The shape-shifting noisenik collective get to grips with machines in some style
They’ve been around since 2007 with a line-up that shifts like the sands and a pile of releases as hard to count as a kittens at tea-time, but it would seem that Gnod have hit a tipping point with ‘Infinity Machines’.
Gnod are based at Salford’s ramshackle Islington Mill, where a can-do DIY ethic has seen a bewildering hotchpotch of music makers and a self-contained supportive ecosystem of artists, designers, DJs, club runners, gig promoters and label owners establish itself. The fact they are starting to grab lots of attention now, under the nose of a music industry that continues to eat itself, speaks volumes.
Of course, while it all unavoidably harks back to a kind of Zodiak Free Arts Lab ideal, it is the music that this group are turning out that counts. There wasn’t a name for what the late 60s electronic pioneers did, when they ditched their guitars for a mountain of oscillators. Sounded pretty gobsmacking all the same. So, sure, you can call this krautrock, psych rock, post-rock if you must – the labels are easy to come by – but Gnod are full of surprises. Forget what you think you know, open your ears, and let ‘Infinity Machines’ woo you.
The first track, ‘Control Systems’, stalks the 70s NYC streets of ‘Taxi Driver’, all steamy sax (which is often redolent of early Clock DVA’s clarinet), bubbling synths, and resonant plinks and plonks, a slow heartbeat building beneath and leading the resulting chaos on a merry dance. So far, so psych. But things start getting really interesting as Gnod cease operating in the Electronic Sound borderlands and arrive slap-bang in our world of wires, cables and flashing lights.
‘Collateral Damage’ and ‘Desire’ are lowdown and dirty dancefloor, deeply satisfying thrums and rumbles underpinned by a groove machine bolted to the floor lest it shakes itself to bits. ‘Desire’ in particular, at a tad under seven minutes, could easily have held our ears for another seven. What really pleases is the shift from gentle butterfly flutterings on one track to a sledgehammer round the chops on the next, and the way that the whole lot sits. Pretty comfy all told.
The sounds on the mellow rumble of ‘The Importance Of Downtime’ are the soundtrack of the night. You can hear noises off, somewhere over there, gentle ticks, distant chatter. And downtime is what you’re going to need for what follows. The clear standout is the strikingly titled ‘White Privileged Wank’, with a swirling oscillation that nods at Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ before stacking up to a truly filthy crescendo. A locked down, hypnotic, round-and-round groove that builds and builds, picking up grime with each lap, louder and louder until it breaks into gratifying outer space techno glitching, before kicking back into that groove and onto destruction.
‘Infinity Machines’ isn’t a record that looks back, it’s one that pushes forwards. The more people we have like Gnod, the more collectives that are created, turning out music that is inventive, challenging, mystifying and thrilling in equal measure, the richer our world becomes.