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Hugh Hopper - Hugh Hopper & Alan Gowen: Two Rainbows Daily CD (album) cover


Hugh Hopper


Canterbury Scene

3.82 | 42 ratings

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1791 Overture
5 stars This is possibly my favorite Canterbury album. It avoids my two major gripes with the genre: first, that the Canterbury sound can tend to come off as trivial and "loungy" once the initial charm has worn off, and second, that the formula doesn't change much from album to album. This record is something of a musical island - not only does it have the "duende" and freshness that the rest of the Canterbury releases often lack, but much of it seems to spring from nothing and no one other than Mr. Hopper and Mr. Gowen themselves.

The sound is relaxed, but not "chill," as we're often so fond of calling slow music - its dreamlike quality and tendency to elicit bizarre emotions is well-portrayed by the swirl of melting colors that is the album cover (painted by Mr. Hopper himself). It is a bit otherworldly, despite being played on instruments and by musicians so familiar to the prog fan; I have never heard a Mini- Moog played quite the way Alan Gowen plays it here, and I have to say it's probably my favorite use of the instrument ever recorded. The pop and prog elements of the Canterbury sound have been largely abandoned, and the album is predominately a tasteful fusion affair that dips into pure jazz and new age (I was afraid to make the comparison, but I'm glad to see that two other reviewers before me agree). The keyboard material is developed with a slow yearning feel, and the bass is played very meticulously - Hopper avoids the free, conversational approach of typical jazz, instead carefully articulating the attack of each note (slowly, purposefully) as if it were a self-sufficient entity. This makes for a strange listen at first, but it will grow on you over time until you're hanging onto each note he plays, I promise. :)

This is beautiful music played by two extraordinary musicians. My favorite is the closer, "Waltz for Nobby," which affects me so powerfully that sometimes I have difficulty listening to it. R.I.P. Alan Gowen, and everyone else: enjoy.

(A note on the CD release of this album: the final 5 tracks are not part of the original, but are more typical Canterbury fare recorded live. The sound quality is not spectacular and frankly the improvisations(?) themselves are nothing special at all compared to the album proper. I have not factored tracks 8-12 into the rating, because I do feel that the album itself deserves no less than 5 stars.)

1791 Overture | 5/5 |


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