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Gong - Pentanine CD (album) cover

PENTANINE

Gong

 

Canterbury Scene

2.93 | 27 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
3 stars According to a 1995 interview with Benoit Moerlen on the Calyx website, Pierre Moerlen's Gong (which in GAZEUSE and ESPRESSO II recorded two of the very best "progressive fusion" albums) was on the verge of being reformed with most of its late 1970s members, until at the final moment Pierre pulled out, leaving Benoit to establish Gongzilla instead.

I wonder if Gongzilla's artistic success then inspired Pierre to reform Gong using a bunch of Russian jazzrock players? The fact remains that PENTANINE (which dates from 2002) sounds considerably more varied and energetic than early 1980s Gong efforts such as TIME IS THE KEY and LEAVE IT OPEN.

It's true that the first half of PENTANINE in particular contains a lot of anonymous jazz-funk and "fusion lite", but Pierre's playing on vibraphone, and his highly individual way of drumming, make for moments of wonder and true excitement. A few of the early tracks sound surprising: the opener, "Flying High", mainly consists of spacy synths, and the fifth track, "Trip a la Mode", seems like a relaxed little brother of King Crimson's "Elephant Talk".

From the eighth track onward, the quality of the music noticeably improves. There are standout solos on Moog, electric guitar and Hammond organ, and the compositions are denser, more imaginative than before, and more similar to ESPRESSO II. The final track, "Troyka", is utterly charming chamber jazz performed mainly by a trio consisting of synth, vibes and bass; it wouldn't have been out of place on any of the classic "Canterbury" albums of the Seventies.

As far as I know, this Russian incarnation of Gong wasn't meant to last. Just before his untimely death, Pierre Moerlen seems to have considered forming yet another band with his brother Benoit.

fuxi | 3/5 |

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