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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Gilgamesh is one of the more inaccessible group in the Canterbury genre, and of their two historic albums, I can say without any shame I am not a fan of those two. So when I found this one at the library, I was not expecting some rather adventurously obtuse jazz-rock bordering on the free jazz and RIO, but this was actually quite a surprise. This posthumous album is made of tracks ranging from 73 to 75, and believe me, these are not bottom-of-the-drawer tracks. As a matter of fact, I appreciate this album much more than the two studio albums.

The thing that strikes most is that the music is much more melodic and accessible, bordering on a very pleasant jazz-rock somewhere between early 70's Miles Davis, Isotope and Mahavishnu Orchestra. One of the real highlights is the almost 18-min "suite" (more like a lengthy but tight improvisation) called You're Disguised, which is simply breathtaking at times. Guitarist Phil Lee is really the star in this track and gives keysman Alan Gowen are real challenge to keep up with him. From the second session in late 74, Extract is another highlight, but clearly a hint that this was part of another bigger track. Throughout the three sessions, it is funny to see Gilgamesh never had a fully installed bassist, as the rest of three members remained put. From the third session late 75, the four tracks are scorchers (except for the very expandable but thankfully short title track, and it is interesting to hear that Gowan's synth-playing has evolved due to progress while his electric piano stayed constant.

One of the strange things about the content of this Cd is that although coming from three different sessions, those tracks manage to make a pretty good album on its own with no tracks standing out like a sore thumb. If I have to compare this compilation to the two studio albums, I would say that this Cd is much closer to the second album, Another Fine Mess with its cold fusion rather than the debut, which is much closer to some free jazz.

Less "groundbreaking" than the two historic albums , but certainly a spotless release by the superb Cuneiform label. Again, fairly different than the other two albums, this album is not really suited as a proper intro to the band because it is unrepresentative of their albums.

Report this review (#2901)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is one of the most under-rated, less-known album in the Canterbury scene though composed of very powerful, adventurous, well-structured tracks accomplished with great musicianship.

I think that Gilgamesh is relatively more closer to mainstream experimental jazz-rock fusion than other Canterbury artists are. Thus, if you are a fan of this kind of improvisational fusion style in the Prog-Rock genre, it would be a highly-recommended album.

However, if you are not good at Canterbury style and have felt strange or bored, listening it would be just a torture.

* Remembering Alan Gowen : His abilities and passion...

Report this review (#2902)
Posted Monday, May 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just recently acquired the CdDof this .Had most of the tracks on cassette recorded from the late 70s.This release is testament to the genius of Alan Gowen and is much more easy to listen to than the earlier Gilgamesh releases. Wonderful playing including a much more rock influenced live sound.This album points towards National Health and is essential in understanding how Hatfield could have become National Health cos without Gilgamesh Health would never have emerged
Report this review (#2903)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Album of GILGAMESH released in 2000 "Arriving Twice". It is an excavation sound source of the surprise that shows the way that arrives at the first album. It is possible to listen to the performance of members such as Neil Murray and Steve Cook for the first time. Moreover, out Take is also interesting. Most is a repertoire of the first album though the album exchanges a part of unpublished work. The collection of the work that puts the individuality of this group such as "Phil's Little Dance" and "Arriving Twice" in the impression is glad.
Report this review (#54466)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Wow, man, this is a trippy album, but something is missing and I can't put my finger on it. Maybe Arriving Twice is not this Canterbury band's best collection. Perhaps the Fender Rhodes-drenched compositions, heavy on bass, jazzy meanderings and stoned atmosphere, painfully date the music here. Or maybe the boys were just having a series of slow session as evidenced by the lazy afternoon feeling that exudes from this posthumous release. Whatever the cause of the sloth pace and somewhat muddy sound, it is also a quite decent collection of English jazz-rock featuring some of the best of their ilk; the sweet and subtle keys of Alan Gowen, Phil Lee with some pretty kickin guitar, and Neil Murray's warm bass. Also included on several tracks are keyboardist Peter Lemer, and bassists Steve Cook and Jeff Clyne.

Fortunately, this Cuneiform release picks-up a bit by the third cut, 'Island of Rhodes', with hot boppin and semi-symphonic rhythms that generate some sparks. Things slow again for the improvisational 'Extract' but are revived by the upbeat symphonic jazz of 'One End More'. It is followed by the excellent 'Notwithstanding', the album's highlight and best representation of this group's accomplishments. I wouldn't suggest this be your first taste of Gilgamesh but if it's all you can find, they were a fun and significant band in the Canterbury milieu, and played some good music.

Report this review (#106946)
Posted Wednesday, January 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This album consists of previously unpublished recordings that they did before they recorded their first album. Most of these songs ended up on their first self titled record from 1975. One of the interesting things about this release is that we get to hear their first bass player Neil Murray on the first two songs from 1973. The next two songs feature his replacement at the time Steve Cook from 1974. While the final four songs feature Jeff Clyne(NUCLEUS) on bass from 1975. It's also interesting that Dave Stewart became an honorary member (organ player) of the band, and played one gig with them after his band HATFIELD AND THE NORTH broke up. Unfortunately GILGAMESH folded not long after HATFIELD AND THE NORTH did. These two bands actually played together on the same bill twice in 1973, and ended the night with both bands on stage playing a 40 minute song composed by Alan Gowen specifically for the occassion. The track "Extract" on here is a section of that song. With both of these bands calling it quits, some of the former members from each got together to form NATIONAL HEALTH. The music here is really complex and it just blows me away when I listen attentively. The liner notes are so valuable as well and Steve F. from Cuneiform Records deserves a lot of credit here.

"With Lady And Friend" has a very pleasant soundscape of bass, guitar, drums and piano. Before a minute in that changes as the guitar starts playing angular melodies that carve their way throughout this song. "Your'e Disguised/ Orange Diamond/ Northern Gardens/ Phil's Little Dance/ Northern Gardens" is almost 18 minutes long. It is quite laid back for the first couple of minutes and then the pace and sound picks up. Beautiful piano melodies 4 minutes in before a calm arrives as the guitar takes a break. The guitar is back 9 minutes in, and it turns angular again at the 14 minute mark. "Island Of Rhodes/ Paper Boat/ As If Your Eyes Were Open" has some excellent drumming as the bass throbs. A very jazzy tune. Some nice guitar melodies as well.

"Extract" has a 2 minute piano intro before we are treated to some tasteful guitar as the bass, drums and keys fill out the sound. The guitar is more aggressive on "One End More/ Phil's Little Dance Worlds Of Zin" and 3 1/2 minutes in it's about as close to spacey as they will get. Nice sound though. What follows is even better as the guitar isn't as rough and the bass and drums provide an excellent rhythm. "Arriving Twice" features these liquid sounding keys that lead the way on this short and mellow track. "Notwithstanding" is a great track with some scorching guitar melodies and intricate sounds. Love Gowen on the Fender Rhodes. "Lady And Friend" is one of my favourites. It opens quietly before a collage of sounds that include bass, drums, guitar and keys arrive. Gowen shines on this one with the Fender Rhodes once again.

This is challenging, complex music yet very enjoyable. A lot of talent on display here including the band leader, the late Alan Gowen. This is MY music.

Report this review (#148501)
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Released in 2000, this cd contains previously unpublished recordings of studio sessions from 1973, 1974 and 1975. Some songs were also recorded on Gilgamesh's first self-titled album, but I like the music from these recordings better than that on their two studio albums. Somehow these recordings sound more melodic and accessible (or even symphonic, I would say), where their two studio albums sometimes lack accessibility to much. Allthough founding member Alan Gowen (on electric piano and synths) is considered one of the key figures in Canterbury music, the music of Gilgamesh is much more in the mainstream powerful experimental jazz(-rock) vein, with heavy guitar work in duels with Gowen's keyboards, and it lacks the tongue-in-cheeck approach from the other Canterbury branches. Better than their studio record's, the recordings on this cd show how the jazz of Gilgamesh and the more orchestral wayward-rock approach of Dave Stewart (from Hatfield and the North), with whom Gowen already collaborated during the last months of Gulgamesh's existence in 1975, could melt together in the unique style of Gowen's and Stewart's next band: National Health. Seen from this point of view, these recordings also have their place in the history of Canterbury music, and they have that role more explicit and on a much higher quality level than their two studio albums. The highlights on this cd are the 17:52 song 'You're Disguised' and the 9:11 song 'One End More', where guitarist Phil Lee is at his best. Besides that, the nine-and-a-half minutes of 'Extract' are of historical value because they are part of the 40-minute suite 'The Double Quartet', which was specially composed by Gowen for the occasion of their legendary two combined gigs with Hatfield an the North in november 1973. In this suite they joined forces after their separated sets, but these sessions unfortunately never were recorded. Four stars: a very good cd, allthough not really a characteristic example of Canterbury music in general.
Report this review (#152814)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a collection of recording sessions which never made it into one of the two official studio albums. Leftovers, in other words. I did not have any high hopes. I was in for a surprise.

Where the two official studio albums was pretty introverted (as in Soft Machine's world), this one is much more open and accessible. The music is also pretty different from the two studio albums. The music in Arriving Twice is a blend of jazz and jazz-rock. The music here is more Mahavishnu Orchestra than Soft Machine in this respect. This is first and foremost Phil Lee's album. His lenghty guitar solos is let loose on several of the tracks where the two studio albums was more Alan Gowen and his keyboards dominated. Thankfully, Alan Gowen is very much present on this album. But he and Phil Lee have a more equal role when it comes to solos and instrumentations.

The quality is pretty high throughout. Again, it lacks some really good tracks. Some of the guitar solos is a bit too overpowering when less could had been more. I happens to like the two studio albums and I am not too pleased with this change of style. But this is still a very good album. It can be argued this is the best Gilgamesh album too. I am entirely convinced. But I really like this album.

Gilgamesh was an excellent band which deserve more recognition. That is my view after completing the reviews of their three albums.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#256653)
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009 | Review Permalink

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