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Gong biography
Formed in Paris, France in 1968 - Disbanded in 1976 - Reformed intermittently since 1990

GONG is a Space/Canterbury Rock group formed by Australian guitarist (formerly of SOFT MACHINE) Daevid Allen. 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:
- Mother Gong

With original year of issue and format.
Basic, incomplete, GONG-named band discography.
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Angels EggAngels Egg
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GONG discography

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

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

3.44 | 166 ratings
Magick Brother
3.80 | 369 ratings
Camembert Electrique
3.13 | 148 ratings
Continental Circus
3.93 | 512 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
4.13 | 628 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
4.25 | 944 ratings
Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
3.82 | 343 ratings
3.93 | 382 ratings
3.71 | 262 ratings
Expresso II
3.49 | 166 ratings
2.92 | 113 ratings
Time Is The Key
3.28 | 69 ratings
New York Gong: About Time
3.00 | 63 ratings
Leave It Open
2.52 | 48 ratings
2.53 | 47 ratings
Second Wind
2.77 | 37 ratings
Gongmaison: Gongmaison
3.52 | 74 ratings
2.24 | 34 ratings
Camembert Eclectique
3.50 | 102 ratings
Zero To Infinity
3.78 | 83 ratings
Acid Motherhood
2.95 | 53 ratings
3.14 | 130 ratings
3.94 | 168 ratings
I See You
3.88 | 143 ratings
Rejoice! I'm Dead
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Universe Also Collapses

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

3.64 | 83 ratings
Gong Live, Etc
3.66 | 66 ratings
Gong Est Mort? Vive Gong!
3.74 | 67 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1977
3.27 | 33 ratings
Pierre Moerlen's Gong Live
2.21 | 20 ratings
Live At Sheffield '74
4.42 | 29 ratings
Live au Bataclan 1973
2.65 | 12 ratings
Live On T.V. 1990
2.98 | 17 ratings
25th Birthday Party
4.00 | 5 ratings
Live Floating Anarchy 1991
3.93 | 30 ratings
The Peel Sessions 1971/1974
3.80 | 13 ratings
Full Circle - Live 1988
3.48 | 13 ratings
Live 2 Infinitea
3.61 | 6 ratings
Glastonbury Fayre 1971
3.50 | 2 ratings
OK Friends
3.65 | 21 ratings
Live In Sherwood Forest '75
3.85 | 9 ratings
In the '70s
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sheffield City Hall 1976
4.00 | 1 ratings
Paris Bataclan 1976

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

3.28 | 19 ratings
High Above the Subterania Club 2000
3.94 | 16 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2.90 | 12 ratings
Montserrat 1973 and Other Stories
4.17 | 12 ratings
Live In Brazil: 20th November 2007
3.80 | 5 ratings
Live At The Family Unconventional Gathering
3.93 | 9 ratings
On French TV 1971 - 1973

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

3.56 | 19 ratings
Wingful of Eyes
3.02 | 10 ratings
The History and Mystery of the Planet Gong
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Gong
4.33 | 3 ratings
Radio Gnome Trilogy
2.40 | 6 ratings
Family Jewels
3.60 | 15 ratings
The Other Side Of The Sky (A Collection)
3.27 | 11 ratings
The Best of Gong
3.74 | 6 ratings
The World Of Daevid Allen and Gong
4.08 | 3 ratings
Opium for the People (Compilation)
2.00 | 1 ratings
Gong On Acid
4.00 | 2 ratings
Sixty Minutes With Gong
0.00 | 0 ratings
Soundcheck Preserves

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

3.33 | 6 ratings
Est-Ce-Que Je Suis / Hip Hypnotize You
3.00 | 2 ratings
3.08 | 4 ratings
Opium for the People
2.00 | 3 ratings
3.00 | 1 ratings
A Sprinkling Of Clouds

GONG Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.13 | 628 ratings

Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by mariorockprog

5 stars is the fifth album by gong and his second album in his trilogy Radio Gnome. I considered it a really good album, the best of this band in fact, in contains a lot of passages of space rock, jazz, psychedelia and carterbury combination. Including more vocals that the third chapter, adding more variability, in fact that is the reason that mos of the members left after the following album. however the lyrics are not so deep and you are not going to find something meaningful, only a fictional history or maybe based in acid trips?. generally the quality maintains all over the album, and mainly the space rocks passages with the keyboards feels better made, the sounds are not monotone as in some part of their third one. A masterpiece of prog music and a must have album.
 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 944 ratings

Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by mariorockprog

5 stars 4.5: the third album of the trilogy Radio Gnome, and their most acclaimed album, the last one where the founder Daevid Allen appears before reappearing 1992. A very space, jazz, Canterbury combination and in sometimes it feels like avant garde that at the end delivers a excellent results. It contains the classic comedy style of a canterbury band mixed with a lot of space passages. I really liked, because it is not repetitive, it has a lot of good moments and it continues to evolve with every song. The space rock passages are well done including mostly keyboard atmosphere and very variable combination of sounds that make it hypnotic. A excellent addition to any prog collection and without doubts a masterpiece of Canterbury music.
 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 944 ratings

Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Even if you don't like Gong that much you've got to love them for the music they created back in the day. The progressive folly of the band is such a delight that it is hard not to smile. On the other hand, do not be mistaken. The folly is not all madness and laughter. There is a serious intent behind it all and the musicianship is not to be taken lightly. The sprawling and fanciful genius of Daevid Allen & Co. is breathtaking and to me the brilliance is at it's absolute peak on the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy. It is definately one of the great concept albums of the whole era and delicious to partake in.

While the first installment of the trilogy sounds a bit primitive recording wise (the sound is not pristine) it is the album I like the most. It marks the beginning and if you listen to the whole trilogy you will find that there is a clear progression in how the music is shaped and performed. While the first part is somewhat goofy the third part is more "serious" prog, if that makes sense. The second part of the story lies somewhere in between.

The third part starts off in familiar Gong-ish fashion with Allens chant-like singing on "Thoughts for naught". With a middle eastern flavor it kicks off the album and the rolling R:s of the vocal bit reminds me somewhat of the zeuhl of Magma. Anyway... The second track is whimsical but great and leads into "Magick mother invocation" which really is the intro to the first really great song of the album, "Master builder". That song, which really is a spacey jam with a hypnotic groove, builds in intensity throughout its duration. Lovely.

One thing about this album that differs from the other two in the trilogy is the way jamming seems to have been used as a means for cosmic awareness. (Really?) Sounds, bleeps and boinks that lead you in to the very depths of the universe. Listen to "A sprinkling of clouds", for instance. Such a hypnotic and amazing track. It is a great example of the very thing I just talked about.

The spaciness of "A sprinkling of clouds" is put on hold with "Perfect mystery". Enter goofy Gong. It is a brilliant track. Askew and very british sounding it does indicate that spaceship Gong has landed. No, no, no. We're still up there. My favorite of the album is the really groovy "Isle of Everywhere". A great bassline accompanied by percussion and space whispering that leads into a really mezmerising jam. Listen to this with headphones on and you will find yourself floating away in the galaxies. It all ends with "You never blow your trip forever". It has a real punky feeling to it but it encapsulates everything that is Gong. Just listen as the waltz away into the universe.

It may be a challenge to get it right, listening to Gong. There is alot of trickyness and sprawling ideas on their albums and while they at first may seem severely disjointed you'll soon find out just how to connect the dots. It is brilliant, it is goofy, it is exciting and the very blend of it all makes this (and the other two parts) quite the essential listen. Obviously Gong stands with one foot in the Canterbury tradition (as is evident on the first track) but there is also this completely unique paradise of Gong that defies defenition. It has to be heard to be believed. And while the trilogy as a whole is a five star experience I award this particular album with its spacy fusion four glowing and pulsating stars.

 I See You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 168 ratings

I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Though my dips into previous attempts to delve back into the Radio Gnome mythology by latter-day Gong lineups - Shapeshifter and Zero to Infinity - had left me a bit cold, I was much more impressed with this release, which proved to be the final Gong release that Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth would be credited with in their lifetimes.

Indeed, Gilli is credited as a guest rather than a full band member, suggesting that she may have already been unwell enough to hamper her capacity to contribute fully. It's notable also that Orlando Allen, Daevid and Gilli's son, is sat on the drum stool for this one and also joins his dad at the producer's console. Orlando had popped up on some Allen solo releases as a child - there's a track on 1977's Now Is the Happiest Time of Your Life which has Allen trying to explain the Radio Gnome mythology to Orlando and his sister - and there's something comforting in the fact that he was able to help his parents bring this last major creative project to fruition.

If this album is a passing on of the torch, however, it isn't Orlando who's ended up holding it in the long term - on the more recent Rejoice! I'm Dead! he's absent, having gone back to concentrating on his own musical projects. Instead, the core of the next Gong generation is the creative unit of Kavus Torabi and Fabio Golfettio on guitar, Ian East blowing away on saxophones, flutes, and whistles, and Dave Sturt on bass and computer sampling.

Sturt joins the father-and-son Allen team on production duties here, and it's perhaps in the production where the magic truly happens. Sturt's expertise in sampling is put to work, weaving in elements of classic Gong albums into a brand new context even as the more traditional performances work a new psychedelic magic. The psychedelic agenda of classic Gong remains very much present, but now advanced with modern electronic and ambient techniques worked into the repertoire seamlessly, and with a bit of a more overtly angry political tone coming in here and there too. The Gong sense of humour is still there, but the new unit is clearly unafraid to get serious.

On the whole, this manages to work in a healthy appreciation for Gong's past legacy whilst still keeping an eye on the future and not descending into nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. More importantly, the expertise of the new lineup allows the music to sound like it is actively participating in the sounds of today, rather than scrambling to keep up with current trends. It's about as solid a foundation for a new incarnation of the band as could be found.

 Shapeshifter by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.52 | 74 ratings

Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars GONG has always been about keeping it weird and in any possible way imaginable. GONG was the lovechild of the fertile minds and straight out of the 60s hippies named Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth. Together they crafted their idiosyncratic take on psychedelic rock that borrowed a thing or two from Allen's stint as a founder of The Wilde Flowers, a group that pretty birthed another phenomenon, namely England's quirky Canterbury jazz-rock scene. The duo set out to hone their craft and attracted all the right musicians to make their tangerine dreams come to fruition. After the successful grand finale of 'The Radio Gnome Invisible' trilogy that would wind up with 1974's jazz-fusion meets space rock masterpiece 'You,' both parents needed a vacation from their loving children and packed their bags and moved on.

Despite the founders' untimely departure, GONG was still obligated to Virgin Records to record three more albums. Enter Pierre Moerlin, and to the rescue he crafted a new GONG but kept the name the same at least until such annoying legalities were settled but then something even weirder than the music itself started to kick in. The band GONG suddenly became a family tree. Yep, the roots and trunk of the true that GONG had built up and out to brilliantly nurture and sprout new branches. The new GONG itself would eventually adopt the Pierre Mourlen's Gong moniker while other past members would splinter even further with bands such as Mother Gong, Gongzilla, Gongmaison, Paragong and even Planet Gong. Oh the excitement Allen and Smyth must've felt watching their pixie fueled vision morph into so many offspring.

But when such a project so wickedly cool and so utterly unique lays dormant for nearly two decades, something about the original GONG was space whispering in Allen's ear and ever so adept at tuning into the cosmic messages, felt the urge to reunite as much of the classic 70s lineup as humanly possible. Classic lineup is probably a hard nut to crack because even within the 'Radio Gnome' trilogy, there were many members who came and went and i do not believe that one single GONG album has ever seen the same lineup as the previous. And so the process began. Round up the old team to see if the boys (and girl) could still muster up some mind blowing pixie jazz rock magic that could capture the zeitgeist of the past while remaining contemporary for a more fickle alternative rock 90s crowd.

After all was said and done, Allen was quite successful in stacking up some of the greats of the past for the 9th album under the GONG moniker. SHAPESHIFTER would resurrect the zany GONG mythology with the main character Zero The Hero meeting an urban shaman who agrees to take Zero to the next level of consciousness but only if Zero spends nine months on an airplane where he could travel anywhere in the world but could spend money and under the condition that he only eat airplane food. Of course after all this, Zero dies at the end in Australia under mysterious circumstances. Oh my! The TRUE GONG is back and it's never been as absurd or ridiculously surreal since the 70s heyday! The album was released with two covers over the years and there have been variations in tracks as well. Can't anything be easy?

And so it was. GONG picks right up where 'You' left off with Didier Malherebe returning on bass, sax, keyboards, piccolo and flutes. Mike Howlett on bass. Graham Clark from the Pierre Moerlon phase on violins and even Pip Pyle from the wayback machine joins in on drums. Expectedly, everyone else on board is new to the GONG scene providing bass, keys, a crap load of Indian percussive instruments and even an African kora. So let the zaniness begin! There's lots of catching up to do.

As expected, despite being the fourth chapter of the GONG mythology, SHAPESHIFTER doesn't repeat what came before. Instead it's more like a collage effect of everything that came before. Jazz-fusion space rock? Check. Allen's whimsical charismatic presence with ridiculousness galore? Check. Space rock with glissando guitar, Allen's bread and butter? Check. The band take a cue from 'Angels Egg' and lolling through a diverse palette of musical flavors ranging from sizzling violin fueled progressive jazz-rock to silly hippie dippy drugged out silliness with healthy doses of short Indian percussion pieces and narrated silliness. This one is a long affair clocking in at 66 minutes but for the most part it's a wild ride that doesn't get stale. If i have any complaints it's that Allen's voice hasn't held up as well as i'd prefer and some of the tracks are substandard in quality compared to the greats of the past. While Steve Hillage declined the invitation, Steffi Sharpstrings does stellar job in tacking the guitar parts but SHAPESHIFTER is not a very guitar oriented album for the most part. There's even a techno track ('Dog-o-Matic')

SHAPESHIFTER was actually my very first exposure to the whacky wild antics of GONG so it does have a special place in my heart for being my gateway drug into an alternative pixie fueled universe that i had no idea existed. After my initial exposure however, i kind of moved on to the 70s stuff and haven't really returned to this one for quite some time. Having been impressed by my initial listening session, i do have to admit that it doesn't hold up quite as well after the impressive parade of stellar sui generis psych rock / jazz-fusion that is unmistakably GONG. While SHAPESHIFTER does fall short in a few arenas compared to the past, namely it's not quite as funny, it's not quite as brilliantly laid out and the tracks aren't as amazingly perfect in terms of compositional flair. However, the album flows nicely and the musicians are on the top of their game. This is an album that needed to be made but i do wish that was made better. The album should've been cut down by ten minutes. The tracks needed more attention paid to the hooks and earworms and all but overall this is a decent album.

3.5 stars but i'm rounding up since this was the magical album that got me into GONG.

 Expresso II by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.71 | 262 ratings

Expresso II
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Continuing the post David Allen era of GONG, Pierre Moerlen took on the role as band leader and steered the band in a completely new direction, namely a vibraphone rich jazz-fusion smorgasbord that borrowed from past greats and added new updated sensibilities brought to the work table by the myriad musicians who came and went. Three albums in past the "Radio Gnome Invisible" found the transition from the whimsical psychedelic rock tinged Canterbury jazz to the more earnest entirely instrumental guitar fueled fusion workouts, GONG found yet another cast of musical members departing and a whole new crew joining the ranks which at this point seems like a rotating cast.

While top dog Pierre Moerlen led the way once again, on GONG's ninth album EXPRESSO II, he not only continued his role as percussionist in chief with yet more stellar workouts on drums, glockenpiel, xylophone, tubular bells, tympani and the divine vibraphone but expanded their roles. While "Gazeuse!" was already a percussion rich paradise of intrigue polyrhythms, EXPRESSO II takes all the prior album's cues and adds even more as both fellow percussionists Mirielle Bauer and Benoît Moerlen return adding even more of the same percussive instruments to give one their percussive drive money's worth. As if that wasn't enough hammering and pounding, Françoise Causse joins in on congas. Another album, another bassist. This time Hansford Rowe takes the reins from a recently departed Francis Moze, who unfortunately took his fretless bass work along with him.

EXPRESSO II is named such because the previous album "Gazeuse!" was released in the US as "Expresso," which explains the mystery for those of us who didn't know that all this time. This was the last album for VIrgin Records who demanded the GONG brand fulfill its contract hence the band carrying on under Moerlen's helm under the GONG moniker despite it being a completely new project. Starting with the following "Downwind," the band would be called PIERE MOERLEN'S GONG and signed on Arista Records. The old Daevid Allen GONG would be resurrected but not until 1992's "Shapeshifter." In the meantime the GONG universe splintered into myriad forms producing a dizzying wealth of GONGdom: Mother Gong, Gongzilla, Planet Gong, Gongmaison.

While "Gazeuse!" went full-on jazz fusion mode that somewhat resided in between the tender soft airy style of Weather Report and the more rambunctious freneticism of Mahavishnu Orchestra (especially in the violin parts), EXPRESSO II takes a noticeably more jazzed up funky groove approach. Without Moze's stellar slinky fretless bass slides, Rowe takes the completely different approach by offering up an incessant supply of crisp chunky funk riffs that provide a sinewy zest that allows the spruced up percussion have a heyday as it whizzes around the main groove. While Allan Holdsworth didn't entirely stick around for the sequel, he did contribute his guitar work to four of the six tracks. The other two shared by Bon Lozaga and the introductory track "Heavy Tune" showcasing the Rolling Stones' own Mick Taylor providing the most rock oriented track on the album.

While EXPRESSO II is a decent enough album, for me its a step down in terms of the jazz-fusion qualities. While "Gazeuse!" delivered stellar time signature changes and jazzy chops from the divine, EXPRESSO II tends to chug along in funky groove territory for much of the time and exhibits a much more accessible and dare i even say commercial approach that tames the wild aspects while retaining the percussion and other instrumental accoutrements including the occasional violin which has been relegated to a mere two track by Darryl Way. It seems many find the EXPRESSO II era to be the strongest of the Moerlen led GONG years but personally i find this one a major step down from "Gazeuse!" in just about every way. While this one is a decent listen with more rock elements included, i miss the sheer intricacy that created the magic on "Gazeuse." "The tracks "Sleepy" and "Boring" do have a little truth in advertising as this one becomes monotonous at times whereas "Gazeuse! remained an enigmatic jazz-fusionistic tour de force. Still though, this one's not bad.

3.5 rounded down

 Gazeuse! by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.93 | 382 ratings

Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars It was a sad day for GONG fans when Daevild Allen departed as he packed up and left and took his favorite space whisperer Gilli Smyth with him. It seemed inconceivable that the band could continue without him, but due to contractual obligations the band name had to go on although it would be under the helm of Pierre Moerlin, who would gently nudge the band's sound more into the jazz-fusion side of the GONG equation, only with less Canterbury influence and gradually a complete elimination of the whimsical space rock that had become Allen's signature. "Shamal" saw the first attempts at this new fangled jazz-fusion outfit but fell somewhere in between the psychedelic realms of "You" and the fully fueled jazz-fusion workouts that debut on GONG's seventh album GAZEUSE! (French for "sparkling, fizzy or effervescent").

The album title GAZEUSE! was the official title in Europe and elsewhere but for whatever reason the album was released as "Expresso" in the US which explains the mystery for most collectors of why the following album is titled "Expresso II" when no "Expresso I" can be found as modern day releases. The opening track, however is titled "Expresso" on both versions and begins the new journey in a Daevid Allen-free rendition of the new GONG. While the band would release GAZEUSE! and "Expresso II" under the GONG moniker, this version of the band would officially change to PIERRE MOERLON'S GONG thereafter and release several more albums. The original GONG would be resurrected but not until 1992's "Shapeshifter." This also marked the period where GONG bands were splintering off left and right and members from the past were embarking on stealthy solo careers.

Unlike every GONG album of the past including "Shamal," GAZEUSE! is a completely instrumental album that displays Morelon's firm control of jazz-fusion workouts on six tracks. While some stalwart band members such as Didier Malherbe (sax, flute) and Mireille Bauer (vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, toms) were still on board no matter what changes were in line, GAZEUSE! pretty much finds a whole new cast of musicians that gives this album a completely different sound than anything put out under the GONG moniker that preceded it. The legendary guitarist / violinist Allan Hodsworth who had played with Nucleus, Tempest and Soft Machine joined the band to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Steve Hillage. Francis Moze replaced Mike Howlett and brought an outstanding command of the fretless bass to the mix.

Also new to the scene was percussionist Mino Cinelu who would eventually go on to play with Weather Report and Miles Davis. Returning to the cast was Benoît Morelen who sat "Shamal" out after participating on "You," and back on vibraphones and on GAZEUSE! he gets to shine like never before. With all these changes, GAZEUSE! took on a completely new life of its own. While most hardcore GONG fans who couldn't imagine the band without Allen's zany antics at the helm left the band to dry, jazz-fusion fans had a very exquisitely designed album to sink their teeth into. With the virtuosic dexterity of Holdsworth, the slithery slinking fretless bass onslaughts of Moze and a plan of attack with the heavy malletted effects of the vibes, miramba and glockenspiel, GAZEUSE! finds itself in a sublimely meditative zone that runs the gamut of tender Weather Report inspired gentleness as well as Mahavishnu Orchestra frenzied outbursts, but mostly falls in between.

Overall GAZEUSE! is a stellar mix of jazz-fusion techniques with robust percussive drive, exciting delivery of multiple vibraphone parts and a unique fretless bass aspect that sets it apart from almost any other jazz-fusion album of the period that i can think of. Holdsworth's signature guitar style sets the jazzy tone that finds the other members falling into. While stylistically the album may harken back to early 70s greats such as Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra, the idiosyncratic touches give it its own unique spin on past greats. One of the most unique of the tracks on board is the exquisite "Percolations Parts 1 and 2," one of the most magnanimous displays of vibraphone fueled jazz accompanied by hefty pummeling percussion and tantalizing toms. GAZEUSE! simply delivers all the jazz-fusion goods without missing a beat. There are no bad songs on this one and my love of vibraphones makes it an absolute pleasure to listen to and proof that GONG could carry on without Daevid Allen at the helm.

 Shamal by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.82 | 343 ratings

Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After the "Radio Gnome Invisible" trilogy GONG would undergo one of its greatest transitions of all and that would be the departure of founder and main creative director Daevid Allen and along with him everyone's favorite space whisperer Gilli Smyth. Serving somewhat as a transition album between the Allen years and the next phase known as Pierre Moerlen's GONG, the sixth album SHAMAL sort of hovers in between the spacey Canterbury jazz of "You" and the full-fledged instrumental jazz-fusion workouts of "Gazeuse!" Also departing would be Moog and synthesizer player Tim Blake. The rest of the band which included Mike Howlett on bass, Didier Malherebe on sax, flute and gongs and the percussion, vibe, xylophone and glockenspiel combo pack of Mireille Bauer would stick around for the new game in play while new band leader Pierre Moerlen would take the helm and steer GONG into ever jazzier frontiers.

Given this was somewhat of a transition album, although Allen had departed, some of his soulful and playful energies had stuck around. SHAMAL has many vocal tracks that imitate his vocal style if not matching his unique quirky whimsical approach. Steve Hillage would pretty much take off for a solo career but stuck around to provide guitar parts on a couple tracks. Patrice Lemoine would join in on keyboards as well as Jorge Pinchevsky on violin which provided a completely new sound to the mix. While Allen was fresh out of the band, SHAMAL got a big boost of production by none other than Nick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd. Despite the presence of a great deal of the old team, SHAMAL takes a noticeable step into the jazzy rock fusion that would define the next chapter of GONG for a few albums before yet another shift.

SHAMAL has six tracks that vary quite greatly in not only style but running time. They are a mix of vocal oriented tracks and completely instrumental and often sound completely unrelated. "A Wingful Of Eyes" begins with a vocal performance and ties the new sound with Allen's eccentric past, "Chandra" takes on the role of pointing the fans to the future of the GONG universe with a direct no nonsense jazz-fusion workout. "Bambooji" on the other hand exudes a strong oriental flavor with Japanese styled flute playing while "Cat In Clark's Shoes" looks to classic Mothers of Invention albums such as "Hot Rats" for the jazz-fusion workouts. Despite the jazz oriented tracks, the space rock effect is still in full swing throughout with thick atmospheres surrounding the overall scheme of things.

While many of the fans were turned off by this changing of the tides, i for one find a lot to love on SHAMAL and prefer to think of this as a different band rather than get hung up on the identical moniker that graced the preceding run of albums that found their way in the hearts of true space rock meets Canterbury jazz fans. GONG had always had two different styles sitting side by side with each other. Allen's quirky Canterbury jazz sitting side by side with the more psychedelic space rock effects was the nectar of the gods in terms of variation and keeping the albums springing with life and pixies of course. While jazz-fusion bands were a dime a dozen during the 1975 timeline, SHAMAL shines in that it add little touches such as healthy vibraphone workouts as well as other fun sounding instruments such as tubular bells, glockenspiels, marimba, xylophone and of course even a GONG!

While i wouldn't call SHAMAL my favorite GONG album by any means, neither can i say that i don't enjoy the heck out of this roster of rowdy characters playing their souls out. SHAMAL carries more dynamically fast tempos than ever before and the extra touches that include a violin give it an idiosyncratic identity that immediately sets itself apart from the Allen years. Unfortunately i believe the worst tracks are the opening ones which find substandard vocal performances but the album only gets better as it proceeds and by the time the album ends with the nine minute title track, i feel as mesmerized by the peaceful tranquil vibe of the tracks like i've been watching a sand dune shift in the Sahara for countless hours. Musically intriguing and exquisitely performed, SHAMAL is a great step for a great band in the middle of shifting gears.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.25 | 944 ratings

Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars GONG's legendary RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy was like a giant three album party. On the first installment "Flying Teapot," it was like founding member Daevid Allen, the host of this event, decided to invite a few guests over early to set everything up and in the process tested out the new "tea" which they would serve to the guests. Turns out that it was really good stuff and the connection between dimensions was a successful endeavor. "Angels Egg" was the point where all the guests arrived. Upon getting to know each other, the "tea" that everyone sipped was really, really strong and when it started to kick in, everyone totally friggin' freaked out! No one knew what to play or where so they just did what the playful pixies told them to. Despite a seeming train wreck, these were musically adept pixies who knew how to throw the perfect jam party. All went spectacularly and tripper's paradise was established.

On the third installment of this trilogy, YOU, everyone sobered up a little and all gathered into the jam room for some "proper" space rock that would be more acceptable in human terms. This is the album where all of the members started to find a foothold in the overall scheme of things. While Allen's zany antics are still to be found in abundance, the other band members were starting to strut their stuff and in the process, YOU is the most band oriented album within the entire RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy as it finds a focal point to gather around and allow each gifted musician to add their idiosyncratic playing styles around the proverbial musical campfire that Allen lit almost a decade prior. Think of this as the progressively psychedelic version of the Grateful Dead albeit in a much more majestic and wildly weird fashion.

The "sobered up" version of GONG that is displayed on YOU is a testament to the perfect marriage of Daevid Allen's strong Canterbury jazz-rock whimsy, Steve Hillage's heightened contributions in the form of excellent psychedelic guitar workouts and the complexified percussive accouterments that find their ways in the hands of Pierre Moerlen, Mireille Bauer and Benoit Moelen (brother of Pierre) which unbeknownst at the time would signify the next chapter of GONG beyond this trilogy. Gone are the nebulous chapters of freakdom and in are new waves of psychedelic rock jam freeform jamming. Steve Hillage is one of the stars here as his guitar presence is noticeably stronger than on "Angels Egg" with more soloing, more echoey riffing and paves the way for his debut solo album "Fish Rising" which would come out the following year that would exercise his unifying field of psych, rock and Canterbury jazz-rock.

On a more symbolic scale of things, YOU signified a waning of the hippie mentality that had taken root in the mid-60s and prevailed for nearly a decade. YOU was a mature album, so to speak that offered a glimpse into the possibilities of taking music seriously and not just finding random inspiration by arcane spiritual forces. YOU really sounds like a group of musicians who woke up from the party and discovered that their true gifts of nature were in using their noggins to decipher more interesting methods of putting out their message. By no means would this mean that the humorous whimsy would be put to rest. Au contraire. YOU exemplifies a more sophisticated approach that allows the musicians involved to add their own personal touches. In a way, this album represents a torch of democracy, a form of governance that only really works if all the participants are at an equal playing field. For YOU, it represents one of the best space rock albums of the entire 70s.

GONG was very much always a work in progress and Daevid Allen knew that he wasn't the only game in town as far as talent was involved. A truly stable genius is one who know that s/he is only a part of a larger ensemble of creativity. Allen's decision to allow others to add their idiosyncratic elements was the perfect "letting go" of control so that the GONG project could evolve far beyond the original intents of his philosophies. And with this philosophy, it was also wise of Allen to realize that his contributions to the GONG universe had come full circle and that it was time to complete the journey with the fulfillment of this grand finale. The lesson? Well, by attending the Radio Gnome University, one can become the Angels Egg which is in effect YOU, me and everyone who dares venture into these arenas of spiritual growth.

The RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy was always meant to be experienced as a three-pronged experience. How it developed was probably unforeseen even by the participants but in the course of history, this three album experience is the ultimate sui generis psychedelic rock meets Canterbury jazz fusion that can be found. YOU is the logical conclusion as it perfectly embeds the message of UNITY that follows the initial trademark rock embodiments of self-expression, complete discombobulation and ultimately casting aside of the human ego in favor of something the transcends the individual experience. I cannot think of an album more sublime than YOU in that message if taken on a deeper level. Taken on a first impression, YOU still shines as a stellar space rock journey into a strange new world of pixie driven humor that found its way into the ultimate cosmic law of the universe. Now that is FREEKIN' trippy.

 Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.13 | 628 ratings

Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 2 - Angel's Egg
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars With the intergalactic space whispers emerging from somewhere way out there or perhaps somewhere from a place well within, the seductive vocals of Shakti Yoni aka Gill Smyth in our dimension ushers in the next chapter of a mysterious green planet that is invisible to most but known to host Octave Doctors, magical pixies and the undetectable radio station that ultimately guides cast members such as Zero The Hero into mind-blowing, mind expansive musical journeys. Welcome to planet GONG! Magic is in the absurd and the mystery apparently is in the sax appeal and enchanting reverb.

The GONG mythology humorously continues its crazy cast of characters on the second installment of the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy with Volume 2 - ANGELS EGG (note that the apostrophe did not exist upon first release.) Having grown ever more accustomed to the newly created universe where mythological creatures frolic in broad daylight and musical free form enlightenment has blossomed like a happy cookie expanding its tentacles into the mind's eye and making strawberry pie from those fields forever.

The star studded cast of Dingo Allen (Daevid Allen / vocals, guitar), Shakti Yoni (Gilli Smyth / vocals), Sub. Catp. Hillage (Steve Hillage / lewd guitars), Hi T. Moonweed (Tim Blake / VCS3 synth, lady voice), Bloomdido Bad De Grasse (Didier Malherbe / tenor & soprano saxes, flute, backing vocals), T. Being esq. (Mike Howlett / bass profundo), Pierre de Strasbourg (Pierre Moerlen / bread & batteur drums, vibes, marimba) and last but not least Mirielle de Strasbourg (Mireille Bauer / glockenspiel) conjures up new sonic realities with escapist vision and successfully ratchets up the trilogy a few notches beyond Planet GONG and into ultimate surreality.

ANGELS EGG was recorded at the Manor Mobile studio where GONG resided communally near Pavillon du Hay, Voisine, France surrounded by the wilds of a large forest where the flora and fauna offered their spiritual wisdom for the inspiration cast their way, all completely royalty free but with the castigating disapproval of the boar's head hanging from the wall. The residence was cleverly wired so each and every member's room was connected to the larger picture and when inspiration hit, it was recorded and sorted out later. A scheme that created one of progressive rock's most wickedly surreal and diverse albums that's not a Frank Zappa record!

International in scope, Allen brings his Aussie sensibilities to the table via the jazz-rock involvement of England's Canterbury scene whereas Hillage takes his psychedelic touches gleaned from Arzachel and Khan to freshly glisten the procedure with ample guitar echos and sonic vibes to eternity. Joining the crazy crew was Pierre Moerlen with his assemblage of percussion, vibraphones and marimbas, a feat so utterly divine that he would become the new leader once Allen decided to pack it up and shack up with some seductive female gnome he met during one of the many tea sipping parties. French elegance and Middle Eastern rhythms slink in and out and elf music joins the cast for a raucous jolly good time.

While the ANGELS EGG has not yet hatched, this crazy crew of musicians take turns incubating her with the warmth of a diverse roster of tracks that range from truly outside of reality psychedelic sound effects to French chansons, drinking songs, crazy jazzy fueled rock sessions and beyond. The second part of the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy hops, skips and jumps randomly as if the dial to the station had somehow got set to search and on each stop, new cosmic wisdom is gleaned for later use in the eternal life journey like a magic backpack that carries with it all the essentials for true everlasting peace and hippiness.

To say ANGELS EGG is a trip would be an understatement. Psychedelic rock rarely goes to the lengths that the GONG universe unleashed onto an unsuspecting world. The original album actually contained an extensive booklet that defined the GONG mythology with lyrics, glossary of terms, profiles of characters and enchanting stories about band members. This is more like the soundtrack to "Alice In Wonderland" where after taking a puff with Chester and that caterpillar dude, you are somehow transported into an alternative reality where the unexpected lurks in forms of quirky off-kilter rhythms, zany lyrical escapades and jazzified trippiness magnified into a murky nebulous haze of philosophical nonsense that defies logic but somehow makes sense.

Everybody has their favorite episode of this trilogy and mine is without a doubt the nutter whack job nonconcentric oddball ANGELS EGG which sounds like an embryo hallucinating in a mushroom pixie patch. This album is tripper's paradise. An album so out of sync with just about every other musical paradigm before, during and after that it literally defies all rational explanation. A true album beamed down via the gnomes, unicorns and ETs or perhaps just a whispered through space channeling of lucid dreams. Let the tea be free as it pours into me but i can't imagine a better way to waste my day then listen to this one on perpetual replay because every time i take it for a spin it sounds like a different album to me. Indescribably brilliant. Masterpiece and "Ooby-Scooby Doomsday or The D-day DJ's Got the D.D.T. Blues." Yeah that.

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

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