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Gong Expresso

Decadence

Review by Gary Hill

Gong Expresso is a spin off group from Gong. This new CD is an instrumental one that is probably more fusion than it is prog rock. Still, we generally put fusion under prog, anyway. This is mostly melodic and borders from mellow to rocking a bit. There is enough variety here to keep it from feeling like one long piece of music, but the scope is somewhat narrow. What is not in short supply here is musical talent. All in all, if you like fusion, you will probably really enjoy this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Decadence
The acoustic guitar sounds that open this feel a bit like folk music. As it starts to work outward from there, though, it takes on more of a freeform kind of fusion sound. There is an almost ominous, but pretty, tone to this. More real jazz begins to work out from there. As it approaches the half way point of this ride the bass takes over and we're moved out into a more powered up, but still rather understated, fusion jam. This continues to evolve from there, getting pretty intense at times.
Zephyr
I love the rhythmic elements of this cut. It's another killer fusion piece. While the opener started in more subtle ways, this comes out with a more powered up (but still fairly mellow) approach right out of the gate. The intensity peaks later in the track, and then it drops down to a more stripped back movement to continue.
Toumani
While there is no big change here, we get another killer fusion piece. This seems to take more of a snowball approach, gradually growing as it continues its musical explorations.
Talisman

The vibes add a lot to this cool cut. It is a bit less intense, but almost more exotic than some of the rest. There are some melodic elements that make me think of the California Guitar Trio meets King Crimson school of guitar.

The Importance of Common Things

I love the funky bit mid-track on this number. It has some cool grooves beyond that, but that section really stands out for me.

Eastern Platinum
More of that CGT/Crimson styled circulation element is on display here. This has some intriguing musical moments beyond that, too. The guitar soloing around the three-minute mark it so tasty. This seriously intensifies on the closing section.
Frevo
Mellower, melodic sounds are the concept at the start of this. This is another classy cut, but not a huge change.
God Knows
I love the acoustic guitar soloing on this closing number. That said, the drumming has some interesting twists. The bass work is definitely noteworthy, too.
 
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