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Gnomonaut - The Chronocosm CD (album) cover

THE CHRONOCOSM

Gnomonaut

 

Heavy Prog

3.69 | 15 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'The Chronocosm' - Gnomonaut (6/10)

It sounds like what the album cover looks like.

If a long bearded gnome in an astronaut suit standing in what I could only describe as some sort of shroom-induced mindscape is any indicator, the listener is going to be taken on a pretty spacey trip with Gnomonaut, an instrumental rock act that has released, this, their debut record recently without any help from distributors. Described as a semi-narrative conceptual piece about a gnome in a space suit roaming amongst time and space, the band lets us know exactly what to look out for, and as far as 'The Chronocosm' goes, I have not been disappointed. While nothing that this debut album offers particularly dazzles me, Gnomonaut's convincing blend of psychedelia and heavy riff rock makes a great soundtrack for any aspiring spacial traveler.

The band's stated influences say alot about where their various elements come from. Their sound is the fusion of heavy riffs inspired by Clutch or even Black Sabbath, while the more spacey aspect seems ripped straight from the goofy tendrils of Ozric Tentacles. Overall, this is not a bad combination of sounds at all, although the genre of 'stoner rock' is one that bases itself entirely around this, so I cannot say that Gnomonaut's sound is entirely fresh. For what it is however, Gnomonaut does succeed at creating a rocking journey that keeps changing. Although the music here is instrumental (save for some garbled gnomespeak spotted around the more ambient moments), there is a story being told here. The heavy moments imply some sort of action or astronomical event, while the lighter sections seem to be more of an introspection into the mind of our titular hero. In any case, the listener is left to fill in the gaps of the story; Gnononaut have only laid down the narrative framework. If a listener approaches it from this angle, it can lead to a fairly engaging experience beyond the music itself.

In terms of the actual music here, it ranges from mediocre to rather great. The riffs themselves here are a little simplistic and to-the-point for my tastes, and while the energy and grit gets across just nicely, there is often little depth to the heavy rock sparing the interplay between guitars and bass. 'Shipwrecked' and the title track 'The Chronocosm' are the two big standouts for me. 'Shipwrecked' is a far cry from the rock riffs and bluesy sound, and instead leans towards a trippy piece of space electronic, with the dialogue of a somewhat existential gnome pondering his lonely existence. It drags on for a little too long, but the eerieness gets across, and it is some nice ear candy, especially for those with a nice stereo system. 'The Chronocosm' is the epic defacto closer to his album, and takes the guitars one step further by adding some clean licks that work wonderfully, and an effective build to the song that unfortunately does not conclude in a particularly satisfying way. Throughout the album, there are a few added surprises, including some non-rock instrumentation that adds a King Crimson-esque strangeness to some parts that I really like.

After the main album has concluded, there are still two covers that Gnomonaut have kindly included for us; one being King Crimson's 'Red', and the other Black Sabbath's 'The Wizard'. 'Red' is a fairly functional replica of the original, even emulating many of the guitar tones that Fripp used on the original. It does not have enough to this new version to make it much interesting however. 'The Wizard' is another story altogether; taking an originally harmonica- driven track and fusing it with saxophones and lead guitar to fill in for the vocals, this is a lovely rendition of the original Sabbath track that closes out 'The Chronocosm' quite nicely.

I cannot say that 'The Chronocosm' is excellent, as it feels a little bland around the edges, There is some good music and a very fun atmosphere to the album however, and although there are certainly more vibrant albums in the style, Gnomonaut give a mostly satisfying experience with their debut.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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