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PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG LIVE

Gong

Canterbury Scene


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fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album can safely be recommended to all fans of Pierre Moerlen's Gong. Its main disadvantage is that the two tracks included from SHAMAL and GAZEUSE seriously suffer from the absence of Didier Malherbe and/or Allan Holdsworth. "Mandrake" looses much of its beauty if there is no bamboo-flute (although Benoit Moerlen does his best to make up for the loss by giving us a frenetic vibraphone solo in the middle of the piece) and "Esnuria" sounds acceptable but not half as fine as the studio original.

On the other hand, "Golden Dilemma" and "Soli", two of the highlights of ESPRESSO II, are performed with pizzazz, and indeed with splendid new solos by Bon Lozaga on electric guitar and Hansford Rowe on bass.

But the album's highlights, for me, are the tracks that open and close this selection. They're both from DOWNWIND, a studio album I've been trying to buy for three decades. (So far I've always been stopped by the ridiculous prices that were being asked.) The opener, "Downwind" itself, is as good as anything on earlier Pierre Moerlen-led albums, with drums, vibraphones, rhythm guitar and bass all having a go at it, at full pelt, and (surprise, surprise) with superb contributions from a certain Mike Oldfield. Verily, this is instrumental prog at its best, and the same could be said about the album closer, "Crosscurrent", another energetic track which ends the album on a poignant vibraphone (or is it xylo-marimba?) solo from Benoit Moerlen. These two tracks alone fully warrant purchase of the album, and particularly now that you can buy PIERRE MOERLEN'S GONG LIVE as part of an inexpensive two-disc set simply entitled GONG: ARISTA YEARS.

P.S. There's also a 4.23 minute drum solo, which sounds much like other drum solos to me, even if you immediately notice who's playing! At least he doesn't go on for 20 minutes. And it's a great lead-up to "Esnuria".

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Posted Friday, January 08, 2010 | Review Permalink

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