'Tschak!' was made without any mind-altering substances whatsoever, under quite extraordinary circumstances
“Being in prison was quite a psychedelic experience,” says Gnoomes’ vocalist and bass player Alex Pyankov, speaking from his home in Perm, Russia. Despite rather obstructive hurdles like imprisonment, his band have just released their second album ‘TSCHAK!’ via Rocket Recordings, a label that is home to various incarnations and miscreants of psychedelia and esoterica, such as Goat, Teeth of the Sea, Hey Colossus, Gnod and Hills.
Gnoomes – a three piece consisting of Pyankov, Pavel Fedoseev and Dmitriy Konyushevich – released their first album on Rocket in 2015. ‘Ngan!’ is a four-track album (two of which take up 30 minutes alone) that burrows deep into the elongated groove template of the psych genre. Through its explorations in repetition it allows ripples of guitar to push and pull the momentum in porpoise waves of swelling sounds, like an extended Slowdive mix at times: rich in texture, dense in atmosphere and with a quiet charge of euphoria trying to pierce through the thick fog of drones that tower above.
For album number two there is a distinctly more electronic presence, one that erupts in gusts of industrial-tinged brutal noise, whilst other moments ooze in flowing and seamless melodies, with the album shifting from synthpop harmonies to dungeon techno, to cosmic disco in a matter of minutes.
It’s a far more corporeal experience than their debut, much more immersive and heady in its wildly chaotic pull, yet this album was made without the assistance of any mind-altering substances whatsoever. “It was a challenge to create an album of psychedelic music without psychedelics,” Pyankov says of the sober experience, “but it proved great for us as musicians because we had clear minds.”
The forced removal of substances that so clearly defined the recordings of their debut was due to the band’s arrest and incarceration. “We weren’t doing anything,” insists Pyankov, “we were just walking down the street. We were a little bit high and the police stopped us. It later said in the report that we were apparently looking suspicious because we had denim jackets and hats on.” The police forced the band into their car and made them take urine tests, which they failed as they had smoked some weed. “We were put in prison for five days for being high. It was crazy.” Pyankov says this with a tone that is half laughing and half despondent. Despite it only being a short period of time he says it “felt like an eternity in there.” They are now all expected to provide regular monthly drug tests, which they have to pass “to prove we’re not drug addicts.”