The Universe Also Collapses

Artist: Gong
Label: Kscope
Catalog#: KSCOPE634
Format: CD
Country: United States
Released: 2019
1 Forever Reoccurring 20:37
2 If Never I'm And Ever You 2:27
3 My Sawtooth Wake 13:14
4 The Elemental 6:43

Dave Sturt - Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals [Singing]
Cheb Nettles - Drums, Piano, Theremin, Vocals [Singing]
Fabio Golfetti - Electric Guitar, [Gliss] Guitar, Vocals [Singing]
Ian East - Flute, Bass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Kavus Torabi - Lyrics By
Gong - Music By
Kavus Torabi - Vocals [Singing], Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonium



Strawberry Bricks Entry: 
Somewhere after Gong’s 2032 album Daevid Allen sought to renew the Gong band, in a shuffle that would eventually replace the entire old guard. Following a series of concerts in Brazil in 2007, guitarist and long time Gong family member Fabio Golfetti joined the fold. Bassist Dave Sturt was next to arrive in 2009, while reed player Ian East jumped on board shortly thereafter. Allen’s son and drummer Orlando Monday Allen arrived in 2012. Prior to recording 2014’s excellent I See You album, singer and guitarist Kavus Torabi was recruited. But reality closed in fast: by 2016 both Allen and his partner in Gong Gilli Smyth had left the planet for another dimension. Yet their passing also included the proverbial torch to Messrs. Torabi, Golfetti, East and Sturt. Gong is dead, long live Gong! With mystery drummer Cheb Nettles, this next generation Gong released their first post-Allen and Smyth album, the solid Rejoice! I’m Dead in 2016. The subsequent tour included guest spots from former Gong core members Steve Hillage and Didier Malherbe, perhaps to add a little legitimacy, but also because that’s just the Gong way. <br> This leads us to 2019 and the new Gong record The Universe Also Collapses. It’s a crucial album, perhaps. Whatever momentum the previous paragraph may reveal, at some point the new lineup had to deliver an album that put the past in the past, and pointed strictly to the future. Gong has responded with a masterpiece. Although the word epic gets thrown around a lot, The Universe Also Collapses is truly epic. The album’s opener is the 20+ minute psychedelia of “Forever Reocurring” (sic). Glissando guitar, spacey synths and a raga-esque rhythm induce a trance over the track’s substantial intro; from there, Gong travels through familiar sonic territories, but with a harder edge-there is an undeniable masculinity to the music even beyond the mathematical rhythms. “If Never I'm And Ever You” is brief and continues the record’s flow, but the following “My Sawtooth Wake” reignites the trippiness, with the added bonus of a bassline that more than gives a nod to Gong’s under-the-radar 1971 release Continental Circus; truly effective and legit. The closing “The Elemental” is perhaps a little more progressive, revealing a well-crafted songform and some seriously crunchy guitars. Torabi’s vocals are perhaps one acquired taste with the new lineup, and mixed purposefully to obscure the obvious, but they certainly grow familiar with repeated listening. Regardless, no one was ever going to replicate Allen’s signature voice. Torabi’s lyrics however are on target, here delivering a heady take on life, the cosmos and the meaning of it all. Nettles gets the all-star award, gallantly preserving the great legacy of Gong drummers, while Golfetti’s gliss guitar and East’s well-arranged reeds offer an instantly familiar palette of sound. During its 50 year history, change was a mainstay of Gong. Players came and went (and often returned), and we grew to accept a wide range of music under its umbrella. Inevitability is indeed inevitable, and the passing of Allen and Smyth proves our universe will indeed collapse. But the greater Gong family lives, and may it long live on with Messrs. Torabi, Golfetti, East, Sturt, Nettles and whoever may follow next. Much like the severely underrated Acid Motherhood from 2004, The Universe Also Collapses is as strong as any release in the Gong catalog. I’m all in.
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