Gong’s new album, The Universe Also Collapses, due for release on 10th May, their first for Kscope, is the latest shining point on that continuum, a masterpiece of visionary 21st century psychedelia, a celebration of the magick of science, a journey both internal and external, bridging the worlds of lysergic exploration and quantum physics, equal parts Terence McKenna and Stephen Hawking.
“We wanted to make what we thought of as the ultimate psychedelic rock album,” says Gong’s singer and guitarist Kavus Torabi of The Universe Also Collapses.“The word ‘psychedelic’ gets bandied around a lot, and a great deal of the stuff that gets called psychedelic nowadays doesn’t match up to the description. I want to hear music that makes me feel like I’m on drugs.”
The Universe Also Collapses is all of that, but it’s much more too. This is the second album since the death in 2015 of Daevid Allen, the maverick genius who founded Gong more than 50 years ago in a flash of LSD-fuelled inspiration. If 2016’s Rejoice! I’m Dead! was a tribute of sorts to the band’s departed talisman, then The Universe Also Collapses marks the dawning of a new chapter.
“Gong has always been a force for propulsive, forward-thinking open-mindedness,” says Kavus. “The last album was partly us paying tribute to Daevid, but I think maybe Daevid would have seen that as a bit too sentimental. He was more ‘Fuck that you guys, do your own thing.’”
Torabi and bandmates Fabio Golfetti (guitar), Dave Sturt (bass), Ian East (saxophone) and Cheb Nettles (drums) have taken that unspoken instruction to heart on The Universe Also Collapses. Where Gong’s wilfully erratic path has stopped off at pulsing space rock, pot-headed whimsy, needle-sharp fusion and all points in between, the new album is an undiluted psychedelic experience.
“We wanted to put Gong back at the heart of being an absolutely psychedelic band,” says Kavus. “From the start we wanted to make delirious, psychedelic, head music that you could actually dance to! It’s not a prog record, it’s not a jazz fusion record – it’s a psychedelic record.”
Having spent the past two years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases.
The Universe Also Collapses was recorded at Snorkel Studios in London, engineered and mixed by Frank Byng, mastered by Andy Jackson at Tube Mastering and features new artwork designed by 57 Design.