Friday, March 29, 2013

El Alien's new wave dispensation: ABOUT TIME by New York Gong


I saw this one languishing in the bins at a local shop over my past few visits and decided to roll the dice, being a fan of the few Gong LP's I've owned. Glad I did, while sounding nothing like Gong it delivers some weird 'n' wonderful stuff on a totally different stream. About Time is a meeting between pot-head pixie originator Daevid Allen, the lone Gongster on board, and the musicians that would end up forming the band Material - two worlds colliding on the streets of NYC, 1979. 
About Time opens with El Alien Allen transmitting over a bed of band-generated radio static / electric bleeps and blurps, "Preface" establishing the NYG modus operandi of Allen oration set amidst a claustrophobic cityscape realized in the distorted washes of guitar and crumbling funk riffs of the proto-Material crew. We're launched into the album proper via the one-two combo of "Much Too Old" and "Black September," two driving slices of clanging fuzz and clockwork rhythm, Allen finding himself a fish out of water in this "punk rock city" on the verge of apocalypse. The instrumental "Materialism" splits side one with an exploration of brooding grooves and tinnitus buzz. "Strong Woman" slows things down with it's snaky guitar riff soaked in a watery chorus effect, percussion and heavily echoed vocals adding an Eastern touch. The jerky, stop and go "I Am a Freud" closes side one with a short burst of scattered melodicism, an infectious side ender.

At nine minutes, "O My Photograph" stretches out with Laswell working a circular bass riff like a mad robot repeating the same command into oblivion, set against the muted mechanization of Allen's "gliss guitar," the track trailing off into an eerie slide led jam (listen for a sloppy edit) as the tension mounts then drifts into the ether. "Jungle Window" has Allen in ren-fair rapper mode, a squashed goose sax and some up front elastic/flatulent bass combining for the album's funkiest track. The final tune "Hours Gone" opens at the bottom of a drainage pipe, quivering pinpricks of guitar falling around the narrator before an insistent bassline and wordless backing vocals drag him out into the sun, the album wrapping up with a return to the droning rock of it's origin.

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