Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
You was my first exposure to Gong and remains one of my favorite albums of any genre. The slightly gaudy, but strangely mystical cover art drew me in (I'm a sucker for Mayan imagery) and the music inside is an accurate reflection of the cover. Gong is very much at the peak of their powers here, even as it is also clear that the band is splintering.
Whereas on previous Gong albums, Daevid Allen was clearly in the driver's seat, You is more of a schizophrenic affair. Allen chimes in with a series of really deranged shorter songs that make me thing of the better songs on Zappa's We're Only In It For The Money. The rest of the band seemed to have some different goals in mind as they go practically instrumental for a completely cosmic sound. Pink Floyd had nothing on Gong for pure space rock. I try not to give track-by-track descriptions of albums, but You provides a musical story (never mind the Radio Gnome elements) and I feel warrants it.
"Thought For Naught" and "A P.H.P.'s Advice" start the album with a creepy carnival atmosphere before the visions take over with the band's phenomenal space grooves. "Magic Mother Invocation" plunges the band into the mystical and mysterious ether as it melds into the fantastic and powerful "Master Builder."
"Master Builder" practically defies description. For one it's a percussion tour-de-force. Pierre Moerlen is basically held in check for the first seven or so minutes of the album (except for some random percussion instruments) before finally hitting the trap set in "Master Builder." On top of interstellar synth and guitarist Steve Hillage's truly great riff, Moerlen proceeds to completely pummel his set while maintaining complete synch with the other musicians. Allen brings in his vocals about halfway through with a possessed chant-like quality. The track spins like a whirling dervish until abruptly ending where we find ourselves on the alien landscape of "A Sprinkling Of Clouds." This purely instumental track recalls Tangerine Dream's work on Alpha Centauri and Atem and compares more than favorably.
Allen and Smyth return to the front for the side two opener "Perfect Mystery." If anything on the album doesn't quite fit, it's this track which would have fit better on Angel's Egg. It's still a fun little intermission from the extended voyages which continue with "The Isle Of Everywhere." It's a space-jazz affair which I imagine prefigures the Moerlen-led Gong, but hits upon an awesome bass groove and some fins sax playing along with a cool spash of etherial synth. Allen's vision finally merges with the rest of the band for the closing epic "You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever." It literally includes everything that made Gong great and ranks as one of their best tracks. We get Allen and Smyth's strange utterances and voice acting along with great playing across the board, a bit of jazz, and plenty of sounds streaming out of the solar vortex. Everyone playing is at the top of their game and focused, providing the perfect climax for the three album voyage.
This is by far the most cosmic of Gong's recordings, and I feel their best. There are clearly some different visions at work here, but they eventually combine and with a little creative sequencing, end up as a cohesive work.
Gong - You (Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt. 3)