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GONGZILLA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Multi-National


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Gongzilla biography
The last international band to lay claim to the mantle of such illustrious '70s improvisationers as HATFIELD AND THE NORTH, NATIONAL HEALTH and the original GONG, GONGZILLA is a muscular quartet that traffics in the kind of music once mislabeled as fusion. Sure to surprise twentysomethings who think jam bands invented adventurous instrumental passages, odd meters and searing melodies, GONGZILLA's latest album East Village Sessions does more with vibraphone, bass, drums and guitar than an entire Vans Warped Tour of pierced-nosed freeloaders could imagine. Not simply an excuse to blow notes, GONGZILLA also delivers subtlety and sophistication. With Benoît Moerlen framing the songs with lush vibraphone chords and sometime-guitarist David Fiuczynski scalding the senses, GONGZILLA creates an atmospheric ride that even when speeding at 200 bpm delivers a litheness that's pratically feline.

- (Ken Micallef) Aug2.

Gongzilla official website

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Buy GONGZILLA Music


Five EvenFive Even
Lolo Records 2008
Audio CD$19.98
$19.49 (used)
SufferSuffer
Import
Lolo 1999
Audio CD$7.77 (used)
ThriveThrive
Lolo 1999
Audio CD$49.00
$19.81 (used)
Gongzilla: Live in Concert and the East Village StudioGongzilla: Live in Concert and the East Village Studio
Escape TV 2005
DVD$124.99
$39.00 (used)

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GONGZILLA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

GONGZILLA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.10 | 21 ratings
Suffer
1995
3.85 | 8 ratings
Thrive
1996
3.89 | 8 ratings
East Village Sessions
2003
3.53 | 4 ratings
Five Even
2008

GONGZILLA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 4 ratings
Live
2001

GONGZILLA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Gongzilla "Live in Concert and the East Village Studio"
2005

GONGZILLA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GONGZILLA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

GONGZILLA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live by GONGZILLA album cover Live, 2001
3.78 | 4 ratings

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Live
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

5 stars I find myself in a bit of a difficult situation here. Whilst rather bemused by the band's attempts to practically copy the Pierre Moerlen's Gong approach, there are times when they get things right. This live performance is one of those moments.

Opinions differ on live v. studio material. Here the live stuff by this band appears to be far superior to their studio outputs. Not that there is anything markedly different, but one can detect the excitement and adrenalin rush in a one take, no overdubs delivery - and it works miracles.

There are moments when the music approaches Brand X territory, albeit not with the same complexity. In short, a very pleasing performance that PMG, or Jazz-Rock fans could immediately identify with. Easily 4.5 as the best Gongzilla release.

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 Five Even by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.53 | 4 ratings

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Five Even
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

3 stars Cool and groovy stuff that would please Ben Harper and Morcheeba fans. A bit of Lynyrd Skynird also thrown in for good measure. Prog is found here in minute traces only.

The band's last album is a marked deviation from the Gong legacy, to the point that the formerly multi-national European approach had given way to semi-commercial American preferences.

This album marks the transition between Gong and the less inspiring Hansford Rowe solo work that followed. The largely spoken lyrics are somewhat amusing at times and some very slick southern guitar slinging goes down very nicely. But Gong it ain't no more. Even Benoit Moerlen had been replaced by a new addition on vibes, who is barely permitted to be heard.

The exceptionally talented guitarist, David Fiuczynski is still present and provides a welcome relief, whenever he is offered a brief chance. How Kai Eckhadt ended up being associated with this work - if only for a few very pleasing notes - remains a mystery to me. I know of him as of an excellent jazz musician associated with John McLaughlin. Then again, around this time even McLaughlin was having difficulties with securing a record contract. Hand to mouth situation?

At first listen this album appears to be very pleasant and immediately accessible and that's a bit of a concern. But only time will tell.

For now I would rate it 3.5, but it may change in future - either way.

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 Suffer by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.10 | 21 ratings

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Suffer
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

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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 Thrive by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.85 | 8 ratings

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Thrive
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

3 stars Poor man's Gong? Well, it appears that this band is attempting to re-create the feel of early 80's Pierre Moerlen's Gong, but somehow they miss the boat. Big time and it only shows that nothing beats the real article. The album starts out rather promising, but by the 2nd tune it deteriorates into some "White Funk" singing that concludes in mindless screaming. Why, oh why? .

Strangely, most performers have been contributors to the Golden Years of Gong, but without Pierre Moerlen they seem to be lost on their own. Gary Husband, an otherwise excellent and well-respected drummer was brought in, but he gets little chance to do more than massaging his skins as in the compositions there is not much to actually play to.

Yes, you guessed it, the bulk of what's on offer here is absolutely lustless and boring and apart from a few disturbing moments, it's more suited to put you to sleep than captivating any attention.

Most surprising is that Pierre's brother Benoit Moerlen is featured here, but only gets to play a few notes on this recording. Hard to fathom, but when the music is not there in the first place, how could one add to that void?

The driving force appears to be Hansford Rowe (bass) who - when not snoozing - plays creamy, funky lines that do not really offend. Bon Lozaga (guitar) on the other hand is trying to sound like Holdsworth, unfortunately sadly devoid of real substance.

"Thrive" is a surprising title to this album. Hearing this work, my veggies would go into voluntary and indefinite hybernation. Largely reasonable work that a novice to the genre may find amusing, but in comparison, it's on the weak side. Some tracks of this album may be good enough to hold onto as part of a Gongzilla compilation.

Rating 3.5, rounded down as I can't see how this album may grow on me in future.

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 Suffer by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.10 | 21 ratings

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Suffer
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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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 Five Even by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.53 | 4 ratings

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Five Even
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This, last to time, Gongzilla incarnation, is far not the same band as they were at very beginning. With their roots in Gaze use-time Gong, the band explored similar form of jazz rock fusion on their previous albums. Often with guest star - guitarists (as Allan Holdsworth or David Torn).

This time there are no well-known guest invited. This album is played by team, led by bassist and vocalist Hansford Rowe. When I started with very first song, it looked I just put a wrong CD in my Harman-Cardon system. It sounded like unknown Peter Gabriel's album... Same voice, similar aerial funky beat.

Few next songs were more jazzy, sometimes with soloing guitar. But all music is very far from jazz fusion of late 70-s. Many songs are with vocals ( which really often sounds very Peter Gabriel - like), rhythms are funky or even African, music is very airy, pleasant, quite melodic.

Somewhere from the middle of this album, I started to like this music. It is very different from what you're expecting to hear. But if you will listen without prediction, you will realize how different, beautiful and fresh it sounds.

Yes, musicians used many pop elements, but it is tasteful and elegant pop, you don't need to afraid to. Possibly, it is easier way to imagine this album as Steely Dan from 2008. Those of you for whom this comparison sounds attractive - find and try this album. You wouldn't be disappointed!

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 East Village Sessions by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.89 | 8 ratings

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East Village Sessions
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

4 stars More superb jazz-rock in the tradition of Pierre Moerlen's Gong.

I liked Gongzilla's SUFFER a lot: it was a succesful attempt to revive the type of music you can hear on two of my favourite prog albums of all time, GAZEUSE and ESPRESSO II.

In many ways, EAST VILLAGE SESSIONS is just as good: you get the same immaculate combination of marimba and vibes (played by Benoit Moerlen), fat electric bass (played by Hansford Rowe), Allan Holdsworth-influenced virtuoso guitar (mainly played by Bon Lozaga; Holdsworth himself isn't present this time) and drums. It's a killer recipe, the melodies are lovely, the solos inspired, and best of all: the drumming on EAST VILLAGE SESSIONS (by Gary Husband) sounds considerably more refined and Pierre Moerlen-like than the drumming on SUFFER.

In other words, what you get here is a somewhat leaner version (no sax, no violin, only one vibist) of Pierre Moerlen's Gong at its best. The album takes a while to get going (the two opening tracks are on the sluggish side) but once you've accepted that you're not going to hear a lot of fast playing, I think you can cope with this situation... Benoit, Rowe and Gonzaga expand Gongzilla's horizon by including some "ethnic melodies" (impossible to go wrong on marimba!), some far-out electric noodling in the style of David Torn, and even a couple of melodies that bring to mind early 1980s King Crimson.

I hear Gongzilla have taken the "soft funk" route of late (as of summer 2009) but there's no indication of that on EAST VILLAGE SESSIONS, which I recommend to everyone interested in top-drawer jazz-rock.

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 Suffer by GONGZILLA album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.10 | 21 ratings

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Suffer
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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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 Gongzilla DVD/Video, 2005
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Gongzilla "Live in Concert and the East Village Studio"
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Gongzilla! Gongzilla! DVD! Aieeee!

This is the companion to the East Village Sessions CD. After I started with the live album released in 2001, it's really nice to actually see the band in action. They've gone as analog as possible in this digital age and the results are excellent. I love all the digital frills that can occur these days in progressive music, but they have really dug down to the acoustic roots. The guitar and bass are electric, of course, but with minimal effects and the basic top quality musicianship really shines through.

Being such a synthesizer fan, I can say those forms of keyboard electronics are not missed thanks to the vibe work of Benoit Moerlin. I really like the way Bon Lozaga often does licks sounding like Allan Holdsworth, who was actually a guest on their first album, still has his own style though. The bassist, Hansford Rowe also has worked with Gong in the past, and is bassically pretty cool. Even more incredible is seeing that Gary Husband, who's worked with Holdsworth, has hooked up with Gongzilla and does the drums on this one (great drum solo). Excellent backup also by the percussionist Phil Kester, and the guest guitarist Chuck Garvey, too.

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 Live by GONGZILLA album cover Live, 2001
3.78 | 4 ratings

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Live
Gongzilla Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Gongzilla is a spin off of Gong. We're talking the Pierre Moerlin version rather than the Daevid Allen version. While I like both versions of Gong, Pierre's is still my preferred as it was my introduction to Gong.

What you get is music in the style of Pierre Moerlen's Gong with a harder edge to it. The core of the band is three musicians who played in that lineup before Daevid took back the reins of Gong: Bon Lozaga, Hansford Rowe, and Benoit Moerlen (Pierre's brother). Pierre is no longer with us, unfortunately, but Gongzilla is working on a new studio album. I'm guessing the guitarist here who sounds an awful lot like Allan Holdsworth is David Fiuzynski, but maybe it's Bon or both. (Holdsworth and David Torn have also guested on Gongzilla studio albums.) I really envy the folks who saw this show in Quebec City back in 1998. Hope they'll come around to my area sometime soon. Judging from this CD these guys are not to be missed live, if you get the opportunity.

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