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TIM BLAKE

Progressive Electronic • France


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Tim Blake biography
UK born and France based composer and keyboardist Tim BLAKE started his career way back in 1970 as a sound and light artist. And while some will associate him most for his numerous stints in renowned bands Gong and Hawkwind, it is as a solo artist he made a name for himself.

His first solo album "Crystal machine" was issued in 1977, and Crystal Machine is also the name most often associated with Blake by keyboard and light effects aficiniados. Together with lights expert Patrice Warrener they have performed under this moniker numerous times, enchanting and enthralling audiences for decades. On occasion, French keyboardist Jean-Philippe Rykiel has participated on these concerts as well, in particular in his formative years, and he also contributed to Blake's second solo effort "Blake's New Jerusalem" in 1978.

The 1980's was a barren period as far as solo recordings from Tim Blake is concerned, but in 1991 he returned with his third full album effort "Magick". Another 9 years would go by before the fourth solo effort "The Tide of the Century" saw the light of day, issued in 2000. The final regular solo album by Tim Blake came in 2002, in the shape of "Caldea Music II".

Since then Blake has opted to stay away from the old-fashioned scheme of releasing music on physical formats, and has chosen to go all digital instead. He currently purvey his various solo efforts digitally exclusively from his own website.

Blake's career was put on halt in 2004, when he suffered serious injuries in a car accident, but in 2007 he had recovered and decided to hook up with long time associates Hawkwind. He's an active member in this band to this day, and is currently busy with the rest of the band celebrating their 40 year anniversary as recording artists.

------------------------------------------
March 2010, Tim Blake and Olav M. Björnsen

Tim Blake official website

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Blake's New JerusalemBlake's New Jerusalem
Import
Voiceprint 2004
Audio CD$185.00 (used)
Tide of the CenturyTide of the Century
Import
Blueprint UK 2006
Audio CD$24.95 (used)
Crystal MachineCrystal Machine
Import
Voiceprint UK 2000
Audio CD$199.97
$48.00 (used)
MagickMagick
Import
Voiceprint UK 2000
Audio CD$11.00
$15.21 (used)
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TIM BLAKE discography


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

3.55 | 25 ratings
Crystal Machine
1977
3.73 | 17 ratings
Blake's New Jerusalem
1978
3.25 | 4 ratings
Magick
1991
3.06 | 4 ratings
The Tide Of The Century
2000
3.31 | 4 ratings
Caldea Music II
2002

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

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TIM BLAKE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Blake's New Jerusalem by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.73 | 17 ratings

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Blake's New Jerusalem
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Having already made a massive contribution to Canterbury/Psych/Space group Gong's classic `Radio Gnome Trilogy' from 1972 to 1975, keyboardist, vocalist and composer Tim Blake left to forge a solo career, initially resulting in 1977's instrumental `Crystal Machine'. `New Jerusalem' a year later is an endearing mix of hippie vocals with sweetly naïve yet genuinely hopeful new-age lyrics, bouncing electronic atmospheres and eerie deep-space explorations, with everything from glissando driven Gong-like passages to darker Hawkwind moments (a group he would briefly join between 1979-80, and frequently collaborate with again starting in 2007). It remains a hugely charming, endearing and colourful space-music work, full of variety and personality.

There's great conviction from Blake on opener `Song for a New Age' as he implores `It's a new age, harmony, science and love joining together, building the new age that regenerates our Earth'. It's almost a singer-songwriter type piece, full of strident acoustic guitar strums and Tim's slightly loopy voice with only minimal trilling keyboard additions. Despite declaring `Light the laser in your heart for all the world to see!' and offering hopeful cosmic lyrics, `Lighthouse' takes a darker and more mysterious turn with warped and drifting spoken word passages, shimmering glissando guitar veils and brooding programming with relentless dark bass-like slithers. The fun `Generator (Laser Beam)' by contrast is a buoyant synth-popper with a constant dance-like beat that swaps between dorky rapturous vocal verses from Tim and whirring repeated synth breaks. The all instrumental `Passage Sue la Cite (Des Revelations) is a breathless ocean of floating synth caresses behind relentless sequencer beats and veils of glissando, the piece full of drama, movement and a maddening delirium.

The second side of the LP holds the sixteen minute `New Jerusalem', an epic piece that takes initial inspiration from William Blake's poem and marries it with sci-fi/new-age words and an aural canvas of space music atmosphere. Ambient calming keyboard passages that take on a cinematic elegance and drama are aided by lively bubbling Mini-Moog runs from guest electronic composer Jean-Phillipe Rykiel, and with words like `So here inside these valleys that are so full on energy, we'll build a new Jerusalem with love from you to me', the whole piece is full of great hope and even some sweetly gentle romance.

`New Jerusalem' offers a nice crossover of styles meaning those who normally find progressive- electronic works too cold, repetitive and vague will find other elements to keep them interested. In many ways, it's not unlike various moments of Hawkwind discs or even some of Steve Hillage's seventies works in fleeting instants, and Tim's colourful personality shines brightly throughout. There's an admirable optimism and naivety to the new-age words throughout the album, but Blake delivers it with such heartfelt sincerity that it's impossible not to embrace his feelings on this warm, hypnotic work to be truly cherished.

Four stars.

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 Blake's New Jerusalem by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.73 | 17 ratings

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Blake's New Jerusalem
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Unsurprisingly I knew of Tim Blake through his work with Gong on the Radio Gnome Trilogy, and in the 1990s, as I was getting familiar with Gong and related material, I discovered Tim Blake had a solo career.

In 1997 I bought Blake's New Jerusalem on LP, a French pressing on EGG. The cover is a bit different than the one posted here as the version posted here is from a CD reissue, as the original did not feature Tim Blake's name or the album title in the Crystal Machine typefont, but in a totally different typefont, and a different take on the photo.

While Crystal Machine was a collection of live material from England and France in 1976 and '77 (with any audience cheers removed), this 1978 followup Blake's New Jerusalem was a studio offering. He expanded his ideas to go beyond just synths, by including acoustic guitars and singing on most of the songs. "A Song for a New Age" is a perfect example what I'm talking about. Nice acoustic guitar passages, and spacy synths. "Lighthouse" has a more pulsing sound, with glissando guitar. He played this song live when he joined Hawkwind. I love the spoken dialog that stars the album that sounds like it belongs on Star Trek. "Generator (Laser Beam)" was released as a single, and it's his attempt at a disco hit. The music has an undeniable disco feel, but has that same hi-tech futuristic vibe I come to love of this album. I could have imagined this song appearing on Battlestar Galactica (the original 1978-'79 series) after all the TV series premiered about the same time this album came out. I'll take this song any day to what the Bee Gees were doing around the same time. The title track takes up all of side two. Again more futuristic sounding progressive electronic with vocals. This album seems to demonstrate why he left Gong. The music would be completely out of place on a Gong album. The lyrics have New Age themes, inspired by William Blake's Jerusalem (I also get an impression he was pointing out he shares the same Blake surname as the famous 18th century poet), with a far more serious tone than the Pot Head Pixies of Gong. So as much as I enjoy Crystal Machine, since that one was improvised live on the spot, it's hard not to have a few flaws show up. On New Jersalem, recording in the studio allowed him to edit any mistakes, so any flaws and mistakes aren't shown here, and while he isn't the best singer on the planet, he at least made his vocals acceptable here. Again another great album I sure highly recommend.

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 Crystal Machine by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.55 | 25 ratings

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Crystal Machine
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars First solo effort by Tim Blake. I was first made aware of him in 1995 when I bought my first Gong albums (the Radio Gnome trilogy). So naturally that's how I became aware of him. In 1995 I barely knew of the Internet (it was just beginning to take off thanks to the introduction of Windows 95, which included built-in web connection and web browser). I didn't get hooked online until 1999, and it was a lousy WebTV (good for surfing the web and making online orders, but you couldn't download, and you had very limited access to certain audio and video files). So in 1995 I still had to resort to mail order catalogs to buy stuff I couldn't get in my neck of the woods. One mail order catalog sold CDs of Tim Blake, including Crystal Machine and Blake's New Jerusalem. That meant I discovered he embarked on a solo career in the late '70s. So I had to assume they were progressive electronic and I was right. I assumed they were originally released on Virgin Records, which was the label Gong recorded for. Turns out he was recording for EGG, a French label (that's known for many great progressive electronic albums of the late '70s), apparently Virgin rejected his music.

Crystal Machine is a collection of live recordings from the Seasalter Free Festival in England in 1976, and La Palace Théâtre in Paris in 1977. These were all improvised, so whatever flaws are plain to show to everyone, but I really dig the wonderful analog synth sounds. I knew after hearing Gong's final Radio Gnome Trilogy, You (1974) that he would have made it as a solo artist and does this album ever prove it! "Midnight" has that wonderful synth effects and lots of wonderful analog synth leads. "Metro/Logic" features this strange percussive rhythm, with plenty of synth leads, with Gong-type sound effects at the end. "Last Ride of the Boogie Child" shows the one weak spot, and that Tim Blake wasn't the greatest singer out there, but it's just two short spots here,, mainly synth bass with synth bubbles and leads. "Synthese Intemporel" is close to Tangerine Dream territory, not too different from what TD was doing around 1975. "Crystal Presence" is simply electronic effects, sounds like the same effects I heard off Angel's Egg. On the original LP, this piece ends in a lock-in groove that repeats the same sound effect over and over at the end until you lift the needle (provided you're playing it on a non-automatic turntable).

I am ever so glad Tim Blake did pursue a solo career in electronic music, and while the album isn't perfect, I really dig the '70s vibe and analog synth sounds and this is a required addition to your progressive electronic collection.

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 Crystal Machine by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.55 | 25 ratings

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Crystal Machine
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Space/Rock & Psychedelic Electronics.

I suppose that by 1977, when this Tim Blake's first work appeared, it could even have sounded a bit old-fashioned. Well, after Tangerine Dream's, 1975 "Rubycon" mostly everything else in the prog/electronic world, sounded old-fashioned.

Straight to the point, this "Crystal Machine", Tim Blake's first post Gong and Hawkwind solo effort, owes a lot to some of this genre's pioneers, he is really "composition-wise" not telling a different or "new" story. But he turns out to be an excellent story teller.

By blending various approaches in styling, like "Space/Rock's" basic rhythms with a very 60' psychedelic focus and of course more than enough very!! TD's atmospheres. He kind of makes it a worthwhile experience and maybe an "essential" Prog/Electronic album, depending where you are standing.

I myself first heard TD's "Rubycon", almost at the time of its release (give n' take). So I, as to where I'm standing, I will decieve myself, telling you, it is not annoying more than once, that this record sounds more than a lot, to TD's musical language, than Blake's. This happens to the point of "laughter" in track 1 "Midnight" and "Synthese Intemporel" track 4.

Worst of all, the other 3 tracks are superb!... Which makes it difficult to just miss or throw away into oblivion. A real shame!

What makes this 3 tracks work perfectly, is that they do not rely on synthesizers alone, nor their "pulses". They are by far more "unique" because the composer establishes a more "experimental" tone, and a more relaxed atmosphere with additions of other "flavors" to the mix.

So! Kind of hard to rate, but 2 out of 5, sets this one only for true "electronic" followers>"

I myself will further into Tim Blake's solo discography.

***3.5 PA stars

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 Crystal Machine by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.55 | 25 ratings

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Crystal Machine
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Recorded after the end of his stint in Gong and before he joined Hawkwind, Tim Blake's debut solo album Crystal machine is a part-studio part-live affair, documenting music composed to accompany a pioneering laser light show. Musically speaking, it's mostly in line with the work being produced at around the same time by Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, with enough callbacks to Tim's earlier work in Gong to distinguish it from those pioneers of Krautrock- derived electronic music. It doesn't present anything to revolutionise the genre, but it more than holds its own against the likes of, say, Tangerine Dream's Ricochet or Schulze's Moondawn.

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 Caldea Music II by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.31 | 4 ratings

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Caldea Music II
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by betawave31

4 stars Its easy to critique Mr Blakes fantastic work in Gongs best known works like the Flying Teapot trilogy as some of his best work but Caldea Music II still retains his ideas and compositional attitudes.

Tim is NOT a rock and roller tho his aesthetics in the keyboard department might at times hint this he is a maestro at manipulating tonal sound structures into a very eastern hypnotic potpourri of delicious electronic listening.

Caldea Music 2 is further into the hypnotic realms of electronic music and it satisfies those willing enough to step away from the progressive rock stage and into the world of laid back drifting nirvana of synthetic overtures.

Tim accomplishes a perfect music for cloud watching, sunset gazing and yes relaxation. It is the intent of the music to induce this mindset just as progressive rock demands listeners listen to an pay heed to the skills of the band members in the recording.

This music draws on eastern subtleties, minimalism ala Terry Reilly and mid 1970s period germanic teutonic sequencer based electronica and for the most without pomposity.

I would not fully disregard the new age over tones but there is less saccharine found here than 99% of most new age records not to mention Tim has a gifted ability for hypnotic hooks and stereo shifting sounds.

Nice job!

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 Blake's New Jerusalem by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.73 | 17 ratings

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Blake's New Jerusalem
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars BNJ is a nice alternative for Ashra's albums of the same period. The lush keyboard sound is very similar to what Jean-Michel Jarre was using back then and the compositions are excellent.

The first three tracks feature vocals and, except for the forgettable ditty 'Generator', they work quite well for me, even though Blake doesn't have a very expressive voice or much feel for melody. Nevertheless, the only instrumental on the album works best of all. Passage is an up-tempo electronic piece that wouldn't be out of place on Oxygène.

New Jerusalem is an extended track that somehow combines Klaus Schulze's dreamy and organic style with Tangerine Dream's feel for melody and composition. The vocals are sparse but disturb the atmosphere somehow. The lyrics don't help much neither. Even though the music is entirely different, the '... build a new Jerusalem ...' chorus provokes unfortunate associations with the cheesy pomposity of ELP's Jerusalem.

The album doesn't reach the heights of similar artists of the era but still, it's fairly pleasant.

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 The Tide Of The Century by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.06 | 4 ratings

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The Tide Of The Century
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by groon

1 stars Well, well, well... What have you done, Tim Blake... And where are you now, Hi Ti Moonweed, GONG's synth wizard, a superb performer and composer, one of the founders of the band's unique sound? No more space magik. An experienced listener can find nothing exiting and intriguing on this album, just the banal techno of a rather mediocre quality accompanied with an inexpressive vocal. Only the title track could smooth the general (negative) impression - you can hear a reminiscence of GONG era in Blake's electronic passages. The rest stuff is simply not worth to listen by prog heads. Better have fun with Radio Gnome Trilogy one more time!

Flee. One star only. Sorry...

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 Caldea Music II by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.31 | 4 ratings

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Caldea Music II
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Getting into hot water

Having captivated us with his album for a new millennium, "The tide of the century", Tim Blake wasted little time in recording his fifth solo album, "Caldea music 2". This time though, we have a commissioned work, the music being written for the Caldea Thermo-Ludique Center in Andorra. This was the second set of music commissioned by the centre, hence the "2" in the album title (so don't look in Blake's discography for "Caldea music 1"!) Caldea means "hot water", the location in Andorra being a source of natural hot water which is used for " thermal bathing, relaxation, and steaming". The building housing the Caldea was designed like a "Crystal city" in the centre of Andorra's capital, Valdez. While bathing, guests are soothed by piped new age music, hence the commissioning of this work.

With that background in mind, it is important that fans of Blake do not approach this album expecting something similar to his previous solo efforts. That said, while this is Blake's first totally instrumental album in many years, it would be wrong to simply assign it to a new age classification. Admittedly, there is a relaxed quality to the music, but the blending of Celtic influences and strong electronic rhythms on some tracks results in a diversity which new age music does not usually boast.

On the second track, "Floating", Blake's Tangerine Dream like synth passages are complemented by some glissando guitar played by Christian Boule. The blending of the two forms a highly effective wash of floating sounds and melodies.

The feature track of the album is "The Great Pool" which runs to a shade under 20 minutes. The track sounds like it may have been lifted form one of Tangerine Dream's later albums, when the early solo synth performances had been replaced by smoother waves of polyphonic sounds. While the track has definite new age leanings, it is altogether too rock orientated to be dismissed as such.

On the final track, which is called "Caldea II" (the opening track is titled "Caldea"), Blake is joined by Konan Mevel playing Catalan bagpipes and Celtic flute. The piece is a powerful, anthemic number, the kaleidoscope of sounds coming together delightfully in a Celtic cacophony.

In all, an album which, while largely devoid of rock influences which are a usual feature of Blake's work, is much more than simply an hour of new age noodling. The music here certainly has ambient, relaxing qualities, but it also stands up to closer scrutiny than many of its peers of a similar type.

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 The Tide Of The Century by BLAKE, TIM album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.06 | 4 ratings

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The Tide Of The Century
Tim Blake Progressive Electronic

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars "There's a new wave growing for the next thousand years"

Tim Blake may not be a household name, but those who enjoy the music of Gong and/or Hawkwind should be aware of him. Blake has been a member of both those bands during his long career, and even today is still touring with the latter. In the early 1970's, Blake was one of the pioneers of the use of synthesisers by a rock band, and was one of the first to use one on stage.

Blake's solo career has been a stop go one to say the least. After a pair of albums, including the acclaimed "Crystal machine" in the early 70's, it took Blake until 1991 to release his third solo effort. A further 9 years then elapsed until the appearance of "The tide of the century", appropriately in the year 2000. The album was some four years in the making. It is fair to say that time has moved on since those early solo albums, and those familiar with them should not simply expect more of the same here.

"The tide of the century" is an album of diverse influences, with modern electronic sounds and trance like rhythms finding harmony with ambient beauty. The opening "Nature 'L' " forms an appealing overture, with distorted vocals interplaying with an electronic beat and synthesiser motifs. The title track is the first of three longer pieces on the album. This beautiful mid-paced song features a fine blend of piano, vocals, lead guitar and synth. While never ambient, there is an unhurried mood to the song which is both captivating and stimulating. The icing on the cake is the mellotron like synth which provides the framework for this majestic opus.

On "St. Doolay", Blake sound a bit like Chris De Burgh (the early years when he was good!), as he sings accompanied only by piano. The track incorporates a delightful piano and synth duet. The second of the longer pieces is "Crystal island" the title bringing to mind Blake's debut. Here, Blake adds a little light rapping to a song which is a bit like a cross between Ian Dury and Kevin Ayers. The mood is decidedly more wispy here, and girlie backing vocals add a pop feel. Nevertheless, the track builds superbly, its hypnotic rhythm supporting some more fine synth work.

At just over 9 minutes, " Byzantium Dancing" is the longest track on the album. Here, Blake is supported by Min Tse Chou on guitar and Stof Kovaks on analogue synthesiser. This is one of just two genuine instrumentals on the album, the piece being very reminiscent of Tangerine Dream around the time of "Rubicon". "Sarajevo (Remember)" features highly effective bagpipes like synth, the song dealing sensitively with the tragic war in the Balkans. The song blends influences such as "Biko" (Peter Gabriel), and "Belfast Child" (Simple Minds) in a piece of great emotion. The album closes with "Tribulations", a reggae style song with rapping by Loys Kerhoas. It is not quite as bad as at sounds, but if you leave the album after track six, you will not have missed anything!

In all, a superb album by Blake which sees him blending a diverse range of styles and sounds into a highly enjoyable set. There is plenty of good old fashioned monophonic synth to enjoy, along with a fine array of other sounds. Recommended.

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Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition. and to windhawk for the last updates

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