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Gnod
Chaudelande Simon Jay Catling , March 6th, 2013 07:53

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Say that, for some reason, you attempted to draw a timeline that took in Salford-based Gnod's chronological progression, evolving creative process and increase of profile. The end result would be a graph as spaghetti'd as the chameleonic space rock that they fling out. Formed somewhere around 2006/2007, at least three of their core band members are old enough to have smelt the sweat of the Hacienda in its pomp. However, acid rock's recent return to vogue contributed to them being named The Guardian's New Band Of The Day the other week – wedged between Drenge and Feathers. This album, which will hopefully benefit from this 'recently refreshed' desire for all things repetitive and hazy, was actually recorded two years ago, in the middle of rural Normandy.

Chaudelande is one of a confusing number of albums, CD-Rs, split release EPs, cassettes and other shrapnel that have blown outward from this creative explosion. Where others release methodically, with the intention of to reaching their next point strategically or creatively, Gnod create without context, throwing their work into the ether once it's done. It explains the hotch-potch way in which people, from Russian blogs five years ago to national newspapers last month, have discovered them; and it means that, as a writer, there's no point in trying to frame any of it with a larger narrative, there's only the need to decide whether it's smoking or not. And, verily, Chaudelande is smoking indeed.

The record is fuelled by adrenaline; essentially a live album, with tracks mostly recorded in single takes, the music's direction is mostly dictated by whatever happens when the whole eardrum flaying juggernaut is well under way. Sometimes, like on the album's bookends 'Tron' and 'Genocider,' they find that the best path is simply the one they've been crashing down for the previous five minutes anyway - and then the cyclical whirls of guitar, thick with sludge, are burdened with extra weight, only for them to seemingly holler, like Giles Corey under execution, “More!”

'Tron' is a nasty, mucky thing; adjective fields surrounding the cosmos get thrown around a lot regarding Gnod, but there are raw, earthy punk sensibilities at play here on its elongated coil. It hits you like a heated grapple with a stubbly-faced gent, all scratching and vicious, with a motorik rhythm that punctuates with a brutal physicality. 'Genocider', the album's utterly devastating closer, hurtles through a similar prism but is bolstered out into a larger entity from the off, the group achieving a deliriously apocalyptic amount of bedlam that even the Four Horseman's steeds would need some coercion into negotiating.

Those tracks and 'Visions Of Load', another more reined in though no less urgent trip through dark psychedelia, prove that Gnod can do the 'find gnarly riff, play gnarly riff, repeat with bong-inhaling gusto' thing a treat. But it's Chaudelande's more dynamically diverse middle section that provides a glimpse as to the real freakiness going on in their headspace. 'Vertical Dead', 'Man On The Wire' and 'Entrance' make up nearly 40 minutes that see Gnod absorb all their worldly influences into a myriad of sonic catacombs. They take in mantra-like chanting, slowcore, tribal sounding cross-rhythms and, when it all coalesces too densely, complete breakdowns into atonal abrasion that you can picture as the exact instances during the group's session where the chemicals kicked in again, and their Technicolor minds flickered over to the next alarming shade. The group have spent time in Morocco and North Africa, while somewhere in their murky past lies a love of metal and, yes, contact with the Madchester era. When you fling all of this together at the rate of knots Gnod have done, it creates a cacophonic mind fuck of the sort that leaves visions unravelling and warping before your eyes.

There's a vocalist somewhere in this. If he's saying anything important you wouldn't have a hope of hearing it, but his Mark E Smith holler evokes the same sensations you experience as a listener – namely the feeling of trying to fight and gasp for air amidst this dense wind tunnel. When 'Genocider' finally crashes to a close, after nearly 17 minutes, you fear for whether or not he's still there on the other end of the microphone, or if he's simply been eviscerated by the raw power he's attempted to draw himself up against.

Chaudelande captures a short, specific period in Gnod's existence, but does it capture them? The group's commitment to mind-opening noise, based on the release of repetition, has long been in their make-up, but their constant evolution (they're currently making forays into industrial and electronic music) means they'll never likely be pinned down. Chaudelande is, like their dozens of other releases, just another snapshot of a band in constant flux. It just so happens to be a particularly brilliant one.

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gnod fanatic
Mar 7, 2013 1:40pm

probably the best band in the uk.destined to be loved fanatically by few.hopefully some of they younger bands getting into psyche will use gnod(and hawkwind!!!) as an inspiration rather than say some of the more cerebral acts acting as a kind of template for them.
great review

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t o n y
Mar 8, 2013 11:09am

There's a remix from the album that you can download for free here: https://soundcloud.com/noisestar/genocider-nighthammer-v13

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tricknology feral
Mar 8, 2013 2:06pm

As with all truly great bands, the message is simple- love what you do and do what you love.

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forestpunk
Mar 11, 2013 8:02pm

nice writing! you describe sounds well. will have to seek this one out.

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Stephen Huerta
Jun 4, 2013 10:31pm

I was visiting San Francisco, when I stopped in at Aquarius Records,asked for something new in psych/space rock, Allen said check these guys out.So I picked up Gnod's new CD,all I can say is,"when are they coming to SF, I've got to see these guys".Hawkwind is dead, Gnod is there replacement.I hope they play at Slim's.The West is the best.

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