There’s no doubt that members of the extended Gong family have been building up to this new studio album for quite some time – possibly since their reunion show at the Amsterdam Meltweg in 2006. Now it’s here, billing itself as a continuation of the “Radio Gnome” mythology and featuring such Gong stalwarts as Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Gilli Smyth, Miquette Giraudy and Mike Howlett. A great pedigree… but does it deliver?
Actually, it’s a bit of a Curate’s Egg; good in places. There’s some really trippy, extended grooving of which the highlights are an absolutely joyous guitar and drums piece, Guitar Zero, and the equally upbeat riff of Escape Control Delete. These are near-perfect slices of blissfully cool jazz-rock. Good in places? Make that great in places.
The counterpoint, however, is a lot of material that veers uncomfortably towards wilful eccentricity in its attempt to recapture classic-era Gong. While that’s an accepted – even cherished – trademark, the more casual listener might find some of the whimsical musings a tad overplayed and detracting from the beautifully realised psychedelia of the soundtrack. With one eightminute epic entitled Wacky Baccy Banker, though, we might have anticipated no less.