Los Angeles has always been an interesting landscape for post-hardcore, and Bondo are one of the few bands who have discovered new ground within it.
On the face of things, one may suggest that Bondo wear their influences on their sleeve during their debut LP, Print Selections – a 29-minute crash course through the history of ’90s post-rock and post-hardcore. However, to understand the complete story requires closer examination, for Print Selections is far from a carbon copy of the Spiderland fact sheet.
With their subtle inflections, Bondo create an elusive synergy that proves to be the band’s central idea. There’s a transparency that’s reached via a delicate core, and while the quiet / loud dynamics are here, it never reaches the ear-splitting crescendo of post hardcore’s defining moments. On album highlight, the slightly scarred New Brain, Bondo showcase a gentleness that bleeds into the patchwork of slowcore (“Is it sunny? I can’t see you grinning”). It’s a cross-pollination many have attempted, but few have executed it like Bondo have here.
Tracking back, Print Selections begins with the fractured instrumental of Container. It’s a gentle nudge in the direction of Bondo’s subtle sound world, and from here we really get into the nuts and bolts. The gargoyle-like riffs and Doug Scharin-inspired percussion of Egoizing and Lo Tek, both tracks that are worthy candidates of an The Fish Tank collaboration between June of 44 and Duster.
While such comparisons may seem tedious, it’s the themes and track titles which are vital to the story. This is a band that operates off the grid. Making music that transcends the scourge of capitalism and its by-product of online metrics, social media likes and all the rest of it. A young band with a lust for the old world, and it’s refreshing to see.
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To fit within this notion, Bondo’s songs aren’t immediate. They make you work, and that’s what makes Print Selections such an interesting proposition. While Instrument and Mind Room follow the post-hardcore lineage with fidgety guitars and jagged rhythms, both are songs that slowly nestle under the skin over time.
And while Zio Gate and closing track, Pipecleaner, are Slint veneration at Low-like speed, they are tracks that will manoeuvre and morph into different shapes with repeated listens. Not only do these moments hint at a direct influence of their native Los Angeles, as strange as it sounds it also makes Bondo a psychedelic proposition.
Print Selections is an album that sees Bondo slowly emerging from themselves. There’s a wariness, but there’s also a willingness to reveal, and while we see some of the picture, future releases may shed some more light on a band that will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people not previously acquainted.
Print Selections is out now via Quindi Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.