The Gak Omek - "Return of the All-Powerful Light Beings"
(Blue Cube Music 2004)
From Aural Innovations #30 (February 2005)
Quite a stunning sophomore effort from this New Jersey-based group, essentially a one man army with support and reconnaissance from several like-minded soldiers of the psychedelic wars. Despite the somewhat pretentious pretext-an "instrumental progressive rock interpretation of ancient and modern mysteries"-Return of the All-Powerful Light Beings features impressive arrangements and stellar playing by group leader Robert Burger (guitar, guitar-synthesizer) and solid contributions from drummer Glenn Robitaille and keyboardist Dave Cashin. In addition to the shimmering artwork and packaging, we're treated to a host of songs with titles that would mystify even the most enlightened Zen disciple, from "Forbidden Technology of the Lost Clown Civilization" and "Apparitions of Departed Human Personalities" to "Radio Hypnotic Intracerebral Control." But most importantly the music matches and, at times, transcends the vivid color and searching ingenuity of the conceptual apparatus. The extended title track is a technocrat's stereo wet dream, filled with dynamic tempo shifts, clusters of complex chordal variations and some tasteful and refined multi-timbral counterpoint. The variety of sounds, textures and simulations Burger conjures from his guitar-synthesizer is truly astounding, rivaling the similar pyrotechnic displays of Adrian Belew on his early solo projects. "Cydonia" revs up the guitar engines for the jump to hyperspace. Here, Burger's elegant jazz scales soar and glide over an orgasmic frenzy of supersonic bass and drums underscored by the heavy metallic thrust of some diamond-hard rhythm guitar. The almost Ozric Tentacles-like "Radio Hypnotic Intracerebral Control" forms an intricate web of staccato guitar arpeggios buttressed by syncopated rhythm machines. It's like listening to the sound of a thousand metal ball-bearings thrown into a stainless steel anti-gravity echo chamber. "Dance of the Nine Unknown Men" is an entrancing saraband that approaches anthemic proportions. Its mood of yearning for and surrending to the infinite mysteries of the ineffable in every heart is skillfully choreographed with bittersweet melodicism and resolute percussive drive. Like a song of time and distance, it echoes the voice of the ancient sage who reminds us that there is only the dance of the music-the sadness is in ourselves. Thoroughly original, with few if any precedents, Return of the All-Powerful Light Beings is a work of subtle yet probing design. Intensely cerebral, and at times achingly expressive, it's a fully-realized vision of things neither seen nor heard but only felt.
For more information you can visit The Gak Omek web site at: http://www.thegakomek.com.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o Blue Cube Music; 145 Kingwood Stockton Rd; Stockton, NJ 08559.
Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree