Friday, 25 November 2016

Gong - Rejoice! I'm Dead!, album review

Trusting Trajectory

It would seem by reading reviews/commentaries on this album that most Gongheads have accepted the trajectory of this latest release after the death of founder and charismatic leader Daevid Allen, apart from a few diehards who think mutability cannot exist without dire consequences.

As I have often admitted in reviewing other bands, I am no aficionado here, but perhaps that is an advantage over being shackled to rather than celebratory and generous about nostalgia. This is a wonderful album, full of excellent progjazz songwriting and performance. The title track is indeed a joyous ten minutes of sweet harmonies on the rejoice chorus and then the prog rock rhythms, these enhanced by the saxophone bursts and runs from Ian East, at times swirling around in the guitar of Fabio Golfetti, including Steve Hilage adding lines over a heavy drumming segment.

Third Kapital is an odd one in the context of the whole, sounding as it does to me of Underworld’s Born Slippy. Fourth track Model Village contains the voice of Daevid Allen still politicising in lyrics

When we talk about floating anarchy
Look into the future and you'll see
It's the only way of life that can set us free

We may be in denial, but capitalism's autopsy will say
It haemorrhaged corruption and it bred dishonesty

and the song then moves into another sweet vocal, echoing a pastoral sound with East caressing on flute. Next Beatrix also uses the voice of Allen, this time in French, and it is a soothing simple piece with East playing a lovely if brief tenor solo.

Sixth Visions is an ambient, restful piece with distant sweeping soundscapes, both instrumental and vocal – beautifully melodic – and this segues into the twelve minutes of The Unspeakable Stands Removed that has East playing a gorgeous soprano throughout, and it has the repeating rhythms of a Terry Riley and Soft Machine trajectory. I think this track is superb, Dave Sturt driving it on his pulsing bass lines and East returning with punctuating sax until Kavus Torabi adds the vocal, singing of the mysterious in his own lyric,

Well, time is central, it's elemental what we think
Lost in this ocean, time is a notion, the missing link
But understanding we are all standing on the brink of

Reflections that reveal the mystery further
Serve only to reflect the thing itself
It's only the unspeakable within that
Resembles more the mystery itself

This song does rise to quite a crescendo of pulsating sound. Penultimate song Through Restless Seas I Come is orchestral and expansive and again quite beautiful.

History is important, but the here and now of this album makes the present something to celebrate.

No comments:

Post a Comment