Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gong - Master Builder

So I lost it for a year again - but what a busy year it has been. I do think I will talk a little bit more about that later, but today I will focus on Gong and their song Master Builder from the album You, which was released back in 1974.

My history with this song dates 15 years back, to the fall of 1994. That fall I was at Hustad Leir, and I have been writing about this in a couple of other postings as well. I thought I was going there for a 6 week preparative seminar on peaceful conflict resolution before I would be placed in service, hopefully in either Bergen, where I had a lot of friends, or in Trondheim, my hometown. However, that was not to be the case, as I was stationed at Hustad as part of the permanent staff there. The people who were selected to be permanent staff were either the ones too stoned to get placed anywhere or they were Jehova's Witnesses. There were a few other exceptions to that rule, but most of them were also in the extremely religious category.

So there I was, an atheistic teetotaler among stoners and witnesses. As far as I know, I was able to get along with everyone there, and I really liked people of both categories. Hanging out with the stoners there also provided me with a musical education - and that was what led me to Gong. I still remember sitting in one of the four-man rooms, late at night, with an old, worn out tape on the stereo, and when the song Master Builder started, the person owning the tape, whose name unfortunately escapes me (but he was from Nord Tr√łndelag and I can describe him without any problem) started pounding the air-drums frenetically around 1:20 into the song, ranting and raving about Pierre Moerlen, who was the 21/22 year old drummer who had just joined Gong when You was released.

Now, 15 years later, this song takes me back to that room, dark and smoke-filled (and I don't think that was all nicotine). But more than that, it is a song that gives me goosebumps still, especially when the drum kit enters the picture. The improvisations are solid, but it is the overall looseness and trippy feeling that makes the song for me. It starts with a chant that sounds like it can be from outer space, then the main riff starts quietly in the background before the drum kit helps bring it front and center. With music like this, who needs other recreational drugs?