Have you heard of Morag Tong yet? If you like your doom mashed up and spacey with plenty of space between the riffs and beats then you bally well should have. I first encountered this London based quartet in April when I was sent “We Answer” as a single to play on the radio. The fact that an 8 minute track got voted a hit by the studio panel and listeners alike allude to the adeptness that these guys have when weaving a sonic quilt in which to wrap oneself. Yeah, see I can sound poncy sometimes.
Last Knell of Om is the debut album from drummer vocalist Adam Asquith, bassist James Atha and guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane. It is fifty minutes of psychedelic space doom which can tickle as well as bludgeon. Opener “Transmission” has a cosmic feel building around a 60’s sounding bassline, whooshes, distorted guitars and what sounds suspiciously like a theramin. I am hooked from the beginning. The bass is so clean and clear, out in front, it happily replaces any need for vocals. The clarity and crispness of the opener is trampled rudely by the distortion of “New Growth”. Slabs of distorted guitars backed by pained (but not painful) vocals give way to a most groovy bassline and psychedelic riff before combining both elements into a deliciously sludgy finale.
The aforementioned “We Answer” is like synthwave played on analogue instruments. It reminds me of S U R V I V E mixed with If These Trees Could Talk – the “post” is strong here and my shoes are gazed upon quite happily. It’s a bit of luck that I made sure of my footing as “To Soil” is turning everything to thick dirty sludge. Funeral Doom meets Yob is the order of this (de)composition and the depths evoked by Adam’s pained vocals are a real downer – in the best possible way. Exquisite hopelessness.
“Ruminations” is a brass laden atonally voiced wig out shot through with almost painful sonic shots that act as the precursor to the albums final piece.
“Ephemera – Stare through the deep “ is a 13 minute epic journey into the collective mind of Morag Tong. The increase in length lets the prog flood out amongst the doom but there is plenty of oomph behind the distorted rung out guitars that ride on the back of the crystal clear bass. The drums do go a little Spinal Tap for me about half way through and I am expecting the sound of spontaneous combustion. This track certainly owes a lot more to Floyd than Electric Wizard but will certainly please the psychoactively enhanced listener.
With “Last Knell of Om” Morag Tong have laid out their tie dyed stall amongst the current crop of psychonauts and shown that they have more than enough to take folk to the outer reaches and back. I look forward to seeing them live. I bet they have a great light show.
(7.5/10 Matt Mason)