In the wake of visionary and founding member Daevid Allen's passing, Gong continues to soar to the stars on their new album, Unending Ascending.
The Gong universe had its birth in 1969 when Daevid Allen was struck by a profound psychedelic vision. A founding member of Soft Machine, Allen merged his spiritual and metaphysical beliefs into an evolving collective. Gong transcended the boundaries of a conventional band, evolving into a mythology as opposed to mere musicians. They pushed the envelope, blending rock, jazz, psychedelia, mysticism, and surrealism to convey their messages in various ways – be it direct, oblique, or whimsical.
The band's current incarnation, formed by Allen for his swansong album I See You, continues his legacy, resolutely following his intention for Gong to persist beyond his lifetime. They are steadfast in their commitment to exploring new heights and depths, just as Allen wished. Unending Ascending marks a return to shorter songs, crafting an eclectic eight-song cycle that takes you on a pan-galactic journey through a landscape that oscillates between the ecstatic, apocalyptic, meditative, and catchy – sometimes within the same song.
Kicking things off, "Tiny Galaxies" ignites with the electric fervor of sixties psych-pop, setting the stage for an epic musical trip. "My Guitar Is A Spaceship" is nothing short of an anthem, a rhythmic stomp that has already stolen hearts and rocked stadiums, earning wild applause when Gong's frontman, Kavus Torabi, dropped it into his DJ set before a massive crowd of 90,000 Blur fans at Wembley Stadium. "Ship Of Ishtar" is a cosmic hymn that leaves time suspended, and "O, Arcturus" carries you away on jet streams of kaleidoscopic melodies. The rhythmically complex "All Clocks Reset" propels you further along this musical voyage while "Choose Your Goddess" serves up a muscular slice of ritualistic trance rock, cranking up the intensity. "Lunar Invocation" invokes ancient Moon deities with ululating feedback and cymbal squalls, and "Asleep Do We Lay" gently carries you back to the beginning as the post-credits track, completing the cycle.
The current lineup, consisting of Torabi, Dave Sturt, Fabio Golfetti, Ian East, and Cheb Nettles, is the most stable in Gong's storied history. They've written, recorded, and toured together for eight years since Allen's passing, forging a dynamic and powerful live band. While honoring Gong's roots, they refuse to be bound by nostalgia, pushing their compositions, performances, and messages into uncharted territory.
Torabi shares, "Unending Ascending is a curious peep through the telescope that takes the listener on an ecstatic voyage to witness aural supernovas explode, galaxies die, and clocks reset. From the star-spangled oceans of the cosmos to the salty sea bottom."
In 2023, Gong remains true to their ethics, attitude, and lifestyle. Their dedication to innovation, exploration, and mysticism endures, as they guide us on an Unending Ascending journey that defies the boundaries of space and time, echoing the very essence of Gong's timeless spirit.