L’Espluga De Francoli Cova De La Font Major

Tonight, 100km outside Barcelona, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci are heading back underground....

Tonight, 100km outside Barcelona, [a]Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci[/a] are heading back underground. Not only are they playing at the bottom of a three-billion-year-old cave, they’re also attempting to repoint a career which in the past 12 months has looked in danger of evaporating.

That period has seen them dropped by Mercury and then suffer the loss of original guitarist and founder member, John Lawrence. It’s also seen them comprehensively outsold by most of their Welsh compatriots and even superseded in the eccentricity stakes by [a]Super Furry Animals[/a]. Lesser bands might have taken this as a sign they were well and truly hexed, but not Gorky’s. Instead, they’ve quietly found themselves a new label (Beggars Banquet) and promptly delivered the best album of their career.

‘Spanish Dance Troupe’ is their sixth, and by some distance their most consistent and satisfying. An amalgamation of their wildly disparate influences (from Nashville country and John Cale to Robert Wyatt and The Fall), it’s a pastoral – largely acoustic – record that reminds you just how capable Gorky’s are of writing beautiful, melodically direct songs. There’s also a confidence about it that’s seeped through to their live performance as well.

Traditionally, Gorky’s live operated in a tight band somewhere between abysmal and coma-inducing, but that isn’t the case tonight. Their time touring with Spiritualized has obviously had a profound effect, because there’s a flowing, symphonic feel to what they do now. Augmented by a trumpet player and a second guitarist, they divide their set between the rapt, understated melancholy of their new material (the highlight of which is the joyous forthcoming single ‘Spanish Dance Troupe’) and their rejuvenated back catalogue of near hits (‘Sweet Johnny’, ‘Diamond Dew’ and ‘Patio Song’).

When they clatter to a feedback-drenched close after an hour, [I]NME [/I]finds itself in the unusual position of wanting more. For a band many had dismissed as an increasingly peripheral and irrelevant concern, this constitutes an incredible victory. Gorky’s have always shown glimpses that they were capable of making unique, life-affirming music, it’s just now they’ve finally learnt to sustain it.

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