1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Gong is a Franco-British progressive/psychedelic rock band formed by Australian musician Daevid Allen. Their music has also been described as space rock. Other notable band members include Allan Holdsworth, Tim Blake, Didier Malherbe, Pip Pyle, Gilli Smyth, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett and Pierre Moerlen. Others who have, albeit briefly, played in Gong include Bill Bruford, Brian Davison and Chris Cutler”
“Gong was formed in 1967, after Allen—then a member of Soft Machine—was denied entry to the United Kingdom because of a visa complication. Allen remained in France where he and a London-born Sorbonne professor, Gilli Smyth, established the first incarnation of the band. This line-up, including Ziska Baum on vocals and Loren Standlee on flute. The band fragmented during the 1968 student revolution, with Allen and Smyth forced to flee France for Deià in Majorca” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gong_(band), 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
“2032 is an album by Gong, released on 21 September 2009. This album is a further installment of the Gong mythology the central part of which was formed with the classic Radio Gnome Trilogy of albums, comprising Flying Teapot in 1973, followed by Angel's Egg, 1973, and You in 1974. While later Gong albums in the 1970s onwards did refer to elements of the Gong mythology, they were not seen as succeeding the Radio Gnome Trilogy in the same way as 2032. The year 2032 is mentioned quite often in Daevid Allen's early Gong mythology writings”
“This album also brings together again many of the classic Radio Gnome Trilogy era Gong lineup, consisting of Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Gilli Smyth, Miquette Giraudy, Mike Howlett, and Didier Malherbe”
“The album describes how the heretofore invisible Planet Gong, home of the pot head pixies and octave doctors, will finally make contact with Earth in the year 2032. The album's main themes are world peace and ecology”
“Recorded at A-Wave Studio in London, it was produced and mixed by Steve Hillage, with additional production by Daevid Allen at the Bananamoon Observatory in New South Wales in Australia. The cover of the album is a stylised 0 (zero) based on artwork by Daevid Allen, referencing "zero the hero" of the earlier 1974-1975 Trilogy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2032_(album), 2009).
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. City of Self Fascination – Drums and the refrain, “we come from an alien nation to the city of self fascination.” One of the longer songs on the album. The guitars riffs are cool and the rhythm is catchy. However, the refrain is repeated to a point where you are ready for the next song shortly after 2 or 3 minutes. Spacey music similar to some of the best of Frank Zappa. Different than anything that is out there in prog or Neo prog, but it takes a certain mood to really appreciate this. They even use some of those space alien sounds made famous by the B- 52’s during the 80s.
2. Digital Girl – A more normal, less spacey song with a good guitar and sax. They are really having fun on this one. A song about totally digging a girl or women in general. Especially appreciating any girl who is interested in the modern digital world. Good beat and interesting sounds. The riffs are also good and the music is jamming and fun. One of my favorite songs on the album.
3. How to Stay Alive – Lots of spacey sounds and a guitar that does a great job of sounding completely original. Anyone, like me, complaining about Neo Prog sounding so similar this year, will appreciate this totally cosmic interpretation of music of the future today. The steady beat and almost disco feel make this one another standout. The guitar riff and solo in the middle is very cool and different. Very dreamy, spacey finish to this one with the sax.
4. Escape Control Delete – Cool keys and synths open this one with drums and a nice beat. Nice rhythm and good lyrics describing how much we continue to give up as we continuously wreck the Earth. At times it even sounds a little like The Police kinda 80s beat. But this is definitely spacey and different. Spacey effects and sounds everywhere.
5. Yoni Poem – Very strange opening with lots of weird sounds and voices. This one is mostly spoken words, and a poem about witches, with what sounds like cats or aliens making noises in the background.
6. Dance with the Pixies – The story from the last song continues this time with drums, guitar and sax. Catchy beat and allot of fun being had by all. They jump back and forth into a few short jigs along the way. It would be fun to see this song performed live. Very theatrical.
7. Wacky Baccy Banker – Big powerful drums and guitars setting a new almost symphonic tone to this one. Opens like an anthem, as the album begins to take on an almost Tommy type of rock opera sound. The guitar and drums surrounded by spacey synths and keys everywhere. The guitar solos are heavier and set this song apart from everything that has come before it on the album. The spacey keys remind you this is still Gong. The thick English accent also sets this song apart from the rest. Over 7 minutes and some great sax at the end.
8. The Year 2032 – Very cool opening to this one. Guitar, drums and keys with a sound and rhythm that is familiar from the Chameleons UK, Pleasure and Pain from Script of the Bridge. Darker guitar and lyrics along with a flute. Very cool sound effects which also make it one of the best on the album.
9. Robo-Warriors – Very spacey opening again, this time with robotic voices and lots of metallic drums and synth effects everywhere. The title tells you all you need to know here.
10. Guitar Zero – Guitar riffs open this one befitting the title. The drum then kicks in and sets the pace and rhythm. More spacey effects, voices, and sounds. A Devo kinda sound to this one. In fact, if you could bring Devo and the Police together they might make a song like this. Devo music set to a Police rhythm, with INXS sax filling in along the way. Very cool effect. Music of the 80s which hasn’t been heard for a while. The refrain is repeated to the point you are more than ready for the next song though.
11. The Gris Gris Girl – Flute, drums, and guitar open this one, and you will feel like you have taken a trip back to the 60s. Kind of a Canterbury feel to this one that is wonderful. You almost expect an Ian Anderson flautist to jump out front, but the heavier guitar riffs jump first.
12. Wave and A Particle – Now the earlier witch has become a wave. Spoken word set to spacey synth noises and effects. “Nothing ever stays still.” Lots of cool synthesizer effects taking you away to other worlds.
13. Pinkle Ponkle – More electric synths open this one before the drums, duduk and flute take over. Very Middle Eastern or Gypsy kinda rhythm and sound. One of the better songs set for dancing. The drums are wonderful.
14. Portal – More synths before crashing drums, sax and guitar. Pink Floyd inspired guitar with heavy drumming. Sounds like a faster version of early Floyd works with loads of synthesizer effects thrown in. The sax solos mix well with the synths, drums and guitars surrounding this full board relentless unleashing of all instruments in a finale.
Enough power to try to open a portal to the past or the future which they hope will embrace more of the fun and enjoyment of the past.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Yes, it is very different than anything in prog that I have heard this year. Although it shares similarities with Frank Zappa it is much more proggy and organized than I find much of his music. Zappa is rather abstract, this music has a purpose. To take you somewhere else, if only for the length of the album. It hopes to channel the great sounds of the past and bring them up to date with new music on a journey with a story that tries to take you away from your present day worries or troubles.
So nice to hear the sax used so often again in rock.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Sure. You have to be in the right mood for it. This is not everyday music for most people. But it is special and can be appreciated with enough time and an open mind.
Rating: 8/10 – Very different than anything I have heard in a while. There are allot of reminders of some of the best music of the 60 – 80s throughout this album. But it is original and a Gong take on the sounds of the past, mixed with the present. However, you do need a sense of adventure to really enjoy this.
Reviewed by Prof on January 5th, 2010