Old-school English proggies Gnidrolog have returned after an absence of over a quarter century with their latest release Gnosis. The classically-trained twins that make up the core of the band (Colin and Stewart Goldring) have been joined by Rick Kemp on bass, Nigel Pegrum on drums, Nessa Glen on keyboards, and an assortment of guest musicians (including a Didjerdoo player). The liner notes claim that this group has expertise in styles ranging from Funk to Middle Eastern religious to Argentintine tangos; given this eclecticism coupled with the Goldrings' classical training, one would certainly expect and interesting and challenging sonic experience. Why then, is Gnosis so... ORDINARY?
The CD starts off intrestingly enough with a song title "Reach for Tomorrow" that incorporates Middle-Eastern style chord structures and chanting-like vocals interspersed with pockets of Canterbury-esque guitar and flute sections. If the rest of the CD was as interesting as the first track, Gnosis could've really left it's mark on modern progressive music. However, it's all downhill after that track as Gnidrolog seems to be content playing it safe with nothing more than simple pop tunes - and bad ones at that. The only track that really jumped out at me besides the opener was a 6 minute song titled "Kings of Rock," and the only reason that one is noticable is because it is clearly the nadir of the album - it comes across as sounding like a Yiddish Spinal Tap. An acoustical guitar piece called "Two Helens" starts off promising with some nice fret work, but after a minute or so it also draws a bit too heavily on one's patience. There's just no payoff in these songs.
I'd like to see Gnidrolog give it another try (hopefully sooner than 27 years from now) and do more with their Middle-Eastern influences - when those inflections come across on Gnosis , the CD raises up a notch or two. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between, and what should have been one of the most important progressive releases of the year instead becomes 75 minutes of incredibly tedious sub-par pop music.