Gong — Rejoice! I'm Dead!
(Snapper Music Madfish SMACD1049, 2016, 2LP / CD / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-09-13
With the passing of the Pot Head Pixie Daevid Allen in March 2015, it at first seemed doubtful that Gong would continue. But as the Gong family constantly fractured, reformed, and assumed new shapes since its inception at the end of the 60s, the new Gong lineup on 2014’s I See You, with Daevid’s urging during his final days, reluctantly decided to carry on. The result is Rejoice! I’m Dead!, scheduled for release on September 16, 2016. Given the uneven I See You and the absence of Daevid from the band, I was uncertain what to expect from this new Gong incarnation. Rejoice! I’m Dead! came together over a few weeks in an East London rehearsal studio where the band experimented with new ideas that evolved into the nine songs on the album, a truly collaborative affair between Kavus Tobabi (vocals and guitar), Fabio Golfetti (guitar and vocals), Dave Strut (bass and vocals), Ian East (sax and flute), and newcomer Cheb Nettles (drums and vocals). The first thing that you notice is the absence of the usual Gong pseudonyms for each musician. The second is the music. Though there are definite Gong elements throughout, other influences and ideas have crept into the mix. To help anchor the music, Gong alumni Steve Hillage, Didier Malherbe, and Graham Clark appear on several songs. Taken on its own, without referencing the Gong legacy, Rejoice! I’m Dead! is a great album. Depending on how you count the Gong discography, this is the 28th album, which some liken to a continuation of the “Virgin trilogy,” but many Gong fans may be put off. To my ears, the best tracks are “Rejoice!” the elegy to Daevid Allen, the atmospheric “Visions,” the mostly instrumental “The Unspeakable Stands Revealed,” and the trancelike “Through Restless Seas I Come.” There is also an early lo fi song idea, “Beatrix,” with Daevid speaking in French. So, approach Rejoice! I’m Dead! with an open mind, check your Gong expectations at the door, and you won’t be disappointed.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
Mao Dou + Lu Chen - A Hippo Wildly Grinds Its Teeth Bankside – This elaborate package from the Shanghai underground would be worthy of a stateside release on Beta-lactam Ring. Seems perfect: one-of-a-kind presentation, cryptic artwork, bizarre music (and other... (2008) » Read more