Saturday, 24 September 2011

Gong - 2032 (2009)

Gong 2032 album cover
Wow. This album far exceeded hopes or expectations. Having said that, it is the first Gong material since 1975 to involve all the most creative and accomplished Gong members (in my opinion), albeit without Pierre Moerlen sadly. That team always has for a long time had the potential to return together to produce top notch recordings as they had rarely, if ever, failed to do so in the past.

Compared to all the other post-Trilogy output, the key for me is the return of Hillage, for his superlative guitar riffs and the soaring fortification of the cosmos these can provide. Despite the years, Allen sounds as fresh, insane and articulate as ever, whilst Hillage plays with an enhanced focus and precision and is meatier here - whilst somehow embracing many of his signature riff sequences from the past.

I would rate this album as five stars were it not for two aspects: Firstly, I miss the complexity and brilliance of Pierre Moerlen on drums and percussion. Without him 2032 can rock solidly where appropriate, but it does miss out on those special little flourishes, especially on quieter or transitional passages where he could turn the tempo on its head or intertwine with Didier Malerbe's jamming on saxophone. So its a bit leaner and less multi-dimensional in that respect, but in all others the musicanship, compositions and content are as rich as ever.

Secondly, some of the ravings of Gilli Smith, although no-doubt good for you in the right measure, are likely to scare small children or lead to use of the skip button. I am using a new Genre tag for "Yoni Poem" of "Weird Shit"..i have quite a lot of Prog that probably qualifies as such (in a nice way), but nothing to match that. After repeated plays, i would rate about half the tracks as standouts and with each listen more get added stars. I remember it took me a number of plays to get into some of the Trilogy (Flying Teapot in particular), and the same applies to this album. My current favourites include Escape Control Delete, Waccy Baccy Banker (with great lyrics and an unexpected nod to "No Future" by the Sex Pistols perhaps), The Year 2032 (with musical references to Pot Head Pixies from Flying Teapot), Guitar Hero (Hillage & Didier at best), The Gris Gris Girl (some pastoral Allen+flute, plus more Hillage) and Portal (Hillage and Didier at best again).

The first three tracks are also strong and provide a great opening sequence, including an updated fusion of styles including, for a brief period, some rapping by Allen on City Of Self Fascination. How To Stay Alive is another highpoint, with some great floating spacy passages that would not have been out of place on You. Theres a video on youtube for a shortened version of this track. GONG 2032 music review by Dragontrouser

Songs / Tracks Listing 1. City Of Self Fascination (6:04)
2. Digital Girl (4:23)
3. How To Stay Alive (8:06)
4. Escape Control Delete (7:58)
5. Yoni Poem (2:09)
6. Dance With The Pixies (4:37)
7. Wacky Baccy Banker (8:21)
8. The Year 2032 (5:39)
9. Robo-Warriors (3:00)
10. Guitar Zero (4:55)
11. The Gris Gris Girl (6:29)
12. Wave And A Particle (2:05)
13. Pinkle Ponkle (4:359
14. Portal (7:08)

Line-up / Musicians
- Daevid Allen / vocals, guitars
- Gilli Smyth / space whisper
- Steve Hillage / guitar
- Miquette Giraudy / synthesizer, vocals
- Mike Howlett / bass
- Chris Taylor / drums
- Theo Travis / saxophone, flute

Gong - The Year 2032

Gong The year 2032

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