GONG — The Universe Also Collapses (review)

GONG — The Universe Also Collapses album cover Album · 2019 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
snobb
Founded in France in late 60s by Australian beatnik Daevid Allen Gong for decades was possible best known musical hippie commune, based in Europe. They never received a commercial success but after all these years there are still people around discussing their Radio Gnome Trilogy (I'm serious - I can even mention a name or few!).

So, right after the half of a century (serious age for active music collective, isn't it?) we get an offer to listen to the new music recorded by "Gong". What is in a menu?

Band's founder and spiritual/creative leader Daevid Allen passed away in 2015 and the yeasr after there was released an album contained his legacy (unfinished ideas and works and lot of music from his younger collaborators who played beside of him). It was quite a great memorial release if not really a Gong album. Now, three years later (and four years after Allen's death), we have an album of new material,not something from the vaults. I'm far not a person who idolize even a great artists, but in a case with Gong things are not so simple.

Original Gong has always been more then just a band, in fact at their best they were talented counter-couture commune playing for fun and time to time recording their hippie-dada-space tales to dedicated followers. There were lot of line-up changes and there were more then a few Gong versions as well. Even best of them (different then Allen "original" one) was a better-then-average jazz fusion band (I'm speaking about so-called "Pierre Moerlen Gong" and their "Shamal" and "Gazeuse!" albums from mid 70s), but they lost that Allen's childish playful freakiness from very first steps. It was Allen himself who saved this ingredient for any project ,he participated, no-one else.

Returning back to newest album,"The Universe Also Collapses" is surprisingly strong (for second decade of new Millennium) progressive rock release. Skilled musicians who all played on last Gong album with Allen still on board - "I See You"(2014) - do the great job here. From twenty-plus minute long space-rock opener "Forever Reoccurring" ("Hawkwind" fans must to hear it for sure)to short guitars driven well-arranged "If Never I'm And Ever You" (do you still remember American AOR bands from early 80s?)to "My Sawtooth Wake" (I really respect Steve Wilson music too)and finally the closer "The Elemental" (Jethro Tull goes AOR?)they play a high quality progressive rock of sort with enthusiasm and positive energy not so characteristic for the time when progressive rock too often become a form of self parody.

Still is it enough for calling themselves "Gong"?
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