Posts Tagged ‘Gnod’

GNOD & João Pais Filipe

I’ve long been a proponent of the works of GNOD. The UK psych unit skims the line between pulsing, rhythmic psychedelia and noise so easily that they’ve let the colors run into one another over the years. On their latest they skirt into avant impulses fraught with a clangorous din and hypnotic polyrhythms. The band members are nothing if not consummate collaborators, having worked cross genre with everyone from Anthony Child (Surgeon), White Hills, and John Doran. Now they hook up with experimental percussionist Joăo Pais Filipe (Paisel), whom they met at Milhoes De Festa event in Barcelos, Portugal. The set was hammered out a short while after over four days at Joăo’s metal shop.

Like any other GNOD album it swerves away from its predecessors. The connection with Pais Filipe proves to center the album in hypnotic rhythms, a side that’s found its way into the band’s work plenty of times prior, but what the Portuguese artist brings to the set is a sense of foreboding atmosphere — haunting ripples, the ominous air of gongs. Guitars still scrape at the senses, but they too tend to ride the fluctuation of rhythm. As the air crackles with dissonant tension, scraping with feedback and woodwind howl, GNOD do their own part to match Pais Filipe’s calamitous atmospheres. The pieces remain instrumental until the second side tucks into the title track, and then GNOD enter the vocal fray with pained, fraught vocals that don’t direct anger so much as they have on the past couple of GNOD LPs, rather a lost frustration that’s fighting its way out of the rhythm haze. The band’s never stagnant and Faca De Fogo readily pushes them more towards the margins they were already occupying most of the time. Still haunted, still chewing on the bent cables of chaos, but also providing a satisfying body buzz at high volume in the right mood. No matter who’s in the co-pilot’s seat, GNOD make for a heavy hit.



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Design Inspiration: Chris Reeder

There have been plenty of touchstone labels around here, but I’d wager to say that Rocket Recordings is up there in the top ten that get referenced on the site. Their take on psych and metal is always interesting and always quality, but aside from just digging up some of the best band, the label also embraces a spotless design aesthetic that I’ve always been attracted to. This comes largely in part from label heads Chris Reeder and John O’Carroll, who both contribute sleeves to their stable of releases. Design in psych and metal can either be transcendent (see Design Inspiration: Arik Roper) or drag the releases into parody. Reeder and O’Carroll fall squarely in the former camp, elevating their releases to art pieces visually as well as aurally.

Reeder and O’Carroll both agreed to contribute picks to Design Inspiration, but I’ll focus first on Chris Reeder. His sleeves have a clean design that’s crisp and classic at the same time, rendering them iconic each time. If you’re familiar with the output of Goat, GNOD, Lay Llamlas, Pigs x 7 and Hey Colossus, then you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. Chris dives into five of his all time favorites, but leaves the caveat: “It is really hard to pick only 5 sleeves as so many have meant so much over the years, but on the day I wrote this piece these are the 5 that I wanted to talk about.”

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Gnod

Gnod’s last album was full of righteous indignation, sparked by the toxic fumes of Brexit and Trump, it was a searing manifesto of rebellion that called for bucking the system, underpinned with the kind of noise hurricane that rightly accompanies such sentiments. Their follow-up remains, at least tonally, in line with the pounding rock typhoon they unleased on that album, dipping toes slightly into the caustic post-punk and harsh noise masks they’ve donned before but welling up the same level of intensity that spiked the blood pressure last time ‘round. On Chapel Perilous though, they ditch a great deal of the straight-forward, sonic turpentine execution that marked Just Say No… ‘s beating heart.

This time the band aren’t operating as the first line dissenters, they’re leaning into the chaos that’s become the daily bread. Their intensity and anger is shot through a disorienting prism, bouncing the blindingly heavy hues across an endless web of mirrors via gummy dub touches, clattering repetitious beats and acid bath guitars. There’s still a gnashed tooth, clenched fisted attack but on Chapel Perilous Gnod act as a conduit for the fears that are arising around us seemingly by the moment. The band is plugged straight to the alarmingly quick descent into dystopian ideals that have come one after another these days and they’re just as adrift, still angry but now swinging wildly rather than acting as a battering ram set to topple the gates.

This can be felt most prominently in the gale force opener “Donovan’s Daughters,” a fifteen-minute ripper that builds to cathartic screams of “I don’t know where this is going.” The track shines an x-ray on every panic attack moment had while scrolling through the day, building to boil until the tension can’t hold. Dread’s been a good friend to Gnod over the years but they’ve rarely wielded it as well as they have here. Sandwiched between that opener and the similarly riled “Uncle Frank Says Turn It Down,” the band trades in itchy instrumentals that claw at the base of the skull and the respirator drones of “A Body”. If Just Say No… was a call to arms, this album is a distress call bouncing off the beacons with little hope that anyone’s going to answer.



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Lay Llamas – “Holy Worms / Silver Sun (Red Sun – Negra Branca Remix)”

On the first single from his global psychedelic stewpot of an album, “Silver Sun,” Nicola Giunta draped the German Progressive paradigm in shades of late ‘90s electronic psych, dredging up allusions to The Beta Band and Clinic. On the album’s second point of entry, “Holy Worms,” he embraces a multicultural funk that puts him in leagues with his labelmates in Goat, pinning a tangle of polyrhythms to a ‘70s afrofunk guitar line and a vocal workout that stretches through Talking Heads territory, but gets caught short in a haze of narcotic bliss.

This second single, in its most digital of forms, also happens to come with a standout flip side that digests the original version of “Silver Sun” and mangles it into a completely different animal. Remixed by Gnod’s Marlene Ribiero masquerading as Negra Branca, the “Red Sun Remix” shaves off Giunta’s psych-pop romp appeal and delves darker, amping up the rhythms until they pound at the eardrum. Ribiero also brings in a chorus of female vocals to replace Giunta’s originals. They breathe the mantra “Red Sun, Green Sun” in calming contrast to the panic attack psych bubbling throughout her version and it becomes an oracle of calm inside a virtual storm of a track.

She shaves down the acidic sax solo that adorned Lay Llamas original, saving only a few panicked bleats to whinny away over the chaotic atmosphere brewing below. The reconfiguration slides Giunta into a much more lysergic territory gnashing Krautrock’s teeth on a mash of dub and gospel with a free jazz storm threatening in the distance. Great remixes can often lay the original to waste, but here Negra Blanca simply prove that while the pop sheen adorning Lay Llamas new album is welcome, sometimes you gotta go deep into the cave to find the psychedelic heart.




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Gnod

Gnod capture the mood of the moment with a scathing album that vacillates between numb noise and outbursts of explosive indignation. A year after their last album, which played up their post-punk side, they choose to go for brutality over nuance and it feels good on them, not to mention aids in the cathartic absorption of the psychic shitstorm that’s swirling closer every day. The opener, “Bodies For Money” is a boot to the neck, a wake up call that lets the listener know that Gnod is ready to get into the noise trenches for this one. Though, it should be pretty self-evident that the band is on the rampage from the moment the sixteen-ton title, JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE rolls off of the tongue.

While the sludge and pummel of noise rock is the roux that gets this album going, they’re not entirely unyielding with regard to adding other elements to the pot. There’s a primal dance that runs through several of the tracks, not so much in the club sense, more along the lines of working oneself into a trance for battle. And by all regards that seems to be where Gnod is headed with this. They’re eschewing subtlety and leaving that road for someone with more patience. It’s evident that they prefer to smack the populace awake and light a few fuses before it’s too late. Gotta find that at least a bit admirable. If you’re looking to soundtrack your civil disobedience, you’d do well to put Gnod on the speakers and let the volume knob fly.




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Gnod

Gnod have been increasingly harder to pin down over the years, wandering from rhythmic psych to desolate dub excursions and landing on the minimal electronic scrawl of last year’s Infinity Machines. So where does that leave them next? The clearest through line in all their work is an ever encroaching darkness and on Mirror that darkness is front and center. Packing in a lot more instrumentation than Infinity Machines this album finds solace in the strung wire post-punk drawn in black and grey shades that made Swans and PiL and Throbbing Gristle household names (depending on your household I guess). The album deals with mental illness and the increasing impact the presence of social media has in fostering schisms in personality and ego. Its a claustrophobic, anxious barrage that creeps as close as it can to the cliff without plummeting.

The album packs its oil caked pummel into just three tracks but each of those three build to an increasingly desperate plateau. By the closing track’s 18+ minute mind scratch, its hard not to spend the rest of the day wrestling with anxiety, feeling the walls close in and praying for rain. This is certainly about the bleakest set I’ve heard from Gnod, but there’s something comforting in its clangorous gnash. It feels like fighting, like pushing against the walls that have been imposed by unseen hands and in that regard Gnod have created a bit of a hopeful album as well.




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