Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom
Days of Mars
elia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom are considered cool. Tangerine Dream are not, and expressing public enthusiasm for them will get you looked at funny. Despite this, every review of and article on the former mentions the latter for the very good reason that Delia & Gavin sound very much like Tangerine Dream. But only really like a couple of albums by them, 1974’s Phaedra and 1975’s Rubycon, the ones which sound like harmonious arrangements of porous stones that have been washed smooth by the immense power of tidal repetition. They don’t sound like the LPs before that, which are shards and splinters of junk metal roughly nailed together and left in a darkened room; and they don’t sound like the later LPs because they are glossy glass beads and extrusions handmade at great expense by craftsmen in the Lusatian Mountains. Gav & Delia also sound like Dies Irae, Patrick Vian, Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schultze, and other 70s mainland Euros who were more concerned about keeping their synth patch cables neat than with their personal hygiene. None of this matters though, because Gonzalez and Russom sound fantastic in the right here and right now, as bold as adventurers who've travelled back in time to herd dinosaurs.
“Rise” is first up, the original version of a track that was preceded by its DFA remix on a 12” single by a good two years. It sounds almost exactly like the DFA version sans drums, which is at once not that much of a change but also a massive change. “Rise” glides frictionlessly on a web of analogue-sequenced pulses and bass drops. And the analogue hardware sequencing is the heart of this album, the thing that causes it to pulse and throb and stand out in an age when almost everything is quantised and artificially tightened, from the expected, electronic dance music, to the less expected, like drums on big-label metal albums.
“13 Moons” follows and is the shortest track here at only eleven minutes. Are the arpeggios and filter swept chords of this music a serendipitous accident or are Gavin and Delia in total control of every aspect of their sound? In reality it's the latter (there are numerous positive live reports), but the possibility of the former, that it's chance that all the machines are running in synch, that they had to run off miles and miles of tape is just as enticing. It's pleasurable to think that it's the machines that run the show. (I envy those people who think that electronic music is formed by some lazy DJ flicking the on switch and the rest looks after itself. What a fantastic world that would be!)
DG & GR are among that select group of musicians who claim that they use homemade custom constructed electronics for their music. I think that unlike some (Aphex!) they might not be lying about this. Whether it’s true or not, the popcorn pot “percussion” and diseased arboreal vistas of “Relevée” have a homejob feel, like a foetal Italo-disco slowly curling and uncurling it’s fingers and toes. Fourth and finally, “Black Spring” takes us out like the sun slowly emerging from behind the curve of the earth, warming greasy and dusty faces. Very distantly screaming can be heard.
Some might say that the 70s kosmische bands were aiming for deep, deep space, that they were pioneers staking out a claim that was light years away and that maybe Delia & Gavin are more like a visit to a well-appointed, comfortable space station with a gift shop and tea room. Well, as comfortable as space can be. A visit to already colonised land. But I say—set the controls for the lung of the sun.
Reviewed by: Patrick McNally
Reviewed on: 2005-10-20