Bonnacons of Doom describe their new album as a response to an ‘accelerated sense of confusion’ and ‘a period where it feels like everything is falling apart’. It seems only fitting then that so much of their new album, Signs, feels like a city being built from the ground up. Each track begins in one subtle place and gradually turns itself into something huge. It’s as if the band are trying to live vicariously through the music, gaining a sense of control in a world where we have so little.
The opening track ‘Facing’ begins with just a few swirling synths, but it's droning, infectious groove grows until the track is gargantuan. Rather than everything falling apart, it’s like a puzzle being gradually completed until, by the end, the vocals descend into a kind of organised chaos.
Following that the track ‘Esus’ continues the theme of hypnotic vocals that are more like rhythmic chanting. It pulls you straight into the weird ceremony that the band have started and feels like a rallying cry for a new kingdom. This comes immediately before the much more emotional and distressing ‘Infra’. They cry: “How hard can it be?/How hard do you want it to be?”. The ringing bells only add to the tension of the vague questioning from the band.
In the track ‘Limina’ there are these Eastern sounding guitars that bring to mind early forms of music and the growth of civilisations of the past. Not only are they building a new world, but harking back to simpler times, as their instruments wonder whether things were better back than. It’s like a combination of the present and this ‘other’ world from a land before, what they describe as, ‘post-digital decay’.
‘Shore’ is a brief interlude mid-way through the album. The calming sounds of water trickling are interspersed with humming synths that seem like a warning siren. This takes us into the centrepiece of the album, title track ‘Signs’. It is the best song on the album, and as well as rising in the way that all the tracks here to, adding to the ever growing world of the record, it happens to be an absolute rammer. There’s a certain amount of IDM influence here, reminding me in parts of Autechre or Underworld, but with the spiritual chanting that has come to be such a big part of the other tracks.
‘Lichen’ is a cathartic onslaught of droning guitars that become the conductors to the end of everything, hoping to allow something new to come forth. ‘Semaphore’ is a trip-hop-y wasteland at the end of the album that conjures up images of buildings crashing down and time-lapses of trees wrapping their trunks around the carcasses of torn down high-rises. Semaphore is a means of communication via the movement of flags in your arms. Perhaps the band thinks that in the world we live in, a simpler means of communication could be a more beautiful way to live.
Bonnacons of Doom’s Bandcamp reads: “Signs marks both a portent of things to come, and a roadmap of the psychic pathways to survival.” While listening to the album, in subtle ways, you do come to understand it as some sort of guide, pointing you in the direction of a hopefully less bleak future.
Signs is out now on Rocket Recordings, and the band are playing at Quarry on Saturday, 11th November.