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

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Dennis Rea - Live at the Forbidden City – Dennis Rea is a Seattle area guitarist who’s worked with Jeff Greinke, Bill Rieflin and may be known to some through his participation with groups Land and Stackpole. Long before he made his...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues