Spot Land: Purple Vinyl LP

Spot Land: Purple Vinyl LP

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Label: Rocket Recordings
Release Date: 5th July

Practically a new age ambient album from Salford's Gnod in comparison their usual glorious onslaught of psychedelic noise rock. That being said, whilst the sound is not as obviously heavy the jams are still kicking, the journey still as explosive and as experimental as ever.

GNOD, the ever-transient psychedelic musical unit from northern England with over 15 years and dozens of releases under their belt, return in 2024 with a recalibrated sound and a new sense of freedom. Spot Land’s five songs are tender and detailed, unfolding slowly with wistful guitar textures, brushed drums and interjections of lap steel, piano and kalimba.As founder member Paddy Shine says, the results sound like old GNOD and new GNOD at the same time. On the face of it, Spot Land is a big step away from the intense, loud, sludgy offerings found on the group’s more recent studio albums, such as 2022’s Hexen Valley – nevertheless, these too are heady fogs to lose yourself in, with on-record personnel starting at different points and meeting on the same wavelength. Its exploratory sense might make seasoned GNOD heads think of 2014 triple LP Infinity Machines, or really early oddities like The Somnambulist’s Tale from 2008, but you can also jump in right here if needs be because Spot Land has its own unique vibe too.The album was recorded in a Rochdale mill over four days in August 2023, with Paddy handling all the production and mixing – the first time he’s been fully in the hot seat for any GNOD release. He’s also the only member to feature on each of the five tracks, with others coming and going in suitably informal manner. Everyone – Paddy, fellow GNOD founder Chris Haslam, Alex Macarte, Raikes Parade and Al Wilson – plays at least two instruments over these 40 minutes. There are no vocal credits among them, but Spot Land is embellished beautifully by sampled voices, notably on the album’s opening and closing pieces. Benedictine monks intone hymnally on ‘Peace At Home’, gliding over the top of jazzy, graceful desert music, while during quarter-hour ambient rock frazzler ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ we hear – yes – Christian pilgrims chanting in a church in Azores.These songs are unquestionably the product of jamming, improvisation and an open mind, with little of any of what you hear having much in the way of a preconceived structure, but don’t imagine this to be self-indulgent or bloated,

thanks especially to Paddy’s judicious editing process. ‘Luz Natural’ is a beatific beatless wonder crafted from synth, piano and lap steel, a soundtrack for a rainforest located somewhere along the Pennines. ‘Dream On’ is Spot Land’s most rhythm-forward moment, alien-sounding synths snaking through sharply shuffling bass and drums, whereas ‘Kapal Bhati’ is its height of abstraction: thumb piano, bizarro dub treatment and distant voices that could be anyone, from anywhere.Though GNOD’s shift in sound from album to album is rarely planned too far ahead, there’s been a quiet desire among the band to do something of this nature for a while. The results might confound the expectations of some listeners, but in the longer view Spot Land is liquid GNOD. The arresting cover

artwork is a showcase for Chris Haslam’s illustrative skills; his process here, he says, was “starting on something, never knowing when it’s complete, just when it feels finished. Like the music, really.”

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