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ZERO TO INFINITY

Gong

Canterbury Scene


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iruau@hotmail
4 stars I must admit that, although I am an unconditional Gong fan, I was quite reluctant buying their most recent albums as I feared being disappointed.

Wow, what a surprise ! This album is plain welfare. Almost as spacial (spacey !) as their early works (on the contrary to Shapeshifter I also bought together) this album fully sticks, in my opinion, to Gong's original spirit. Daevid's and Gilli's vocals are amazing as always, not to mention the music itself. It's just plain Gong as we love it, in fact. Fans and fanatics, don't hesitate to buy it !

I would have rated it 5 stars, but I can definitely not recommend it for a first buy, as newcomers to Gong may want to begin with the Radio Gnome trilogy and Camembert Electrique, which are still far superior to this one if you like their weird sounds.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#27737)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Work announced in 2000 "Zero To Infinity". New work that finally came out. At that time, I was a university student. GONG was alive. And, Zero was alive, too. It is a delightful, miraculous, mysterious album. Rhythm only of GONG. It is extraordinary and wonderful. Indispensable work that I wants everyone to listen by all means.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#43780)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is an album that has the feel of the classic period, although it's certaijnly not as adventurous or musically diverse as the trilogy albums. At least one song ("Wise Man In Your Heart") was written over 30 years ago, so there is more here than just an attempt to cash in on the old sound. The musicians are all familiar names in Gong's history. Nice packaging, although it's not easy to get the jewel box out of the soft plastic wraparound. No groundbreaker, but a "nice" addition for the true fan.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#44040)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is a fine return to form by a late-period lineup featuring old friends Didier Malberbe and Mike Howlett, along with Gilli Smyth and Daevid Allen. There is plenty of pot-head pixy madness on tracks like "Bodilingus" and "The Mad Monk", but also a lot of spacy grooves, space whisper and a wonderful lengthy ballad in "Wise Man in Your Heart". Allen sounds like the old guru that he is as he croaks sagely on each number, while Smyth's wailing sounds just like it did in 1973. What impressed me most was the production- it's modern but warm (very unlike that on "Shapeshifter", which was hollow and cheap-sounding) and an excellent update to the band's sound. The record sounds contemporary but still with the old Gong spirit intact. The only problem, and it's a small one, is that I really can't see how this continues the already obtuse and nonsensical Zero the Hero story...but that's not essential. This record may not be up at the heights of "You" or "Angel's Egg", but it's not that far off. Good stuff.

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#64982)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album was widely hailed as a major return to form for Gong, but ultimately proves to be a bit of a disappointment. It makes for pleasant listening, and it frequently has something of the feel of Gong's golden era, but only intermittently delivers the inspiration and imagination that they're truly capable of.

The album starts off promisingly with Foolefare/Magdalene, which feature the twin horns of Travis and Malherbe chasing each other over a tight Gong groove, the whole thing returning to Earth before it drifts off into space altogether. The Invisible Temple opens with Gilli Smyth declaiming over glissando guitar and flute, before drifting off into a lengthy jam featuring some slightly insipid sax over a lazy, trip hop influenced beat. They're clearly referring back to the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy here, but back in the 1970s this kind of noodling was kept under tight control - here it simply plods on, not unpleasant but you keep waiting for something to happen. This sets the mood for rather too much of the album - the contemporary sounds are welcome, but too often there's a lack of real substance. Most tracks start out promisingly enough, but fail to develop in any meaningful sense - it's no accident that the best songs are also the shortest.

Fortunately the band recover their focus from time to time. About half way through comes The Mad Monk, a prime slice of Allen lunacy with some wonderfully ham fisted piano from the man himself. The one bona fide classic comes as we get to the final three tracks - Bodilingus is one of Allen's masterpieces, which makes much that surrounds it seem pale in comparison. Inspired wordplay, one of his greatest vocal performances and the band suddenly playing as though their lives (or at any rate their royalty cheques) depend on it. Crystal clear and supremely tight, for four magical minutes Gong are dragged bodily up to date, with Allen sounding unashamedly his age and as badly behaved as ever. The final two tracks are also strong contenders, if a little over long, and bring the album to a dignified finish.

With a stronger willed producer this could have been a convincing 40 minute album, but the ideas are spread rather thinly across the 63 minute playing time. The old hands all turn in some good performances - Malherbe remains probably the best flautist in rock, Gilli Smyth's contributions are well written, Mike Howlett is as nimble fingered as ever and Daevid Allen is still Daevid Allen - while the 'new' boys fit in nicely, but for too much of the time they cruise when they could be flying. Newcomers should bypass this in favour of Camembert Electrique; older fans can skip to the better tracks and dream of what could have been.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#67861)
Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars What a surpise! Some 25 years after ending the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy,, Gong is back with a new tome of the Pot Head Pixie and the planet Gong mythology . Although Daevid had reanimated GonG in the mid-90's and the PHP world was its "fond de commerce", there wasn't much in terms of new stuff for the group to expand upon. So the group went on to write another chapter of the RGI and to be honest, the coup is fairly succesful. The line-up helps a lot of course , with all of the major actors (bar the then-ever- absent Hillage and the fact that both now-deceased Moerlen and Pyle were then-busy), we can say that 02 Infinity is a classic by the classic. Indeed Malherbe leaves graciously space for newcomer Travis and then-third-string drummer Chris Taylor are today's first string players..... both of which will have their character in the mythology. While the artwork is unfortunately way too technological (but cosmic still), a superb Mike Howlett production, we'd be pretty well indecent not to enjoy this to the fullest the latest chapter of Zero's adventures.

After a short Gypsy-like intro, thegroup embarks with the funky flute, doudouk and sax- laden Magdalene track, before entering a You?like transe number with the Invisible Temple (already chanted via the Inner and Outer Temple of Egg) complete with space whispers, courtesy of Gilly. Zeroid and Wise Man are both among the harder-edged tracks with some solid guitar works, even some histrionics moments from Daevid. A bit later, Gilly Tyoni's passage on Mars is quite interesting and whisperless. A bit further down the Milky Way, Gong's musuc gets downright dissonant and weird with a some strange telephone calls and sometimes you can think of Devo in the beat of Damaged Man. The following Bodilingus is quite deceiving, despite being really too relaxed (think of I Talk To The Wind on Crimson's debut), and with too many tracks on this album, nothing exciting happens; Tali's Songis another one of those You-era groove, but it is almost a filler. Of course the new adventures of Zero could only end at tea break and savouring a cup of Infinitea.

The only other critic I can see with ZTI is that it doesn't bring anything new to the RGI world, except another chapter of adventures, but then again I'm not sure the goal was that much more ambitious. As for the commercial issues, I'm not sure that this album's kinship wuth the RGI trilogy will provoke a tsunam of sales that would suddendly make GonG members nababs. The music on it is often excellent, but not brilliant or exciting, despite not being groundbreaking, but the proghead's nostalgy should do the rest. This writer's usual aesthtetics would have him normally demolish such an easy touchdown, but then again, Gong was always among my weak and soft spot, which means that the group would really have screw up for me to reject an album of theirs. This is a partizan four star.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#246132)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After so many years Gong released their album in almost classic line-up. I was very attracted by this album.

What about music, it is a mixed bag. First of all, there are no experiments, great new ideas or sounds. But it is Gong, you feel it at any moment. Gilli's voice here and there will bring you back in spacey and dreamy seventies. Some drumming as well ( but big part of songs has quite monotonous drumming ,almost drum machine style).

All album is rich in sax sound, for good and for bad. In best moments, you are just hypnotised by melodic sax solos. In worst - sax sounds as easy listening piece, filling all space with backing drumming machine sound. All album sound is soft, warm,comfortable, quite unusual for Gong. Again, in some places because of that all music is balanced on the edge with pop- rock.

I believe that Gong fans will find many attractive places in this album's music, so album is more good than bad in all. I think weakest moments there are drumming and very polished sound. Again, after listening of all album my impression was not too bad.

Something like 3,5... And "Magdalena" is excellent song on there.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#254238)
Posted Friday, December 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Zero To Infinity is a surprising return of the classic Gong and equals the quality of the Allen fronted early 70's albums. It doesn't shed a new light on this band but the inspiration ran high during the recording of this album. For artists this late in their career it's an amazing album really.

Foolefare, a transcription of Faut Le Faire (You got to do it), opens the album. If they wanted to hint at the 'tour the force' they are doing here with their sudden return to form then this self-appraisal is deserved. The excellent Magdalene kicks of the album for real, it's a space-rock classic that sits comfortably next to Dynamite or You Can't Kill Me. The Invisible Temple is one of their typical space-jazz jams. This simply sends the Ozric Tentacles packing.

Gong not only brought back the trippy excellence of yore, they also continued the eclectic/inconsistent (pick your choice) character of their early albums, Zeroid is a good track still but a step down from the opening. Wise Man In Your Heart continues on the same level, good, but this trip-hop excursion refers too much to the superior Massive Attack in this style of music. With The Mad Monk we're right back with 1967 psychedelic rock.

Yoni On Mars wins me over more easily with its gloomy lounge jazz feel. It comes close to one of my avant-garde post punk favourites, Tuxedo Moon. (It's just a similarity of course, Tuxedo Moon were probably inspired by Gong and certainly not the other way round). Damaged Man is a bit of weird filler that I could do without. It ends in an interesting jazz-noise chaos though. Bodilingus and Tali's Song shouldn't even have made it onto the album maybe, although they're not that different from the silly stuff on their classic albums. There's one more gem at the end, Infinitea, a classic space-jazz-jam.

3.5 stars, but leaving out the tracks that I would discard as filler, there's still a good 44 minutes of 4 star space matter. Recommended to all Radio Gnome Trilogy fans.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#261832)
Posted Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Allen-fronted Gong reformed briefly for the rather forgettable Shapeshifter in 1992, and returned in full force a little later for yet another sequel to the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy here. With laid-back jazz and a little house music influencing the band, the group produce an album which is pleasant enough to lie back and chill out to but which at the same time seems content to reminisce about past glories and follow the lead of the new innovators on the head music scene as opposed to demonstrating the creativity and imagination we all know the band to be capable of. It's a fun enough trip, but it's no game changer in the way the original albums in the trilogy were.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#636955)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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