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Michael Giles biography
Michael Rex Giles - Born March 1, 1942 (Waterlooville, Hampshire, UK)

Michael Giles started playing professionally in the early 60's as a member of the' Trendsetters Ltd.' with his younger brother Peter Giles on bass. Later they were joined by Robert Fripp and formed in 1967 GILES, GILES & FRIPP and in 1968 KING CRIMSON. M.Giles recorded two records with King Crimson before he left the band in 1970. The same year he recorded together with Ian Mc Donald the album 'McDonald and Giles'. From 1971 on he became a session musician making records among others with: Stevie Winwood, Catherine Howe, Francis Monkman, Simon Jeffes, Andy Summers, Kevin Ayers, Rupert Hine, Pete Sinfield, Roger Chapman, Anthony Phillips and Greg Lake.
In the late 1970's Michael Giles decided to write the music for a solo album. He recruited Geoffrey Richardson, John Perry and John Mealing, as well as his own brother Pete, to form a band for the new project which was named "Progress". Most of the work on the album was done by these five, whereas some additional musicians joined the record at the later stages. The cover of an album says "Progress" circa 1978, but Michael Giles didn't want to release it then as he felt that the overall atmosphere of the late 70s did not fit the spirit of the album (and vice versa). That is why (as far as we know) the album was not released until 2002.The overall sound of this record is a blend of Jazz-rock, Canterbury, and Psychedelic-Rock (no real surprise, as most of the musicians involved are from the Canterbury scene or RIO). For all fans of early King Crimson (and indeed others) it is quite an interesting record and a chance to get to know the work of one of the pioneers of the Prog movement.
In the 80's and 90's Giles continued to work as session musician and in 1996 he recorded 'Ghost Dance' with Ex-King Crimson member Jamie Muir. In 2002, he became part of the '21st Century Schizoid Band', a group of ex-King Crimson members including his brother Peter. The band cut an album, toured, and released a concert video, from a tour of Japan.

Written by Fassbinder with additions by Chopper & Alucard

See also: Michael Giles MAD Band

Giles, Giles and Fripp 'The Cheerful Insanity of...' 1967
Giles, Giles and Fripp 'The Brondes...
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MICHAEL GILES discography

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3.05 | 2 ratings
Michael Giles / Jamie Muir / David Cunningham: Ghost Dance (OST)
3.75 | 37 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Michael Giles / Jamie Muir / David Cunningham: Ghost Dance (OST) by GILES, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.05 | 2 ratings

Michael Giles / Jamie Muir / David Cunningham: Ghost Dance (OST)
Michael Giles Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars British drummer Michael Giles (b. 1942) is probably best remembered as the original King Crimson member, plus from the preceding group Giles, Giles & Fripp. Many progheads also remember the 1970 album McDonald and Giles, with the multi-instrumentalist and composer Ian McDonald, likewise from the court of the Crimson King. The following years Michael Giles worked as a session musician. He appears on albums of e.g. Kevin Ayers, Peter Sinfield, Greg Lake, Steve Winwood and Anthony Phillips. In the late 70's he wrote and recorded (as a multi- instrumentalist, with several guesting co-musicians) a solo album called Progress, which however wasn't released until 2002. That fairly recommendable album remains his only actual solo release.

This collaboration of three musicians is in every way a peculiar case: a soundtrack to "a talky avant-garde film" Ghost Dance directed by Ken McMullen in 1983. "Leonie and Pascale travel aimlessly between London and Paris, searching for the origins of ghosts that populate their psyches: from Karl Marx to Franz Kafka, from psychoanalysis to dream analysis, and even the cinema itself, no apparition is left unturned" (All Movie Guide). Also this album was for some reason released over a decade later, on the Piano label founded by David Cunningham.

Michael Giles plays drums, percussion, horns, reeds, bow and keyboards. Percussionist Jamie Muir was an official King Crimson member in 1972-73, appearing on the album Larks' Tongues in Aspic (1973). He withdrew from the music business around 1990 to devote his energies to painting. His list of instruments on this soundtrack consists of percussion, hand drums, bow and kalimba. David Cunningham (guitar, percussion and loops) is undoubtedly an unheard name for the most of us, including myself. "Specialising in studio processes, loops and treatments, Cunningham's work has ranged from pop music to gallery installations, including work for television, film, contemporary dance, and a number of collaborations with visual artists" (Discogs). Equipped with this citation concerning Cunningham -- the key words being loops and treatments --, Jamie Muir's eccentricity as a musician, and the fact that also the third musician, Giles, is primarily a percussionist, you begin to get the idea what to expect.

One relatively well known album that I'd pick up as a reference is "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" (1981) by Brian Eno and David Byrne. Talking of ghosts indeed. The music for Ghost Dance is even more percussion oriented, and more avant-garde. Happily there's at least a wide sonic variety within the 16 tracks. (I won't refer to specific tracks since I'm listening to the album whole from Youtube.)

The variety even with the percussion alone is notable. One track reminds me of the intensive section featuring African drummers in Mike Oldfield's Ommadawn. Another piece concentrates on the delicate kalimba, and the next one is thumping threateningly with some sharp horn riffs. There's also a nearly percussion-free piece featuring a ghostly, theremin-reminding sound. And so on. It is the sonic variety that saves this non-melodic 55-minute album from being an overwhelmingly tiresome task for the listener, but you need to be rather avant-minded to sincerely enjoy it. The mere King Crimson relation is surely not enough to make this oddity recommendable.

 Progress by GILES, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.75 | 37 ratings

Michael Giles Canterbury Scene

Review by Beautiful Scarlet

3 stars Sounds a lot like Happy The Man. The music is very pastoral, gentle piano playing, organic guitar tones, drums (they get some solos and are a definite focus) and inoffensive vocals form a decent amount of the album. The rest veers towards this light Jazz colour led by various instruments track to track, ranging from saxophone to violin.

A major gripe for me is that the shifting nature of Canterbury Scene music I've come to enjoy and expect from such an artist is not found here. There are no janky bits and insufficient change to the songs. I'd also like to add that the jazzier bits kind of remind me of King Crimson circa Islands or Lizard.

Overall I think this is by no means a bad album just not amazing, thus three out of five for Progress, a very pretty album. Canterbury Sound Score 3/5

 Progress by GILES, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.75 | 37 ratings

Michael Giles Canterbury Scene

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In an interview done with Michael Giles at the time of the release of King Crimson`s "Epitaph" live album, done in 1997, Giles was asked about why this album, which was recorded in 1978, was still unreleased. He said that he was not satisfied with the album, and that he even looked for a record contract with a label but he didn`t get it then. He liked the songs but he thought that he still had to re-work some of them. Five years later, in 2002, this album was finally released, but I don`t know if he re-worked some of the songs. In fact, I think that the album was released as it was originally recorded, but I really don`t know.

With a list of tracks with titles which maybe suggest a "concept" on which a man goes on travel from the sunrise until he arrives to another place at night (I could be wrong, but even the cover design shows Giles waiting for a train with his packed drum kit), this is a very good album which fortunately was finally released in 2002. Even the main melody from the first proper song ("Departure") is reprised in the final song from the album ("Arrival") which also suggests a "concept", a cycle or a theme in this album. This album is very Progressive in some places (particularly in the title song "Progress", which is maybe the best from this album) and sometimes with a lot of influences from Jazz-Rock music. This album is more related to the "McDonald and Giles" album from 1970, sometimes sounding very close to that album, not only because of Giles`s very good drums playing, but also with the use of the saxophones and other wind instruments. There are also some influences from the original King Crimson, of course, but most of all this album shows how important was Giles in the original line-up of that band, not only for being the drummer, but also as part of the original sound of the band. In that interview he says that in King Crimson he mostly was an arranger and a composer of some parts of songs, suggesting some rhythm changes, and he also was one of the backing singers in that band. But, as I wrote before, this album is more related to his work in the "McDonald and Giles" album with Ian McDonald, another very important musican from the original line-up of the band, showing how influential were both musicians in that band. Greg Lake also said in one interview that when both left the band he did not want to continue with King Crimson because he considered that both musicians were very important for that band (this despite Lake and Giles appeared in the second album of the band more as guests or sessions musicians in a band which became mainly Robert Fripp`s band after that).

Giles in this album appears as a multi-instrumentalist, playing keyboards, a bit of guitar, and also singing very good vocals. And his drums and percussion playing is very good, of course. He even plays a drums and percussion solo in "Nightdream".

A very good contributor to this album is bassist Peter Giles, playing very good bass guitar parts with his very personal style and doing very good parts playing along with the drums. Both Giles brothers are very good musicians, but both remained in their musical careers playing and recording more as session musicians, with Michael appearing in a lot of albums from other musicians particularly during the seventies.

This is a very good solo album from Michael Giles which also shows that he also is a very good composer. The songs are played and linked one after the other with good continuity, and even some of them are "introduced" by the sound of cymbals and other percussion instruments. These "sound effects" work very well giving a very personal "identity" to the album.

 Progress by GILES, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.75 | 37 ratings

Michael Giles Canterbury Scene

Review by Alucard
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Michael Giles recorded 'Progress' in 1978 (even so the record was only released in 2002) mainly with the help of musicians from the Canterbury scene in particular multi- instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson ('Caravan'), who is also the only musician playing on all the tracks but the two track where Giles plays all instruments . Among the other musicians playing on the various tracks are Dave Mc Rae, Jimmy Hastings, John G.Perry and Ray Warleigh, a Who's Who of the Canterbury scene influencing obviously the sound. BTW there is an interesting paralelle to Perry's solo record, 'Sunset Wading'with a similar athmosphere.

The record opens with 'Sunrise' a short athmospheric track for piano and guitar followed by 'Departure' a funky up-tempo track featuring Giles on hi-hat and Cymbals over an E-piano pattern and some distorted guitar by Richardson. 'Rolling' remains in the funky area with a trademark crash cymbal counterpoint that Giles used already in th KC times and an overall mood that reminds KC with a funkier edge featuring a treated trombone solo by Blakesly and an E-piano solo by Mealing. .seguing into the short 'Daydream' a beautiful rubato track for E- and acoustic piano, bass an flute.

'Moving' another funky track featuring Giles on vocals over brother Pete's driving bass line and a great instrumental passage for bass , drums and e-piano that reminds 'RandomHold'. 'Midsummer Day' a duet for Giles & Richardson with both musicians playing guitar, a nice repetitive pattern with a great flute melody on top and moody vocals by Giles reminding 'Camel' and again the crash cymbal on counterpoint : the most original track on the record. 'Progress' a heavy funk featuring a horn section reminding Carla Bley again with a pile driving bass-line by Peter Giles and aggressive vocals by Michael reminding again 'Random Hold'.

'Sunset' starts with a great neo-classical piano intro followed by a short beautiful flute theme, doubled on vocals by Catherine Howe, establishing a delicate jazzy tune not unlike some 'Caravan' tunes, especially when Richardson enters on viola : the most beautiful theme on the record. On 'Shunter ' Giles plays all the instruments himself , a repetitive piano pattern with a lead synth sound on counterpoint against a walking bass-line : another great track with stunning dynamics.

'Rocking' another heavy funk introduced by Giles on clavinet with a funky horn section and a Klezmer like clarinette melody on top. 'Nightdream' the second solo effort by Giles for percussion , not really necessary and leading with a crash cymbal stroke into .. 'Arrival' the end of the journey, driven by a rolling rhythm with a trumpet melody on top again doubled beautifully by Catherine Howe on vocals, over a great fat bass line by Peter Giles and a short guitar solo by Richardson leads into the melody sung this time by Howe and ending and outstanding Canterbury record.

Thanks to alucard for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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