Gone Is Gone

Echolocation

Written by: AP on 24/01/2017 17:49:22

While the term ‘supergroup’ is not one Gone is Gone has any wish to subscribe to, it is hard to imagine a more appropriate way to describe a roster which comprises Troy Sanders of Mastodon on vocals & bass, Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age on guitar, Tony Hajjar of At the Drive-in behind the drum kit, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin handling keys & programming. Where the ensemble differs from most others of their ilk, however, is that against expectation, Gone is Gone does not actually sound like the sum of its parts on this début album, “Echolocation”. Apart from Sanders’ instantly recognisable vocals, very little of the album harks back to ATDI, Mastodon or QOTSA — rather, its sound seems to be rooted in Hajjar & Zarin’s original pairing composing scores (e.g. for the video game Splinter Cell), and as such, prospective listeners should brace themselves for a subdued, borderline ambient experience.

At its core, “Echolocation” thus more resembles a work of off-kilter post-rock than a patchwork of the artists involved, although traces of each member’s DNA are inevitably spliced in here and there. Hajjar’s groove in “Gift” is like a page out of the ‘Drive-in manual, and neither Sanders nor Van Leeuwen does much to dissolve the impression with jazzy bass and guitar styles that feel very uncustomary for them. “Resurge” meanwhile trots in with a swagger that must be Van Leeuwen’s doing, and “Ornament” comes loaded with Sanders’ trademark roars in its most climactic moments. Common to all of these songs, however, is that those notions of familiarity are shrouded by a haze of electronic ambiance, courtesy of Zarin. His touches, when subtle, ascribe a haunting, entrancing atmosphere to the music, as exemplified by “Colourfade”; when insistent, they have the band mimicking the ‘90s era of Nine Inch Nails through the likes of “Pawns” and “Slow Awakening”. The tone remains bleak and dreary throughout, but thanks to exquisite sonic layering, the songs dig deep and offer an impressive amount of detail to behold.

The lushest and most remarkable piece of “Echolocation” arrives at the very end though, in the form of the title track. In the verses, a cold and disheartening lead by Van Leeuwen falls into perfect harmony with the hypnotic rumble of Sanders’ bass and his whispery singing to create one of the most lasting moments of the record — the second arrives after the doom-laden bridge, manifesting itself through a spectacular instrumental crescendo which has the band symbiotically firing on all cylinders. But in spite of the gorgeous soundscapes built, and in general coming across as an aurally rich affair, what “Echolocation” lacks is a sense of immediacy. Designed for full immersion and patient experiencing though the record may be, the band stumbles into a lot of issues that make it hard to digest. The main culprits are the cloudy songwriting and flat dynamics, both of which could benefit from a clearer vision of what kind of project Gone is Gone should be.

6

Download: Colourfade, Pawns, Slow Awakening, Echolocation
For the fans of: Crippled Black Phoenix, Nine Inch Nails, Soen
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.01.2017
Rise Records

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