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


Hugh Hopper

Canterbury Scene

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Tom Ozric
5 stars The definitive Canterbury Bassist Hugh Hopper (Richard Sinclair is close 2nd !!) joined forces with Keyboarder Alan Gowen for this stunning Masterpiece - yep, it's absolutely amazing as to what a few keyboards/synths and a bass guitar are capable of in the right hands. Hugh has developed many unusual recording techniques for his instrument, most noticeably his high-speed bass lines, which were originally recorded in 'real time' whilst the master-tape was running at half-speed, or less - in an e-mail from the man himself he described this process as "soporific and very psychedelic". Gowen is a truly gifted Keyboarder which, sadly, time has deprived us of way too early (he died from Leukaemia on May 17, 1981) but at least has left behind a legacy of recorded work, from Gilgamesh, National Health, and various collaborations along the way with many of his Canterbury colleagues, most of which are superb. This 1980 release - of which I am only familiar with tracks 1-7 (original vinyl LP) - mostly generate a very intimate atmosphere, typically Canterbury, mellow, jazz inflected tunes, but truly progressive, with multi-layered Basses (clean tone, fuzz tone, high-speed etc.) and Alan's choice of keys ; Mini-Moogs and Fender Rhodes, also a little acoustic piano here and there. Some of the 'songs' are truly reflective and deep. The sound from track to track is generally similar, but the moods vary. Highlights are definately 'Morning Order', 'Two Rainbows Daily' and 'Waltz for Nobby'. Both musicians shine. If you were to 'judge a book by its cover', just look at Hopper's stunning cover art - the music here is just as abstract, and in the most intelligent way. Superb, essential, must-have music - I can't see it any other way.
Report this review (#99385)
Posted Friday, November 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars In the liner notes Hugh Hopper says "The first time I saw Alan Gowen playing was in London in November,1973. His band GILGAMESH amalgamated for a concert with HATFIELD AND THE NORTH-two drummers, two bass players, two keyboards, two guitars !" He goes on to say he didn't come across Alan again until five years later. Hugh received a call from Elton Dean who wanted him to join forces with Pip Pyle, Alan Gowen and himself to form a quartet that would eventually be called SOFT HEAP. Elton, Pip and Alan were rehearsing in Alan's front room in the south of London when Hugh set out to join them. He says "Thus it was that one day in January,1978 I arrived from Canterbury(i'm not making this up ! Priceless !) with my bass gear packed into the tiny Honda 600 I laughingly called a car(Alan and his wife Celia inherited the Mighty Honda from me a couple of years later) and started a friendship that became important for me both musically and personally. We had some great rehearsals. It was the first time i'd played with Pip as well as with Alan, and the rhythm section immediately developed a very tasty insanity..." Later that summer Alan asked Hugh to play on his new GILGAMESH record called "Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into". And of course he did. Hugh goes on to say "Meanwhile,by the end of 1978 I has stopped playing. Didn't even take the bass out of it's case for over a year. But Alan and I still got together socially and he never gave up hope on me as a musician. Two years later, when he saw the glimmer of interest rekindling itself in me, he gently suggested we do what was to become "Two Rainbows Daily"-just the two of us playing bass and keyboards, overdubbing parts to add colour if necessary, but not trying to make it sound like a band."

On the cd version there are five live tracks added which were recorded at a one-off concert in Bracknell a few months after the record was recorded. Hugh says "We invited percussionist Nigel Morris-he was the obvious choice to add for an improvising gig and also I hadn't played live with him since leaving ISOTOPE in 1976. We didn't rehearse at all-sometimes it's an idea just to trust everyone's musicality and let things flow. This was the last time Alan and I worked together. Two weeks after the Braknell gig, Celia called with the shocking news that Alan was in the hospital with leukemia. He died less than a year later."

So being a big Alan Gowen fan, this record and especially these live songs of his last concert are very sentimental to me. I owe Tom Ozric big time for all his recommendations, but especially this one. I don't know if it was their close friendship that made this record as good as it is, but this is one of those albums that goes beyond the music. It's almost as if Alan knew this was going to be one of his last records, so he made a masterpiece. As for the music, it is at times atmospheric, dark, intricate, uptempo, but above all it's beautiful. So beautiful.

Report this review (#169487)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars This album could've been Gilgamesh's third, had they decided to add more musicians or even another Soft Heap album, but with the notable absence of Elton Dean. . But then again, seeing (or more like hearing) the tracks present here, it surely wouldn't have a hopper Solo or a Gowen solo, as they are way too accessible for the fans of such complex artistes. Don't get me wrong I said "accessible", not easy-listening.: a whole album of just Gowen's keyboards and Hopper's bass (no tapes doodlings) is not that easy to absorb, especially that the tracks are all laid back. Is not that easy to absorb, but compared to 1984 or the first Gilgamesh, this should go down easy. With a superb and colourful artwork gracing its cover, the album was recorded in June 80

Gowen's keyboard palette includes synths (mostly MinMoog), but mostly he's still with his old Fender Rhodes and Hopper's layered basses are gentle and not too complex or fuzzy . The two buddies wrote the tracks together except for one each, and the tracks sound relatively similar, although the moods range from the laid back to trhe furiously laid back, the whole thing being a typical jazzy Canterbury album,

In the Cuneiform Cd reissue, they found a bunch of tracks recorded live some two months after the Rainbows album's recording date (and probably before its release as well), where they played some very similar music with ex-Isotope drummer Nigel Morris , nd it actually adds to the overall accessibility of the their music. The five tracks, adding up to some 21 minutes are perfect companion to the album, and had you not been told they were of a different stock, you'd probably wouldn't have know. Sadly Gowen would die the next spring, these two rainbows being for his posterity. Recommended for Canterbury fans, but it might seem a bit of an anecdote to casual fans.

Report this review (#236209)
Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although TWO RAINBOWS DAILY is credited to Hugh Hopper and Alan Gowen, I feel Gowen is very much the dominant player here. The album is virtually an object lesson in "how to play analogue keyboards". It's convinced me that Gowen was the most inventive synthesizer player to emerge from the Canterbury Scene. If you are familiar with bands like National Health, and you enjoy the kind of playing Gowen did for them, you'll love TWO RAINBOWS DAILY. The main difference between this album and any of the actual "band albums" is that this is very much "chamber jazz", almost in the same vein as ECM. The orchestrations, and the predominantly melancholy mood, strongly remind me of Ralph Towner's use of the Prophet synth on his own solo albums, and with Oregon. The mood is also similar to that of some of Brian Eno's late 1970s albums such as MUSIC FOR FILMS, the main difference being, of course, that Gowen actually performs virtuoso soli - something Eno never tried. The term "chamber jazz" can be taken literally in this case, since all of the studio tracks (tracks 1-7) were recorded in Gowen's front room in Tooting, South London. Tracks 8-12 were recorded live in what must have been a tiny club. They feature percussionist Nigel Morris and they're entirely improvised, which gives them even more of an ECM feel.

I had known of the existence of this album for quite a while, but I did not actually buy a copy until earlier this year (2009). Expanding the original studio release with five superb live improvisations was an excellent move. TWO RAINBOWS DAILY may not be an essential Canterbury album, but everyone who enjoys Hopper and Gowen's subtle virtuosity will enjoy this album.

Report this review (#241822)
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of Soft Machine co-founder Hugh Hopper in 1978 played with Elton Dean (another Soft Machine veteran) on his Soft Head project,where National Health/Gilgamesh keyboardist Alan Gowen collaborated as well. After that Howard left music for two years, and this duet album with Gowen is evidence of his return to music.

Album was recorded in few days live, with minimal overdubs, and in fact sounds more as demo tape. Just bass and Moog,very intimate and relaxed sound,but with light melancholy or even sadness in atmosphere all around. By its mood,this album is very much Gowen's album (similar to his last ("Before a Word Is Said") album, released next year), one of his last work (he dies of leukemia very soon after this recording).

Sound is stripped,demonstrating great tunes and Gowen's typical tinkling tones, Howard's bass is very meditative, softer than usual. There are some modern influences in this album's sound (but I would say more ambient,than new age, as is mentioned in some album's reviews),but by it's nature it is still very jazzy work.

On later Cuneiform re-release there is added extra live material (5 songs from duo's rare gig ,with Isotope's drummer Nigel Morris)as bonus, which is very different by it's atmosphere and sound from original album. It demonstrates few great electric fusion peaces and some quite raw improvs as well.Interesting material for collectors, but has nothing to do with original half of album.

My rating is 3,5

Report this review (#397823)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Recorded in the space of a few days, this collaboration from the Gilgamesh bandmates finds both in a quiet and contemplative mood. By and large, the raunchy, fuzzy bass sound Hopper brought to classic Soft Machine albums of years gone by is absent (but for a riotous outbreak on the opening track), and Hopper devotes himself to providing tuneful backing for Gowen's keyboard whimsies, which often stray into sparse New Age territory before skipping back to fusion. An intriguing piece, though I'd say it would be overhyping it to call it a classic of either artist's back catalogue (especially if their band work with the likes of National Health or Soft Machine are taken into account).

The rerelease includes a brace of live tracks at the end which, whilst interesting, have a fairly muddy sound quality and don't really fit the rest of the album; I haven't taken them into account (because I never let bonus tracks affect my rating of albums), but I generally skip them.

Report this review (#565507)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Two rainbows daily released in June 1980 gather together two of the best musicians in canterbury realm - Hugh Hopper and Alan Gowen. They are well known muscicians from bands that made history in this field like Soft Machine, Soft Heap, National Health or Gilgamesh. Well this album is quite diffrent, musicaly speaking from what I've heared on bands mentioned above, this is only bass and keyboards and has a very mellow atmosphere overall. Is definetly a grower, and only after more then 4-5 listnings I become to appreciate this release. Definetly is a complex work where the bass of Hopper is in places excellent and is very well combined with that specific 70s feel of the keyboards of Gowen. Is not a typicaly prog album for the listner, but some pieces are truly great like the opening track Seen through a door, Every silver lining or Soon to fly. For me was a great discover this release, because I was abale to listen to something diffrent in canterbury style and in prog in genersl, with all that I can't say that this is a groundbreaking realse maybe due to the fact that is to mellow for my taste. Anyway I can respect the potential of the musicians involved here and the ideas gathered for this album, still remains a little classic in this field. 3 stars from me, intresting in parts but aswell boring in others, maybe I still didn't grow up enough to really understands this.
Report this review (#755067)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars An album of sensitive, somewhat melodic, protracted keyboard experimentation with support from jazz bass by two Canterbury artists still committed to the original spirit of Canterbury Scene artists. The problem herein is the lack of direction: each song sounds like it exists purely for study or experimentation with a certain sound, cadence, chromatic sense, rhythm, sequence, or nonmelody.

1. "Seen Through A Door" (5:54) sounds an awful lot like some of ANTHONY PHILLIPS keyboard work from this era and later--soundtrack like in a rudimentary, almost rehearsal kind of way. (8.5/10)

2. "Morning Order" (6:32) again, sounding more like the background music to a segment of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the keyboard work progresses nicely as the bass remains fully present and supportive. Again, more experimental in nature as there is very little melody presented for listener engagement. (8.5/10)

3. "Fishtank 1" (4:56) more keyboard "practice" as bass plays one chord every twenty seconds or so. Nice melody from the left hand of the keyboard. (8/10)

4. "Two Rainbows Daily" (4:14) piano-based with a little more lively bass support and interplay. Reminds me of Lyle Mays' work. The structured and complete-feeling song on the album so far. (9/10)

5. "Elibom" (5:04) a duet that feels quite equal in participation, though, again, the melodic sense makes it feel more like an Útude or a television soundtrack. (7.5/10)

6. "Every Silver Lining" (5:23) sounds like a TERRY C. RILEY practice session or early Berlin School contrivance but certainly not a complete song. (7.5/10)

7 . "Waltz For Nobby" (9:07) slow, delicate pace--could almost be a soundtrack for a children's story or an episode of Mr. Rogers. Very pretty melodies throughout and I love spaciousness. (9/10)

Bonus tracks on 1995 CD remaster: While the seven songs selected for the original release are void of any percussion/drums, these have percussion support but are much more demo-sounding in sound quality and, thus, more even more sparse, incomplete, and practice-like in their form. Nothing so very extraordinary here.

8. Chunka's Troll (4:03) experimental jazz 9. Little Dream (5:16) trio sublteties 10. Soon to Fly (4:03) classical piano bar 11. Bracknell Ballad (4:10) warm up of all instruments 12. Stopes Change (3:25) drums plus

In my opinion, this collection of songs, both the original and the 1995 re-issue, are only worthy of recommending to Canterbury Scene completionists or fans of either of the two musicians on the billing.

Report this review (#1841666)
Posted Thursday, December 14, 2017 | Review Permalink

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