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SHAPESHIFTER

Gong

Canterbury Scene


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Gong Shapeshifter album cover
3.48 | 47 ratings | 6 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Gnomerique (0:07)
2. Shapeshifter (4:53)
3. Hymnalayas (7:38)
4. Dog-o-matic (3:00)
5. Spirit with me (2:27)
6. Mr. Albert Parkin (0:17)
7. Raindrop tablas (0:21)
8. Give my mother a soul cage (4:30)
9. Heaven's gate (4:49)
10. Snake tablas (0:34)
11. Loli (5:09)
12. Can you: you can (9:09)
13. Confiture de rhubarbier (1:18)
14. Parkin triumphant (0:06)
15. Elephant la tête (4:41)
16. Mother's gone (1:12)
17. Éléphant la cuisse (3:26)
18. White doves (5:24)
19. Gnomoutro (0:27)
20. Godess invocation om riff (12:58)

Total Time: 72:26

Lyrics

Search GONG Shapeshifter lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

Search GONG Shapeshifter tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- David Allen / guitar, vocals
- Keith Bailey / bass, vocals
- Graham Clark / violin, voices
- Shyamal Maitra / tablas, ghatam, djembe, darbuka, techno percussion
- Didier Malherbe / saxes, flutes, keyboards
- Pip Pyle / drums

Releases information

Celluloid 66914; Outer Music OM; Viceroy VIC 8039-2 (1996)

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

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GONG Shapeshifter ratings distribution


3.48
(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
7%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (37%)
37%
Collectors/fans only (15%)
15%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

GONG Shapeshifter reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Nice return to the old, classic GONG sound. The reason for that is the return of Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Didier Malherbe, and Pip Pyle. Yes, Steve Hillage (because of his involvement with System 7/777) and Tim Blake (because he always ended up on bad terms with some of the band members) aren't here, and there's some unfamiliar musicians (at least to me) handling bass and violin, although if I'm not mistakened, Steffi Sharpstrings is playing guitar here, and he was a member of the space rock outfit HERE & NOW (who happened to back Daevid Allen in the late '70s, by the way!) There are even Indian musicians here handling things like tabla, and yes, some of the music does have a strong Indian bent to it, thanks to the presence of sitar and tabla. But basically it's the return of the old Pot Head Pixie sound, but of course, "Shapeshifter" doesn't have a concept of the Planet Gong, although references to it are made. Of course, the techno experiment (which doesn't quite work for me) of "Dog-O-Matic" doesn't sound like anything they did before, but to me, I don't think GONG should be messing with techno, leave that up to '90s contemporaries like OZRIC TENTACLES (who at least do something to even convince non- techno fans like me, but of course techno was just one of many styles the OZRICS explored).

I remembered when I bought this CD in 1997 (it was a 1996 reissue), there was a song on there called "Heaven's Gate" and I couldn't help but think of the Heaven's Gate compound in Rancho Santa Fe, California and the suicide that took place, but of course the song was hardly on that subject, for one thing, this was a 1992 release. Even so, this song proved that it was a wise idea to go back to that old sound. "Give My Mother a Soul Call" is another great piece, and even with the presence of digital synthesizers, give it that exotic feel. There are some acoustic pieces that do little for me like "Spirit With Me" and "White Doves", but if you pretty much given up on GONG after You, because fusion isn't your thing, you be sure to pick up "Shapeshifter", as it's a nice CD showing the band returning to their space rock roots!

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#27741) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 06, 2005

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Shapeshifter is the first studio album under the GONG name since Expresso II (1978) and yet first including Daevid Allen since You (1974).

Although not entirely within the concept of Planet GonG, it includes many references to this space mythology, so it can be seen as Part 4 of the Radio Gnome Invisible cyclus. Allen, G. Smyth, Malherbe and Pyle remind us on their early career when they developed an original space-rock freak-out psychedelia.

The album can be listened nicely, albeit often interrupted with unnecessary short instrumental (tablas) or vocal breaks. There are certain Indian raga music influences along with unusual acoustic folk numbers (Spirit with Me with African kora sounds, White Doves). Still, the compositions like Shapeshifter, Hymnalayas, Give My Mother a Soul Call, Heaven's Gate or Loli are the top of GonG psychedelia where Allen presents himself as an excellent vocalist too. Among the guest players, the bassist and the violinist are amazing and their sound marks significantly this album.

Can You: You Can is a wild live performance where Malherbe's sax is brilliant. Another live recording is included as a bonus: Goddess Invocation/Om Riff contains parts of Magic Mother Invocation from You album, but is perhaps extended a little bit too much.

Although without Pot Head Pixies, this album featuring Xerox Mandelbrot character (a.k.a. Shapeshifter) is in every way valid addition to the classic trilogy. Go with it!

PERSONAL RATING: 3,5/5

P.A. RATING: 4/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#167604) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A little known piece of fun from the mid-90s

Looking at the cover of this record most people will quickly think to Gong's earlier days and their Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, and the fact of the matter is that it's not far off. While the album came a lot later than the series end it certainly has a lot of parallels that make one think that this could be the unofficial Radio Gnome Invisible Part IV. While it's not nearly as essential as those early works this one is still unique and fun, and fans of those 3 albums will get a rather large kick out of it. While in general the album is not quite as spacey as something like You it's still a rather kooky concept album (mind you, without the pothead pixies) with hard rock moments, techno moments and even a slight rap moment. Still, the Gong feel is still there, and while this is not the best album to start with it certainly shouldn't be the last one in your collection.

The actual songs on this album have a lot of charm to them. Since the majority of the songs are 6-30 second intro/outro (or filler) tunes the lengthier tracks are a great listen. Shapeshifter is the opening track after a 6 second intro and what an experience it is. A hard rocking tune with some wonderful and fast violin moments played over a demanding bass-line with a somewhat catchy chorus. While the song may not be an epic composition it does what it does well in a compressed amount of time. Other shorter songs on the album also have a fair amount of charm to them as they develop such as the clearly 90s influenced Heaven's Gate which has another canterbury groove bass-line to it, but this time the vocals are somewhat twinged with a rap feel, but don't worry if you don't like rap, given their context within the song they just come off as well done and very quirky. Another standout nearing the end of the record is the fun Elephant La Tete which comes after a long line of introductions.

Still, the lengthier songs dominate the record. Hymnalayas is likely the albums's standout with it's mild pace and wonderful instrumentations that makes it sound like it could have fit well within the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy. The live rendition of Can You: You Can is rather hypnotic in its delivery, the violin sections drilling their way into the mind of the listener while the vocals in the middle make for a nice addition. Remasters of the album also feature a bonus track, a live rendition of Master Builder entitled Goddess Invocation/Om Riff extended to 13-minutes and well worth every second.

But while the album has a number of standouts a lot of the songs are rather forgettable. Being an album with 20 tracks it can be hard to make it an album where every song is pure quality. While some of the songs are classics and some of them are simple and short filler the rest tend to blend into a spacey goo that it sometimes hard to really get into. The album still sounds good after repeated listens, but one can't help but feel that the album could have been made more concise.

Still the album is a really good one for fans and good for people looking to get a little bit more into the band. Not recommended over the band's classic material, but there's still some good stuff on here! 3 out of 5 is a good mark for this one, add another half star on there if you fancy yourself a fan.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#186661) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First Daevid Allen's Gong album after "You".

I like post-Allen jazz fusion Gong very much, and I like Allen's Trilogy as well. I even like some side projects, as Planet Gong or NY Gong, even if they often are more prog-punk or space- psycho in my opinion.

From that album you are waiting something ...let say what is connected with classic Allen's Gong. Will you find it here? Yes and no.

Yes, there is Allen's voice ,and he's in good form. Loose structure, plenty of speaking voice and musical short interruptions. Common freaky atmosphere. Many different rhythms in unusual combinations. Very dread album structure.

No - no Gilli's voice there. Plenty of very interesting, but not characteristic for earlier Gong Indian influences in rhythms, winds and even vocal. Terrible drum machines in few places. Soft, very polished and in places openly pop-oriented sound.

It total - mixed bag. I like some remained old-Gong feeling, I like new direction of African drumming and plenty of Indian music influences. I like few pieces of complex drumming and dread musicianship. I like this electric violin sound filling almost all songs. But all these sweet soft pieces are just too much pop for me! And I hate that drumming machine sound!

Whenever all album is a strange combination of some nice things and some not so attractive moments heavily mixed in one unfocused work, final feeling is something in the middle. Let say around 3,5. What in details means 4 for Gong heavy fans and three for regular listener.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#254677) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 07, 2009

Latest members reviews

4 stars Colin's review nails it really well, it's a much better disc than one might have reason to expect from a band best know for material from the early to mid seventies and one of the better works overall by them. One might expect the Gong sound to have gotten very dated and worn by this point, but it m ... (read more)

Report this review (#27740) | Posted by Gonghobbit | Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this album, because I had largly assumed that Gong had left their best work back in the 70's. This LP is apparently Radio Gnome Invisible Part 4 following on from there classic Trilogy in the 70's. However this LP bears little resemblance to the previous ... (read more)

Report this review (#27739) | Posted by | Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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