How in the name of shitting Jesus do you explain, summarise, or label Gnod? “Salford Krautrock collective” seems to be standard but “standard” isn’t in the Gnod vocab.
Having been on my radar for while, I caught their stunning set at Camp at The Liverpool Psych Fest. Given the unenviable job of following Teeth Of The Sea’s imperious set they turned the place into a pounding, sweaty temple of noise. Somewhere in between industrial and techno, but really… fucked if I know. All I can attest to is that is that it was a colossal experience that I would have happily listened to for hours, nodding my head like a mad bastard and twitching some vague approximation of dance.
‘Tron’ is simply devastating. The musical equivalent of a nuclear bombardment it reaches into your body, rips out your spinal column then feeds it back to you. The drums are the deafening holler of the grotesque machinery that powers the slaughterhouse in the lowest domains of hell. Even the vocals are swept away in this blitzkrieg of sonic skull fuckery. A bass riff kicks you repeatedly in the ribs. This song will fuck you up.
‘Visions Of Load’ has a stark rattlesnake guitar riff. It’s kinda funky and a way that sucks the breath from your body. It’s kinda like a vampire Zappa boogie. The bass throughout the opening salvo actually reminds me of the two bass line up The Fall had for a brief, glorious while. Encroaching the 3 minute mark it actually comes over all punk-funk, in between the stark drone swivels. As the song develops it whips you into a psychotic hypno-frenzy. Man, the bass is really funky. The beauty is if you took the drums and all round lunacy down you’d have something quite catchy and accessible with this little ditty. But they haven’t, they have created something to tune your body into. Gnod are like a cyberpunk man-machine integration. Creating guttural rhythms they turn your body into a twisted wreck of flesh and circuitry.
To say ‘The Vertical Dead’ is a change of pace is something of an understatement, Starting more like a Durutti Column track with bird song and what sounds like a sitar, Slowly, an anguished trace of the actual song emerges, like a diseased arachnid. There is the slightest hint of ‘Heaven Up Here’ by Echo & The Bunnymen, especially in the bass. Meanwhile the guitar shreds abuse like Keith Levene gone free jazz. Past 8 minutes it reshapes into a space rock glide with the scores of vocal effects riding slip stream. Remember the first ever film to scare you shitless? Think back and now imagine this was the soundtrack.
‘Man On The Wire’ with it’s tinkling, bird song and chanting sounds like we’re seeing a coven of devil worshippers in a low-budget Hammer Horror. Probably starring Frank Finlay. Those epic pounding drums emerge. It’s these drums that help make Gnod. Without the rigid beats this album could descend into experimental wankery. Instead this is experimental music you can dance to. Another fucking massive riff rules, all angular and controlled electric emissions, like a Wire song stuffed to the gills on steroids and fuck-knows-what. Past the 6 minute mark and the drums reshuffle and the chanting re-emerges. The bass carries us to the end of the song and to the edge of the Reichenbach Falls.
‘Entrance’ swooshes in on the wings of Tangerine Dream-y synth stylings and fevered drums. The bass speeds up in the fast lane like a late night juggernaut. Anxiety descends like it did during that exam you couldn’t be arsed revising for. The guitar takes control with Gang Of Four style short, controlled bursts. Rising to a glorious peak of blood and terror this is probably what a Roman war was like.
‘Genocider’ hits like a hurricane slamming into your body. Once again it’s the drums. Imagine Odin, God Of War hosting a rave and using you as the drum kit. 5 minutes in and I’m losing the power of rational thought now, my body’s simply becoming a host, I’m being turned inside out, gutted alive. I think I’m blacking out, my vision’s going all woozy. *Colourhorizon takes a break, has a walk around the flat*. This is the musica equivalent of body horror, this is Hellraiser and The Thing going to work on you with hammers and pliers. Then just when you think you are becoming desensitised to it, they crank the fucker up some more.
‘5th Sun’ is the sound of wading face first though an underground river of shit.
Now, it’s safe to say that this isn’t for everyone. This won’t end up on the soundtrack of The Great British Bake Off. Though I may watch it if it did. However, anyone with an interest in the use of noise, drone and various forms of full-on dance music could be susceptible to being infected by Gnod. Chaudelande can fit into many people’s world views, the difference is that they push the boundaries and challenge the listener in a brutal experiment of body invasion.