New Music

“Rituals”: BUNSENBURNER’s progressive experimentation with instrumental stoner rock

4 mins read

Less than a lunar cycle after the preceding melodic venture ‘poise‘, the borderless improvisational avant-gardists in bunsenburner, with Ben Krahl at the helm, make their glorious return. The band’s forthcoming auditory sculpture, ‘Rituals‘, is set to emanate from Krahl’s own domain, bensnburner records, on August 11, 2023.

Where ‘poise’ marked the band’s first cohesive foray under the bunsenburner moniker, ‘Rituals’ amplifies the foundations set by its predecessor. Like an awe-inspiring monolith, it stands tall and mighty, a monument to experimental progressive and psychedelic stoner rock. Embellished with ambient and doomgaze elements, this work of art shatters the limitations of genre constraints, fostering a sense of unity through diversity.

In the vast expanse of twelve songs spanning over fifty minutes, the harmonious blend of the band’s different musical backgrounds is evident. The end result is an album that caters to a broad range of musical tastes while remaining a coherent representation of current contemporary music at its prime and most vibrant.


Members of bunsenburner have honed their skills in fields as varied as free jazz and extreme metal. This eclectic sextet’s composition feels like an exhilarating musical journey, a testament to the harmony that can be achieved by individuals coming from wildly different backgrounds yet sharing a singular focus.

The most enthralling aspect of this musical journey is that despite the complexity of the music, it remains accessible. This is a testament to bunsenburner’s ability to create a thrilling and enjoyable body of work that can be savored by anyone with an open mind and a receptive heart.

In the spirit of ‘poise’, ‘Rituals‘ was also recorded live, embracing a jazz-like improvisational approach. Although certain segments and motifs were planned in advance, the magic of ‘Rituals’ emanates from the open-ended, collaborative spirit that permeates the band’s process.


The striking difference between ‘Rituals’ and ‘poise’ lies in the band’s unity. The bond among the members has strengthened, infusing the music with a newfound sense of direction and unity. Despite the multitude of details embedded in each song, the overall result is an image of refined wholeness, a testament to their growth as a collective.

bunsenburner deftly treads the delicate line between compositional prowess and the exuberant humanity overflowing with the joy of creation. Their material, while undeniably serious, is driven by mutual passion, with each note revealing the joy they take in their craft. The sonic landscape that unfolds within ‘Rituals’ is an open invitation to dive into bunsenburner’s world.

Daring to explore new musical horizons and push the boundaries of what’s considered traditional, bunsenburner has once again delivered a unique and compelling sonic experience. ‘Rituals‘ serves as an indelible marker of the band’s evolution, a testament to their creative vision and musical unity. It leaves a lasting impression on the listener, one that you willingly revisit, always with a glimmer of anticipation in the corner of your eye.

‘Rituals’ is set to ignite on August 11th, 2023. Ready yourselves for a journey into the heart of bunsenburner’s world and check out our special track by track rundown below.

Dustbowl” opens Rituals with a disjointed rhythmic barrage and sinister melodic edge, providing the framework for what can be expected of the album. The stoner-esque riffs sprout to mind the band’s earlier works, further emphasized by the aerial middle section which includes something of a solo from Bene, with his record player routed through a space echo and accompanied by an MS-20 synth Bassline by Phil, not too dissimilarly to the tonal angle that was introduced already on poise, yet more intimate and holistic than before.


The second track ”Pack Hunt” starts with industrial percussions before advancing into a sludgy beating that gathers mass throughout the song’s duration, getting constantly slower and all the more pummeling towards its end, after the left-field lead runs of the middle section.

This aesthetic continues on the vivaciously pulsating „Pathfinder” – ending with Flo’s pedal steel and Bene’s sample work for maximum emphasis on mood – demonstrating how the sextet has developed to a new kind of beast in a very, very short time.

As ”Cascades” continues on a wall-of-sound note, it also clocks in softer spots and steers to a more emotional direction. The stop-and-go prog section in the middle demonstrates bunsenburner’s main strength in fluently bringing a vast scope of leanings together effortlessly.

The fifth song, the lynchian ”Threnody” centers around the concept of loss, further ensuring that any listener will get absolutely immersed in the record, as it burrows deep into your psyche regardless of what sonic edge its presenting.

The mood-wise sullen tone continues on ”CCC”, a cover originally by Dualizm, a cut that made the record due to Ben wanting to reinterpret a simple lo-fi beat in a full band setting, working in the context of the record perfectly. With a steadier pulse and driving melodies, it paves the way for the jazzy goodness of ”Got A Light?” – a Twin Peaks-inspired Excercise in freedom from structures, that is filled to the brim with feeling despite its unnerving and mischievous mood.

As the wails subside, ”Rain Chant” takes the forefront with an acoustic folk-esque pace. For its first half, the song explores plenty of differing keys and vibes, settling on a post-rock-ish drive on the latter half, keeping the pulse up and alive for another three minutes, before fading into obscurity. ”Minor Case of Serious Brain Damage” is inspired by an Electone C-605 organ that Marsen found mere days before heading to the studio, celebrating a fever dream ambiance without a clear heading.

After this palette cleanser, bunsenburner kicks in another cover in the form of ”Journey in Satchidananda”, originally recorded by Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders in 1970. This tribute sits in the album’s dramatic curve comfortably, before the (officially) last track ”/imagine”. Being inspired by the current ”AI versus real art” controversies of today, bunsenburner makes a point that artists are free to use anything as a tool and source of inspiration, and shouldn’t fear evolution in that sense. The song itself is a swaying epos without distinct edges, carrying Rituals to its end in a tonally extravagant manner.

The bonus track ”Minus World” discovers a deeper layer of emotion painted by means of free jazz and the sweetly deranged instrumental choices. Referencing some of the earlier floating elements, ”Minus World” is an appropriate second ending for this complete body of work.

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