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Gilgamesh - Gilgamesh CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.87 | 149 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

One of the lesser known Canterbury Scene bands that churned out also a pair of albums before slowly fading away into the jazz scene, where most of the members originated from anyway. Lead by keyboardist Alan Gowen, the mostly-instrumental quartet also comprises guitarist Phil Lee, bassist Jeff Clyne and drummer Michael Travis, and also gets some vocal help from The Northette's very own Amanda Parsons (see Hatfield and National Health). This last addition is generally not a good news for me, because personally the trio's vocal prowess irritate my eardrums severely, and here, Mrs Parsons does the job all by herself. Produced by former Hatfield and Egg man Dave Stewart, the album was released in the summer of 75 and came with a fun but un-esthetical artwork featuring a "get-your-band-to-the-top" game that only makes sense on the vinyl size sleeve.

Musically, Gilgamesh is fairly close to the afore-mentioned Hatfield and MH bands, despite having less common musical members than those two. Gowen's wide array of then-current keyboards (fuzz organ and Rhodes mainly) is unsurprisingly the band's main feature, since he's the main composer (all but two tracks), but Phil Lee's guitar gives him some very powerful replies. As you'd easily guess with such a virtuoso band, Clyne and Travis are definitely holding their own in the rhythm section. Musically, the album is your typical JR/F with that no-less typical Canterbury twist, so the proghead should know exactly what to expect, although we're definitely sonically closer to the later-70's cooler and more aloof sounds, rather than the early-70's steaming hot sonic washes (ala Soft Machine), but a certain compositional twist, rather than improvisations. The track list includes three three-movement suites, but they are more like three normal compositions, voluntarily broken down to pieces for writing credit reasons, IMHO anyway. The A-side is somewhat more democratic in that regard, as Lee and Clyne manage to unweave Gowen's homogeneity, so present on the flipside, but the songwriting differences are not immediately striking.

This debut album had to wait 35 years (to my knowledge, anyway) before receiving a CD reissue (or any other kind for that matter), but Esoteric Records finally repaired this flaw, but didn't find any bonus, but provided solid liner notes (courtesy of the excellent Sid Smith, so Gilgamesh's debut is THE reference of the band, even if Cuneiform's Arriving Twice posthumous release is just as important to this writer's ears.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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