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Gong - Shamal CD (album) cover

SHAMAL

Gong

 

Canterbury Scene

3.82 | 249 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Shamal is the seventh full-length studio album by jazz/ rock act Gong and itīs the first album not to feature Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth. The last album by Gong called Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You (1974) succesfully mixed their psychadelic rock roots with jazz/ rock and I really found that album exciting. Thereīs a good balance between the two styles on that album which I donīt think is the case on earlier albums from the band. So when I learned that the psychadelic couple Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth had left the band I feared the balance was disturbed. As it is the balance is greatly disturbed on Shamal, but to my positive surprise it doesnīt matter at all.

The music on Shamal is in jazz/ rock style. The psychadelic elements which were a big part of the first six albums from the band are almost gone from their sound on this album. Donīt despair if youīre not particularly fond of traditional jazz though because the music on this album is powerful jazz/ rock in the vein of Frank Zappa which means that there is as much rock as there is jazz in the music. The reason for mentioning Frank Zappa is also because of the extensive use of marimba, Glockenspiel, xylophone, assorted percussions & Gongs in the music ( courtesy of Mireille Bauer). A feature which is also very dominant in much of Frank Zappaīs music ( funny enough that feature is not as dominant on his three most known jazz/ rock albums Hot Rats ( 1969), Waka/ Jawaka (1972) and The Grand Wazoo (1972) as on many of his other albums).

Shamal is full of excellent Flute, saxophone and Violin soloing but the songs are actually very structured which is a feature I greatly enjoy. This is not endless jazz/ rock jamming. While the music is predominantly instrumental there are vocals on some tracks and those vocals means a lot for the diversity on the album. New vocalist/ bassist Mike Howlett has a pleasant soft voice ( the kind of voice that gives me associations to early Soft Machine and Caravan). There are also female vocals on the album and the vocals from guest vocalist Sandy Colley on the 9:00 minute long ending song Shamal are really original and humourous to my ears. There are only six songs on the album which has a total playing time that says 40:01, but all six songs are of high quality. Not a dull moment in sight.

The musicianship is outstanding. The rythm section is tight and adventurous and I canīt help to be impressed by drummer Pierre Moerlen whoīs playing is extremely powerful and skillful. All musicians shine on the album though.

The production is excellent. Itīs a soft seventies production which brings out the best in the music.

While I found earlier albums from Gong enjoyable and the predecessor to this one excellent, Shamal really excites me and my rating is really close to 5 stars on this one. Iīll give it a 4 star rating for now though and re-evaluate in time to see if this one still excites me as much as it does now. Itīs a very recommendable album IMO and pretty challenging without being too inaccessible.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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