Great space-rock with strong hints of jazz, along with some novelty-sounding songs that don't suit the rest of the material.
Essentially a rock album with jazz leanings, Gong produce some fascinating moments and some top notch space-rock spiced with great sax and guitar solos. Elsewhere, especially when the tracks are shorter, Allen and his large cast come up with some nonsensical songs that detract from the album's overall feel.
Admittedly this is a thematic album, the closer of a trilogy and I have no other Gong albums yet, but the novelty songs simply aren't for me. It's not that they're recorded or performed poorly (and 'Thoughts for Naught' has some nice flute) but I find them less effective than the rest of the album.
Perhaps 'You' ought to have opened with the space-whisper-synth of 'Magick Mother Invocation' as it builds such anticipation, serving as an extended intro to the explosive 'Master Builder' with it's rock-ish saxophone solo and phased guitar riffs over a kind of speed-shuffle beat and percussion. It's outro features more soloing and a building vocal chant that that eventually rushes to a halt to usher in 'A Sprinkling of Clouds' that again features keys in a prominent role, maintaining atmosphere while the rhythm section charges ahead.
The mood established by this run of three fantastic space-rock pieces is shattered by the next song, 'Perfect Mystery' with its goofy pop and fairly embarrassing 'cops at the door' vocals. Once again, the short story sequences really blemish this album for me, which is otherwise is one of the better space-rock albums out there.
'Isle of Everywhere' restores some mystery with airy, wordless vocals drenched in reverb while drums and bass bring some funk. The album closes with 'You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever' which has the vocal improvisation of Allen splayed across an jam that plays as bit of an experiment and later features something approaching conventional rock vocals. It's not a terrible number but isn't as successful as the other long pieces.
The novelty songs don't actually detract from the stand out space jams on this one, but they do drag the album down to three stars for me. Having said that, I suspect that this is essential Gong, if not an essential jazz record.