As musicians across the world have watched the last decade systematically eating away at the infrastructure by which they pursue their art, triumphs against adversity have sometimes entered the realm of cliche .Yet few bands have undergone quite the travails that Perm, Russia’s Gnoomes have on the road to the release of their fourth release on Rocket Recordings, Ax Ox.From such traumatic circumstances, with the band having overcome the stress of a pandemic, illness, depression and serious turmoil in their home country, have arrived a kaleidoscopic and questing vision shot through with potent melancholia and strident optimism. Here the component parts that have always made up Gnoomes’ fresh and wide-eyed aesthetic - dreampop radiance, bold electronic experimentation and the propulsive motorik drive which moves them onward - are rendered still more vivid and transcendent. Ax Ox runs through a gamut of vibrant emotion across its eleven tracks, from the elemental blast of kraut-pop that is ‘The Neighbour’ to the crystalline and techno-fied ‘Loops’, and across moments of jarring and skewed ambience such as ‘Mirror’ and ‘The Bridge’. The album also chronicles a fractious relationship which the band have with their home countrry. Gnoomes’ Sasha Painkov and his wife Masha Piankova have both been forced to leave the country when mobilisation was announced in pursuit of safety. However, as Sasha relates. “In our opinion this album could be a psychedelic musical about growing up and living in the post Soviet Russia. If you watched (Adam Curtis’ documentary series) Traumazone, it’s not complicated really to imagine the visual part of the musical!” Ax Ox ultimately reflects something of an odyssey for a complex and inhospitable modern era, and with this in mind perhaps its centrepiece is the uplifting kosmische travelogue ‘Eternal Trans Siberian’ “It’s a metaphor of what’s going on to our country” reckons Sasha. “It feels like we’re traveling on a rusty and wrecked train through space and time. The epochs change, but the problems stay the same and we don’t knowhow it’s possible, but the train is still moving”.
Available on Ox Blood Coloured Vinyl