What does it sound like?:
What then is it fair to expect from a new Gong album? Original material, rather than asking Mike Batt in to layer some strings over your favourite tracks, is a good thing surely. There are four of them, ranging from 20-minute opener Forever Recurring to 2-minute trinket If Ever I’m Ever You.
The keynote here is psychedelic – but a very seventies synth-based psychedella rather than anything too sixties trippy. The first track unfolds gently in waves of anologuey-feel synths and phased vocals before guitar and bass kick in. It’s a bit Pink Floyd-ey, a bit Tangerine Dreamy, a more than a little bit System 7y, before they add their special sauce in the form of Ian East’s saxophone. If they’re in the team, they are going to want game time – and thus it is with the skroning and the parping that will perhaps decide for you whether it’s Gong or No Gong. My Sawtooth Wake is a bit more rhythmically based and perhaps is the track with the most going on, The Elemental is the most tune-based with the singer wibbling on about the golden age of man ending just as it began.
What does it all *mean*?
If you change the handle of the broom because it’s worn out, and then six years later you change the head – is it the same broom? Yes and no I think would be the answer. And so it is with Gong. Messrs Sturt, Golfetti, Nettles, Torabi and East are certainly a replacement handle and head, though as several overlapped with former Gongmeister Daevid Allen, the argument is presumably that enough DNA has passed down to keep some essential Gongness running through a collection of musicians who arrived on the scene no earlier than the tenth hour.
Goes well with…
I am guessing that anything that might elevate or alter your mood would perhaps make you more indulgent of this. Don’t listen to it after two double espressos and a red bull.
Might suit people who like…
To return to the new broom, I had some hopes that this would feature pot-headed pixies, gnomes, teapots and camembert. That it would be full of whimsy and gently trippy Canterbury scene flute solos. Instead what we have is a very earnest, rather competent and a slightly dull album of psychedelic space rock. Despite the fresh start and having Cheb at the wheel they seem to be reluctant to park in Daevid’s spot.