PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG — Time Is The Key (review)

PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG — Time Is The Key album cover Album · 1979 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Sean Trane
Second album under Moerlen's name, Time Is The Key is a controversial album because it shows that the 80's are very much behind the corner. Indeed compared tp Downwind, PM's G certainly changed their sound and also their line-up; bro Benoit is gone (as is Gausse), but returning to the fold (from Expresso II) are Lozaga (guitars) and Lemer (keyboards) and the sound and songwriting on TITK don't have a 70's feel, but a much more synthesised 80's production. And those who read me regularly know that this is no good news. A bit like the 80's version of Mahavishnu, Gong uses too much of the day's latest technology, which causes TITK to sound much more dated than their previous albums. We're not on the brink of Abacab or 90125, but nevertheless the production is also the culprit, but it doesn't apply for all of the tracks evenly.

Actually the album starts pretty damn well with Ard Na Greine, a great tense track that leads naturally into the following Earthrise, which continues more gently the sublime and subtle climate. And Earthrise linking into the next Supermarket (a bit too slick, but agreeable) and so on to Faerie Steps (a bit cheesy but it has something). So the quartet of tracks make a small So after this linked series of tracks things gradually degenerate with American In England, where synths take over and we suddenly fall into a new decade. Worse yet, we go into Organ Grinder without any organs (unless the Yamaha CS80 is one, but it sure doesn't sound like one) and completely and utterly awful synth funky beats; I spoke purposely of Abacab, as there is some kind of sound parallel, even if Gong is still progressive here. The rest of the album glides on smoothly if you like this stuff and will increasingly grate your patience to irritating levels, despite the musician's undeniable qualities. In The Bender, you'd never guess there are two guitars as they are completely muffled into dumb effect like the Synclavier and other such atrocious devices. But if you can get past those awful 80's musical twists, you will find still some interesting stuff (songwriting and structures) that should content some JR/F fans. Of the second part of the album, only Esnuria is rising above the waterline, but it's directly followed by the atrocious title track (the lowest of lows in the album), which closes the album much worse than it had started.

I am always tempted to take away a full rating point for these 80's, and I will certainly again do so here, at the risk of burying the first third of the album that deserves a better fate. Collateral damages I guess, but this album is best avoided unless. well I warned you, anyway.

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