Tuesday, 26 July 2016

GONG – REJOICE! I’M DEAD! (Madfish Records 2 x LP, CD, Deluxe 2 x CD/DVD).

We must admit that we approached the first Gong album since Daevid Allen passed to a higher plane with more than a little trepidation. There had been a fair bit of dread and cynicism about when it was announced that there was a new album being recorded by the band that featured on Allen’s final Gong LP, I See You……….was it going to be a tawdry trashing of the Gong legacy that had endured so well over 45 years of musical ebb and flow through dozens of line-up changes??? Absolutely no need to worry………Rejoice! I’m Dead! is a fitting tribute to the late Bert Camembert and a continuation of the freewheeling spirit of this legendary band. Consider it to be “Gong: The Next Generation”, a band with an impeccable Prog/Psych pedigree, where the funky grooves, avant-garde flourishes and counter-cultural stance of the timeless early 70s “Virgin Trilogy” band are safe in the hands of ex Cardiac and current Knifeworld leader Kavus Torabi (vocals/guitar), Brazilian glissando wizard Fabio Golfetti (guitar/vocals), long term Gong family members Dave Sturt (bass/vocals) and Ian East (sax/flute) along with Cheb Nettles (drums/vocals), who also have put their own individual stamp on the record……………this is not purely an nostalgia trip but a fully formed modern Psychedelic Rock LP taking the essence of Gong forward and further out. Some say it couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be done. How could Gong exist without Daevid Allen? A few minutes into listening to Rejoice! I’m Dead! any aspersions will be cast aside. This is undeniably Gong.

Released in 2014, I See You was considered as a return to the heights of the “classic” Gong albums of the 70s after Daevid Allen had spent the best part of 30 years taking many tributaries and distributaries on his musical travels and with guest appearances from Steve Hillage and Didier Malherbehe the new LP successfully follows in its footsteps. Rejoice! I’m Dead! opens with the crashing guitars and squalling sax of ‘The Thing That Should Be’ before easing into the jaunty ‘Rejoice!’ which is more typical of the Gong everybody knows and loves…….quirky sax and twisted guitar lines bounce around tricksy time changes before spacey “Gliss Guitar” takes the listener on a patent Gong pan-dimensional trip out……………….Bits of ‘Master Builder’ emerge from haze, it’s Gong and NewGong all at the same time as the band go backwards in order to go forward. The remainder of the album is in the same vain as new sounds mix with older, familiar vibes…………the longer tracks such as ‘Model Village’, ‘The Unspeakable Stands Revealed’, ‘Through Restless Seas I Come’ and ‘Insert Yr Own Prophecy’ are all variations on the sound of “old” Gong with enough invention to make them relevant to a brand new audience of Prog/PsychHeads and it goes without saying that older fans of the band will be blown away by these tunes. It depends on your knowledge of Gong history and what constitutes as a Gong record, but if Rejoice! I'm Dead! is classified as their 28th album the Gong legacy is the strongest it has been since 1974. Consider the differences between Angel’s Egg, Gazeuse!, Floating Anarchy and I See You, the various splinter projects and collectives and what is it that make Gong who they are? Known for their spontaneity and numerous Phoenix-like rebirths – this is just the latest instalment………nothing more, nothing less. As new members and old coalesce, the sound is unmistakably Gong and even without Daevid Allen they will continue.

Due for release on 16/09/16 on Madfish Records, Rejoice! I’m Dead! will be available from all the usual outlets……………….on 2 x LP, CD and deluxe 2 x CD/DVD the album can be pre-ordered from the Madfish online store here https://www.burningshed.com/store/madfish/.

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