Gnod: Schokoladen 21/4/12
Schokoladen is very much the Berlin alternative/anarchist social centre type place that most districts of the city seem to have a least one of: dark, effortlessly and beautifully shabby, oozing atmosphere before anything even gets going and constantly on the verge of being shut down. We’re here for an early start as the music has to be finished by ten due to complaints by the locals about the noise – y’know, the very music, as part of the area’s cultural capital of cool, that no doubt attracted the young and trendy to live their in the first place. It would be a more cynical man than I to suggest these are the same people that are trying to get the place shut down. Much more cynical.
Gnod appear just after nine and fashion the sizeable audience new orifices, as the hackneyed phrase has it. The divinity of Gnod is their ability to fuse a whole series of leftfield sounds into something bowel shakingly original – it’s a bastard saintly mix of space rock, psyche, drone, motorik, a different type of drone, ritualistic throbbing improv and some more differently tuned drone. Only Teeth of the Sea can match their magnificence and if they were up against them tonight it would be a close run thing.
The lead singer – well howler cum extra drone dimension – pops up from the audience, returns to the audience, screams, smokes, disappears into the audience again and returns to centre stage for some more echoed vocalisms at the end of the set. The guitarist – yes, I don’t know their names – enters a staring competition with the audience (although no one in particular) and puffs his cheeks as if he’s exhaling fire. And the two bassists are a blur of dreads and bopping concentration that combine with a fixated and zoned drummer to give Gnod their almost signature throb and strangely heavenly pulse.
A version of becoming classic ‘Tony’s First Communion’ finishes the set and the guitarist apologises for the lack of encore – Gnod don’t want to threaten any further the venue’s existence. Gnod are the sound of the alternative eternal and here’s hoping for the infinite longevity of Schokoladen too.
Afterwards, the nice guitarist gave me a copy of Science and Industry – originally a US only release it can now be purchased as a handmade CDR here. And it is worth it: very much so, because not despite it being only two tracks, especially the ceremonial and gathering crescendo of ‘Deadbeat Disco in Paper Error Shocker’. And the other, ‘ Big Chief’, can be heard below.
Here’s Gnod at the Roadburn festival doing ‘Tron’, another highlight from their Schokoladen set: