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2023's Unending Ascending is an eclectic eight-song cycle that forms a pan-galactic suite, veering between the ecstatic, apocalyptic, meditative and catchy, often within the same song.
The collective of Kavus Torabi, Dave Sturt, Fabio Golfetti, Ian East and Cheb Nettles is the most stable in Gong's illustrious history, having written, recorded and toured together for eight years since Daevid Allen's passing. A dynamic, powerful and explosive live band, their music draws from the credo of the original Gong, while remaining committed to pushing the composition, performances and message into new realms, paying no heed to nostalgia.
Opener ‘Tiny Galaxies’ crackles with the electricity of supercharged sixties psych-pop, while ‘My Guitar Is A Spaceship’ is as close to an anthem as anything Gong have previously recorded. This up tempo, single-riff stomper is already a live favourite, garnering a positive reaction from a crowd of 90,000 Blur fans at Wembley Stadium in July 2023 when Gong frontman Kavus Torabi dropped it into his DJ set before Paul Weller took to the stage.
‘Ship of Ishtar’ is a rapt cosmic hymn where Gong make time itself stand still. Jet streams of kaleidoscopic melodies envelop ‘O, Arcturus’, to be followed by the lively polyrhythmic angularity of ‘All Clocks Reset’. ‘Choose Your Goddess’, a surprisingly muscular slice of ritualistic trance rock, ratchets up the intensity yet further. On ‘Lunar
Invocation’ the band summons the Moon deities of yore with ululating feedback and squalling cymbals before the postcredits of ‘Asleep Do We Lay’ lull lugubriously, gently beginning the cycle all over again. Kavus comments: ‘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.
The universe of Gong began in 1969 when Daevid Allen was inspired by a profound psychedelic vision. A founder member of Soft Machine, Allen incorporated his spiritual and metaphysical leanings into an evolving collective. More a mythology than a band in the conventional sense, Gong established itself as one of the most unique, innovative and experimental rock groups of the seventies, through an exploratory mix of rock, jazz and psychedelia with elements of mysticism and surrealism, unafraid to deliver its messages directly, obliquely or whimsically. The current incarnation, who were put together by Daevid for his swansong album with Gong, ‘I See You’, honour his intention that Gong do not die with him, urging the band to “carry it on into new unknown heights and depths far beyond anything I could ever imagine myself”.
1. Tiny Galaxies [3:33]
2. My Guitar is a Spaceship [4:09]
3. Ship of Ishtar [8:33]
4. O, Arcturus! [3:55]
5. All Clocks Reset [4:09]
6. Choose Your Goddess [6:49]
7. Lunar Invocation [4:34]
8. Asleep Do We Lay [4:16]