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Moving Gong Ahead While Respecting Its Past

The progressive/psychadelic band Gong has a long discography, going back to the late 1960s, and a massive family tree of members, ex-members, solo/spinoff projects, and beyond. Before his passing in 2015, leader/founding member Daevid Allen instructed the current lineup to keep the band going and make the music their own. "The Universe Also Collapses" is the band's second post-Allen album (after 2016's "Rejoice, I'm Dead," which might be seen as a bit of an Allen tribute), and they really hit their stride here. There are trademark Gong sounds, such as the ghostly "glissando guitar" parts, along with searing guitar & saxophone solos and tight ensemble playing. The lyrics all revolve roughly around the themes of quantum physics, rebirth, the here & now, etc. However, much of "The Universe..." also has a harder edge than Gong's earlier work, giving it all a more modern feel. Album closer "The Elemental" feels like some sort of lost, longer Robyn Hitchcock song, and gives the band a roadmap to a sound that's compatible with their past, but definitely forward-looking. A great addition to an already expansive catalog.

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