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CLEARLIGHT SYMPHONY

Clearlight

Symphonic Prog


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Clearlight Clearlight Symphony album cover
3.91 | 136 ratings | 18 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 1st Movement (20:37)
2. 2nd Movement (20:40)

Total Time: 41:17

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Gilbert Artman / drums, percussion, vibraphone (2)
- Tim Blake / synthesizer, percussion (1)
- Christian Boulé / electric guitar (2)
- Steve Hillage / electric guitar (1)
- Martin Isaacs / bass (2)
- Didier Malherbe / tenor saxophone (1)
- Cyril Verdeaux / keyboards, gong, synthesized bass, mellotron

Releases information

Reissued by Spalax Music in 2001 - SpalaxCD14592

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
Edit this entry

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Les Contes Du Singe Fou (Tales of the Mad Monkey)Les Contes Du Singe Fou (Tales of the Mad Monkey)
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CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony ratings distribution


3.91
(136 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
30%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
45%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
5 stars Incredible first (?) album for Clearlight or should I say Cyrille Verdeaux's project. In a way, if you thought that the Virgin label had scored with Michael Oldfield Tubular Bell, you might be also tempted into looking on that same label at this little marvel of electronic music! There are lots of similarities between those two oeuvres, being mostly electronic but also full of great real instruments much the same way TB had it also. But I would like to assure you that Clearlight's Symphony is a much better and a much fuller record (it was a double vinyl for a start) than TB. I always thought that TB was a rather empty and meatless/beefless record, but it was the novelty of it at the time that made its great success. With Verdeaux's superb record, we are two years later than the groundbreaking TB, but this oeuvre is so much more mature that TB pales in comparison.

Enough comparing the two and let's concentrate on this record. Actually the record's full name is Symphony II (which implies there was a previous oeuvre, but this proghead never heard that work) and it lasts some 66 minutes, and 6 movements ranging almost 9 minutes until the whopping 20.5 minutes of the fifth. As one might guess, the work is very melodic, romantic and delightful, and should please most everyone - especially recommended to get comfy with the partner and engage in special gymnastics (get the Cd release to avoid flipping the discs and leaving the partner cool down ;-). To describe you how the music sounds, you might want to think of a cross between Oldfield's TB and Tangerine Dream (from ricochet to Force Majeure era). Not completely without influences, Verdeaux pays a tribute to the Never-ending-chord and the Never-ending-note of the Beatles A Day in The Life in one its movement. But the major interest is the superb fifth movement where three musicians from Gong appear, with Hillage, Malherbe and Blake bringing to the total oeuvre to a spine-chilling climax.

Definitely one of the best progressive works to have come out of France, this little baby is still sadly a much too unknown, under-appreciated and overlooked gem. I cannot recommend this record anymore than here and by giving it a fifth star. When you know how rarely I hand out this rating, this should just about convince you and send you running to the record shop. Don't forget your wallet, though ;-)

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#1478) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Clearlight Symphony" is one of the finest progressively electronic instrumental albums to emerge from the '70's. The genius of CLEARLIGHT's music rests in the hands of Cyrille Verdeaux who plays Grand Piano, Mellotron, organ and synths galore. "Clearlight Symphony" is one of the richest sounding space patrols you will ever encounter. Verdeaux's cleverly injects classical structures and instrumentation (piano) with fusion-like inspired parts (aka GONG) and occasional psychedelic guitar flare-ups. The sound is rich and full of color and texture with some superb melodies and atmospheres. Verdeaux is helped by well known guests such as Steve Hillage (guitars), Didier Malherbe (sax) and Tim Blake (synths) who add some great depth to the music. "Clearlight Symphony" is essentially 2 long (over mins) movements which both are killer and would make the perfect dinner music piece. An essential recording and thanks to Clearlight Music (See my link section) you too can own a re-mastered copy which puts a whole new spin on this French progressive gem.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#1474) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Review by Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Incredible prog rock fronted by Cyrille Verdeux. On this particular album, he has members of GONG (Didier Malherbe, Steve Hillage, Tim Blake), as well as Gilbert Artman of LARD FREE, and Christian Boulé and Martin Isaacs. The album is basically two side length cuts with no titles. The members of GONG play on the first half of the album, and the music really isn't much like GONG, but more in the symphonic prog vein, with lots of piano, Mellotron, synthesizers (with Blake's trademark synth bubble included here and there). No drums used here (just some percussion near the end).

The second half is with LARD FREE members, and drums are used here. This side tends to have a more Canterbury feel to it at times (reminding me a little of HATFIELD & THE NORTH). And there is plenty of sax here, leading me to think the album liner notes were incorrect and that it was actually Didier Malherbe who played this side (as I sure don't notice him on the first side). I heard how perhaps the music got switched around as the LARD FREE members played the first half (which is doubtful, because I recognize Tim Blake) and the GONG members played the second half (which I only recognize Malherbe here, and there is a drummer here, which is Gilbert Artman). Regardless, a great album if you like prog rock, or you're a GONG or LARD FREE fan.

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#1475) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 01, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This work, featuring some musicians from Canterbury, is the perfect mix between such symphonic progressive with a few psychedelic elements in the vein of Gong, and a fusion progressive genre!! Cause of the features above, this Canterburian album, enriched with the contribution by remarkable musicians like Hilage and Blake,has influenced the modern symphonic prog stuff in France,especially that one by J.P.Boffo or Minimum Vital.

A must have, even though it is not completely original!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#1476) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 14, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Spacey is a good description for this classic. Sure the Gong element is there and Hillage's unmistakeable guitar sound but it is plain clever in composition, showing what talented musicians they all were. Basically 2 songs but the piano interludes are equisite following crashing chaos and the most humorous part being the dying seconds where as the stylus starts leaving the LP grooves the music continues to play out to an abrupt quirkey halt! Prog rock at it's best.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#1480) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 09, 2004

Review by Carl floyd fan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Brilliant, beautiful music with Hillage from Gong helping out on guitar. This cd has sort of a floating feeling to it and it certianlly puts your mind at ease and is a very relaxing cd to listen to. Its a shame this was really the bands only good cd but it is a good one. I give it four and a half stars.

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Send comments to Carl floyd fan (BETA) | Report this review (#1481) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 01, 2004

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Consisting only of two sidelong Movements, Clearlight's debut album is one of the finest prog releases ever in the history of French rock. "Symphony" is literally a symphony of not only sound, but also reflection and emotion: the richness and majesty of this sonic tapestry are so amazing that it happens to bear an almost surreal beauty even in those particularly disturbing places. Cyril Verdeaux, a refined keyboardist and an inspired composer, created such wonderful music and managed to join forces with a host of equally inspired partners in order to concretize it in such a magnificent way. The presence of major Gong names in the support ensemble makes it assured that the music will bear a distinctive cosmic flavor, at least. Verdeaux's individual performing style is clearly influenced by the standard polish vibe of academicism, yet you can tell that his musical vision is pretty close to the peculiar exuberance of the jazz tradition and the eerie nuances so typical of spacey-oriented rock. All this gets translated into a peculiar type of symphonic prog: actually, Clearlight's global sound preserves the usual sense of bombast and artistic stylishness of symphonic prog, indeed, but let's keep in mind that this offering is quite peculiar and distinctive. Both Movements last almost 20 ¾ minutes each. 1st Movement kicks off with effective piano chords that don't take long before they articulate a basic motif, with the whole band getting in for the expanding jams. While the guitar and sax provide excellent flourishes, it is the recurrently floating synthesizer that sets a sort of surreal core for the support band's whole sound. Piano and organ alternate their soling before the sixth minute arrives, a time when things get jazzier in a Canterbury-like manner. It is in this passage that Hillage begins to assume a proper leading role, albeit not going all free but keeping a solid touch with the rhythm section's pulsations and the mellotron layers. At minute 12 chaos arrives to set a dislocated sonic landscape: only when the chaos eventually disappears can the initial piano motif reemerge and restore order. After an excellent sax solo, things get majestic, with a choral mellotron that casts a splendorous light on the remaining instrumentation. The organ arpeggios' fade- out has a dreamy effect, very proper for the 1st Movement's closure. For the 2nd Movement, Verdeaux dispenses with a recurrent rhythm section and chooses to lead the ensemble across a realm of pure evocation. The initial motif, carried on by piano and mellotron, simply makes the word 'delightful' reach a transcendent meaning. The successive emergence of synth and trumpet adornments, keyboard floating effects and subtle guitar layers elaborate a delicate orchestral architecture that gradually turns from an introspective candor to an intense expansion (which is when it sounds to my ears like an ethereal version of classic Magma). A few seconds before the 5th minute comes a scary section that seems to set a challenge to reason and intellect. Even though it is fair to say that this Movement is patently more relaxed than the first one, this is far from "new age". Occasional elements such as the explosively neurotic guitar solo at minute 8 and the mysterious ethnic section between 15'30" and 16'30" manage to create an interesting mood of tension and colorful variation against the more candid sections in which plain serene beauty rules. The reprise of the 1st Movement's main motif sets the pace for the 2nd Movement's closure, leading to a dreamy climax in which the cosmic vibe prevails. This Clearlight Symphony is a supreme masterpiece of prog, and in many ways it would be accurate to say that Verdeaux wasn't destined to top or equal this exquisite opus. But, all in all, the career of Clearlight is not to be dismissed, since I has many excellent items. but that's a matter for other reviews. I'll end this one expressing my maximum rate for the album in question.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#95340) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This record consists of two movements of about the same length, each recorded in different studios with different musicians. The two movements though have a lot of similarities probably because the force behind all of this, Cyrille Verdeaux plays grand piano, synths, organ and mellotron on both movements and of course he composed them both as well. I have the remastered version that starts out with Mr.Verdeaux and some guest French musicians playing drums, guitar and bass.The music is trippy, psychedelic with lots of mellotron.

The piano melody that the movement opens with comes and goes throughout the song.The guitar at times pierces the soundscape.

The second movement features three GONG musicians who at the time were loaned to Mr.Verdeaux for this movement. So we have sax, percussion, more synths and Steve Hillage playing some tastey space rock style guitar. This movement is a little more spacey with the added synths and no bass guitar. I really like Steve's playing around the 12 minute mark and on.

If your into Psychedelic / Space music with a dash of Canterbury, this is well worth checking out.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#99003) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This one had been Cyrille Verdaux' first composition recorded between 1973 and 1974 and released under the title "Clearlight Symphony" in 1975 which would be continued by him in later releases (i.e. "Symphony II") and finally finding perfection in his "Infinite Symphony". Comparisons of the music here with Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" are certainly justified though one should emphasize as well that it's more complex and versatile than that one. Basically that's symphonic rock inspired by classical romanticism with a strong touch of space fusion and especially part one (which actually had been 2nd movement, a mistake being corrected on the CD reissue) featuring Gong members Hillage and Malherbe breathes some Canterburian atmosphere. Electronic sounds contributed by the two keyboarders Blake and Verdaux are dominating in this part which becomes even quite odd at times like around 5:00 when experimentation gets a bit pointless and almost disturbing I've to say. Part two is the more rocking one with Lard Free-drummer Gilbert Artman and bassist Martin Isaacs added. Christian Boulé presents here a brilliant guitar work not a bit inferior to Hillage's in part one and Artman's vibraphone play adds a nice jazzy touch. Verdaux used here more analogue keyboard sounds like piano, organ and Mellotron and though the composition becomes slightly repetitive at times it never sounds boring at any moment. Overall this one had been a very strong and impressing but not perfect debut by a highly talented composer and musician which should be certainly considered an essential release in Prog. To be continued.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#104936) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, December 30, 2006

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Well some might concider this to be prog rock. I for one think this is repetitive easy listening muzak. You know, the kind of music you hear when entering a shopping mall or the music you get when waiting on the phone for som public assistence. How this album got a score right now that says 4.28 is unbelievable to me. This is way too soft and trivial for me. Yes there are lots of layers in the music, but it doesn´t make this exciting, at least not to me. The fact that there are only two long songs on the album doesn´t really help, because it seems Clearlight uses this as an excuse to play their riffs for a long, long time with only few changes.

If you like very mellow meditative and not too challenging prog rock this might be the thing for you. I would rather take a stroll down the mall. At least there I can get something in return for my investment.

Not recommendable at all.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#155243) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
4 stars CLEARLIGHT was a project created in early 70's by French composer Cyrille Verdeaux.They were the first French band to be signed by Virgin Records or any other English label.''Clearlight symphony'' was released in 1975 and it was a highly-ambitious record,which contained two 20 min. movements.For this work,Verdeaux was supported by a number of experienced musicians,among them were Steve Hillage,Didier Malherbe and Tim Blake from GONG.

The first movement is actually a contant battle of piano interludes and chaotic interplays.At one moment,the music is very mellow and atmospheric based on Verdeaux's classical piano and distinctive mellotron work...but suddenly what follows is a storm of a tight rhythm section accompanied by heavy electronics,psychedelic guitars and great saxes.If yoy can imagine a blending of GONG's space/fusion rock with TANGERINE DREAM-like electronics and CARPE DIEM's deep musicianship,then you're somewhat in the game...For the second movement,again Verdeaux opens with delicate piano and mellotron,before things get even more chaotic with obsure sound effects and crazy saxes dominating the atmosphere for a while.An alternation between classical piano themes,beautiful mellotron and spacey/psych guitar solos will follow (thinking of PULSAR while listening to it),sometimes supported by electronics,other ones violins,saxes and flutes pop up here and there until the grandiose ending...Definitely a highlght in prog rock history,as this was one of the most experimental and -if you like- mental works by the time of its release.Highly recommended to all prog fans with a wide open mind!

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#157105) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
3 stars Clearlight was a French one man Symphonic/Space Rock project leaded by Cyril Verdeaux and pretty much following the same path of the successful Tubular Bells (1973) album (by Mike Oldfield).

The band ended up recording 5 albums throughout the 70's but never really went anywhere and never really make a breakthrough album. Clearlight Symphony (1973) it's their debut album and has 2 long one-sider tracks each one with a bit more than 20 minutes.

It's quite hard to describe details as the album is a flown of music that just goes forward, but at the same time fails in having any memorable melody or catchy moment, which is a deadly thing for a Symphonic album leaded by keyboards.

But anyway, not a bad album at all. Just nothing really memorable.

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#285203) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 06, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Recorded at the Manor and put out on Virgin Records, it's not too hard to see that this was an attempt to replicate the success of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Apparently, the album was recorded through the simple means of recording a couple of 20-minute piano solos from Verdeaux and then overdubbing the rest of the instruments later on, as other musicians jammed using the piano solo as inspiration and Verdeaux added keyboard and synth flourishes. This explains why on one side Verdeaux is backed by a triumvirate of key musicians from Gong, whilst the other side features the core of what would become the Clearlight band.

The extent to which Verdeaux's piano solos dominate both sides means that the album almost slips into the New Age category, but there's enough prog twists added (often with a mild Canterbury flavour, no doubt due to the Gong presence) to keep prog fans satisfied. At the same time, though, the fact that the disc was an unabashed attempt to replicate the Tubular Bells formula is hard to overlook. Three stars - it's a fun listen, but it's a little too derivative and unimaginative to be a great listen.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#534570) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Frequently stunning, often chaotic and noisy, but always fascinating, Cyrille Verdeaux's Clearlight project's debut album is a 40-minute instrumental progressive space-rock suite, overloaded with Mellotron, synths and spacey organ. His band never seemed to have many permanent members other than himself, but on this album he enlisted a bunch of familiar Gong members in Steve Hillage, Tim Blake and Didier Malherbe to complete part of his symphony. Although they make excellent contributions, none of the music actually sounds anything like Gong. Members of Lard Free contribute as well. It's a very grand, classical, gothic tinged jazzy symphonic suite, spread over two side-long pieces.

I don't think I've ever heard the Mellotron used so much on one album, and so frequently! There's waves of 'Tron strings and choirs over almost every inch of this album, sometimes it's magical and majestic, other times sinister and menacing. There's also cello, endless discordant piano, ragged guitar solos, complex drumming and shimmering synths. I think this album might have been an influence on similar styled modern bands such as Anglagard and Kotobel.

Side A's `1st Movement' introduces and reprises a somber, haunting piano melody that drifts in and out of the track, usually accompanied by the Mellotron. Baroque and medievil elements are interspersed with jazzy flourishes and spacey synths. However, there's several slightly sinister tones that show up throughout, with tuneless wailing horn instruments (likely from Malherbe!) and haunting voices, like something out of a horror movie. Ghostly off-key piano keys pound away, the chaos and noise reaching breaking point at several moments. Frantic and maddening! Pink Floyd like spacey effects and Blake's electronics purr along intermittently in the background, with Steve Hillage's signature sound on electric guitar wailing away through all the unfocused noise! Extremely unpleasant much of the time, fragile and beautiful the next, but very atmospheric and original!

With guest appearances by some Lard Free members, the first few minutes of `2nd Movement' sounds like a slightly more symphonic Magma, especially their early jazzier work. The Mellotron/piano combo melody gets very disorientating, and there's some definite fusion elements as well. The terrific drumming is extremely busy! About six minutes in the music turns very Canterbury, not unlike something from the two Hatfield and the North albums. The slight zeuhl influence kicks back in with a maddening and frantic guitar solo playing over the top of the insane drumming, chaotic piano and squealing sax. Plenty of that spectral weeping Mellotron again throughout numerous parts of this track too.

Special mention must go to the Jean Claude Michel's stunning painted artwork, a truely mind- blowing prog album cover! Only the vinyl edition will do to really appreciate how good it is! One of the best all-time prog album covers perhaps?

Unfortunately, the album itself is not a particular favourite of mine, there's probably more that I really admire than actually enjoy. I find there's so many individual incredible ideas that seem all thrown together, and the album is frequently cluttered and jarring to me. It's impossibly beautiful one minute, then tuneless and annoying the next. I would rather all the dark and noisy elements perhaps have been confined to one of the Movements, and the symphonic and uplifting ideas to the other. Would have made for a more focused listen, you can then choose which piece suited you best depending on what mood you're in! However, fans of grand symphonic prog, and perhaps gothic darkness tinged prog acts such as Present or even Anglagard may find much to enjoy here.

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#807792) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 20, 2012

Review by ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Long before I heard the terms "art rock" or "progressive rock," if you had asked me what kind of music I liked, I would have told you that I like music with a large, full sound. Lots of instruments, lots of musical voices, lots of differing tones and timbres, lots of notes. And then I would have pointed to seminal prog bands like Yes or Genesis as examples of what I meant.

The Clearlight Symphony project takes what I like and exagerates it to an extreme. There are good musical ideas here, but too often they get hidden behind that large, full - shall we say way too busy? - sound. Too many musical voices, too many melodic lines, too many notes.... It is still a good piece of music but it requires far too much effort in listening for only a mediocre reward.

As I like to point out often, the French have never disappointed me in the relatively select company of albums I have from them. Clearlight Symphony is not a disappointment. It just fails to rise much beyond the mediocre. If you are going to try Clearlight, go for the much better Forever Blowing Bubbles first.

Three stars for this.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#1023224) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 25, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars An album released in the shadows of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. And even on the same record label too (Virgin). But where Tubular Bells became a huge hit, this album kind of disappeared from the radar. The reason is perhaps that Clearlight Symphony is a much more complex album than the rat ... (read more)

Report this review (#284979) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, June 05, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Like its own name says, a symphonie! Symphonie on keys and more keys, mellotroms, moogs and an e-piano. A 40 minutes piece that goes from rock'n'roll to expermental and concrete music! Its coloured and space climate is a permanent mark together with the synthesized timbres on keys and chords. ... (read more)

Report this review (#271230) | Posted by Thiago Hallak | Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hey you space prog freaks out there....this is for you!! The Gong family has done it again...made another special record..in the progspace niche....this is a wonderfull record...spacey sounds..weird tonations..strange- interludes....and ...oh..of course the ever fantastic guitarist Steve Hillage ... (read more)

Report this review (#1473) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Saturday, January 31, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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