Exposé Online banner

Gong Expresso — Decadence
((Not on label) no#, 2018, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2018-02-16

Decadence Cover art

Expectations can be dangerous things. When I first heard Gazeuse!, it was instantly one of my favorite albums. Sure I knew it wasn’t really Gong, since that name first conjures up the classics of Daevid Allen’s original tenure, particularly the Planet Gong Trilogy. But Gazeuse! and its follow-up Expresso II were killer albums in their own right, with the charming mallet work of Mireille Bauer and Benoit Moerlen, some of Allan Holdsworth’s finest playing (followed up admirably by Bon Lozaga), and the amazing rhythm section of Francis Moze or Hansford Rowe (bass) and Pierre Moerlen (drums and additional mallet instruments). These two albums presented a different twist on many of the things that made fusion music attractive to me. While it’s true that the subsequent albums from Pierre Moerlen’s Gong didn’t quite live up to that high standard, there were still lots of good moments. So when I heard that Benoit Moerlen and Hansford Rowe were getting together with François Causse (who had played percussion on many of the P.M. Gong albums) and young guitarist Julien Sandiford, I immediately had visions of a successor to Expresso II. With Decadence, that is not at all what we have, and if you approach it with those expectations, you’ll likely be as disappointed as I was. To be fair, that’s not what the band is trying to do, so it’s probably not fair to criticize them for it. What they are trying to do is present a pleasant, mostly acoustic set of tunes drawing on latin jazz from the pre-rock era, with only a few nods to more modern sounds. Sandiford uses lots of old-school chord voicings, more akin to Wes Montgomery than Allan Holdsworth, with minimal use of effects, and his solos are understated. This is perfect music for Sunday brunch at a latin-themed restaurant. As I’ve explained, it’s difficult for me to be completely objective about Decadence, but I think I can say that even setting aside my off-base expectations, this is not a recording I can recommend very highly. It’s much like a Gary Burton album of the late 60s, though perhaps less adventurous harmonically. One or two tunes this mellow on a more diverse album would be fine, but a whole set of pieces that all hit the same low-energy bar is more than I can take. I hope they can find an audience for their music, but I suspect most old-time Gong fans won’t be part of it.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Gong

More info
http://www.gongexpresso.com/store

Latest news

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Änglagård - Epilog – Since Änglagård's superb 1992 debut Hybris, more than a few folks have been eagerly awaiting the follow-up effort from this magnificent Swedish ensemble. Everyone wondered — would they be able to...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues