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SUFFER

Gongzilla

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a SMOKIN' fusion disc. You can and will play this over and over. It stands tall against any fusion album I've heard. Being an off-shoot of Pierre Morlien's Gong, you can expect tons of percussions and they are delivered in large doses. Vic Stevens, Lionel Cordew are seasoned New York studio musicians and they step out brightly here. Benoit Moerlin on vibes and marimba, plays the key ingredient that makes this something more than a guitar fest. The vibes take many exhilerating solos that would only be better if witnessed live. Hansford Rowe, bass man deluxe, keeps everything flowing and well grounded. Bon Lozaga, a consistent PM Gong guitarist, unfurls tight and hard edged solos throughout. Many solos will have you checking the credits because he wails in the style of the other standout on this recording: Allan Holdsworth.

Allan Holdsworth is only present on four tunes, but he makes the best of it. Some of these recordings are among my favorite AH solos of all time. Hearing Allan play over a perc heavy base is a treat. The melodies flow from his fingertips like a thick sweet syrup. Pure ear candy, tasty and addicting. "Gongzilla," the opening track is a hard edged guitar feast of blistering solos by Lozaga and Holdsworth with twisting lines so tight it's hard to tell were Bon stops and Allan starts. The imagery of Godzilla storming through Toyko fits the power of the song itself (The intro features the Icons shrill vocal blast and foot stomp). "Bad Habits" is a bit more subtle yet engaging. "Almost You" is a wonderfully sensual ballad, slow and seductive. "Allan Qui?" pretty much answers the question, who is Allan Holdsworth? Another stunning performance of fluid legato runs, slurs, hammers and pull offs, languid swells and blazing turn arounds.

The non-Holdsworth tunes still have an energy and melodicism so rare in fusion. The melodies can stick in your head and the vibes buzz long after the album ends. Bon Lozaga is exciting in his own right, a veteran improviser and soloist.

If you don't care for Allan Holdsworth's solo work, find it too complex or sterile, discover Gongzilla "Suffer" and get a more immediate, less cerebral, fusion fix.

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Send comments to Dan Bobrowski (BETA) | Report this review (#33177)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
sqmuth@earthl
5 stars Clearly an essential album, Holdsworth and Lozaga compliment each other very nicely. This whole lineup of musicians is a wonder, actually. Many albums in the "progressive" or "fusion" genre do not age very well... this is not one of them. This album is timeless. It bears repeated listenings, still manages to curl my toes with its haunting melodies. This, from a person who bores very easily. This is right up there with the best of Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, Bill Bruford, John McLaughlin... but it holds its own as Gongzilla. With nothing else really "like" it, it is clearly an essential contribution to any prog rocker's collection.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#52082)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Two bands that come to mind right away when looking for comparissons are moe. and umphreys mcgee. But in the end, Gongzilla is a very unique band. Mixing fusion, jam band tendenicies and heavy metal subtleties, these guys keep on rockin' throughout the cd with not a single weak track. Musicianship is perfect and no over indulgence is to be found. One of the better known from the indie labels. 4.25 stars!

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Send comments to Carl floyd fan (BETA) | Report this review (#53995)
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars i met some of these guys what a performance recently in princeton nj ! only the core of the rythmn section i wish holdsworth and moerlin were there oh well

alan holdsworth one of the greatest guitar players in the universe. hansford rowe one solid bass player. of course benoit moerlin brother of the later peirre moerlin what a virtusoso on vibes and percussion. tight rythmic outstanding tracks every one ! my fav track is the gongzilla track very hard sounding

thomas and cordew are fine drummers who i need to know more about. the band has since incorporated a differant drummer who is also outstanding. bands that come to mind gong , pierre moerlins gong , king crimson ( in some places ) bill bruford

this is a must have there is a definate tie to fusion especially bruford most probably because of the moerlin Bruford holdsworth connection in the style

yours truly a pleasant symmetry

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Send comments to APleasantSymmet (BETA) | Report this review (#92642)
Posted Friday, September 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ESSENTIAL LISTENING FOR EVERYONE WHO EVER LOVED PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG...

I know, I know, this is BENOIT Moerlen's (and Hansford Rowe's and Bon Lozaga's) version of Gong, but it sounds so much like a reincarnation of those two classics - GAZEUSE and ESPRESSO II - that I (who have loved those albums for decades) could jump for joy. If it wasn't for Progarchives, I would never even have discovered Gongzilla, as their jokey name always made me think they were a cabaretish, "Pothead Pixie" kind of band.

Instead, it seems, Benoit Moerlen, Rowe and Lozaga (all three of whom appeared on ESPRESSO II itself) have very consciously set out to revamp and expand upon Pierre Moerlen's style from the second half of the 1970s. Not only is their opening track similar in feeling to ESPRESSO II's "Heavy Tune"; their song titles also refer to the earlier album("Gongzilla's Dilemma", for example); at least one of their tunes is a straightforward reworking of an ESPRESSO II track ("Bad Habits") and, best of all, they got the inimitable Allan Holdsworth to guest on four of their compositions.

Believe me, SUFFER really is good news! Late 1970s Gong was unique among progressive jazz-rock bands, as they used a highly original combination of vibraphones, marimbas, electric guitar, bass, sax and flute (at least when Didier Malherbe was with them) as well as lots and lots of percussion... I've always loved that sound, and I've tried to find its equivalent in as many jazz groups as I could trace, ever since Pierre himself (at the end of the seventies) felt the unfortunate need to record middle-of-the-road-rubbish... Now here we are in a new millenium and there's a gorgeous North American band who have actually resurrected a style I love.

If I have one criticism, it's that the great Pierre proves irreplacable. Although the drummers on SUFFER are good, not one of them matches P.M.'s incomparably rich and virtuosic sound. But let's not carp. There's a lot of brilliant music here. The bluesy solos on "Mr Sinister Minister", the GAZEUSE-like guitar and vibraphone arpeggios on "Hip-Hopnosis", the wonderfully refined playing on the highly delicate "Allan Qui?" - I'd be a fool if I didn't recommend this album.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#155521)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars What have we here? Fugitives from Pierre Moerlin piloted Gong? Don't worry, this won't hurt at all. These guys have apparently never worked in any of the Daevid Allen driven Gongs, except for Benoit Moerlin. The other two core members of this group are Hansford Rowe and Bon Lozaga. Allan Holdsworth guests on four tracks (another one who's played in Gong when Allen wasn't around). Nice, though not necessary as Lozaga's style is very similar.

This is their debut album, the song Gongzilla starts things off and maybe shows why they decided to go with the name Gongzilla. There's lots of elements from Pierre Moerlin's Gong (PM'sG) but it often has some much heavier elements in it. Allan Holdsworth drops in a solo on the first track, but this one's really driven by Lozaga.

Bad Habits, mellows things out a bit. This is more in the style of PM'sG. Holdsworth plays more prominently. Sing really mellows it out, nice, peaceful, and very acoustic. Gongzilla's Dilemma borrows heavily from a piece PM'sG, Golden Dilemma from Expresso II and one other piece from that era that eludes me. Mr. Sinister Minister's very jazzy less mellow, yet still fairly laid back, still some heavy undertones. For some reason someone decided to put a siren sound in towards to the end. I was listening to that on the way into work. A little alarming until I figured out where it was coming from. Almost You is really nothing like anything on the album You. Benoit's vibe work shine, Allan's back for a tasty guitar solo.

The pace then picks back up a bit with Mezzanine, maybe a little too close to the cheesy commercial jazz rock/fusion (JRF) of the late '70's/early '80's (Benoit gets the song credit, must be his fault), still good though. Hip-Hopnosis? OK, there's no hip-hop elements here. Maybe a few funky parts and a little hypnotic playing. Sometimes song titles for instrumentals just don't come easy, I guess. Allan Qui? Allan's last guest track and his last appearance with Gongzilla to date. But as I've said before, not essential to the band, but a welcome guest. Sometimes hard to tell the Lozaga from the Holdsworth. Nice high quality JRF. Senna's a bit different and once again reminds me about what I like so much about this band, they're not afraid to experiment. A bassic song credited to Hansford. Wraps up with Camel, a much proggier piece by Benoit, unfortunately it's only 23 seconds long apparently with vocalizing by Samuel Rowe, which is tacked on at the end of that on my CD as the mysterious Track 12.

So now that Daevid Allen went back at the helm of Gong, it's really nice to have this offshoot out there that carries on much of the style that was present in PM'sG. They gave us one last album, Pentanine, in 2002 before Pierre died in 2005 unexpected causes.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#173284)
Posted Sunday, June 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I must admit that when I got this one I had no idea they were distant relatives of GONG. Of course once I knew this then their band name made perfect sense to me. There are four guys here who played on GONG's "Expresso II" album in Benoit Moerlin, Allan Holdsworth, Bon Lozaga and Hansford Rowe. And this album does seem like a modern take on those Pierre Moerlin led GONG albums of the mid to late seventies. I should mention that the three composers are Lozaga, Moerlin and Rowe and they share it fairly evenly.

"Gongzilla" opens with some atmosphere before we get some fire from Holdsworth then the band kicks in. This is surprisingly heavy. We get some percussion then the guitar is back leading. Nice growly bass 2 minutes in as well. I'm slightly reminded of KING CRIMSON after 3 minutes, especially when that evil sounding guitar starts making noise. Holdsworth is ripping it up before 6 minutes. This is the heaviest tune on the album. "Bad Habits" is more what I expected from this group. A more typical sounding Fusion and check out Moerlin on the vibes as he leads the way with the bass and drums for a while. Then Holdsworth starts to solo. Nice. Just an excellent track. "Sing" is where they slow things down. And no there's no singing here, just a relaxed and slow paced tune. "Gongzilla's Dilemma" is better. I like the drumming and vibes here. Oh and the bass too that joins in is impressive. The guitar is here around 2 1/2 minutes. It becomes heavy 3 minutes in just like the opening track with some wicked guitar from Lozaga. "Mr. Sinister Minister" has some funky bass with the drums and guitar standing out. Things become more intense after 3 minutes and check out Lozaga lighting it up on guitar.

"Almost You" features lots of intricate percussion and drumming a minute in. I like the guitar playing over top. Some beautiful guitar work late from Holdsworth. A laid back and enjoyable song. "Mezzanine" opens with drums before the bass takes over, then the guitar and more follow. Some funk 1 1/2 minutes in as the xylophone comes and goes. Slarts was right in his review about Lozaga and Holdsworth sounding very similar. Lozaga sounds great here on guitar. "Hip-Hopnosis" sounds really interesting early on. I'm not sure what some of this is then the guitar (Lozaga) kicks in before a minute. Great sound here. So much going on a minute later. A calm 3 minutes in then we get some inventive guitar before what sounds like electronics takes over. The guitar is back. This is one of my favourites. "Allan Qui ?" is no doubt titled so because of Holdsworth. It's the longest song at almost 7 1/2 minutes and the guitar is the focus throughout. "Senna" is led by the drums and bass throughout as we get this determined rhythm happening. I like it ! "Camel" is just 26 seconds of intricate sounds while "End" ends the album with just 5 seconds of someone counting to five in French twice.

A very enjoyable album. Thanks Julian !

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#918314)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A continuation of Pierre Moerlen's Gong without Pierre? Well, sort of. Some former PMG members have decided to keep the show going, pretty much reminiscent of the "Expresso"-era. At times they got it right, but overall it's a mixed bag of goodies..

The album starts off with a rather aggressive and somewhat disturbing piece that displays a degree of anger. Afterwards the band settles back into more familiar territory with either touching on, or remaking an odd Gong piece. I am not convinced that it was necessary, but they do come off reasonably well.

There are some lyrical pieces thrown in here and there and it feels like the band is casting their collective nets far and wide with even the odd jazzy run, too. Of particular interest is to observe the differences between the two guitar players. Whilst Holdsworth is playing to his usual standards, Bon Lozaga is desperately trying to sound like Holdsworth, but unable to match his much more refined peer. A set of trained ears can tell the difference and I find it somewhat amusing to observe of who is playing when.

This work is quite reasonable for most parts, but neither groundbreaking, nor original. Rating it as a 4 would belittle the original PMG, whereas it would deserve more than 3 stars - if only for the effort of keeping the show going. Frustrating choice, but other than applying charity, 4 stars would be 1/4 too many.

(Well, I felt compelled to edit the rating as in hindsight this album is better than what followed later.)

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Send comments to Anon-E-Mouse (BETA) | Report this review (#1154089)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars GONGZILLA is a rightful extension of the larger GONG family tree. This debut album includes Bon Lozaga ("Time Is The Key," "Leave It Open," "Pierre Moerlen's Gong Live") and Hansford Rowe ("Time Is The Key up to "Full Circle Live '88") and Benoit Moerlen ("Gazeuse" to "Leave It Open.") The album definitely fits into the jazz-fusion category started by the Pierre Moerlen's Gong on "Gazeuse." The opening track starts off hard and heavy and in my opinion qualifies as jazz metal with its hard and heavy approach to jazz fusion but starting with the second track we get a steady stream of lifeless ballads that remind me of the worst of Pat Metheny and it just doesn't make my tail wag.

There are a few tracks on this album that make me happy but overall I would have to say that this is a very hit and miss affair. I absolutely love the name of this band and album cover and was expecting more but when all is said and done I find this to be an OK but not outstanding extension of the Gong heritage. Disappointing especially because of the large input of talented musicians but I find that many an Alan Holdsworth contribution sounds samey and this is no exception. Good for a few tracks but nothing more.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1280539)
Posted Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Review Permalink

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