Instant Classic, released Tues Oct 10.
A label on the front cover of Warszawa-based duo BNNT’s latest puts in unambiguous terms what we might expect from its contents. “This is heavy”, it reads – and it’s entirely accurate. Multiverse – standing at the crossroad of punk, krautrock and free jazz – takes a glance at the weightiest of the 20th and 21st century themes – man’s inhumanity, and life under capitalism. It’s a reminder that capitalism is itself a form of violence, and what’s more, BNNT – clad in rag balaclavas, with Konrad Smoleński donning a makeshift, future-dystopia guitar-ish instrument made to resemble the Tomahawk missile – fervently attempt to match it with their savage craft.
The manic toms of Daniel Szwed on The Last Illiterate thicken like the gathering of ominous clouds over a site of ritual significance; or a great finger hovering over the big, red button. Doom draws closer in Sickness Begins When One Starts to Think, as it cheekily lifts an audio extract from Orson Welles’ original broadcast of The War of the Worlds, whilst also managing to recall a grime-encrusted rendition of the grooves in Jeff Wayne’s musical. Consider a Single Wave Relieved the Pressure on the System reaches bittersweet transcendence with Stine Janvin Motland’s harsh, angel of death vocal.
Saxophonist Mats Gustafsson becomes a skronking accomplice to BNNT’s sonic terrorism on the opener and the closer, although his involvement seems more sedate than usual. His contribution is textural – rhythmic, uncharacteristic of a fiery soloist – taking up little room overall. Still, his hyperventilating sax gasps stir up into something menacing on If the Universe is Expanding, Are We Drifting Apart, Too? – like the panting bellows of a salivating hellhound.
What characterized punk rock was the desire to live outside of capitalism – in neo-hippie communes and urban squats. What characterizes BNNT’s earth-shattering noise is the insidious fact that it is becoming increasingly impossible to remove ourselves from the thrall of capital. Even the pessimistic philosophy of Emil Cioran that adorns Multiverse’s inner sleeve is nearly illegible, bar a few choice words here and there. Walter Benjamin once conceived of revolution as ‘messianic’ – as appearing instantaneously, if only we’d know to grasp it.
That fatal notion – that we may not grasp it – is scarier than any apocalyptic sound BNNT can make. Yet they provide a sort of cathartic balm. Multiverse is heavy, sure – but it’s also punk as fuck.