What would you do if you lived in the middle of nowhere? Sounds like a glib rhetorical question, but it isn’t. Think for a moment. What would you do all day if you lived in a concrete tower block in the long shadows of the Ural Mountains, some 700 miles East of Moscow. The view from your ice-cold window is a sub-arctic land, urbanised by necessity as a place of exile for Tsarist and Stalinist regimes.
This is Perm, a city whose name means ‘island’ or ‘faraway land’ depending on the etymological root. Whatever answers you came up with, if any, being in a band has got to be a decent option. Alex, Pavel and Dmitriy formed their band Gnoomes to stave off ‘the Russian madness” that can come home to roost in such an environment. When there’s fuck all to do outside, what better than to retreat into an inner expanse and make some serious, delirious, transportive sounds?
This is what shines through in debut album ‘NGAN!’ The lads have plundered the abyss and emerged with four tracks that are sweeping, cinematic soundscapes. The album is bookended by ‘Roadhouse’ and ‘My Son’, these 15-minute aural journeys are layered with steady, relentless drumming, soaring if not searching melodies, and a distinctive psychedelic sensibility.
Sandwiched in the middle is ‘Myriad’ – a hypnotic 4-minute droning dream-like ride, and the My Bloody Valentine-esque ‘Moognes’. Fans of Curve, Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Mogwai et al. should wholeheartedly approve.
They’ve only been together for 18 months, so fair to say there’s musical gold in them there Siberian hills. On the Gnoomes Bandcamp page the hashtags are Psychedelic, Krautrock and shoegaze, but they wanted to invent their own label – which is ‘stargaze’. In their own words: “stargaze is like a human state, when you’re lying on the grass with your friends, telling funny stories, and watching shooting stars.”
Words: Nick Rice
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