GONG: I See You (CD on Madfish)
This 2014 release features 62 minutes of dreamy progrock music.
Gong's line-up for this recording consists of: (founder) Daevid Allen (on vocals and glissando guitar), Orlando Allen (on drums), Dave Sturt (on bass), Kavus Torabi (on guitar), Fabio Golfetti (on guitars), Ian East (on saxophones and flutes), with guest Gilli Smyth (on space whisper).
Diehard Gong fans judge each subsequent release by comparing the musicianship to the band's primo period from the Seventies. I See You measures up pretty darned well.
A necessary keynote element would be Daevid Allen's idiosyncratic cheery vocals and (of course) his glissando guitar. Well, here, both deliver with resounding satisfaction. The vocals stretch their resonance from dreamy crooning to pixyesque chittering. The glissando generates clouds of tremulous textures with a touch of fanciful whimsy, and those textures shimmer with noble majesty.
The other guitars are equal to the task of supporting things with snarling riffs tinged with hints of astral glory. Wicked riffs unfurl deep within the mix, hidden but felt in the gut.
These agile guitars do an excellent job of providing the electronic effects and sweeps one would normally attribute to keyboards.
The horns and flutes capture a tasty air that evokes pastoral journeys into elfland, supported by sultry sax with a passion for sudden peaks.
The drums are nimble, eagerly active, and determined to establish rhythms of cosmic scope.
The basslines rumble with underwater character, submerged but not drenched, and bristling with stamina.
The last track features the special presence of space whisper (supplied by Gong alumni Gilli Smyth), lending a perfectly ethereal touch to the otherwise dynamic-yet-hypnotic tune.
These songs were mostly composed by Allen, many of the pieces in conjunction with his new bandmates, proving their talents are definitely equal to the task of keeping quality Gong recordings going. (Sadly, at this point, Allen has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.) These tunes bounce and sway with slippery glee, celebrating existential consciousness while simultaneously poking fun at those who scoff at mystical epiphanies. The melodies are strong and driving, flavored by moonbeams galore. The ecstasy achieved by this music deserves a broad grin of appreciation.
The release comes in a nice book package and contains a 28 page booklet featuring art, pictures, notes and lyrics.
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