(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Gnod (2009), 6/10
The Long And Short Of It (2011), 5/10
Ingnodwetrust (2011), 6.5/10
Chaudelande Volume 1 (2011), 7.5/10
Chaudelande Volume 2 (2012), 6.5/10
Infinity Machines (2015), 7.5/10
Mirror (2016), 6/10

Manchester's collective Gnod, fronted by vocalist Paddy Shine, played ethereal acid-rock augmented with (German) prog-rock and (British) post-rock aesthetics on the amateurish Gnod (Pariah Child, 2009) and The Long And Short Of It (2011), each containing two untiled side-long jams. The pulsating neurosis and grotesquely horror soundscape of Untitled II from the self-titled album were emblematic of their influences, from Suicide to Neu. Untitled II Suicide.

They also recorded the collaboration Gnod Drop Out With White Hills (2010), that started their more mature phase.

Ingnodwetrust (Rocket, 2011) added two more jams, especially the 20-minute Tony's First Communion, one of their peaks, an endless psychological torture that plays around a pneumatic pulsing device, wrapped in mind-bending distortions and manipulated voices that keep changing and colliding; a slow and monotonous but methodic torture.

Chaudelande Volume 1 (Tamed Records, 2011) increased the heaviness of the sound. The ten-minute Tron is another vicious satanic noisy voodoobilly that evokes Chrome and Red Crayola. The eight-minute Visions Of Load instead sounds like a metal (and more electronic) remix of Suicide's Dream Baby Dream. The 17-minute The Vertical Dead begins all wrapped in a doom-psychedelic atmosphere (broken riffs, sleepy drums and distorted vocals) but the vocalist intones a lengthy sermon that drowns in a sea of sound effects and guitar noise. This was their first excess of recitation, the archetype of what would come later.

Chaudelande Volume 2 (Tamed Records, 2012) contains one of their confusing multiple-personality pieces, Man on Wire: a religious function (bells, drums, choir and birds) that morphs into a satanic dance that morphs into a torrential guitar-driven jam. The tribal-industrial motif is better expressed in the 17-minute Genocider, propelled by heavy riffs and voodoobilly beat, devoured by cosmic distortions a` la Helios Creed and otherworldly shouts a` la Suicide. After nine minutes the piece seems to change completely style with a brief syncopated dance break, but then the pounding beast returns even stronger. It could obviously go on forever.

These three albums were possibly their top artistic achievements.

The electronic EP Dwellings & Druss (Trensmat, 2014) targeted the dancegloor. First it merged new wave, techno and cosmic music in the nine-minute 20 Sides A Minute and then the 16-minute Defeatism indulged in a stoic carnival of Brazilian drum'n'bass with hyper-bass that rises to a demonic frenzy. They are both silly novelties, but 20 Sides A Minute is actually quite intriguing and could sit right next to the most creative experiments of Love Of Life Orchestra.

Chris Haslam and Paddy Shine also formed Dwellings and Druss.

Gnod abandoned any notion of heavy rock music on the double-disc Infinity Machines (2015), set in a nightmarish wasteland with cyberpunk overtones, and relying a lot more on spoken-word and electronica. The 17-minute Control Systems exudes a sense of decay and loneliness. Its dissonant chamber music is littered with extraterrestrial noise and a loose jazz saxophone (David McLean) while the voice recites a documentary of ordinary lives. The garbled electronic sounds haven't been so creative since Pere Ubu's Ravenstine ruled the alternative air waves The ten-minute Inevitable Collateral is another psychological piece. At first it sets in motion a counterpoint of sax drones, plain recitation and psychedelic electronics but then it morphs into a different beast, a monotonous syncopated house beat, while android spaceships float around. The 18-minute Importance Of Downtime emerges from a lake of droning synths in a slowly fluctuating quantum vaccum. The grating dissonance and whispering voices form a disorienting background while a tribal beat takes control, an accelerated form of minimal techno. The 19-minute White Privileged Wank wastes a lot of time settling into a mid-tempo panzer march but, just when you thought you could relax, a swarm of electronic insects attack and corrode the beat. The miasmatic wall of noise interacts with the pounding monster engine and for a while one feeds into the other. A violent bursts of radio interference wipes both off the face of the universe. The 15-minute Spinal Fluid is a (overlong) concerto for frenzied African polyrhythm and massive sideral drones. The 17-minute Infinity Machines, after a warped snippet of ordinary life, settles into down-tempo fusion jazz, gently caressed by languid saxophone melodies and fleeting electronic drones. The only nod to their metal roots is the brief chaotic Breaking The Hex. The guitar is generally underplayed. While indulgent and overdone, the lengthy pieces of this album demonstrate a much more creative intelligence than the early albums.

Mirror (Rocket Recordings, 2016) is a sophisticated appendix to Infinity Machines. The most musical of the compositions is The Mirror, a piece of reverb-drenched dub and spoken-word with a dissonant instrumental break, and a coda of magniloquent King Crimson-ian riffs. The link to the early albums this time around is the panzer-heavy psychodrama Learn To Forgive for war sirenes, metallic clangor and angst-filled recitation. The most theatrical piece is the 18-minute Sodom & Gomorrah: agonizing recitation, funereal doomed pace, a ghostly demonic voice lost in a dark ocean of scattered noises, industrial banging and mind-bending distortions... Gnod pack all the arsenal of tricks that they have learned. When the agony gets more excruciating, Shine sounds like a male Lydia Lunch.

Behind the Lids (2016) was a collaboration with Anthony Child that, again, consists of two untitled side-long improvisations.

Unfortunately Gnod released way too many half-baked or mediocre albums and their best ideas are scattered all over the place, frequently surrounded by lengthy sections of childish experiments.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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