”

The songs are cloaked in a sort of existential dread, as if he’s deliberately making a soundtrack for the finish of occasions. That is an occasion that appears to be approaching with escalating inevitability as the globe we knew – or the 1 we believed we knew – spirals out of manage, indifferent to the spectre of impending environmental catastrophe: a globe exactly where energy resides with minorities concerned only with income and prophets.

Bondy’s plangent guitar playing propels the opening Diamond Skull, in which he recites a neverending litany of familiar phrases, buzzwords and abbreviations, to build a collage of social media subjects and an implicit indictment of the shallowness of online culture. It segues into the slow, stately Killers three, borne on waves of melody played on a church organ its… properly yes, organic sound contrasting with the cold click of a drum machine and warm choral harmonies evoking doo-wop, even though the lyrics something but gospel in nature. “Murder is extra entertaining / Than peace will ever be,” he sings ahead of finding spiritual  (“Brother let’s go down to the river”) only to lead us into temptation (“Sing us a song and we’ll do you wrong”).

a.a.bondy enderness

The standout song, even though they all have a magic about them, is Pictures Of Adore (video beneath), constructed about a lilting, just about reggae bassline, Bondy’s fragile vocals floating more than the best: “I could wash your feet,” he sings, in a different biblical allusion. “You could shave my hair.”

The shimmering synth arpeggios of Pan Tran, a different instrumental, revolve and evolve like Philip Glass, creating a celestial storm of melody and counter-melodies. It conjures a euphoric impression, on the 1 hand, of church bells chiming, when a throbbing sub-bass gives a sinister undercurrent to all that heavenly beauty. The unsettling contradiction continues in Fentanyl Freddy, in all probability the most disturbing song of all, ghostly exhalations and suffocating sounds shrouding its quite piano melody and sweet vocals: “Fentanyl Freddy flipped a different car or truck / Heard his sister saying ‘Be greater if he died’”.

The overwhelming sense of existential dread finds its fullest expression not in a different lyric but in the ambient instrumental that brings the album to a close, the title track condensing all that is gone ahead of into a blurry, hazy miasma that does not so considerably fade as drain away with the sound of waves crashing on a distant shore.

 

Much more about A.A. Bondy at his web site, on Facebook and Twitter.

All words by Tim Cooper. You can come across extra of Tim’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He is also on Twitter as @TimCooperES

 

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