18 Dec 2015
Gnoomes - Ngan!
Reviewed by Shaun C. Rogan
Gnoomes are from Russia, one of the homes of space exploration in the twentieth century. In the tradition of all things cosmonaut-like, Gnoomes latest LP 'Ngan!' is a huge lumbering Soyuz spacecraft of blissed out sound that draws a perfect arc through 40 years of tripped out intergalactic noisemaking. Y'dig? Read on.
This full length outing is definitely one that rewards repeated listening. 'Ngan' is a four track sound sandwich with two giant wedges of sonic exploration bookending the two shorter tracks in between. The first few times listening it's fun to analyse Gnoomes sound and pull out your favourite reference points from their map of the heavens. Opening track, "Roadhouse" definitely has been touched by the spirit of Michael Rother and Harmonia or more latterly Causa Sui. It hovers gently into view on washes of lightly echoed guitar morphing before locking down into a lovely crystalline motorik groove with spectral, almost monastic vocals blowing through the speakers that begs to morph into a fuzz and distorto supernova underpinned by some lovely synth drones. Of course about 4 minutes in that is exactly what begins to unfold but in a way that never loses its precision or sense of control. Over its 15 glorious minutes of very deliberately sculpted sound you are presented with the scene Gnoomes want you to dig with them. It is vast, it is timeless, it is propulsive blissed out krautrock beauty, pulling the listener along in its sparkling, rumbling wake.
"Myriads" is a brief excursion into a heady brew of syncopated rhythms, synth washes and tastefully overdriven guitars that may bring to mind a more folksy Sonic Youth overlaid with a sweetly simple vocal melody so self-effacing it almost isn't there. "Moognes" follows swiftly after and once more we find ourselves in swirly guitars with submerged vocals that beg comparisons with 'Loveless' era My Bloody Valentine, mid-to late period Flaming Lips or the more recent comet-tails of sound favoured by Active Listener favourites The Besnard Lakes. This is no bad thing of course and it is delivered with such attention to detail it's hard to not leave your prejudices at the door and just enjoy it.
Epic closing odyssey, "My Son" starts off all quiet, barely audible voices before a slowly emergent rhythm strongly reminiscent of 'Atmosphere' by Joy Division arrives in your inner-ear. Infinitely more slow burning than the similarly lengthy opener, the track waxes and wanes under manipulated waves of feedback - always the same always different - in classic kosmiche-drone style until finally disgorging itself of its stored up energy and reaching critical mass; flaring into life in an endless spiral of bubbling, burbling theremin-like ring modulation. Imagine 'Big City' by the Spacemen 3 launched into the heliosphere and remotely detonated.This really is cosmic music of the highest calibre, deftly handled and guaranteed to make a dolphin smile. Impressive indeed and a lovely way to spend an idle 40 minutes of your time.
Throughout 'Ngan!' the band known as Gnoomes loom. Gnoomes are a mega-space ship with the controls set firmly for the heart of a distant sun. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on - its time to take a ride with them to who knows where.
Available on digital and CD from Gnoomes bandcamp page (through the streaming link below). They've sold out of vinyl but you can still pick the LP up here (UK/EU) or here (US) if you're quick about it.