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

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kenziner - Timescape – Remember when a "shredding" guitar player was the exception? Seems you can't turn around these days without knocking one over. Kenziner is another one of these small-label guitar bands. The focus is...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues