Review: GNOD ‘Spot Land’

GNOD have been a Salford (Manchester) musical staple since their formation back in 2006 with founding member Paddy Shine a constant in an ever-fluid line-up. As for their extensive catalogue, if you are new to the group and looking for a starting point to jump in on, personal recommendations would be 2017’s Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine and 2022’s Hexen Valley, the latter of which my Shaman colleague Harry Holmes described as ‘casting a powerful spell’.

GNOD 'Spot Land' Artwork
GNOD ‘Spot Land’ Artwork

This latest release is a purported shift away from the sludgier tones of the aforementioned albums with tips of the hat to the band’s earlier more experimental, psych-flavoured works. In fact, the promotional notes state as much describing the album’s five tracks as ‘tender and detailed’. As someone who came on board during the band’s heavier, abrasive phase, I was intrigued therefore to hear what Paddy and co have to offer us this time round.

Speaking of psych, Peace At Home gives off serious Pink Floyd vibes, while the use of chanting Benedictine monks serves to enhance the track’s spacey, otherworldly qualities yet further. If you are engaged in mindfulness, meditation or any number of alternate self-help practices, this is exactly the kind of music you’d want as an accompaniment. This may set off alarm bells with some readers as images of self-indulgent ‘new age’ thrust to the fore, however in Paddy‘s capable hands, such dangers are averted due to his ‘judicious editing’, (to quote the album’s Bandcamp page). A wonderful opener and a startling change for those expecting Stick In The Wheel Part 2.

Luz Natural, thanks to its use of lap steel and piano, is a blissful number which those with a fondness for the great outdoors and nature will certainly dig, even myself as a native Londoner was able to appreciate the track’s naturalistic ambient qualities. Maybe the fact that I’ve been listening to McCoy Tyner a lot lately is what gives me the impression that there’s an improvisational jazz feel present and one which proves a major hook for yours truly. A beautific gem.

their steadfast insistence on pleasing no one but themselves has helped the band produce another superb effort…

Dream On is interesting, recalling the offbeat post-hardcore of Fugazi (in spirit, not in sound) as well as Can style krautrock, what with the shuffling motorik drumming. There’s also a little post-rock too ala Bushpilot and their expansive and quite wonderful album 23, finally a little Jah Wobble era Public Image Limited is slipped in for good measure. This is an absolutely wonderful track and well up my street sonically.

Kapal Bhati, the album’s shortest song at four minutes fifty-eight, is a reference to a purification ritual in Hatha Yoga. It signifies the album at its most avant-garde and ‘out there’, it’s certainly the hardest to get a handle on, especially when compared to its more rhythmically structured and repetitive (in a good sense) predecessor Dream On. Disembodied voices, chimes and random bits of dub make for a strange yet captivating listen.

Pilgrim’s Progress, utilising as it does chanting Christian pilgrims and low-key yet insistent drumming, reminds one of OM. Furthermore, there’s also a progressive quality both in terms of length (at nearly fifteen minutes), and the wondrous guitar explorations of bands such as Nektar and Camel. A truly epic conclusion to the album.

Spot Land showcases GNOD‘s ability to remain uncompromising despite the style of music being offered up. The mellow introspection of this latest release has not quelled their rebellious spirit, while their steadfast insistence on pleasing no one but themselves has helped the band produce another superb effort.

Label: Rocket Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills