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Gong - Camembert Electrique CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.82 | 365 ratings

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3 stars Gong are one of the more important progressive rock bands in terms of taking rock into a whole different stratosphere than where it was before. CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE is not the inaugural message from the wacky Parisian moon travelers, but it provides a fairly apt prequel to what the RGI trilogy was to become.

The one problem that many classic Gong fans will point out almost instantaneously is that four vital members aren't yet in the band, namely Hillage, Moerlen, Howlett and Tim Blake. Blake not being here is more alien than you think (those that have heard the trilogy) simply because the keyboard pads he provided helped transform Gong into a space-rock outfit from the psychedelic rock without the spacey-ness. The overall sound of CE can best be described as hard-hitting, close-to-Cantebury psychedelic jamming rock.

''You Can't Kill Me'', ''Tropical Fish'' and ''Fohat Digs Holes in Space'' are the jammiest bunch of tracks here, with part of the latter somewhat reworking its way into ANGEL'S EGG. All have an excellent foundation (Christian Tritsch and Allen on guitar, Pip Pyle on drums) with Didier Mahlerbe's saxophone providing a quality top, but only ''You Can't Kill Me'' really sticks. ''And You Tried So Hard'' is the closest I've ever heard Gong get to the Cantebury sound, and it sounds poppier and saner than the rest of the album. ''I've Been Stoned Before'' sounds like the ultimate hippie-Church anthem (the organ does the trick), and the other two big tracks are more or less refined versions of the jam tracks. Notable little music tricks are the odd timing in ''O Mother'' (15/16 if I counted correctly), the playground- taunt-esque melody in ''Mr. Long Shanks'' and the chant that sounds like the ''Shave-and-a- Haircut'' rhythm in ''I Am Your Animal''.

From a personal standpoint, I love Gong, and this is one of my favourite albums to listen to. However, from a PA perspective, CE is not as proggy as the RGI trilogy to come. Even looking past that restriction, I find that CE is great only for Gong fans that want to hear where the RGI ideas sourced.

One odd note I found as a Gong fan; the last theme of ''Fohat Digs Holes in Space'' is the same as the opening theme of ''Perfect Mystery'' on the YOU album. Gong themes sure get around, don't they?

Sinusoid | 3/5 |


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