How do you sum up such a unique and wonderfully contrasting musical project as Gonwards using mere words? The usual go to choices, eclectic and experimental, hardly seem potent enough for such a Frankenstein. It’s an album fashioned by musical magpies, everything from swampy blues to vaudeville, sunny calypso vibes to desolate eastern dirges flits past the listener, topped off with vocals, largely flatly delivered spoken word. But even if the building blocks may be comfortingly familiar, the resulting architecture is strangely fluid, being both futuristic and baroque and morphing through everything in between. The words themselves are as mysterious and challenging as the music that weaves around it. Kafka-esque descriptions of futuristic trombones that can be used as weapons, the nostalgia of childhood night time drives, plus the age-old question…do spark plugs think? Add to that the fact that people as disparate as Wordsworth, Jacques Cousteau and Omar Khayyam wandering through and you get an idea of just how lateral thinking, not to mention flippant, this all is.
It’s difficult to think of another set of brains that could couple such wide reaching music with such deep thinking, witty and downright weird stories than the people behind XTC and Slapp Happy. The best way to sum up the way they mix accessible melody with the avant-garde, groove with experimentation is this; just think of it as the product of a new production team in the music industry – Stockhausen, Aitkin and Waterman. If only….
By Dave Franklin for The Ocelot Magazine (Dec 12)