On Spot Land, Salford’s GNOD put down their tools of destructive, heavy music to unfurl softer, psychedelic offerings that sound alien to their recent output.

Opener ‘Peace at Home’ accompanies gentle guitar plucking with siren-like wails and spectral choir-like vocals. Ghostly and reverberating, the vocals linger over the track like a veil in wind. The track is dirge-like in its hypnotic repetition, and it’s impressive just how much range the band demonstrate they’re capable of on this record. My introduction to the band was their heavier side, rife with raw power. For them to take a left turn and lay down these introspective, haunting cuts is really hypnotising to someone who wasn’t prepared for this side of their repertoire.

‘Luz Natural’ opens on a drone, with piano crashing in at regular intervals. Guitar lines start slowly drifting into view like smoke from a fire just emerging from embers. The fire never fully rages through the track, but as the song unravels and the disparate instruments begin to make their influence known, small flames begin to lap up at the foot of the song with a soothing warmth.

‘Dream On’ is much more direct than the first couple tracks, with a regiment set up by the rhythm section. The machine gun bass does a lot of the work here, punctuating the track’s progression along with the groove laid down by the drums, allowing the guitars and vocals to stretch out into wild territory. It’s a bit funky, a bit jazzy and a nice excursion into psychedelic wandering.

‘Kapal Bhati’ is much more subdued, centring around this consistent melodic jangle. It’s an example of one of the many textures GNOD make use of on Spot Land, from kalimbas to lap steel. It gives the whole record a unique feel as it adds layers of lesser used instrumentation.

Final track ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is a near 15-minute behemoth, opening with distant choral vocals. Post-rock guitar begins to seep in alongside an electronic lead line. This foundation allows the guitar to rise in confidence and break into exploratory soloing. Warbling and bouncing off every surface, the guitar almost sounds like the western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone going through a wormhole. As the force behind the track increases, pushing against its boundaries, the sound beings to crackle and fizz around the edges. This begins to slip away back into the void, echoes still whispering as they’re dragged away.

Spot Land is a really cool left turn from GNOD. Not what I was expecting in the slightest but exciting to just feel a band jam on these ideas and take them to the furthest reaches of exploration. It’s got a real post-rock undercurrent to it without feeling like it plagiarises any of the big names of the genre – not that I would expect that of a band like GNOD – and also just takes these ideas to the realms of drone, ambient and psychedelic. It’s a great set of tracks that is confident enough to present longer runtimes without being self-indulgent and outstaying its welcome.

GNOD: Spot Land – Out 31st May 2024 (Rocket Recordings)

– Pilgrim’s Progress (youtube.com)