by Sarah Kimura (@twum_ble)
A peculiar and difficult time in one’s life can feel like a sticky, hot heat, gathering sweat in one’s brow, but learning to live in it could be the salvation one desires. With The Dwelling, Bonzo builds contemplative shelters in these trudges through the mud with the thread of one voice that always rings the clearest through the grime and fuzz that builds on itself, eventually building enough endurance to burst forward.
A while ago, a friend took me through a play-by-play of what it’s like to take a long run. They took me through the paths of the initial burst of energy, through feelings of doubt and fatigue, through nearly stopping, and through the last third where endurance finds a reliable backbone to carry the body into the final stretch. On the opening track, “Moon,” the bass drum is low, felt in the gut, while fuzzy vocals meter out the pacing and a harp trickles upward into the rising action of the song. That last third of endurance finds its way where a loaded brush of distorted guitars, drums, and vocals lead into “Rut.” Songs like “Rut,” “Ohio and West,” and “Sham” feel familiar in its foundations of noise and dissonance, with its thumping heartbeat of guitars, yet clear moments find their way. There’s a divinity to the clear breakdown in “Ohio and West,” where the clear bell of guitars and the subdued taps of a piano pepper through the billowy whirring that builds its own echoes. The thumping, oddly danceable track, “Party Collapse,” finds similar resolution in its own abrupt silences, the clear lines of one flute sailing through. The action, led mostly by the combined power of its noise, rises and falls like a story arc, always gentle, never sharp.
The clear voice that feeds into the consistent endurance of these tracks is not in its vocals, but the unexpected placement of what sits in the foreground of these fuzzy landscapes. The vocals always live underneath or behind the structures of interwoven distortion. Bonzo doesn’t show all of its cards in that way. A harp responds confidently on “Moon,” a guitar overtakes on “Sham,” and trying too hard to pick out the vocals would only distract the listener from the event at hand. There’s a fullness achieved when its songs give in to letting other unorthodox voices take the reins. Instead of feeling a sharp grit from the screams and seemingly off guitar of “Ohio and West,” or the disorienting quality of the vocoder and the muffled, melty howls on “Below,” there’s a softer blow delivered by what lives in the sinuses, every background sound adding backbone to balancing it all out.
“Ida” is a clear as day closer, sleepily folding over and tucking in loose ends, like the final resolution in the story arc. It makes me feel the same way I feel when I reach the last few pages of a book I’ve been reading. I devour the last page and hurtle towards the last paragraph. When no words remain, I am left with that same whirring and an animal desire to run for the hills.
It’s not quite shoegaze, but will be dubbed shoegaze, it’s partly lo-fi, but all parts experimental and lush. I feel carried in its reservoirs, my singularity amplified when I am the sole listener through headphones, sat alone in a hot cafe during a sad open mic.
Bonzo's The Dwelling is out August 20th.