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With Gong now standing as less of a band than a constantly revolving way of life, into which the composite parts rise and fall depending upon who actually wants to be involved, 2032 is nevertheless one of the precious few albums that really can be aligned with the "classic" Gong era -- that is, the days of Flying Teapots and Pothead Pixies, glissando guitars and spooky space whispers. With Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, and Miquette Giraudy all on board, it is understandably being billed as a continuation of the original Radio Gnome mythology, and there are definitely moments when it fits the bill perfectly. "Escape Control," "Guitar Zero," and the epic lunacy of "Wacky Baccy Banker" are all keynotes to the chaotic tale, and if the casual listener is left wondering precisely what it's all about, then that only adds to the magic that is the nature of Gong. Unfortunately, 2032 has a tendency to meander, too, in ways that the original band rarely did; so many years, after all, have elapsed since this team last got together with a musical vengeance, and so many new interpretations have been piled upon their pixied little potheads, that even they have apparently forgotten what they were trying to say. More than one moment here is a caricature; more than one could be a Gong tribute band, doing its best to recapture the real thing but falling just short of the post. Self-conscious silliness, after all, rarely works well, and 2032 does indulge in rather a lot. At the same time, though, it's still Gong and, when it's good, it's still great. And that makes it all worthwhile.

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