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Canterbury Scene definition

With many other types of English progressive music developing mostly in London, it may at first seem strange that the old pilgrimage centre and relatively quiet cathedral city of Canterbury, became the centre of this very English form of progressive music and jazz fusion. Originally the Wilde Flowers, a teenage band of members living in and around Canterbury, playing a mix of pop, R'n'B and band members with a developing love of jazz, was formed in the 60's and became the seedling from which the Canterbury Scene grew. Australian beatnik Daevid Allen during a long stop-over at Robert Wyatt's parent's home, a refuge for many left field artists, was to catalyse the evolution of the Wilde Flowers into the fledging Soft Machine and the development of some avant music during the English psychedelic and underground period. From 1963 to 1969, the Wilde Flowers included most of the figures who later formed Canterbury's two best known bands, (The) Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hugh Hopper) and Caravan (Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Richard Coughlan).

Canterbury was then to be the cradle for several of the more freewheeling British bands of the post-psychedelic era. While fans would suggest this is the home of an English musical quirkiness tempered with quite a bit of whimsy, within the Canterbury Scene's musical spectrum any similarities between Canterbury's major bands, (e.g. Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hatfield & the North, Egg, National Health), are not immediately obvious*. Most bands will be found employing a clever fusion of rock rhythms and jazz improvisation with intellectual song-writing and varying strengths of psychedelia - some would too include folk elements (e.g. Spirogyra), others blues (e.g. Carol Grimes and Delivery). In addition, a number of bands employed various elements from classical music, for instance those bands with Dave Stewart playing keyboards. Whilst there have been a handful of excellent and distinctly different guitarists to play with Canterbury bands (e.g. Andy Summers, Allan Holdsworth, John Etheridge, Steve Hillage, Phil Miller), the lead instrument of choice has been keyboards. One English peculiarity of Canterbury is what the late John Peel called the 'School of Anti-song' because of particular Wyatt, Ayers and Richard Sinclair's approaches to vocals and perhaps the whimsy. More recently Richard Sinclair's vocal style has perhaps accurately been labelled as 'English jazz singing' by Jazzwise (i.e. singing jazz with an English rather than the usual American accent). In addition Canterbury musicians have experimented as avant garde, free jazz players, e.g. instance Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill, Steve Miller.

(*However, once you've heard some Canterbury bands the commonality becomes more obvious - chord sequencing e.g. Caveman Hughscore's electric piano opening on the tune 'More Than Nothing', the vocals, the lyrics etc.)

Both the Soft Machine and Caravan were popular in England's psychedelic/ underground scene before releasing their first albums in 1968, with Machine completing on level footing with Pink Floyd. However, by the early 70's a series of fragmenting changes of bands' line-ups, (Soft Machine went through about 30) and the subsequent formation of new bands, rapidly broadened Canterbury's range, with many newer musicians with only loose and in fact, no previous Canterbury connections. Early Soft Machine member Daevid Allen formed Gong in Paris. Both Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt left the Softs because of musical developments they did not like, to begin their own solo careers. By the mid-70's, most the old and new Canterbury bands had progressed away from psychedelia, developing their distinct forms of progressive rock some embracing jazz fusion, many playing extended jams with now limited lyrical input (e.g. Hatfield and The Norths, National Health, Gilgamesh). Caravan became more folky. However, as the 70's progressed several Canterbury bands would lose most of the rock element from their music. Gong retained their psychedelic side longest, but with the departure of Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage in the mid 70's, the band evolved into the percussion-oriented, jazz rock group Gong, which eventually became the modern day Gongzilla. Daevid Allen regained Gong's name in the 90's and through his solo work and with his University of Errors, is still evidently producing psychedelia. Steve Hillage's form of psychedelia evolved into the glissando rock of his own band and then into electronica, by the end of the 70's. In particular, Hillage through his work as a successful record producer of new bands from the 80's, develop his form of electronica through other bands. This music lost much of its complexity e.g. few riffs played over and over, rather than dozens per tune that previously had often typified prog, into a very popular form that is the antithesis of prog, i.e. the various forms of house music, with associated remixing/turntablism. For instance, Gong's "You" got the remix treatment in the 90's - but then to reflect his range of activities, Hillage has also produced and played guitar for Algerian Rai singer, Rachid Taha for over 20 years.

Many of Britain's better known avant-garde and fusion musicians of the 70's and 80's - including Fred Frith (Henry Cow), Allan Holdsworth (Gong, Soft Machine, UK, Bruford) and Peter Blegvad - were involved during their early careers playing in Canterbury bands. And still new musicians join the Canterbury Scene's ranks, Theo Travis being perhaps the most notable recently (Gong, The Soft Machine Legacy). The Canterbury scene was to have a major influence on musicians in Europe, especially France (e.g. Gong, Moving Gelatine Plates), the Netherlands (Super Sister)and Italy (Daedalus), and more belatedly in the USA (Hughscore). Caravan reformed in the mid 90's, while ex-members of Soft Machine could be found in various avant jazz and straight jazz fusion groups, e.g. Just Us, Soft Heap, Soft Works and most recently The Soft Machine Legacy. From the Canterbury Scene, RIO it its various forms has developed.

FOOTNOTE: As indicated above, many Canterbury Scene bands are acknowledged as having played/are playing jazz rock fusion. However, because of their strong Canterbury affliations are listed under "Canterbury Scene" in Prog Archives.

Dick Heath
Based loosely in part on the source: http://www.allmusic.com
(Edition 3, Aug 2009)

Current team members as at 14/02/2014:
Steve (HolyMoly)

Canterbury Scene Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Canterbury Scene | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.27 | 1268 ratings
4.30 | 617 ratings
Wyatt, Robert
4.25 | 739 ratings
4.27 | 558 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.23 | 731 ratings
4.27 | 484 ratings
4.21 | 734 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.15 | 548 ratings
4.18 | 411 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.29 | 205 ratings
Quiet Sun
4.23 | 281 ratings
National Health
4.10 | 502 ratings
4.13 | 314 ratings
Hillage, Steve
4.23 | 160 ratings
4.12 | 262 ratings
National Health
4.06 | 396 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.23 | 146 ratings
4.08 | 282 ratings
4.02 | 350 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.05 | 210 ratings
Picchio Dal Pozzo

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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Miller, Phil
Gowen, Miller, Sinclair, Tomkins
Greaves, John
National Health

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Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews

 Now is the happiest time of your life by ALLEN, DAEVID album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.25 | 34 ratings

Now is the happiest time of your life
Daevid Allen Canterbury Scene

Review by sl75

4 stars This continues in a similar direction to the preceding album, Good Morning, using some of the same musicians (though not the full ensemble), with similar European folk influences, and still avoiding drumkit for the most part, although there is a greater role for percussion. The Planet Gong mythology returns here, though still mixed with the more direct moral language of Good Morning. There is also the incorporation of performance poetry, I rather enjoyed "Poet For Sale", and though I see it's divided reviewers here, I rather liked the inclusion of Daevid's children on "Tally & Orlando Meet The Cockpot Pixie". There is no standout highlight this time (like "Wise Man In Your Heart" on the last album), and a couple of slightly jarring moments (like "See You On The Moontower" which almost turns into conventional rock n roll), but generally I think anyone who enjoyed Good Morning should like this almost as much. A low four stars (probably more 3.5).
 Caravan by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.66 | 384 ratings

Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Born out of the implosion of the Wilde Flowers which was pretty much the big bang of everything Canterbury Scene, CARAVAN took the opposite approach of their other band mates who became The Soft Machine and steered their approach more into the realms of the psychedelic pop rock world of the 60s rather than retreating into the free-for-all jazz fusion world. The band was started by Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals), Richards Coughlan (drums), Richard Sinclair (bass) and David Sinclair (keyboards). The two bands stayed amicable after the split. The Soft Machine was gracious enough to lend the band all the necessary equipment to record this album while on tour with Jimi Hendrix and the result was this eponymous debut album which was released in 1968 and really sounds like it belongs to that era.

While not reaching any particular progressive heights like they would venture into on their second album, album number one is an interesting mix of Barrett era Floydian psychedelic pop songwriting sensibilities glossed over with Procol Harum sounding keyboards and nice jazzy psychedelic jazz guitar leanings. The songs are all well crafted and this has become one of my favorite albums of the era. It blows away other strictly blues rock bands of the era like Jefferson Airplane by adding mild progressive touches such as slightly off time sigs, nice wah- wah guitar action and contemplative vocals. There is also a slight The Doors feel in some of the jamming methodology without sounding like them. This album has a slightly spacey psychedelic feel, a touch folky with the Tullish flute and a heavy psych feel in the drum department which is pretty technical for the era.

I have always considered CARAVAN to be one of the least Canterbury sounding of all the bands that are categorized under that banner but they are clearly in that camp with their humor albeit more subtle than say Hatfield And The North or Quiet Sun. There is an overall feel that connects the dots. I am rotating on an opposite spin than most CARAVAN fans in finding that their magnum opus "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" is overrated while finding this debut to be woefully underrated. I actually choose to listen to this over that one any day of the week. There is a sophistication of the sound heard here that is above and beyond the contemporaries of the day with possibly only the exception of the other half to the Wilde Flowers, The Soft Machine. Personally i find this to be a great melodic moment of the late 60s that shows a band carving out its distinct path in the progressive rock world that was in its infancy.

 Camembert Electrique by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 281 ratings

Camembert Electrique
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars No this isn't quite the "Radio Gnome Triology" despite the first short track being titled "Radio Gnome" but despite the lack of Steve Hillage's spaced out echo guitar trippiness, Daevid Allen in cahoots with Gilli Smyth manages to create a healthy dose of Canterbury psychedelia on his own terms. CAMBERT ELECTRIQUE is the second release by Daevid Allen's GONG and probably one of the most rockin' of the entire GONG discography. On this release it is Daevid Allen who plays guitar and bass as well as handling the expected vocal duties. BTW although my remastered copy says the first track is "Radio Gnome" i see it listed as "Radio Gnome Prediction" on the very first vinyl release as well as other subsequent releases. How clever, hmmm?

This is an interesting transition album that feels like it has connections to the heavy psych of the 60s while branching out its tentacles into a new 70s space rock style garnished with all the zaniness and humor that the Canterbury scene was so famous for. If you listen to the old Wilde Flowers and Soft Machine demos with Daevid Allen still in the band, you can trace some of these riffs to those days, only with the addition of Gilli Smyth's famous space whispering and the excellent addition of Didier Malherbe's excellent sax and flute to create some really good solid musical madness on this one. This is a great example of how to combine the Canterbury whimsy with space rock, progressive heavy rock and healthy doses of anarchic psychedelia with totally original experimental elements.

This indeed was time of the birth of the space age hippie music and Daevid Allen's decade long roster of ideas that were suppressed and underdeveloped really were allowed to bloom for the first time on CAMBERT ELECTRIQUE. This is really a fun album! Musically, lyrically, rhythmically etc. Just look at the zany titles of the songs: "Mister Long Shanks, O Mother, I Am Your Fantasy," "Dynamite: I Am Your Animal," "Fohat Digs Holes In Space!" This is just wonderful music being melodic, demented, innovative, unique, experimental, daring, sacrilegious, comical, uproarious and above all spaced out, maaaan! While most of GONG's discography displays complex band interactions, this is the one that screams out that it's Daevid Allen's baby and what a cute and adorable little baby it is! Sadly Daevid passed away recently on 13 MARCH 2015. Thank you Daevid for all this excellent music and R.I.P. No doubt this music will entertain for a very long time to come :)

 Golf Girl by CARAVAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
3.12 | 6 ratings

Golf Girl
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars As every CARAVAN listener instantly knows already by looking at the titleless cover design, this single is an outtake from the beloved album In the Land of Grey and Pink. The album's title track is placed on the B-side. Both of these 5-minute songs appear in an unedited form.

I deeply enjoy the album as a whole, but without the presence of the longer, more fascinating tracks ('Nine Feet Underground' and 'Winter Wine') these simple songs remain...hmm, certainly sympathetic and nice, but a bit boring on the long run. As compositions per se, that is. However, the charming overall sound of the album is well present on them too; David Sinclair's fuzzy organ, Jimmy Hastings' lighthearted flute, Richard Sinclair's gentle and elegant voice. The Englishness, the wit, and above all, the good-humoured atmosphere of Caravan and its related acts in the Canterbury family.

I was once asked to name quickly five albums with which I would introduce [classic] prog to a newcomer, and In the Land of Grey and Pink was one of my picks, thinking that it might appeal to friends of jazz. How is it with these two songs alone? They're hardly progressive as compositions, nor jazzy, so they can't really be thought as introductions to the prog genre, in other sense than just to show how accessible and happy songs a prog context can contain. And who knows how valuable that notion can be to someone with prejudices about progressive rock. 3' stars rounded down for being a mere album outtake.

 Kew Rhone by GREAVES, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.14 | 36 ratings

Kew Rhone
John Greaves Canterbury Scene

Review by Dobermensch

2 stars I always look forward to hearing 'Kew Rhone' and am continually underwhelmed by the time I'm half way though it. With a line up of eleven clearly talented musicians you'd think you'd be in for something special. Such a pity then that they seem to continually overlap and intrude each other in the most annoying of manners. They create a messy, sprawling sound that is at once academic, clearly being a scored soundtrack, but it is difficult to listen to. It brings very little enjoyment to my decades old poor bludgeoned ears.

Apparently this album is full of anagrams and palindromes. I've certainly not heard any. Maybe it's because my mind keeps wandering to more important things like: 'what time do I have to get up for work tomorrow'. I try so hard to like this but always find it ultimately boring and directionless. 'Allmusic' calls this a masterpiece of 70's electronic rock. God knows why. I must have listened to this around 15 times and all I can think on is of a wizard throwing a bag full of musical notes down a flight of stairs.

Lisa Herman's vocals irritate throughout the duration with her tuneless leaping from one octave to another. I can't make head nor tail of her intentions. I can't even say she has a good set of vocals. They're all too random and willy-nilly, almost an afterthought as if she's just heard the backing track for the first time and has decided to give it a go despite the consequences.

It's all too clever for its own good. Listening to 'Kew Rhone' is like tying to decipher an algebra equation. No fun at all in other words. The separation of isotopes by gaseous diffusion is easier to understand than this.

I will admit though - it does have a great sleeve by Charles Peale called 'Exhuming the First American Mastodon'. That's as high praise as you'll get from me I'm afraid.

 Let's Eat (Real Soon) by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1974
3.96 | 5 ratings

Let's Eat (Real Soon)
Hatfield And The North Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars I like this too forgotten band a lot, as I like the Canterbury scene in general. Their music is witty, charming, happy and humorous. Or is 'humorous' an appropriate word? The so called humour music has never much appealed to me; for example the humorous side of Frank Zappa - even as he's roughly on the same musical map, ie. jazz-rock - tends to irritate me, and Spike Jones and such sonic slapstick is just awful. Actually melancholic music has averagely a bigger chance to move me than cheerful and happy. But in Canterbury I have the best exception to that rule.

This single was released the same year as the eponymous first album; the CD edition features both tracks as bonuses. 'Let's Eat (Real Soon)' is a happy, slightly naive song in the unmistakable Hatfield style. Richard Sinclair's vocals are light and elegant as always, there's the fuzzy organ of Dave Stewart, the easily identifiable guitar tone of Phil Miller and the relaxed, jazzy rhythm. The lyrics could be frankly any nonsense and still I'd like the song, but they're very nice too.

'Fitter Stoke Has a Bath' is composed by drummer Pip Pyle (who co-wrote 'Let's Eat' with Richard Sinclair). Though he's not as prolific composer in the Canterbury scene as e.g. Sinclair and Stewart, not to mention solo artists such as ROBERT WYATT and STEVE HILLAGE, he has done some very fine songs for the two bands that in my opinion are the best examples of what Canterbury is all about. NATIONAL HEALTH's 'Binoculars' may be the best Pyle song I know, but this one's also a pleasant slice of the style, featuring Sinclair's vocals.

A proper sleeve with a cover art would be nice, but this pair of (originally non-album) songs is worth four stars to me.

 If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.23 | 731 ratings

If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by ster

5 stars Very few albums sweep me up and whisk me away. This is one of them. Trippy, but not with sound effects, trippy because of song structure and feel. Seriously, this album had my undivided attention at first listen. 1970 saw psychedelia starting to give way to prog rock and If I Could.. is a perfect representation of that.

If I Could Do It All Over Again I Would Do It All Over You opens this album with a quirky fun English pop song with catchy verses and a nice jazzy jam in the middle, very good but quite unlike the rest of the album.

And I Wish I Were Stoned, Don't Worry is a actually two songs fused together. This one has that really nice ethereal feel that then turns into what should have been an anthem for the counterculture during the pre chorus and chorus. It then segues into Don't Worry an incredible ending to a great tune. Out of nowhere we get a drum beat for the outro, cool twist.

Next up is As I Feel I Die, a very mellow first 2 minutes that blasts into a couple of jazzy verses and into an all out jazz rock jam with Dave Sinclair leading the way and then stops on a dime. Amazing.

With An Ear To The Ground You can Make It, Then comes Pye Hastings voice, very low in the mix asking "Would You Like To Ride With Me While You're waiting for the band To come?" before rocking that theme and then we get the first taste of Dave Sinclairs distorted organ sound ala "Nine Feet Underground." Around the 4:30 mark we are treated with James Hastings' truly wonderful flute playing that soars and flutters around the verses before we reprise the opening themes and then float away with an echoed, piano line gently fading out. Epic track.

Hello Hello is a nice quirky English song a little more tightly structured with interesting lyrics about hearing someone sing yet not able to find him. A lot of fun with great bass.

Asforteri is a nice interlude before we launch into the best part of the album..

Can't Be Long Now - Francoise - for Richard - Warlock, I don't know why everyone calls this just "For Richard" what about the rest of the titles? Oh well, who cares, the whole thing is great. Very ethereal start with Pye singing and brother James fluttering a way on the flute beautifully before getting SLAMMED with the opening riff from "for Richard" then its pure Canterbury jazz rock bliss with great sax playing from James giving way to Dave Sinclair going back to James but this time on flute then back to sax before launching into the Sabbath like riffs (well sort of) of Warlock. An outstanding piece of music on an already strong record.

Limits ends things with a nice little jazzy melody and a couple of vocal lines "If your world is big enough for you, don't go spoiling it for someone else.

If you get the 2001 version you'll get the excellent "A Day In The Life Of Maurice Haylett." which fits in perfectly with the rest of this record with a similar song structure with crazy lyrics and a nice jazz jam.

Highly recommended. A VERY underrated album.

 Mainstream by QUIET SUN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.29 | 205 ratings

Quiet Sun Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars QUIET SUN is a strange little beast. The jazz-fusion band existing in the Canterbury Scene was one of the few to incorporate highly distorted rock guitar in its sound. The band actually started under the ridiculous Pooh And The Ostrich Feather moniker in 1970. The band's existence has everything to do with Robert Wyatt who with Bill McCormick the bassist brought this idea into fruition. MAINSTREAM is the first and only offering from this band which formed and disbanded and then reunited and because of Phil Manzanera's success in Roxy Music allowed this group to reform and record these ideas and finally release this wonderful musical magic in 1975.

The band consisted of percussionist old-school friend Charles Hayward (This Heat, Mal Dean's Amazing Band, Radar Favourites, Dolphin Logic), bassist Bill MacCormick (Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt, 801 w/ Manzanera, Eno, etc) and of course, Phil Manzanera, who is most famous for his lead guitar work in Roxy Music but is also less famous for his Latin American music hailing from Colombia and Venezuela. This album, however, was his very first collaborative effort and what a beautiful one it is.

While MAINSTREAM incorporates all those wonderful, delectable sounds that make up the Canterbury scene of jazz-rock fusion like the beautiful jazz-rock offerings of Hatfield and the North, QUIET SUN offers some serious rock guitar to the mix above and beyond the call of duty. It didn't hurt that Brian Eno participated in the project as well as long time music critic and Nick Drake popularizer Ian MacDonald who not only contributed as a lyricist with QUIET SUN but also lent his vehement support of the band's credentials in the progressive musical world.

Really, how can you go wrong with such progressive classics titled "Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil"? The Canterbury scene is here in full swing with the addition of excellent guitar contributions. The musicianship is absolutely brilliant and the tracks may need a bit of time to grow on you but ultimately they have won me over big time. This is an album that whispers in my ear that it's time to hear it again.

When i ordered this i expected a simple original album format but i ended up with the 2011 remastered version that is in a strange form of a booklet that explains the entire history of the band and although it doesn't fit neatly in the midst of my CD collection, it does present itself as a standout amongst the crowd in not only packaging but also in its unique approach of incorporating the Canterbury Scene with the hard rock that dominated the mid-70s. I, for one, find this to occupy a unique niche in all of music history at a particular time and place. The irony is that this album which was an idea of the earliest of 70s almost never came to be. I am grateful that it did because it is one beauty in the making.

 L by HILLAGE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.61 | 135 ratings

Steve Hillage Canterbury Scene

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In 1975 Hillage along with girlfriend Miquette Giraudy participated for the last time in a Gong recording session.By the start of 76' he had already left the band and around the same time he came in touch with Todd Rundgren for a potentional future collaboration.The result was Rundgren to invite him to the USA and Hillage along with Giraudy made the transatlantic trip to New York.Backed by Utopia he recorded his second album ''L'' at the Secret Sound in Woodstock with Rundgren providing the production/sound engineering background.Famous American trumpetist Don Cherry was also among the performers.It was released in 10 countries the same year on the Virgin and Atlantic labels.

First thing to strike is that three out of six tracks are cover songs, namely ''Hurdy gurdy man'' by British singer Donovan, the ethnic-styled adaption of the mantra ''Om nama shivaya'' and George Harrison's ''It's all too much'', originallly released for the soundtrack of the ''Yellow submarine'' film.These versions along the Utopia stylistical pinches explain why this sounded a bit different than ''Fish rising''.But the result was pretty awesome, cause all Hillage-written tracks are great and the covers sound like perfect pieces on a missing puzzle, an album needing some tracks to be completed.Hillage's original material is again a beautiful amalgam of smooth guitar instrumental madness, spacey keyboard themes, psychedelic overtones and Canterbury flavors, now mostly popping up in the vocal deliveries, ''Lunar musick suite'' in particular is absolutely mindblowing with Hillage making a rare explosion of virtuosity with solos and developing guitar moves, Cherry putting the shoes of Malherbe and adding some great trumpet work over the cosmic keyboard lines and the final beats sounding a lot like UTOPIA in a lyrical, Art/Prog Rock style with seminal symphonic echoes and atmospheric endeavors.The covers are also pretty cool, but I will have to make a praise for the unusual entry of ''Om nama shivaya'', which Hillage adapted greatly in his own style and transforming it into somekind of Ethnic-Space Rock piece.

Belonging to the minority, I can see why the choice of covers have turned fans of Hillage down, but as a whole ''L'' sounds more convincing to my ears than ''Fish rising''.The light American influences and the production of Rundgren thrown in the typical Space/Canterbury sound of Hillage have made some miracles here.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 I See You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.93 | 85 ratings

I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Dr÷mmarenAdrian

3 stars Gong is a very different band. Their music is surely unique and something unlike other formations of musicians you can think about. Earlier this year one of the brightest brains in the band and the band's leader Daevid Allen died 77 years old and "I see you" from 2014 became his last Gong record. Gong has had a big influence in prog music and therefore it's interesting to listen and see what I think about their music. The band has made twenty- three studio albums since 1969 and earlier I have heard their perhaps most famous one "Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 ? You" which I partially liked and now I tried "I see you" a record from last year!

The album is a bit more than an hour in length and it features some talanted musicians: Daevid Allen (guitar, vocals), Orlando Allen(drums, vocals), Dave Stuart(bass), Kavus Torabi(guitar), Fabio Golfetti(guitars), Ian East(sax, flute), Gilli Smyth(voice) and Mark Robson(keyboards). It's strange because me last reviewed record was Torabi's Knifeworld! The cover picture is quite fine and interesting but the music intrigues me more.

I find Gong's music very uneven if I relate it to my taste and preferencies. Something they really amaze me and I could state that they are so good! But then it comes a weird and psychedelic passage I just can't stand. I have hard to understand this music as a whole but I really enjoy pieces of it. My favourites here could be found in the beginning: "Occupy"(8/10) with a lovely sax that leads a strong melody and "The Eternal Wheel Spins"(8/10) which is so well played! Some other pieces are interesting as well: "When god shakes hands with the devil"(7/10), a heavy track, "Syllabub"(7/10) where I especially like the instrumental parts, "You see me"(7/10) and "Pixielation"(7/10) which i found so different but a bit prilliant too. One thing you really should avoid though is the last track of noises, I would do so I I'd listen again.

So we conclude that Gong's latest album supports us with a lot of interesting and good music. Especially when they use as much instruments as possible the result is mighty. I have enjoyed what I have heard and I got some special songs I really liked. My song to song rating ends at 3.17 which means three stars for "I see you".

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Canterbury Scene bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
KEVIN AYERS United Kingdom
THE BOOT LAGOON United Kingdom
BRAINVILLE United Kingdom
CARAVAN United Kingdom
CLEAR FRAME United Kingdom
COS Belgium
DELIVERY United Kingdom
EGG United Kingdom
THE GHOULIES United Kingdom
MICHAEL GILES United Kingdom
GILGAMESH United Kingdom
GONG Multi-National
JOHN GREAVES United Kingdom
GRINGO United Kingdom
STEVE HILLAGE United Kingdom
HUGH HOPPER United Kingdom
JAKKO M. JAKSZYK United Kingdom
KHAN United Kingdom
THE LODGE United States
MATCHING MOLE United Kingdom
MILLER & COXHILL United Kingdom
PHIL MILLER United Kingdom
MOOM United Kingdom
THE MUFFINS United States
PANTHEON Netherlands
PAZOP Belgium
JOHN G. PERRY United Kingdom
PIP PYLE United Kingdom
QUANTUM JUMP United Kingdom
QUIET SUN United Kingdom
SOFT HEAP United Kingdom
SOFT MOUNTAIN Multi-National
SOFT WORKS United Kingdom
VOLAR╔ United States
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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