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GONG

Canterbury Scene • Multi-National


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Gong biography
GONG is a Space/Canterbury Rock group formed by Australian guitarist (formerly of SOFT MACHINE) Daevid Allen in Paris, France in 1968. He did not do it alone though, he & his wife, Gilli Smyth are the whole nucleus of that band with numerous band line-ups. "Magick Brother, Mystic Sister" is GONG's first release & the line up consists of: Didier Malherbe (sax), Christian Tritsch (guitar), Pip Pyle (drums) & of course, Daevid Allen (guitar & lead vocals) while his wife Gilli performed the spacey vocals. GONG's second release: "Camembert Electrique" is the beginning of Allan's ideas of Pot Head pixies, Radio Gnome's, & Octave Doctor's featured on later albums of "The Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy" along with the Protagonist Zero The Hero, which consisted of "Flying Teapot" (1972), "Angel's Egg" (1973) & "You" (1974). After "Camembert Electrique" release also saw a new line-up & a steady one. The line-up consisted of: Didier Malherbe (sax) Mike Howlett (bass), Pierre Moerlen (drums), Steve Hillage (guitar), Tim Blake (synthesizers) & of course, Daevid (vocals & guitar) & Gilli (space vocals). This line-up would last until "You". When Allen, Smyth, & Blake departed due to dissatisfaction of being an instrumental band this led Pierre to be the leader & released "Shamal" in 1976. Hillage lost faith in the group & departed as well.

All of the "Radio Gnome Trilogy" albums & "Camembert Electrique" are great places to start for anyone interesting in GONG. "Magick Brother, Mystic Sister" is very raw, & not as technical or jam worthy as later GONG, but the Canterbury humor is still there. "Shamal" is the beginning of their Fusion sound that would be later presented on later albums. "Gong Live" features a good compilation of tracks performed live would also be good starter album.

: : : Alexander Vogel : : :

See also:
- DASHIELL HEDAYATT "Obsolete"
- Mother Gong

Discography:
With original year of issue and format.
Basic, incomplete, GONG-named band discography.
A more advanced, far-reaching, super-hyperlinked and inaccurate version will be made eventually....

Studio albums,...
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Rejoice! I'm Dead! ( Cd )Rejoice! I'm Dead! ( Cd )
MADFISH 2017
Audio CD$10.04
$9.99 (used)
Camembert Electrique ( LP Gatefold )Camembert Electrique ( LP Gatefold )
Import
SNAPPER MUSIC LTD. 2017
Vinyl$17.34
$21.25 (used)
Magick BrotherMagick Brother
Import
SNAPPER MUSIC LTD. 2017
Audio CD$5.72
$5.74 (used)
GazeuseGazeuse
Import
EMI Europe Generic 1990
Audio CD$5.36
$8.02 (used)
I See You ( Media Book )I See You ( Media Book )
MADFISH 2017
Audio CD$11.32
$24.93 (used)
Angels EggAngels Egg
Remastered · Extra tracks · Import
Virgin 2005
Audio CD$6.29
$199.99 (used)
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More places to buy GONG music online Buy GONG & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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GONG discography


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

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

3.44 | 154 ratings
Magick Brother
1969
3.81 | 340 ratings
Camembert Electrique
1971
3.07 | 137 ratings
Continental Circus
1971
3.93 | 482 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
1973
4.12 | 584 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
1973
4.24 | 887 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
1974
3.81 | 316 ratings
Shamal
1975
3.93 | 353 ratings
Gazeuse!
1976
3.73 | 240 ratings
Expresso II
1978
3.48 | 153 ratings
Downwind
1979
2.92 | 104 ratings
Time Is The Key
1979
3.30 | 63 ratings
New York Gong: About Time
1979
2.99 | 57 ratings
Leave It Open
1981
2.51 | 45 ratings
Breakthrough
1986
2.53 | 44 ratings
Second Wind
1988
2.81 | 34 ratings
Gongmaison: Gongmaison
1989
3.49 | 69 ratings
Shapeshifter
1992
2.21 | 30 ratings
Camembert Eclectique
1995
3.51 | 96 ratings
Zero To Infinity
2000
3.80 | 76 ratings
Acid Motherhood
2003
2.95 | 48 ratings
Pentanine
2004
3.14 | 122 ratings
2032
2009
3.97 | 152 ratings
I See You
2014
3.88 | 119 ratings
Rejoice! I'm Dead
2016

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

3.64 | 78 ratings
Gong Live, Etc
1977
3.65 | 64 ratings
Gong Est Mort? Vive Gong!
1978
3.74 | 63 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1977
1978
3.30 | 31 ratings
Pierre Moerlen's Gong Live
1980
2.22 | 18 ratings
Live At Sheffield '74
1990
4.25 | 27 ratings
Live au Bataclan 1973
1990
2.69 | 11 ratings
Live On T.V. 1990
1993
3.00 | 16 ratings
25th Birthday Party
1995
4.00 | 5 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1991
1995
3.93 | 29 ratings
The Peel Sessions 1971/1974
1995
3.73 | 12 ratings
Full Circle - Live 1988
1998
3.49 | 12 ratings
Live 2 Infinitea
2000
3.61 | 6 ratings
Glastonbury Fayre 1971
2002
4.00 | 1 ratings
OK Friends
2002
3.65 | 21 ratings
Live In Sherwood Forest '75
2005
3.85 | 8 ratings
In the '70s
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sheffield City Hall 1976
2013
4.00 | 1 ratings
Paris Bataclan 1976
2013

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

3.28 | 19 ratings
High Above the Subterania Club 2000
2000
3.94 | 15 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2000
2.90 | 12 ratings
Montserrat 1973 and Other Stories
2006
4.18 | 11 ratings
Live In Brazil: 20th November 2007
2007
3.80 | 5 ratings
Live At The Family Unconventional Gathering
2008
3.93 | 9 ratings
On French TV 1971 - 1973
2012

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

3.56 | 18 ratings
Wingful of Eyes
1986
3.02 | 10 ratings
The History and Mystery of the Planet Gong
1989
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Gong
1995
4.33 | 3 ratings
Radio Gnome Trilogy
1995
2.36 | 5 ratings
Family Jewels
1998
3.60 | 15 ratings
The Other Side Of The Sky (A Collection)
1999
3.27 | 11 ratings
The Best of Gong
2000
3.74 | 6 ratings
The World Of Daevid Allen and Gong
2003
4.08 | 3 ratings
Opium for the People (Compilation)
2006
2.00 | 1 ratings
Gong On Acid
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
Sixty Minutes With Gong
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Soundcheck Preserves
2009

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

3.29 | 5 ratings
Est-Ce-Que Je Suis / Hip Hypnotize You
1969
3.00 | 2 ratings
Shamal
1976
3.08 | 4 ratings
Opium for the People
1978
2.00 | 3 ratings
Downwind
1979
3.00 | 1 ratings
A Sprinkling Of Clouds
1997

GONG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 482 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by hi_t_moonweed

4 stars Funnily enough I managed to acquire this album in late 1973. I "found" it in a local record store while working in a small country town. As the cover suggests it is not most straight laced album or band on the planet and the store owners were as pleased to offload it as I was to buy it. This album was my first encounter with Gong and the band has never disappointed. TFTP is a very interesting album as there is as much going on, on the vinyl as there is on the gate fold (but that is another story). Every listener has their own tastes and opinions which is why albums like this one are not easy to review. Personally I very much enjoy this album, as it is light-hearted as well as musically sound as easy to digest. If you don't take the content too seriously, you may actually enjoy the journey to planet GonG. I am, you are, we are-crazy-.
 I See You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.97 | 152 ratings

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I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

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

5 stars What an inspiration both Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth proved to be on their final Gong work together, 2014's `I See You'. The fact that they were able to contribute to an album during oncoming health issues is admirable enough, but the fact that it's a superb work almost on the same level of their defining Seventies discs is a very welcome miracle! Hardly some sad `old-man' retro excursion, `I See You' lovingly embraces all the classic Pothead Pixie-era elements that Gong-ladites love about the band, but roots it firmly in a modern sound delivered by a younger collection of musicians behind the older yet ageless Gong figureheads, and the results sound completely inspired and a band more focused and alive than ever.

So much to love about the classic Gong era permeates the self-titled opener, racing through everything from a loopy and playful Daevid Allen vocal so full of mischievous spirit, gnarling guitar twists, mysterious drifting voices to eerie glissando guitar tendrils. `Occupy' is a breakneck punk-rocking blast that cuts in and out of Ian East's dreamy sax wafts, and the psychedelic `God and the Devil Shake Hands' is lyrically cheeky and damning as it moves around reprising spiralling dirty flute and sax themes, Allen purring an almost rapping drowsy drawled vocal, and there's just a trace of King Crimson-esque metallic danger towards the end! Gilli's ethereal space whisper floats gracefully throughout the deep space-rock atmospheres of `The Eternal Wheel Spins', both Kavus Torabi and Fabio Golfetti's guitars moving between drifting ambient drones, urgent spasms, manic eastern flavoured motifs and Ozric Tentacles-like shimmerings.

`Syllabub' is a Zappa-inspired impish romp with a whimsical jazzy backing (just dig that supremely spacey instrumental break in the middle though!), `This Revolution' a political-themed spoken-word poetry interlude, and `You See Me' a spacey reprised improvisation highlighted by jagged guitars, Orlando Allen's skittering drumming and Dave Sturt's pumping bass. `Zion my T-Shirt' then proves to be a welcome come-down of reflective verses, darkness and sadness tinged spoken-word passages, murmuring bass ruminations and crystalline ambient caresses, with parts of the piece reminding of both Porcupine Tree's `Don't Hate Me' (which had its Gong-like elements as well) and the introspective thoughtfulness of `Wise Man in Your Heart' off Gong's superb 2000 album `Zero to Infinity'. The eccentric and joyful `Pixielation' jumps between bouncing Daevid loopiness and a range of cool instrumental interludes, and `A Brew of Special Tea' is a hypnotic and disorientating cut up tape- loop sound collage.

To end the disc, `Thank You' shambles with a delicious bluesy lurch and is a fond farewell to everyone ever involved with Gong and those who've embraced the spirit of the group over the decades, and `Shakto Yoni and Dingo Virgin' a final celestial glissando and wordless sighing voice drone that reaches the highest heavens. These two pieces could not make for a more dignified and appropriate send-off from both Daevid and Gilli, and it closes this era of Gong perfectly.

One of the absolute strongest releases to appear under the Gong tag since probably `You', and definitely the best Allen/Gong related work since `Zero 2 Infinity', `I See You' has all the psychedelic strangeness, satirical lyrics and unpredictable direction changes you could want to find on a Gong album, and the younger musicians (well, younger than Allen!) here proved to be the perfect musical contributors to support the stalwarts of the group. It's hard to think of a better farewell than this to Allen and Smyth (both who passed relatively soon after its release), and fans of the `Magick Brother' through to `You' era of the band that haven't looked into the group since those works should absolutely give this a shot.

Five flying teapots for a modern classic, and truly a work for Gong fans to treasure.

 Gongmaison: Gongmaison by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.81 | 34 ratings

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Gongmaison: Gongmaison
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Graham Clark!

I saw Daevid Allen live in Edinburgh in a small club in the fall of 1989, on his comeback tour where he introduced Gongmaison. He began the show with just himself in a Wizard costume, playing harmonium and then acoustic guitar, with the rest of the Gongmaison members slowly joining him. At the time, there were only a few members, including Graham Clark on violin, and Shamal Maitra on tabla and percussion. The songs he played are found on this album, on the Owl and the Tree album (with Gilly Smyth and Mother Gong), and on his Australia Aquaria album (brought together nicely in the collection "Gentle Genie"). These are all great tunes, clearly written over a number of years before these shows, except "Flying Teapot" of course - at the show I saw, Gilly Smyth and Mother Gong also got up and played a set, and they all came together at the end to play Flying Teapot. But the Gongmaison songs are all high quality. Graham Clark's violin playing is particularly wonderful. Daevid rarely played with a violin in his band, but the years with Clark produced some really great music (Clark co-wrote some of the music that appeared on Shapeshifter, as well as "Blame the Rich" on Gentle Genie). This Gongmaison album is pretty short, with only six songs and a short version of Flying Teapot, and so I can only give this 7.5 out of 10 (3 PA stars). Better to pick up the Gentle Genie album, which has most of this album plus the best tunes from those other two albums - that one is really worth it.

 Shamal by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.81 | 316 ratings

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Shamal
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Missing Daevid Allen.

While the band felt they could make excellent music with Daevid and Gilly gone (on break), and should have been able to, this album demonstrates just how important they were to the band in every way. Musically, the music is no longer zany and playful, but becomes more jazz-rock-fusion, and much less musical. But the real kicker is the singing. Daevid Allen not only wrote wonderful, fun, lyrics, but he was a great singer. The singing on this album is horrendous, and the lyrics are just as bad. This album would have been better as an instrumental, at least that way it would have been listenable all the way through (even if boring). Nick Mason produced this, and I am surprised he didn't make the band re-think the singing/lyrics here. As it is, songs like "Wingful of Eyes", "Bambooji" and "Shamal", which could have been decent enough, become unlistenable. I was almost tempted to give this 1 star, but there is some good musicianship in places here, and Steve Hillage's guitar solos are always great. But to think that this followed right after You - the two albums are so completely in different leagues in every way. Daevid Allen would thankfully return to the band, and they would make some great live albums in the late 1970s (and reform in the 1990s, and continue until his death). This album functions mainly to show how much of a contribution he really made. On balance, I give this album 4.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA stars. Only for true fans of the non-Allen Gong.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 482 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Totally Original. Totally Fun.

Gong is one of the few bands/composers that can make one laugh just through strictly instrumental music, but of course there are also funny vocals!. Add in great musicianship, a willingness to go out on a limb (and enjoy it), Gilly Smyth's provocative space-whisper innuendo, and Daevid Allen's zany ideas and lyrics, and it adds up to a unique and original musical experience. Gong was/is a hugely innovative band, and Daevid Allen would continue making great (and sometimes not-so-great) music for another 40+ years (sometimes with Gong, his brainchild). This is the first of the Gong Radio Gnome 'trilogy' (with Angels Egg, and You), and it sets the tone, and the high standards, for those others. This music was written and rehearsed while the band were living communally in a rented house in rural France, sharing everything, and they really do seem to gel well together in the trilogy. While all three albums are really excellent, and each has their particular qualities ('Angels Egg' sticks more closely to its story, 'You' indulges in more psychedelic jams, etc), I like this one the best for its sheer originality. Every track is excellent and necessary to the album. The theme song still makes me laugh each time I hear it, and I have probably played this to death (to the point that my family won't let me or my son put this on any more!). Flying Teapot is such a classic jam (also with great instrumental humour!). The tunes that make up side 2 are either really musical ("Octave Doctors/Crystal Machine", "Witches Spell) or they are iconic countercultural rock statements (Witch's Song). I give this album 9.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which puts it in the 5 PA star range.

 Rejoice! I'm Dead by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.88 | 119 ratings

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Rejoice! I'm Dead
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A wonderful; gift was at my door today. Long live Gong! My first encounter was Expresso, then Shamal, then Time Is The Key. All incarnations are great in their wonderful way. My last encounter was Pwntanune. Daevid had nothing but respect for the uncarnatuins he wasn't in on and U think he'd totally enjoy this incarnatuin. I know there will no doubt be some fans of Daevid and Gillis' Gong but please listen to this with an open mind. Daevid left us in March of last year but he is still with us. He brought wonderful weirdness to music. While Kavus has carried on the legacy, He and Gilllie will be sorely misses. So long and thanks for all the tunes.
 Camembert Electrique by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 340 ratings

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Camembert Electrique
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars After the release of Gong's debut album, Magick Brother, in March 1970, the group moved to a 12-room hunting lodge, Pavillion du Hay, in the French countryside, located near Voisines and Sens. The band's drummer and percussionist, Rachid Houari, left and was replaced with an English musician, Pip Pyle, previously on drums with Delivery, Steve Hillage's Khan, and briefly with a blues rock outfit Chicken Shack. In the line-up consisting of Daevid Allen, Gill Smyth, Didier Malherbe, Christian Tritsch, and Pip Pyle, the group recorded the official soundtrack to a film by Jérôme Laperrousaz, Continental Circus. In addition, they got to play at the Glastonbury Festival. In June of 1971, Gong entered the doors of Château d'Hérouville to record Camembert Electrique, which was released on the French BYG Actuel label in October of the same year.

First thing that catches one's eye before listening to the music on the album is its strange, eccentric art. The front cover portrays a black-and-white mandala with various comedic sketches, drawings, and captions around the name of the band and the album. On the back, we can see a photo of all the band members in strange outfits. The track and personnel listing as well as liner notes look to be handwritten with numerous rhymes and puns. The big signature strangely reads: "THIS IS THE FIRST ALBUM BY GONG THE BAND AND FAMILY RECORDED IN FRANCE IN 1971.". Furthermore, every musician gets their own nickname. Didier Malherbe, the saxophonist and flautist, gets the alias of "BLOOMDIDO BAD DE GRASSE" and is said to play "sassy sax" and "floating flute". Christian Tritsch, playing "aqualung bass", gets the title of "SUBMARINE CAPT." Pip Pyle's name does not change, but one will spot a caption "PIP THE HEEP" on the front cover. The instruments Pyle plays include "drumns" and "breakage". Daevid Allen names himself "BERT CAMEMBERT", while Francis Linon, the band's live sound engineer listed as "switch doctor and mix master" gets the moniker of "VENUX DE-LUXE." Gill Smyth, Allen's partner, is nicknamed "SHAKTI YONI". Robert Wyatt's son, Sam, is pictured with the band members. In addition, Gong invited two guests to help them record their album. Edouard Louise, nicknamed "EDDY LOUISS", plays Hammond organ and piano on one of the tracks. Constantin Simonovitch plays what is described as "phased piano" on one piece.

Daevid Allen's odd, comedic musical vision presented on Gong's first album, Magick Brother, is continued with Camembert Electrique. The cosmic, psychedelic atmosphere is omnipresent. In addition, the tongue-in-cheek arrangements, unorthodox harmonic solutions, and strange lyrics play a crucial role in the album's distinctive sound. Didier Malherbe recalls that one of the key elements to the unique character of Gong's music was the inexplicable doctrine, pataphysics. Although one will still be able to detect elements of the sixties' psychedelic boom, it is undoubtedly being estranged with more modern methods being put in the foreground. One thing that remains very similar is the application of influences from jazz, specifically artists such as Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Ornette Coleman. The overall delivery of the music seems to be aimed at approaching the listener with unexpected, startling, and at times even baffling and superficial moments. Although it may occasionally seem like it, Camembert Electrique is by no means a pretentious creation, with every idea or thought actually contributing to the final result.

The album opens with odd high-pitched voices and electronic effects of "Radio Gnome Prediction", which quickly dissolve into "You Can't Kill Me". The piece basically sets the mood for the rest of the album with its cosmic jazz-rock theme. One of the highlights of the track is the way Daevid Allen's singing matches the phrasing of his guitar and Didier Malherbe's saxophone parts on odd rhythm patterns. "I've Bin Stoned Before" begins as a slow, solemn, yet amusing march dominated by vocals and liturgical Hammond organ. The piece descends into psychedelic madness, which opens "Mister Long Shanks/O Mother/I Am Your Fantasy". This song has somewhat of a count-out-rhyme feel in its opening. The theme is quickly dropped for "O Mother", which sounds a bit like an avant-garde take on a simple pop song. "I Am Your Fantasy" part is much calmer, spacey, almost ambient with Gill Smyth's gentle, feminine voice. On the contrary, "Dynamite/I Am Your Animal" begins with a punchy motif that is repeated with new sounds added every four bars. Then, an ominous groove in an odd time signature kicks in, with Daevid Allen's whimsical, peculiar yelling and weeping. The motif from "You Can't Kill Me" appears towards the end of the song. "Wet Cheese Delirium" closes the side similarly to how it was opened, with sampled voices and electronic sounds. It also features a locked groove, which is especially interesting, if you are listening to the album on vinyl. Side two is opened with "Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads", which yet again consists of vocal and electronic samples. "Fohat Digs Holes In Space" begins with a cosmic jazz-rock jam. Then, the main theme is introduced, dissolving into a more song-oriented scenario. "And You Tried So Hard" has somewhat of the Revolver-era Beatles-like feel. That is until the more varied parts kick in. But even with that, it is clear that the song follows a more traditional pop pattern. "Tropical Fish/Selene", being the last true piece of the album, emphasizes all of Camembert Electrique's basic ingredients - psychedelic rock, quirky jazz, odd rhythmic patterns, odd lyrics, contrasted segments. Daevid Allen's last words on "Tropical Fish/Selene" are "Ca-mem-bert E-lec-trique", as if concluding and summing up the whole listening experience. Similarly to all other side openers and closers, "Gnome The Second" compiles odd samples and also features a locked groove.

Dripping with exaggerated psychedelic weirdness and unorthodox musicianship, Camembert Electrique witnesses the meeting of space rock, psychedelia, jazz-rock, and high-quality cabaret. The album is an incredibly fascinating and rewarding journey through the band's sophisticated, tangled fantasy. Furthermore, this release points the way towards what is known as Gong's "classic" era - the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy. A pivotal record and simply plain joy to listen to. Highly recommended!

 Magick Brother by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.44 | 154 ratings

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Magick Brother
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After touring Europe with Soft Machine in August 1967, Daevid Allen was rejected to enter the United Kingdom due to overstaying his visa on previous staying. Allen settled in Paris and together with his partner, Gilli Smyth, he formed a band called Gong along with a few other side projects such as the Bananamoon Band. The two also took part in the 1968 Paris protests and later settled in Deià, Mallorca, where they had met a poet Robert Graves on their previous visit. In August 1969, they returned to Paris and recorded their debut album Magick Brother with Gong, which was released under the BYG Actuel label. At the time, the group did not have a bass player, so it was up to Allen to play the instrument. He also invited guest musicians, notably Barre Phillips, a renowned double bass player, who had previously performed with Eric Dolphy, Jimmi Giuffre, and Archie Shepp, Burton Greene, a pianist, who had played with Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler, and a wind player Didier Malherbe, who would later become one of the members of the "classic" Gong era.

Since his very first days in Soft Machine, it was clear that Daevid Allen was a forward-looking, unorthodox, and immensely original individual. Brian Hopper, formerly of the Wilde Flowers with Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Richard Sinclair to name a few, recalls meeting Allen for the first time: "[Daevid] showed up at Robert Wyatt's parents' house along with which he brought his own record collection, which was quite eclectic. And he was the first, I suppose, really hippie sort of person we'd met at that stage, you know, he was quite a sort of phenomenon, if you like, that arrived on the scene." Allen's musical vision comprises various diverse element, which fructify in a complex, odd, moody, tounge-in-cheek whole. Jazz influences are the most evident of all, reflected by swinging arrangements, free-jazz-like passages, and harmonic solutions. However, these only provides the basis for the music on Magick Brother. Avant-garde elements such as spoken word, storytelling, melody-less ambient parts, are introduced and play a crucial role in Gong's distinctive musical formula. Everything is topped with somewhat of a cosmic topping to it, whether it be lyrics, long reverb tails or quirky modulation effects. Most of all, the band builds on the legacy of the psychedelic boom of the sixties, with its escapist, hippie, trance-like feel.

Isn't it amazing that the first seconds of the very first Gong album are a sound of an oriental-sounding gong? "Mystic Sister/Magick Brother" is somewhat of a display of magic that one is dealing with on the album, being a hippie folk ballad opened by spacey ambient guitar parts with whistling, bird-like wind instruments somewhere in the distant background. "Glad To Say To Say" follows a rather simple psychedelic pop song pattern, featuring a catchy guitar riff and Daevid Allen's overdubbed vocals. Towards the end, the piece descends into trippy atonal mayhem. "Rational Anthem" is based around a quiet, blurry guitar motif with various ambient effects around. After the calm mood of the previous track, "Chainstore Chant/Pretty Miss Titty", a heavier psychedelic rock piece, offers more dynamically varied parts with Daevid Allen's guitar in the foreground. The song also features spoken word parts, delivered through Gilli Smyth's "space whisper". "Fredfish/Hope You Feel OK" opens with comedic spoken words, which sound as if broadcasted through a radio. Later, the track turns into a Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd-like ballad. Side two, labeled The Late Night (as opposed to side one, Early Morning), opens with "Ego", an avant-jazz statement with psychedelic rock influences, particularly on the sung parts. "Gong Song" tells a story of Pothead Pixie, a visitor from a distant planet, Gong. The concept would be continued on the following albums. Musically, it has somewhat of a Beatles-like sound, but with strong influences of jazz. "Princess Dreaming" opens with a repeating screech, an awfully unpleasant ear-sore, which later dissolves into a part spoken by Gilli Smyth. "5 & 20 Schoolgirls" is another piece kept in a psychedelic pop convention, but again with jazzy flavoring and a healthy dose of peculiarity. The album closes with a haunted ambient soundscape of "Cos You Got Green Hair", which seems to point the way towards the following works by Gong.

The Flying Teapot may yet be to take off to planet Gong, but Magick Brother, Gong's debut album, undoubtedly sets the stage for the band's next albums with its cosmic, trippy, escapist, and jazzy character. The release does have its flaws, poor studio recording being the most notable and disturbing, but is an incredibly rewarding and fascinating journey. Regardless of the style, whether it's a free-jazz workout, a spacey ambient trip or a psychedelic pop ballad, everything is played with great taste and precision. Highly recommended!

 Camembert Electrique by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.81 | 340 ratings

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Camembert Electrique
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After recently enjoying "Obsolete" by Dashiell Hedayatt with pretty much this same lineup of GONG backing him up I had to finally review "Camembert Electrique" which was released the same year as "Obsolete". According to the liner notes this is the first "real" GONG album as "Magik Brother" was a solo Daevid Allen release although they put Gilli's name on the album cover too. Subsequent re-issues changed "Magik Brother" to being a GONG recording but in reality "Camembert Electrique" is the first true GONG record. This album really does fit in well with the trilogy that would follow. It's maybe less polished and as mentioned in the liner notes "... Camembert epitomises the early GONG, ie stoned loonies having a great time, who also happen to be excellent musicians. It's full of raw energy, more tape loops, space-whisper and glissando guitar, topped off with inspired sax playing. The later albums were more sophisticated and polished but they lack the edge and anarchy of Camembert."

"Radio Gnome Prediction" and the closer "Gnome The Second" are 27 second opening and closing bits with spoken words and strange sounds. "You Can't Kill Me" is a rock song with Daevid on vocals as Gilli helps out. Sax before a minute. Check out the guitar 2 minutes in on this great instrumental section that lasts until after 3 minutes. It turns instrumental again except for Gilli's whispers then Daevid returns on vocals while Pip keeps busy on the drums, lots of sax too. "I've Bin Stone Before" sounds like a Dylan song both vocally and the theme. This is like a hymn with that floating organ helping out. Sax eventually joins in and Daevid channels Wyatt briefly before 2 minutes.

"Mister Long Shanks/ O Mother/ I Am Your Fantasy" opens with a catchy sax led section that speeds up as the vocals join in. The "O Mother" section sounds like an early Zappa tune on the chorus part. The final section starts before 2 1/2 minutes and it's melancholic and mysterious as Gilli speaks the lyrics slowly in a haunting atmosphere. Love it! "Dynamite/ I am your Animal" has this line repeated over and over as drums and more help out. It kicks into a groove before a minute as the second part of this song arrives with Gilli on vocals as sax joins in in this determined and relentless passage. Contrasts between the two sections continue.

"Wet Cheese Delirium" is a very short piece with funny spoken words and sampled sounds. "Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads" is just over 10 seconds of sampled voices. The next three tracks are my top three tunes on here, so I imagine if I owned this on vinyl back in the day I'd have worn out side two. "Fohat Digs Holes In Space" features dramatic sounds as the drums pound and spacey synths help out. It settles in quickly though with bass, percussion and spacey sounds reminding me of "Continental Circus" a soundtrack that GONG released the same year. So good! Vocals after 4 minutes as Daevid and Gilli both sing. Sax before 5 minutes after the vocals have stopped. What a great track!

My favourite though is "And You Tried So Hard". It opens sounding like heaven and it builds. Daevid's vocals are so smooth and well done. This sounds like a 60's hit before theatrical vocals and a rougher sound take over. Back to that earlier sound 2 minutes in and Gilli sings a minute later. It ends like it began. "Tropical Fish/ Selene" has funny vocal sounds to start which are replaced by an uptempo instrumental section. Vocals join in reminding me of Syd-led FLOYD. I like the instrumental section starting before 2 minutes with lots of guitar and sax. This is so good as Gilli helps out. Daevid's back vocally after 4 minutes and I love the passage before 6 minutes as Gilli sings and the guitar riffs.

A very solid 4 stars. I just want to quote the liner notes about a second manager that GONG hired back then named Giorgio Gomelsky. "One day Gomelsky turned up babbling about this band he'd seen. Like GONG, they had their mythology, even their own language-MAGMA. In due course Gomelsky took them on as well and Daevid got to see them! As he recalls, "Incredible. All these men in black with inverted tantra symbols. Their music took the breath out of your lungs, it was like upside down Wagner. Christian Vander delivered imitation Hitler speeches in the middle of drum solos, and the singer looked like Valkyrie and had a four octave voice. Anyway they were like our shadow. There was GONG, colourful, anarchic, all going different directions, but trying to pull together. MAGMA were all incredible musicians, but totally disciplined, Vander would hit them with a stick if they played a wrong note. It was like ying and yang."" Gomelsky did put them on tour together with each alternating as the headline group but there was not a single night where both bands played well.

 Shapeshifter by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.49 | 69 ratings

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Shapeshifter
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars I love this album. After about 20 years the inhabitants of planet GonG are back to Earth with all the crazyness of the Flying Teapot trilogy. It was a great surprise for me when I bought it. I didn't even know that actually GonG were still alive, and after the jazzy albums like Shamal or the Pierre Moerlen's solo works, I wasn't expecting anything like this, especially at the beginning of the 90s.

Shapeshifter deserves to be considered a classic album in GonG's discography. Even without Hillage of the Bambaloni Yoni's weird vocals it's a natural follow up to the trilogy. Like George Lucas with the Anakin's trilogy 20 years after Star Wars, the epic story of Radio Gnome restarted. The world the teapot is flying on is different from the swinging London. This makes more difficult producing a so intelligent psychedelia and this is another point in favor of the recently passed away genius that was Daevid Allen.

Who is not familiar with this side of early GonG, can expect an album made of short length songs tied together by a concept, very skilfully played and arranged with an excellent clean production and influences from rock, jazz, indo, beat... well, influences is not the right word. Allen was a master in mixing all the ingredients into his musical teapot.

No track by track description. This is simply a 4 stars album and one of the GonG's best.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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