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Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You CD (album) cover

RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU

Gong

 

Canterbury Scene

4.27 | 650 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The spacy province of Canterbury land was ruled by Daevid Allen-era Gong, and their "You" album is not only the definitive epitome of what Gong was all about, but also, IMHO, the absolute apex in their musical career. This album, which completes the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy, encapsulates better than any other Gong record the perfect match between the band's ideology and spirit and the performers' sonic input. It is, to put it simply, their masterpiece. The ridiculously high-spirited lyrics about Zero's search for the ultimate key to mankind's freedom are perfectly complemented by the bizarre musical architecture that in "You" has found its more solid expression. The combination of avant-garde jazz's complexity, theatrical singing/chanting and electronic experimentation (synths, glissando guitars) have come to their ultimate fruition, something that can be easily noticeable thanks to the robust sound production and the sense of ordainment that seems to prevail in the album as a whole. Even though there's still lots of room for improvisation and expansion, it is clear that the anarchy and raw energy of their previous albums has been somewhat (not totally) subdued in favour of a bigger amount of cohesiveness in the band's functioning: it is clear that Allen and Mrs. Allen are the ideological captains of this ship, but it is also clear that their musical input has ceased to be a major asset in Gong's integral sound. Individually speaking, the most notable stuff is provided by lead guitarist Hillage, saxist/flutist Bloomdido, and the amazing rhythm section of Howlett and Moerlen. Hillage himself incarnates the mix of jazz and cosmic psychedelia that forms the core of Gong's instrumental facet (with his colleagues tending to trend toward one side or another); meanwhile Howlett and Moerlen have stopped being the "new kids on the block" and have already become a crucial part of the band's overall sound, serving as the main source of energy and bombast, especially during the jammed passages. Tim Blake's sonic provisions on synth and mellotron stand strongly on the most frontally cosmic side of things, serving as a powerful surrounding landscape for Hillage and Bloomdido's soloing excursions, touches of tuned percussion and male-and-female chanting. The album's segued repertoire kicks off with the funnily solemn brief intro 'Thoughts for Naught', followed by the Zappa- esque brief interlude 'A P.H.P.'s Advice'. Once 'Magick Mother Invocation'/'Master Builder' begins, we are faced against one of the most overtly classic moments of Gong's history. The thing starts with an eerie, disturbing inscrutable invocation, until the fade- in brings a Hindu-like motif structured in a jazz fusion scheme: the successive sax and guitar solos are incredibly excellent, and finally, the climax is explosively captivating. Things get a bit less intense and much more ethereal for the instrumental 'A Sprinkling of Clouds', mainly a showcase for Blake's ability to create soundscapes and ambiences as well as to use his electronic ideas as a medium of interaction with some of his partners' virtuosity. Up to this point, everything has been awesome, and things will continue that way. Another brief Zappa-esque short song comes, which is 'Perfect Symmetry'. The segued 'Isle of Everywhere' is a jam that kind of resumes the combined spirits of 'Master Builder' and 'Sprinkling' in a funky jazz context. Once again, Hillage and Bloomdido share alternately the spotlight for their respective solos: meanwhile, Mrs. Allen (a.k.a. Bambaloni Yoni) delivers her spectral humming. Then comes the epic closure, the stunning suite titled 'You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever', an effective, enthusiastic number that somehow recaptures the overall ambience displayed in the band's previous two albums (the other two of the Radio Gnome Trilogy). The spirit of joy that is constantly anticipated during the first 10 minutes is ultimately exposed along the final litany, in which the final truth is revealed and celebrated: "You are I or I am You". This manifestation of the urgent need to recognize that our fellow man is but a real image of our own selves is cleverly delivered in this line and its subsequent lyrical variations right until the fade-out: the Arabesque motif is simply mesmerizing. It's just unbelievable how well Gong manage to make good use of their unabashed Dadaist sense of humor in order to create a real connection with the listener: the ultimate truth of universal love is seen through the eyes of a child and sung in a carefree, easy-going manner, and we're all invited to see and sing it that way. Aaah. those sensual flute lines and those final guitar flourishes. a greatest closure for a true prog masterpiece.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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