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Gong - Time Is The Key CD (album) cover

TIME IS THE KEY

Gong

 

Canterbury Scene

2.94 | 114 ratings

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beebfader
3 stars This, the follow up to Downwind finds Pierre Moerlen and friends taking up where that album left off, and perhaps wisely ditching vocals altogether. Unfortunately there are insufficient ideas to fully carry off an entire album of instrumental music despite the best of intentions.

The desire to create a shifting series of extended pattern-based music, again built around Moerlen's Vibraphone/Marimba playing and solid kit drumming , works very well over the course of the opening four segued pieces totalling some 18 minutes. Riffs and cyclic patterns always under the capable compositional hands of Moerlen, shift and evolve while the music carries itself forward pleasingly and interestingly. Again aided by the capable Hansford Rowe on Bass, there are some wonderful key changes and dynamics, some fine tuned percussion soloing in `Supermarket' and culminating in `Fairie Steps', possibly the strongest section of music on offer here.

It is during the latter half of the album that things take a turn for the worse. Rowe's `An American In England' is a pleasant enough sketch for acoustic guitar and marimba, but then the spectre of disco makes its unwelcome presence known (horror!) on the `The Organ Grinder' and the problems begin. There is a fine line between musicians playing for their own amusement and creating something they feel the world needs to hear. This smacks too much of muso-dom to be very appealing, particularly with the dated synth sounds on offer. `Sugar Street' is pretty insipid too, relying heavily on slap bass, more cheesy synth sounds and laboured motifs.

The final three tracks all feature Allan Holdsworth, which is never usually a bad thing, and Moerlen gets to beat his drum comprehensively and impressively on the solo sections of `Arabesque', but with too many rote chord changes and too much PolyMoog soloing by Peter Lemer (particularly on `Ensuria 2') the album does become somewhat tiresome and shapeless. Unfortunately the album says all it has to say in the first 18 minutes and one feels like reaching for the metaphorical coat long before the party's finally over.

beebfader | 3/5 |

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