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Gong - Gazeuse! CD (album) cover

GAZEUSE!

Gong

 

Canterbury Scene

3.93 | 388 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
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.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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