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The Somnambulist's Tale (Reissue) Colm McAuliffe , March 12th, 2014 06:36

There's a real whiff of rural menace emanating from Gnod. But that isn't to say the band are rooted, or even earthbound, in any sense of those words. Although operating out of Islington Mill in Salford, everything about the music the band make seems in permanent flux, in search of extreme moments of joy or abasement, whichever comes first. Is it the lost knowledge of the Gnostics, the magic of the ancient world, expelled from the human mind but now seeping back into consciousness through the primal and feral frequencies employed by the band? Or are they simply a devastating calibration of good ale, savage drugs and a brutal sound system?

I last saw Gnod play live in Stoke Newington's Waiting Room at the back end of 2013. The following morning, I felt like I had spent the previous evening headbutting pebble dash, such was the merciless, rapacious intensity of the band's arsenal of sonic skirmishes, so terrifying it was almost tangible. And this is what makes listening to this re-release of The Somnambulist's Tale so alarming: the two untitled pieces here are calm, tranquil, sanguine.

Peppered with oral interjections from Salford Tom – by all accounts a midnight bike rider, speed freak, kitchen-dweller, skip-hunter and much else besides – the rhythms are deceptively bucolic and picturesque; the addition of a typewriter chattering and Tom's whizz-fuelled doom mongering fails to dampen the dawn apparitions, made even more vivid with ample use of a Hang instrument and some gentle synthesiser trills. And you're just waiting, waiting for an explosion, an unwarranted intrusion to disrupt and disconnect.

But it never arrives. The Somnambulist's Tale is full of weird and beautiful moments – a terrible beauty, perhaps. The same basic percussive rhythm is at the core of both tracks, occasionally altering in tempo and sporadically dropping out to allow Salford Tom's chatter to filter through. The synths shimmer and hover in a slightly uneasy equipoise; the two tracks are seemingly sliced and spliced back together, but the whole thing blends into one seamless mélange of chatter and rhythm, a quiet clamour.

Gnod appear to live life as if life itself could be a work of art. They don't just seem to read about weirdness and then attempt to recreate such an existence, they prevail very much within that continuum of inherent madness. You see, there's something of the old world about this band - as if they are tapped into a memory buried in the human psyche, a fragment of those thoughts which had been rejected in the dogmatic forms taken by most religions, but can still be reactivated as some sort of wisdom. Gnod celebrate music as an art form which can mediate between the physical and spiritual to the point at which those opposites emerge, in startling fashion.