Rock, January 2024

Unending Ascending
K-Scope KSCOPE792; LP: KSCOPE 1293

Before Gong founder Daevid Allen died in 2015, he gave his blessing for the group to continue. These musicians are audibly inspired by the band's '70s heyday. They employ a similar vocabulary but without any hint of pastiche, playing cosmic rock that swings like jazz, with incisive, fluent sax and spacey guitars. When Kavus Torabi sings 'My guitar is a spaceship' one isn't inclined to argue. On 'Ship Of Ishtar' his vocals drift over an abstract drone-scape of synthesisers and flute, while at the other end of the scale, on 'Choose Your Goddess', the group's playing is energised, powered by Cheb Nettles' speedy, intense drumming, their off-kilter riffing turning around on itself as if travelling along a Möbius Strip. MB


Pompeii POMP011CD; LP: POMP011LP

American singer and multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon might not have a direct connection with Beirut, his longstanding musical alias, but this album is strongly connected to Hadsel on the Norwegian island of Hadseløya, where he lived on a two-month sabbatical in 2020. He recorded melody and rhythm tracks on church and pump organs, which he later augmented with drum machines, trumpet, French horn and synthesisers, and on 'Island Life', that most un-rock'n'roll instrument, the baritone ukulele. It recharged his creative batteries, and he allied this unusual instrumentation to finely crafted songs yielding a reflective, poignant and uplifting collection. MB


Head Of Pomegranate

Flamingods are a Bahraini synth and guitar band, now resident in London, whose songs convey a singular pan-cultural psychedelia. There are hints of early New Order and Spiritualized, while 'Tall Glass' is inspired by the 'Afro-synth bangers' from the '70s and '80s, and those rhythms run through the buoyant, funky 'Eastern Cowboys'. On 'Perfumed Garden', rippling keyboard arpeggios, swooning vocals, and reverb'd guitar create a blissful atmosphere. The title track, a lament for guitarist Kamal Rasool's late father – a pomegranate grower – describes their homeland as 'So close to the eye of the sun', and is framed by his dolorous wah-wah guitar figures. MB


Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers
I Love You
Domestic La La DLL031CD; LP: DLL031LP

Formed at school in Canberra in 2015, Teen Jesus... have finally delivered their debut album. These 13 punchy, punky pop tunes with overdriven guitars nod back to Buzzcocks and are imbued with the emo spirit of My Chemical Romance, and the melodic wallop of Garbage. The acoustic 'I Never Saw It Coming' carries feelings of pain and betrayal, but as their name suggests, they can give as much as they get. 'I Used To Be Fun' is pithy and tongue-in-cheek and while they often seem to pick the wrong guy, one gets the full blast of their wrath on 'Kissy Kissy', where he is described as a 'selfish sexist narcissist' (and other terms too ripe to mention here). MB