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Gong - Shamal CD (album) cover

SHAMAL

Gong

 

Canterbury Scene

3.82 | 242 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album of GONG represents my first introduction to the band, I think it was sometime around 1978. My brother, Boedi, introduced me this album that struck me at first listening. Probably, that was my first time I knew the kind of music that GONG was playing. I never heard any similar music performed by the others. At that time, I thought that GONG music is a kind of explorative in nature. Later, I recognized this kind of music is similar with NATIONAL HEALTH, EGG, HATFIELD and THE NORTH or typically called Canterbury? Sort of.

The opening track "Wingful of Eyes" was not that special at first listening. But when I l observed the style of vocal and flutes blended together, it's a unique sort of music. I was curious to know the rest tracks of this album. The second track "Chandra" is much dynamic than the first one with a soprano melody at its intro. It has varieties of vibraphone improvisation and great keyboard and drumming. I also the bass part is wonderful. Third track "Bambooji" intro reminds me to traditional music in my home country but when it is then combined with a sort of female voice, it's definitely a Japanese traditional music. I like this long intro part where pan pipe is accompanied with vibraphone sound. The music then flows nicely when drum part and electric guitar come into play. Sometime you will hear the "gong" accentuates the traditional nuances of the music. This track is definitely a wonderful track! For those of you who like the marriage between pentatonic sound with modern music, you will definitely enjoy this track. "Cat in Clark's Shoes" is another interesting track. It's very dynamic and has varieties of melody played by many instruments. Great improvisations. At the end part there is a music like those accompanying circus show. It's unique.

"Mandrake" and "Shamal" are other great tracks of this album, for me. "Mandrake" has a great vibraphone and keyboard combination at its intro. When drumming enters softly combined with unique melody of flutes it marks the overall tone of this song. Next is an exploration of flutes with vibraphone and drums at background. The music suddenly moves to higher tempo with soprano sax takes the lead melody combined with beautiful improvisation of vibraphone. It goes back again to slower tempo with flutes and vibraphone. It's cool. The title track "Shamal" is more uplifting than "Mandrake'. It has a nice bass-line at intro followed by drumming and great keyboard improvisation before overall melody was taken by soprano/alto sax. The interesting part is the keyboard play at background with the style of keyboard punching similar to JAN HAMMER style. It's really nice. "Shamal" is well-positioned to conclude the album. The inclusion of violin solo in the middle has enriched this track.

Overall, I find this album is a masterpiece and I think this was the best album that GONG has ever produced. For those of you who like a blend of traditional music with modern fusion / Canterbury, I bet you would love this album! Don't miss it. If you haven't heard any GONG music yet, try this album first! You may then move to "Gazeuse!" another excellent work by the band. Well, I think I should not be so stingy with rating. This one deserves five star! Gatot Widayanto - Indonesia.

Gatot | 5/5 |

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