Being only 13 years into the new millenia, is it a little previous to offer up a contender for one of the albums of the century? Well, OK then, how about album of the decade? If you haven’t heard Gnod & White Hill's Drop Out II album by now, I think you may well end up being inclined to agree with me. In fact, I’m no spring chicken (I know, I know... I don't look it... you’re too kind etc), but it’s certainly one of the best I’ve heard - ever.
Drop Out II has actually been with us since 2010, and was gestating for a while before it finally got pressed onto wax, but has been repressed recently maybe due to the cash flow from the runaway success of Rocket's other jewel in the crown, Goat. In all fairness, Rocket have been toiling away for years at the coalface of the most essential seam of psych rock, possibly using a Hawkwind powered packdrill, and are finally seeing some just rewards for their lavishly packaged discoveries. I bought the album after a snap decision to attend one of their gigs at a small pub on the way home from another gig. Up there as one of the best decisions I have ever made.
From what I gather, and I could be wrong, this is very much a Gnod album. They gave Dave W (he of White Hills fame) some recordings of the jams that they had been working up at their nerve centre (Salford's Islington Mill) and White Hills added some glitter glamour sheen to them. Being 3 (and counting) years since, Gnod have mutated further and further out on their lifelong manned mission to outer reaches of inner space, yet this catches them when they were in their full kraut/space rock pomp.
One of the great things about this album is that it features interludes and segues, giving the album some breathing room between the extended flights of space rock. The first of these extended flights is ‘Run-A-Round’, which is out of the gates with a silvery, fluid Motorik drive. There is a fan made clip on Youtube where somebody has soundtracked their rainy nighttime journey down the M602 out of Eccles with ‘Run-A-Round’. It is strangely fitting, and to my mind at least, very Gnod.
‘Spaced Man’ is an inexorable glammy lunge, replete with all sorts of space invader type whooshes and blasts, whilst ‘Dropout’ is equally as propulsive as pounding drums and bass all pile up on top of each other to set you off skyward.
One of the real highlights here is ‘Well Hang’, which despite its knowing title, is a spooky dirge performed on a Hang Drum. It is 'hauntological' in a sense, as it reminds me of educational films of the 1970s featuring power stations, turbines and the like, as the track crackles with a ghostly electricity and analog synth. ‘Per Sempre’ ends the album (unless you buy the CD edition, on which you will find the last track is ‘Elka’) with a side long mantra of a comedown.
An absolute essential album and it is certainly one of my favourite albums of the last 15 years or so. Let’s just see if it can maintain its favoured position for the remaining 87 years, which by when albums will most likely be tattoed on the back of a lab rat, and you listen with your sense of smell. This album will still smell great, I promise you.