Published Oct 01, 2019It starts with an ending.
Simultaneously signalling the end of guitarist Tom Ng's former Hong Kong-based trio Offset:Spectacles and the beginning of a full-time commitment to his new project with Hot & Cold's Joshua Frank in Beijing, "The Last Note 最後的音符" ushers in Gong Gong Gong's debut full-length, Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏, like a ghost story.
While Ng's percussive guitar playing tore up a Velvet Underground swirl that included viola and organs in the Offset:Spectacles, paired exclusively with Frank's harmonic bass drones, they're even more pronounced here, their interplay suggesting more than simply supplying the album's titular pulse.
That's taken to another level on lead single "Notes Underground 地下日記," which was born out of an attempt to mimic the rhythm section of Bo Diddley's "My Dearest Darling" and finds the pair fixing a contact mic to the wood of Ng's archtop guitar for a tone that haunts the background like the missing link between a Brazilian berimbau and a mattress spring, while "Sound of Love 愛歌" channels Canned Heat through New York no wave and noise rock.
But more than any identifiable influence, Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏 is ultimately defined by a restless spirit: drifting between New Year's Eves in Tokyo and galloping across fields, materializing on cable car rides over the Yangtze in Chongqing while words struggle to convey meaning.
From whatever angle you approach their music, it's clear Gong Gong Gong are generating sounds and occupying spaces that are simultaneously placeless and universal. With Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏, they've unlocked a secret sonic geography of a blurry periphery — and here, the possibilities feel limitless. (Wharf Cat Records)