13 for ’13: Gnod – Tron

Part 10 of a 13 song recap of my 2013 in no particular order

This one may be cheating slightly – I believe it originally got released on Chaudelande Vol. 1 back in 2011, but 2013 saw the whole of Chaudelande available for the first time on CD. And, more importantly for a poor boy like me, it was the first time it appeared on spotify. It was the first time I’d ever really listened to Gnod on their own (I liked the record they did with White Hills back in 2011, but it’s hard to tell who is who on that). So 2013 was the first time I got properly equated with the willfully mysterious entity that calls itself Gnod.

As every music lover knows some songs become inexorably tied with moments, with people, with events. It doesn’t matter whether you want them to or not – sometimes the context in which you hear something for the first or fiftieth time becomes your abiding memory of it, the thing that causes you to keep coming back to a song years after you’ve got tired of it’s style of music or the thing that makes listening to it too hard to bear because of the memories it conjures. Similarly some songs become attached to a particular journey, whether a one off or a repeated commute. For me pretty much the entirety of Mono and Explosions in the Sky’s respective back catalogues bring back memories of the train journey between Barnsley and Huddesfield that I used to take every day whilst at university. I can’t listen to the crescendo at the end of EITS’ Memorial without having flashbacks of sitting on the train home one winter’s evening when the power went out temporarily leaving us careening over the Penistone viaduct in pitch darkness. The journey Tron has become tied up with in my memory is a little more prosaic than that: for me it will forever be associated with the memory of walking from the train station post work commute to the neurological rehabilitation hospital in Barnsley to visit my mother.

It was the height of summer. Places like Barnsley really don’t need a summer – the daylight only emphasises how ugly those twisted gray streets can be. I’d take a shortcut by the vehicle entrance to the market, a grim corridor full of puddles of drunk piss and bad graffiti shaded by the ramp to the car park above. It wasn’t the nicest or most picturesque walk a man can take, neither for the surroundings nor the destination. But sometimes when the sun beats down and the right song travels through your ears down to your heels any song can make you feel so vital and alive that no amount of vomit and leftover kebab can possibly dampen the mood.

On that walk the bookend tracks from Gnod’s Chaudelande did exactly that. Of the two Tron is my choice for the list partly due to comparative brevity – despite being made up of around 10 minutes of relentless psych rock guitar strafing it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome at all, whereas album ender Genocider perhaps doesn’t need the full nigh on 20 minutes it takes up. The other reason is that whilst Tron’s rolling drums may not sound martial they were certainly made for marching – it’s carried along by an incessant pounding groove that imbues every step with purpose. The vocals are typical reverb/delay heavy psych nonsense, but nothing else would really do amidst the maelstrom. There’s no point trying to be profound or poetic amidst this chaos – better to let the vocals swirl with the guitars. And then there’s that riff. It’s one of those simple little guitar lines wrapped up in more fuzz than an old English sheepdog and repeated until it’s bored it’s way into your skull to be forever lodged in your mind. And that’s pretty much it – there are no huge solos, no real psych wig outs to speak of. Every now and again there’s a crazed alternate riff that could be considered a ‘chorus’ of sorts, but apart from that it’s just that endless, driving riff. It carried me from train station to hospital on a number of days I’d much rather have just laid down on the pavement and waited for the street sweepers to take me away, and for that it’ll always have a special place in my heart.

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