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Gong – I See You


Gong - I See YouIn light of Daevid Allen’s recent terminal cancer diagnosis, this album seems to be an elegy of sorts, full of flashbacks and slurry psychedelic fingers, a precious chance to snapshot a life lived to the full before his ultimate adventure into the unknown. That being said, this is far from miserable, rippling with usual rhythmic goods, the sensuous syrup that’s been scooping our ears for years, not to mention the snake-charming spirals whirring into your brain box like a hot buttered croissant.

Gong’s ringleader is front and centre throughout, dispatching his whimsical wisdom whilst still owning the knobbliest knees in rock. His songs are wonky conduits of magical transgression, astral fairytales occasionally snared in a whispering cosmos. It’s great unpretentious stuff, loosely stitched together in bassy action, unicycling curves and of course that Omni-present glissoooooooid glisten.

It’s a labour of love, the CD niftily packed in book form, a nice faux-antiqued affair complete with Allen’s hyper-detailed doodles. A parting gift crammed with the album’s lyrical juice and a fair amount of obligatory tie-dye. Musically it hits you straight off  with a King Crimson-esque zest, then moves in the saxphonic wah and guitar scramble in “Occupy” subverting to a smooth Boston bazzazz, gathering up some immaculate hum-ables along the way, before shooting out in a taut University of Errors-like jazzy/funk vibe that addictively laps up the cream.

“You am I and I am you”, goes the mantra and you certainly feel included in the adventure, part of the family. I was first bitten by the Gong thang way back in bedsit land 198(something), wore that introductory third generation C90 clean away and the dire surroundings with it, and “This Revolution” demonstrates more reasons to stay in touch. A spoken manifesto to brighter futures, a counter-political poem, hitch-hiking Gill Scott Heron… miraging rhetoric akin to Daevid’s “Poet for Sale”, meditating on where the “revolution is not” and homing on where it really is, inside of us all.

These are rousing words contour-caught in the waving elastic of the musician imaginations, echoes of yesteryear everywhere eking out fresh pastures. Things that thread through “Pixielation”, and many more, like “Thank you”’s minder-esque banana skin sliding to new strung-out possibles. Allen sadly seems to be waving goodbye to the world he’s created, ever thankful for the music.  Everything ends fittingly with a nine-minute finale that floats out in the universal arms of Mother Gong’s very own Shakti Yoni.

Something to treasure.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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