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Gong The Universe Also Collapses album cover
3.72 | 85 ratings | 5 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Forever Reoccurring (20:37)
2. If Never I'm and Ever You (2:27)
3. My Sawtooth Wake (13:14)
4. The Elemental (6:43)

Total Time 43:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Kavus Torabi / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, harmonium
- Fabio Golfetti / guitar, vocals
- Ian East / soprano, baritone & tenor saxes, flute, bass clarinet
- Dave Sturt / bass, synth, vocals
- Cheb Nettles / drums, piano, Theremin, vocals

Releases information


CD Kscope ‎- KSCOPE634 (2019, Europe)

LP Kscope ‎- KSCOPE1039 (2019, Europe)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GONG The Universe Also Collapses ratings distribution

(85 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

GONG The Universe Also Collapses reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars It's hard to believe that it's been four years since GONG founder Daevid Allen left this world and passed on into the eternal psychedelic haze that vibrates to form everything in the known universe but his legacy is strong as is the band that he founded way back in 1968 as it was his desire that new talent steer the psychedelic musical outfit into fresh new territories without losing the zeitgeist of the original intent. Following Allen's last album with GONG, the 2014 "I See You" came the 2016 "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" which showcased yet another version of GONG this time without Allen, without Pierre Moerlen and without any of the musicians that came and went throughout the band's lengthy existence.

While that album showcased that GONG was a viable unit taken into its next chapter of reality, the second post-Allen release THE UNIVERSE ALSO COLLAPSES pretty much leaves no doubt that GONG will continue on into the foreseeable future and seems to have found a new stable lineup with former Cardiacs and Knifeworld guitarist / vocalist Kavus Torabi, guitarist Fabio Golfetti, saxophonist / flautist / percussionist Ian East, ex-Jade Warrior bassist Dave Sturt and drummer / percussionist Cheb Nettles. While it's hard to imagine a post-Allen Gong actually pulling off the vision without one of the most unique personalities no longer in the scene, this new version of GONG has spent the last few years touring both by headlining as well as with another ex-GONG legend Steve Hillage.

Featuring only four tracks THE UNIVERSE ALSO COLLAPSES delves more into the classic psychedelic sounds of GONG's 70s period that incorporates funky bass grooves, glissando guitar, pulsing synth and haunting saxophone slides which takes a completely different approach than "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" Rather than developing the new sound set out on that album, THE UNIVERSE ALSO COLLAPSE casts its gaze into the classic GONG years for inspiration but in the process only displays why those classic albums are so classic and why this attempt to recapture those magical moments pales in comparison. While the band claims that the album aims to bridge the worlds of lysergic exploration and quantum physics, ultimately it fails to revive the golden years as its missing the whimsy and imaginative explorations that Allen along with his cosmic whisperer Gilli Smith were masters of.

The album starts with the 20 minute + "Forever Recurring" which insinuates some sort of multi-suite cosmic journey to planet Lysergia and back and to be honest it is the most psychedelic track on the album but after the slow brooding synthesized intro that slowly ushers in a rhythmic pulses and eventually lyrical content, the track just floats by without ever developing into anything more substantial. This is literally a 20 minute track that finds the same groove ad infinitum as the guitars, sax and heavier percussive forces join in. It's an ok track for sure but lacks the sheer variety of the classic years and becomes a tad monotonous even though it alternates between heavier and softer passages. Most of all it is woefully deprived of that playful introspective philosophical quandary and pixie fueled spontaneity of the Allen years.

"If Never I'm And Ever You" is a short intermission but a welcome dynamic relief with choppy guitar riffs and a heavier foray into the world of time signature rich progressive rock with stellar jazzy saxophone contributions. This track is much more interesting and i wish at least half of the time allotted for the first track was given to this one to develop as it has more potential. Next up is the second longest track "My Sawtooth Wake" which at slightly over 13 minutes sort of combines the psychedelic meandering of the first with the heavier punchiness of the second. Once again it's basically a repetitive cyclical loop of a bass groove, haunting synth and glissando guitar antics which after a couple minutes slows down and turns into a contemplative vocal sequence with different timing signatures and slow tempo. Much more interesting. Should've been the first track.

The finale "The Elemental" is completely different as it starts out with a clean rock guitar chord progression and instant vocals. The psychedelia has been replaced with more of a singer / songwriter approach which sets it apart from the rest of the album as well as pretty much anything in the known GONG universe. While it's not a bad song it does bring to focus Kavus Torabi's vocal style which unfortunately has neither sufficient charismatic magnetism nor the driving dynamics to really bring the track to full potential, which after a few listens to this album perfectly describes THE UNIVERSE ALSO COLLAPSES as an album. Despite the noble attempt to remain faithful to the band's overall vision, it feels like these guys are holding back from really making the band their own as if the great spirit of Allen watches in the background and remains steadfastly in the psyche of its current lineup.

Come on, guys! Let loose and let the creative juices flow. This sounds like a tribute band trying to capture GONG's glory days but without the wacky whimsy and dynamic sense of variety that made the Radio Gnome Trilogy years to special. The attempt to replicate Hillage's guitar style but not building upon it just sounds weak! This is a decent album but won't go down as one of the band's greatest achievements. Hopefully this new GONG will find a way to forge their way into the next chapter of the psychedelic music scene but they will have to step it up as there countless modern bands that have already found new directions to take psychedelic space rock. If you're hoping for a new album that will blow you away then look to the past but if you want a pleasant yet predictable slice of modern Canterbury infused psychedelic space rock then THE UNIVERSE ALSO COLLAPSES does satisfy on that level.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars this review has been written originally for

Founded in France in late 60s by Australian beatnik Daevid Allen Gong for decades was possible best known musical hippie commune, based in Europe. They never received a commercial success but after all these years there are still people around discussing their Radio Gnome Trilogy (I'm serious - I can even mention their names!).

So, right after the half of a century (serious age for active music collective, isn't it?) we get an offer to listen to the new music recorded by "Gong". What is in a menu?

Band's founder and spiritual/creative leader Daevid Allen passed away in 2015 and the yeasr after there was released an album contained his legacy (unfinished ideas and works and lot of music from his younger collaborators who played beside of him). It was quite a great memorial release if not really a Gong album. Now, three years later (and four years after Allen's death), we have an album of new material,not something from the vaults. I'm far not a person who idolize even a great artists, but in a case with Gong things are not so simple.

Original Gong has always been more then just a band, in fact at their best the were talented counter-couture commune playing for fun and time to time recording their hippie-dada-space tales to dedicated followers. There were lot of line-up changes and there were more then a few Gong versions as well. Even best of them (different then Allen "original" one) was a better-then-average jazz fusion band (I'm speaking about so-called "Pierre Moerlen Gong" and their "Shamal" and "Gazeuse!" albums from mid 70s), but they lost that Allen's childish playful freakiness from very first steps. It was Allen himself who saved this ingredient for any project ,he participated, no-one else.

Returning back to newest album,"The Universe Also Collapses" is surprisingly strong (for second decade of new Millennium) progressive rock release. Skilled musicians who all played on last Gong album with Allen still on board - "I See You"(2014) - do the great job here. From twenty-plus minute long space-rock opener "Forever Reoccurring" ("Hawkwind" fans must to hear it for sure)to short guitars driven well-arranged "If Never I'm And Ever You" (do you still remember American AOR bands from early 80s?)to "My Sawtooth Wake" (I really respect Steve Wilson music too)and finally the closer "The Elemental" (Jethro Tull goes AOR?)they play a high quality progressive rock of sort with enthusiasm and positive energy not so characteristic for the time when progressive rock too often become a form of self parody.

Still is it enough for calling themselves "Gong"?

Review by friso
4 stars Progressive rock listeners will mostly like Gong because of the charismatic psychedelic space rock albums of the Radio Gnome Trilogy. Since enigmatic frontman Daevid Allen and 'space whisperer' Gilli Smith have both passed away the Gong tradition has been continued by a group of musicians which has been present since 2014's 'I See You' album - which was the last album on which Allen and Smith performed. Without any members of the seventies Gong the legitimacy of this line-up is debatable, but I would argue that this band deserves to be continued - especially with an album like 'The Universe Also Collapses'.

Present are the psychedelic and slightly dopey vocals with their jazzy timing, the space rock soundscapes, the jazz rock elements, a lost-in-time sixties refrain, the strong rhythmical section and above all that typical Gong sympathetic vibe. Add some very strong wind-sections by Ian East (that add a layer of VdGG intensity!) and some keyboard sounds that remind me a bit of CAN's 'Future Days' album - and you might get a picture of what to expect. The totality of it comes across as a group effort, rather than focusing on individual talents - which are evidently present. Of course, there's no replacing Deavid Allen's personality, but the vocals on this album are well done. I didn't like them at first, but somehow one moment later I 'found out' how much they are a charming tribute to Gong's founder. The production of the album is also very well done; a bit retro, yet modern enough to feel relevant in today's progressive rock landscape. Definitely better sounding - than say - 90% of the best albums of 2019.

I consider all songs (except the last) to be equally satisfying. 'Forever Reoccurring' is a twenty minute multi-part track that throws around all typical Gong elements and has a nice listenable pace to it. This song has the most Canterbury-like feel to it as well. Somehow this track has this conclusive or 'after though' feel about it, as if would perfectly fit right after the 'You' album. 'My Sawtooth Wake' is a thirteen minute track that further elaborates on the opening track and ends by musically referring to it. This would have made for a perfect ending to the album. The final song 'The Elemental' than sound a bit out of place with its songy feel and slightly flat mixing job. I actually rated the album as if this was just a bonus track.

In conclusion. With or without Gong legitimacy, this is the most charming space rock (and perhaps Canterbury as well) album of 2019! If the band would want to improve on this effort, it would have to expand on that varied Allenesque psychedelic songwriting - which also had a certain humanity to it. The jazzy instrumental space rock part is about as good as it could get in this tradition.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Kavus Torabi and pals had been assembled by Daevid Allen on I See You to form the nucleus of a new Gong line-up which could carry the band's legacy into a new era following Allen's demise - something which duly occurred after the completion of that album. Allen's ghost haunted the subsequent album - Rejoice! I'm Dead! - with some vocals and lyrics from him making their way on there, but on The Universe Also Collapses he has been exorcised more or less entirely.

As on the preceding album, the group make no attempt to mimic Allen's distinctive sense of humour, perhaps wisely - that was sufficiently personal to Allen that attempts to copy it would fall flat. That said, attempts to do "Gong without Daevid Allen" are by no means new - it happened on Shamal, it happened in numerous spin-off projects using the name, and on Rejoice! I'm Dead! it happened once more.

Torabi and Sturt still, however, need to do something which is distinctly Gong-like with the project, even if the humour and the Pothead Pixies mythology is set aside, but I think they absolutely succeed here. If you had to answer the question "What is Gong?" without making reference to Allen's persona, humour, and mythology, you could say "They're the most enduringly psychedelic and spacey of the original wave of Canterbury bands" and I think most Gong fans would agree with that. After all, isn't one of their most celebrated albums You, in which the Allen-inspired humour drifts away in favour of intense instrumental workouts?

That's pretty much what you get here - jazzy, psychedelic, spacey Canterbury, using modern instrumentation and textures to produce a 21st Century equivalent of, say, the longer tracks on You. If you're into that side of Gong, you'll find a lot to like here, and I suspect that goes for most Gong fans - I know more people who tolerate the Allen whimsy for the sake of the space-Canterbury workouts than I do people who sit through the latter wishing the band would get back to the teapot jokes.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I've heard every Gong album, and although so many of them are crap, I remain a big fan of the band. This album is one of the best. Sounds exactly like my favorite parts of Gong (synths from You and Angel's Egg), but morphed into an epic 20 minute track. It's crazy to think that a band that's long ou ... (read more)

Report this review (#2245384) | Posted by hugo1995 | Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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