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Gong - Shapeshifter CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.48 | 72 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Nice return to the old, classic GONG sound. The reason for that is the return of Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Didier Malherbe, and Pip Pyle. Yes, Steve Hillage (because of his involvement with System 7/777) and Tim Blake (because he always ended up on bad terms with some of the band members) aren't here, and there's some unfamiliar musicians (at least to me) handling bass and violin, although if I'm not mistakened, Steffi Sharpstrings is playing guitar here, and he was a member of the space rock outfit HERE & NOW (who happened to back Daevid Allen in the late '70s, by the way!) There are even Indian musicians here handling things like tabla, and yes, some of the music does have a strong Indian bent to it, thanks to the presence of sitar and tabla. But basically it's the return of the old Pot Head Pixie sound, but of course, "Shapeshifter" doesn't have a concept of the Planet Gong, although references to it are made. Of course, the techno experiment (which doesn't quite work for me) of "Dog-O-Matic" doesn't sound like anything they did before, but to me, I don't think GONG should be messing with techno, leave that up to '90s contemporaries like OZRIC TENTACLES (who at least do something to even convince non- techno fans like me, but of course techno was just one of many styles the OZRICS explored).

I remembered when I bought this CD in 1997 (it was a 1996 reissue), there was a song on there called "Heaven's Gate" and I couldn't help but think of the Heaven's Gate compound in Rancho Santa Fe, California and the suicide that took place, but of course the song was hardly on that subject, for one thing, this was a 1992 release. Even so, this song proved that it was a wise idea to go back to that old sound. "Give My Mother a Soul Call" is another great piece, and even with the presence of digital synthesizers, give it that exotic feel. There are some acoustic pieces that do little for me like "Spirit With Me" and "White Doves", but if you pretty much given up on GONG after You, because fusion isn't your thing, you be sure to pick up "Shapeshifter", as it's a nice CD showing the band returning to their space rock roots!

Proghead | 4/5 |


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