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Gong - Shamal CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.82 | 332 ratings

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2 stars SHAMAL is an excellent example of a band falling between two stools. Having lost their most crucial members (most notably Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage), Gong obviously haven't recuperated. They seem to feel the need to stick to songs with a message, but the only member left who's prepared to sing (bassist Mike Howlett) has a metallic, unpleasant voice and writes wishy-washy lyrics. As a result, virtually the entire A-side of the album is a wash-out. When Howlett keeps his mouth shut, the music promises to turn into energetic jazz-rock, but such moments are disappointingly rare. Both 'Wingful of Eyes' and 'Chandra' merely encourage listeners to use the fast-forward button. The final piece on the A-side, 'Bambooji', is a short bamboo-flute fantasy on 'Sakura', one of the best known traditional Japanese songs, but it also takes you nowhere. The B-side starts off more promisingly. 'Cat in Clark's shoes' is the sort of fast, percussion-rich instrumental Gong would execute with far more chutzpah on their next few albums. Towards the end, the track turns into a naughty little tango, with violin by Jorge Pinchevsky and a randy Italian voice muttering dark things in the background. 'Mandrake', which follows, is the most beautiful tune on the album: a lovely flute-led melody, presumably written by Didier Malherbe. Unfortunately, the final track, 'Shamal', takes the listener back to amateurish would-be funk and pseudo-mystical lyrics. Not to worry. For Gong, the triumph of GAZEUSE and EXPRESSO II were just around the corner!

P.S. To be a little more precise: Steve Hillage actually appears on two of the tracks, but his brief contributions fail to dispel the lethargy.

fuxi | 2/5 |


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