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CANTERBURY SCENE

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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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

4.28 | 1538 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.30 | 754 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.25 | 902 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.27 | 690 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.24 | 894 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.27 | 619 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.22 | 862 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.26 | 364 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.19 | 493 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.16 | 652 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.25 | 276 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.12 | 589 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.15 | 369 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.23 | 218 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.12 | 375 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.25 | 189 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.13 | 332 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.37 | 116 ratings
THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.06 | 428 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The
4.03 | 482 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Canterbury Scene experts team

THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
SPLIT SECONDS
Miller, Phil
BEFORE A WORD IS SAID
Gowen - Miller - Sinclair - Tomkins
ABBIAMO TUTTI I SUOI PROBLEMI
Picchio Dal Pozzo

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 488 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars Although he can take credit for founding Soft Machine and pretty much kickstarting the whole Canterbury Scene of progressive rock only to leave that very band before the debut recording emerged AND a lengthy career to follow as a solo artist and beyond, Daevid Allen aka Divided Alien would best be remembered for the three albums that make up the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy which began with VOL 1 - FLYING TEAPOT released on 23 May 1973 and was quickly followed up by "Angel's Egg" released on 7 December 1973 and "You" in October 1974. After three albums of pretty much leading his infamous GONG which juxtaposed his beat inspired pixie poetry with the radical free spirit psychedelic swing, Allen pretty much shook the GONG tree only to watch old members fall as totally new ones joined the ranks.

FLYING TEAPOT was the first incarnation of the much larger "classic" GONG era which would only grow larger for the following albums that concluded the trilogy. The first thing that is evident is that FLYING TEAPOT greatly expands the overarching sound of the GONG universe not only conceptually but in the lineup expanding from a mere five band members to a whopping nine which would include newbie Steve Hillage on guitar and ex-Magma bassist Francis Moze (who also contributes piano). The zany antics of Daevid Allen with his psychedelic swing band of the early 70s GONG found their greatest success and legendary status with their RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE series which initiates the great GONG mythology and is about, and i have to quote here since i could not make this up any better:

"The story begins on the album Flying Teapot (1973) when a pig-farming Egyptologist called Mista T Being is sold a 'magick ear ring' by an 'antique teapot street vendor & tea label collector' called Fred the Fish. The ear ring is capable of receiving messages from the Planet Gong via a pirate radio station called Radio Gnome Invisible. Being and Fish head off to the hymnalayas of Tibet (sic) where they meet the 'great beer yogi' Banana Ananda in a cave. Ananda tends to chant 'Banana Nirvana Ma˝ana' a lot and gets drunk on Foster's Australian Lager."

Carrying on with the Canterbury whimsical jazz-rock of his earlier albums, the new GONG becomes laced with more surreal bouts incorporating sudden diversions into serpentine psychedelic meanderings that add enough humor to swear you really did drink too much of the magic tea and went on a Monty Python binge watch. The album begins the trilogy with an instant dip into the devilishly deviated tripper's paradise of the track "Radio Gnome Invisible" which not only includes Allen's happy hippie-go-lucky jittery jaunts into frenetic little time signature freak outs but offers a true glimpse into the entire career of the Cardiacs with this one song. Yeah, the jazzy trade offs with the freak fueled vocal capers just reek of the 80s zolo merry pronk-sters who simply added a little punk, Cockney accented attitude and an upped appreciation for the frenzied off-kilter zaniness of it all.

"Flying Teapot" the track, takes a different approach and debuts the psychedelic spaced detached segments that would become a staple on the following "Angel's Egg" and "You" with Hillage and newbie synthesist Tim Blake cranking out some of the meanest free form space jazz augmented by the sax and flute flexibilities of Didier Malherbe who stuck around for the wild ride. Allen also displays some of his most adept vocal skills as he basically raps while the bass slowly descends into a funky groove that emerges from the formless spaciness that preceded. As the longest track on the album (12.5 min) this one offers the most variety of little silly scenarios and the most adept track of blending Allen's silly psych swing jazz-rock with the synthesized space wind sounds. This one actually has GONG (the instrument) sounds in it!!!

"The Pot Head Pixies" is a pure Allen concoction most like his former albums offering a glimpse of how the stoner beatnik existed before the transition into the higher realms of the FLYING TEAPOT universe which is followed by the short "The Octave Doctors And The Crystal Machine" which contrasts by going purely space synth. The true treat of the album comes at the end with the one / two punch of "Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell" immediately followed by the behexing charm of "Witch's Song / I Am Your Pussy" which together display the most sophisticated songwriting chops of the new band that show the evolution from the actors playing their respective parts to coming full force into a bona fide tour de force of a band sound that is the perfect teaser for the album's that follow. The former actually sounds more like a Pink Floyd track before it totally morphs into some fantastical tribal pixie world accompanied by some of the silkiest and smoothest sax blowing sessions on the album.

Gilli Smyth finally gets her day in the sun after being hidden behind the scenes for too long as she totally takes the bull by the horns and offers some of the swankiest poetic prowess permissible by law climaxing with orgasmic gleeful giggling as she narrates her promiscuous escapades with the sultry psychedelic swing jazz accompanying her seductive space whispers. FLYING TEAPOT is amazing! I totally concur that this is the weakest of the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy but the first installment is never supposed to be that highlight or that would defeat the purpose! This one is totally satisfying and the absolute perfect album to whet the old appetite for the much grander and more sophisticated following albums that push the story and sound of GONG to higher dimensions. If this had been as good as those albums, the band would have blown their wad on this one album. Personally this one has been the hardest to get into mostly due to its poorer production compared to the next two, however this is one helluva fun album that is absolutely brilliant. If this didn't click the first time, do try again for it is one amazingly unique album even within the GONG universe itself.

 Continental Circus by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 138 ratings

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Continental Circus
Gong Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars Tucked between the early days of GONG when every aspect of the band's direction was at the whim of founder Daevid Allen and the more group oriented Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy albums is the lesser celebrated CONTINENTAL CIRCUS which was in reality an original soundtrack of music for the 1972 film documentary of the same name that was directed by JÚr˘me Laperrousaz. The film (which i've never seen) is a race car flick about the 1970 Grands Prix 500cc and stars Jack Findlay and Giacomo Agostini. The album was technically released as GONG avec DAEVID ALLEN but is actually the same exact lineup as "Camembert Electrique" with Pip Pyle on drums, Christian Tritsch on bass, Didier Malherbe on sax and flute and Allen's life partner and space whisperer extraordinaire Gilli Smyth.

This soundtrack is basically three tracks and with an instrumental reprise of the opener "Blues For Friday" which is perhaps one of the tightest and heaviest type of songs that has been released in the greater GONG universe. The track is quite long for a heavy rocker at over eleven minutes long and sounds a lot more like a more melodic and upbeat track off of King Crimson's "Red." It contains a typical progressive rock jam type feel with heavy guitar and bass riffing, some jammy soloing and hard hitting drumming during the first part of the track but slowly turns into a Daevid Allen rap as he dishes out some mean verbal juggling for 1972! During this period he sounds a lot like Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground. The sax gives it a veritable jazzy vibe at times. Toward the end it becomes more psychedelic as the bass becomes more jittery and that recognizable space breeze whisks across the musical soundscape adding a whole layer of trippiness.

While the opener was a pretty cool prog rock type of tune about race car driving, the following "Continental Circus World" actually sounds like a sound collage of a race car movie with roaring engines whizzing by and anthemic track music blazing in the background. Emerging from the sampled sounds comes a psychedelic sound collage of spoken word parts, more race car engines and an energetic rock tune trying to dominate the soundscape but continually gets pushed back to reveal the spoken words and race cars. This one sounds more like an early Faust type of track than anything. "What Do You Want?" jumps back into the music with heavy bass and cymbal action as the guitar psychedelically slithers in as if it were a Pink Floyd reject looking for a new home but ultimately becomes one of those quirky Canterbury jazzy rocker tunes that Allen is so adept at crafting. He also pummels out some of his most intense guitar solos on this one, a feat he would never have the chance to do again once Steve Hillage joined the GONG gang. The "Blues For Findlay" reprise is nice as an instrumental but a little redundant.

When it comes to rating soundtracks i always have to keep in mind that what is excellent music for appearing on screen with the appropriate visuals does not automatically translate into an interesting listening experience without the visual context for which the tracks have been created. In the case of CONTINENTAL CIRCUS, the tunes do indeed hold up quite spectacularly on their own and sound superbly executed even if you have absolutely no idea what film they are supposed to supplement. This is very much a Daevid Allen led GONG album with no idiosyncrasies left behind for the sake of anonymity. This is the definitely the heaviest and most rocking album of the entire GONG canon and deserves kudos simply for that fact. Personally i love this a lot. Every track is great and the reprise of "Blues For Findlay" doesn't detract one little bit. The tune is so catchy and rocks out so intensely that i actually love hearing it a second time. This one is much better than many make it out to be. Excellent work by all musicians on board with an extra special shout out to Pip Pyle on drums.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.15 | 369 ratings

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The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars A distorted cover to a distorted music played by distorted minds: 9/10

EGG's debut had indications of the band's leaning to progressive rock, although their music was at best some sort of daringly uncommon psychedelic rock. It wasn't until THE POLICE FORCE that they decided to exploit the boundaries of their imagination and create dazzlingly complex pieces merged with strange, avant-garde experiences (such as the vile outro of Long Piece No. 3 Pt. Three), focusing mostly on a rehearsed instrumental madness. Their psychedelic tendencies were still present, blatantly visible in the distorted album cover, the track Boilk, and songs' lyrics, sometimes mundane and anecdotal, sometimes mysteriously symbolic.

While in many times this tendency is materialistically translated in distorted synthesizers and guitars, their exploratory - and therefore not exclusively psychedelic - pretensions are dominant. Sure, the tracks sound objectively "Canterbury Scene" (actually, the Moog reminds me of Tarkus' on many occasions) with its typical mixture of experimentation, jazz and psychedelic rock, but EGG makes sure to live up to its title of progressive rock, attempting at every moment to craft creative and unforeseen blends of instruments and synthesizer tunes. Be aware that 90% of the instrumental section is occupied by a variety of keyboards and Moog moods, more often than not accompanied by wicked guitars or, exceptionally at Contrasong, frenetic brass instruments.

The first track, Visit to Newport Hospital, features a haunting proto-metal Moog intro that abruptly transitions to a much smoother and jazzier performance, presenting Mont Campbell's disappointed vocals and a terrific multilayered midsection. The melancholic atmosphere of the track is a reflection of its saddened nature:

Now looking back it seemed to be a happy time [...]

It was a freedom that we'd never felt before

And now we're doing this instead

Shortly after it ends, the very first notes of Contrasong indicate a rise in dynamism, but it isn't until the intricate vocals kick in that the complexity increases exponentially. The experimental tendencies are demonstrated through the oddly played 9/8 main verse with its confusing arrangement of overlapped brasses, piano, guitar and drums; the latter's rhythm pattern is particularly perplexing but also really catchy. If Visit to Newport Hospital is calm, Contrasong is deranged. Even Campbell's voice transitions from its previous moroseness to conformism, as it contemplates Contrasong's lunatic environment with an unnatural calmness, perhaps of a sedated maniac. Its highly cryptic lyrics crystallize the song's enigmatic nature:

Gazing quite vacantly into space one day

sitting up in my bed surrounded by

a few Sunday papers and their colour supplements

all of them superficially interesting

happily unaware that somewhere somebody was aware

that somewhere somebody was awake and well

undisturbed

living on

If you didn't capture EGG's disorderly nature heretofore, they strike it like a brick to your head on Boilk, a strange track strangely reprised from their strange last album. An experimental track featuring a wiiiide array of really, really crazy electronic noises. Moonchild is but a baby compared to this.

Lastly, Long Piece No. 3 is an entirely instrumental song with stratospheric ambitions and a solid performance. Sometimes sweet, sometimes vicious; sometimes distorted, sometimes straightforward; sometimes jazzy, sometimes psychedelic; always unruly, unpredictable, challenging.

THE POLITE FORCE takes the pretension of experimentalism on prog rock to its utmost extremes (at least for 1971) without in any moment losing approachability. A spectacular Canterbury Scene release and an imperative listen to anyone willing to check avant-prog before prog was even a thing.

 Chronometers by MUFFINS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.86 | 35 ratings

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Chronometers
The Muffins Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another entry in Cuneiform's excellent range of archival RIO/Canterbury releases, Chronometers is a selection of early works by the jazzy, Canterbury-influenced Muffins. It consists of demo recordings by the 1975-1976 lineup of the band - Newhouse, Scott and Swan are in place, but Sears hasn't arrived yet and the group is joined by Michael Zentner on guitar and Stuart Abramowitz on drums. Whilst you might expect the sound quality of some mid-1970s demo tapes to be a bit shaky, actually the release sounds remarkably fresh - evidently the original engineering was pretty decent and the tapes were well-preserved, and Kit Watkins & Steven Feigenbaum did a fine archaeological job of preparing them for release.

In fact, some of the tunes flow together in such a way that it's hard not to see this as more than a mere odds and sods collection, but a lost Muffins double album in its own right; the general aesthetic approach is reasonably consistent throughout, as you'd expect given that this was recorded over a reasonably tight span of time by the same lineup. I wouldn't say it's quite on the level of the band's excellent debut, Manna/Mirage, but it's certainly getting there.

 Magic Bus by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.27 | 32 ratings

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Magic Bus
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I had to track this one down after really enjoying their sophomore release "Transmission From Sogmore's Garden" and while I feel this is a step down from that one I still highly recommend this their self-titled debut. Love the cover art on this album by the way. Like the second album I thought of Canterbury with that distorted organ along with GONG and VIOLETA DE OUTONO.

"City Of Sand" opens with spacey atmosphere before a slow but catchy rhythm kicks in then the guitar starts to play over top before it kicks into a full sound with organ. Nice bass before 1 1/2 minutes then the song changes completely after 2 1/2 minutes as we get a calm with vocals and strummed guitar. It does build some with bass and drums but it's still laid back. I like his voice. Back to that catchy rhythm before 5 1/2 minutes then the vocals return.

"Magic Bus" is a song the kept getting stuck in my head this past week. We hear the sounds inside a bus before we get these CSNY-like vocals and harmonies that take over. Love the distorted organ, very Canterbury-like. What a feel good song this is when the vocals arrive along with the harmonies on the chorus. More distorted organ after 3 minutes followed by flute then guitar to the end.

"Gods Of The Mountain" is such a relaxed tune with almost spoken vocals to begin with. A slow beat, bass, keys and guitar in this slow moving start. It picks up after 2 minutes but then settles back with flute as the vocals step aside. It sounds like mellotron before 4 minutes followed by those almost spoken vocals. It picks up with flute then the guitar takes over. It becomes more passionate as well.

"Tucan Pyramid" opens with harp. Did I just say harp? Also relaxed vocals as harmonies and organ follow. It picks up 2 minutes in followed by distorted organ. It picks up even more then the guitar leads followed by organ as they continue to trade off. "Holy Road" is live and it does sound different as the sound quality isn't as good but it's fine. A folky tune with vocals and guitar leading the way.

"Milky Way" opens with nature sounds as this guitar melody arrives and rises in sound. GONG comes to mind with this song. Soon bass, flute and more join in but it's still mellow. It kicks into a fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes. That guitar led melody from earlier is back and the vocals return as well. So good! Love the bass here too along with the flute. The tempo speeds up quite a bit surprisingly 5 1/2 minutes in but again check out the bass.

"Back To The Garden" is my favourite but the rest are all fairly consistent and well done so no top three this time. Birds can be heard in the intro as relaxed vocals and harp join in. Vocal melodies and organ follow then it kicks into gear before 2 minutes. Man this is amazing! Nice guitar 2 1/2 minutes in as the vocals step aside. Check out the bass 3 minutes in as the vocals return. Oh my! A nice instrumental section follows with organ before 4 1/2 minutes. A calm with vocals a minute later then it kicks back in again without vocals this time. Great tune!

Another solid album by these Brits and having heard they just released a new one, well I obviously need to track it down and get back on that hippy bus.

 Open City by MUFFINS, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1985
3.65 | 14 ratings

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Open City
The Muffins Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. I had pretty low expectations considering that this is a compilation album of outtakes, demos, live excerpts and songs from radio shows. Or something like that. First of all the sound quality is excellent and not sub-par in the least. We get a couple of guests in Mark Hollander from AKSAK MABOUL and Fred Frith whom most here will know. I liked this from the first listen and man there's a lot of horns on this one. In fact a variety of sax and clarinet along with flute and aboe. ZAPPA, HENRY COW and SOFT MACHINE all came to mind at various times. I believe all of these tracks were recorded in 1980 or close to that year but not released until 1985.

"Queenside" opens with fuzz along with determined piano and drums as they hit the ground running. Vocals and blasting horns a minute in then there's that fuzz again. Love this stuff. Dissonant horns after the vocals stop before 2 minutes as it becomes insane, then it settles in with lots of horns as the bass and drums help out. A Zappa vibe after 2 1/2 minutes then we get more dissonant horns before 4 minutes as the intensity rises.

"Hobart Got Burned" has this innovative and interesting start with experimental sounds, and a tension in the background that is building until it kicks into gear and the tempo picks up as the horns cry out over top. So good! Unlike that sentence. "Horsebones" has horns all over the intro but it all stops as we then get this dissonant, and I mean dissonant horn(haha). A beat kicks in as it builds after a minute. Horns will dominate again. It winds down late to end it.

"Antidote To Drydock" opens with what sounds like bass clarinet and eventually sparse sounds will come and go as the horn continues until it kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. It's more intense 3 minutes in, just insane with all of these sounds coming at us at a high speed. So impressive. "Zoom Resume" hits us full blast from the start with mostly horns.

"Boxed & Crossed" is complex with so much going on. It does settle back though which I also find interesting. Vocals 2 minutes in and soon they are shouting the lyrics. The bass and drums seem to mimic the horns after 3 minutes. It turns dark with almost whispered vocals before 4 minutes and this continues to the end. So good! "Under Dali's Wing" is dominated early by drums and horns. Some vibes before 1 1/2 minutes followed by some vocal expressions, bass then dissonant horns. They are having fun.

"Vanity, Vanity" and the next song "Dancing In Sunrise, Switzerland" are two of my favourites and Frith plays guitar and piano on both while Mark Hollander plays alto sax on the first of the two. I absolutely love both of these tracks. "Blind Arch" also hits the spot for me big time. I just like how it sounds like the band is warming up with all of the sparse sounds coming and going. Love the fuzz and electric piano especially. Horns eventually join in and is that aboe 5 1/2 minutes in? The distorted keyboards late bring Canterbury to mind for me.

"Expected Freedom" is an interesting song with that suspense in the background from the tension and the off-kiltered sounds over top. "In The Red" is another killer track and one of my favourites. It opens with electric piano and sparse sounds. I like the flute and bass just before 3 minutes then a horn starts to lead the way. I still like that bass as well as the drum work. It's all so good! Check out the e-piano before 4 1/2 minutes as the bass and drum just kill.

"Not Alone" is a long one at over 13 1/2 minutes. It's jazzy to start out with drums, bass and electric piano before the horns kick in. It's fuller 1 1/2 minutes in then the flute comes in over top. The lead instruments will keep changing though. Such a pleasant and beautiful sound 2 1/2 minutes in. Oh, man I dig this section. The tempo picks up 4 minutes in and then the flute returns. It settles back as the flute continues. Quite the instrumental display 7 minutes. How impressive is the drumming and piano especially. Fuzz follows. The bass leads after 9 minutes then it kicks in again with horns. It settles 10 minutes in with electric piano only to follow. Beautiful sound. It kicks in again with sax over top to the end.

"Open City" is short but that's my only complaint with this live piece. It opens with clapping before electric piano, bass and drums kick in and man they all impress.

This has shot to number 4 on my best of list for 1985, it's that good! This is a great record but then THE MUFFINS have a lot of those.

 Matching Mole by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.64 | 212 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars Hard to believe that a simple innocent band like the Wilde Flowers could blossom so quickly and splinter into so many disparate directions. After that fortuitous breakup, both Soft Machine and Caravan continued on in the psychedelic pop world but as Caravan continued to create ever more sophisticated progressively oriented psychedelic pop, Soft Machine on the other hand was hell bent for leather for jumping into jazz-rock territory only to abandon the rock part of the equation altogether. While this was perfectly suited for the such jazz leaning members such as Elton Dean, Robert Wyatt was feeling like a fish out of water and was very quickly getting squeezed out of the band's decision in musical direction. Come Soft Machine's "IV" and he had enough.

Whether he was fired or voluntarily left of his own volition is a mute point. The fact was that Wyatt's creative outlets were being stifled and it was time to move on. Move on he did and while Soft Machine was more interested in proving themselves as jazz musicians and abandoning all the rock creds that created progressive rock's Canterbury Scene, Wyatt was ready to jump back onto the Canterbury bandwagon and take control of his own musical direction. The result was the cleverly named MATCHING MOLE where Wyatt put the whimsy back in the Scene and created a pun on "Machine Molle" which is simply the French translation of Soft Machine!

Wyatt hooked up with Caravan organist David Sinclair (who remained with that band), original Quiet Sun bassist Bill MacCormick and guitarist Phil Miller who had played with Carol Grimes & Delivery. Wyatt continued his role as a drummer but also contributed a great deal of piano, mellotron and lead vocals. In a way, MATCHING MOLE's eponymous debut is the first "true" 70s Canterbury Scene album, at least in that famous cohesive sound since both Soft Machine and Caravan while going their own ways remained psychedelic pop and in the case of Soft Machine's "Third" and beyond, more a jazz-rock fusion band. MATCHING MOLE was the first album in the subgenre to create that perfect fusion sound of psychedelic rock and jamming sessions with all the technical jazz touches side by side with the humorous whimsical style that the style had become synonymous with.

While this was indubitably Wyatt's baby, he seemed to still be letting other's influence his decision as to what was to make it on the album. This is abundantly clear on the first track "O Caroline" which is really the one track that doesn't fit in with the rest. While Wyatt composed the majority of tracks on the album, it was Sinclair and his slick Caravan pop sensibilities who composed the opener "O Caroline," a track about breaking up with his girlfriend and apparently supposed to be a single as it appears on the remastered version as a bonus track titled "O Caroline (Single version.)" It is a whiny little track with a piano based melody riffing along about, well, girl trouble things. Not necessarily bad subject matter but clearly a stab at some sort of crossover success. While the two following tracks "Instany Pussy" and "Signed Curtain" are also based in catchy melodies and not overtly complex, they do sound more like the classic Canterbury style with an ostinato bass line frosted over with psychedelic touches and the famous organ sound that instantly screams the style albeit more on the accessible side as well. These two track in many ways portend the much more complex leanings of the future Hatfield & The North projects at least in sound.

While the first MATCHING MOLE album starts off rather ho hum with a tame crossover type track and slowly transitions into more interesting musical turf, it really takes off on the fourth track "Part Of The Dance," the sole Miller contribution creates a lengthy nine minute plus jazzy psychedelic jam session that utilizes all the progressive rock signature sounds with a rad mellotron and organ accompaniment punctuated by a plethora of time signature workouts and Miller's stellar guitar work that would eventually find a second calling in Quiet Sun. The remaining tracks never deviate from the progressive rock world and only get more psychedelic, more otherworldly and more proggy as they commence. It's actually quite astonishing how the album ratchets up from totally accessible and borderline cheesy to ultra-sophistication in both musical performance and production values. Perhaps a slow burner but more than worth the wait.

Speaking of production values, this album is fairly notorious for having been poorly recorded despite appearing on a major label like CBS Records when it debuted in 1972, however i highly recommend the newer remastered version that came out in 2012. It not only has a bonus disc with a ridiculous amount of surplus material including alternate session takes and BBC Radio One sessions but also includes the single edits and the stellar previously unreleased near 21 minute prog behemoth "Part Of The Dance Jam" which most certainly would have been included on the album if permission for a double album would have been granted. It is a sprawling jam that takes the MATCHING MOLE psychedelic Canterbury sound and merges it with more of a Soft Machine "Third" type of composition. Not to mention the production has been improved 100 fold and although not exactly sounding like it's a bristling new album recording in modern times, sounds crisp and clean for an album recorded many decades ago.

 Phillip The Egg by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 52 ratings

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Phillip The Egg
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars England's revivalists of the Bay Area psychedelia and Canterbury Scene have returned with another collection of one that flows and develops slowly in its complexity and dexterity over the course of the album. As a matter of fact, it seems to me upon repeated listens that the opening songs are fairly simple and pleasant and innocent while the trend progresses toward more expressions of anger and discord towards the end of the longer songs and the album itself.

I would have liked to hear more instrumental expressivity and complexity but am exceedingly happy for the input of this collection of songs that take me to a place that was much more innocent and carefree.

1. "Mystical Mountain" (8:50) a nice epic with simple Canterbury-lite (witty a la CARAVAN) approach to the vocal sections. The instrumental sections are more experimental but very subtly so. (8.5/10)

2. "Fading to Light" (3:36) absolutely gorgeous study in sound and space. I think the band are showing true signs of commitment to one another in diving deeply into their chemistry and technical proficiency. (10/10)

3. "Trail to Canada" (5:43) the first half is a bit innocuous but then a big shift and a rocking psychedelic second half lifts it up into memorability. (8.5/10)

4. "Zeta" (4:34) electronic psychedelia (reversed tracks) play from beginning before JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-like sound and structure establishes itself. The ethereal mid-section is interesting--perhaps a bit out of place. Nicely performed though there are a few sections that are a little drawn out with little or no development. (9/10)

5. "Distant Future" (7:11) is by far the most demanding both compositionally and of the listener--which is a good thing for this band. Discordant, edgie and syncopated, though still psychedelic--at least, until the fourth minute when a chorus temporarily gels it all together. The song returns briefly before going Fripp on us with some interesting lead guitar. I like the band's adventurousness here though it doesn't necessarily result in a beautiful or "shout about" song. (8.5/10)

6. "Kepler 226" (6:41) an instrumental that once again displays the band's cerebral commitment to technically complicated musics. (8.75/10)

7. "Kalamazoo" (3:30) a surprisingly sedate, more-acoustic-oriented approach to the band's sound. Nice but nothing extraordinary here. (8/10)

8. "Yantra Tunnels" (5:04) opens with harmonium and other Indian-sounding sounds. In the second minute Western instruments like drums and electric guitars enter and take over. This one rocks--like a good rockin' German Krautrock song from the 1970s. Even when it amps up a notch in the fourth minute it still (or even more) retains that Krautrock feel. (9/10)

4.5 stars; an excellent submission of psychedelic Canterbury-esque music. I predict that MAGIC BUS's next album is going to be a true masterpeice!

 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 488 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-.
 Phillip The Egg by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 52 ratings

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Phillip The Egg
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Magic Bus have pretty strongly established their style in the two albums preceding new release Phillip the Egg, and they don't really deviate from it here - again, it's an intoxicated bland of Canterbury-esque whimsy (drawing largely on the warm humour of Caravan and the mystical interests of Gong) with West Coast hippy sensibilities, as well as tight jamming in the instrumental sections reminiscent of the overlap between Ozric Tentacles and You-era Gong. If that sounds like the sort of thing you'd enjoy, then you're in luck, because that's exactly what hatches out of this egg. If you've heard Magic Bus's preceding albums, you pretty much already know what to expect here and whether or not you'll like it.
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Canterbury Scene bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
DAEVID ALLEN Australia
AMOEBA SPLIT Spain
ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS United Kingdom
KEVIN AYERS United Kingdom
BIG HOGG 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
GOWEN - MILLER - SINCLAIR - TOMKINS United Kingdom
JOHN GREAVES United Kingdom
NICHOLAS GREENWOOD United Kingdom
GRINGO United Kingdom
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH United Kingdom
STEVE HILLAGE United Kingdom
HOPPER - DEAN - TIPPETT - GALLIVAN United Kingdom
HUGH HOPPER United Kingdom
JAKKO M. JAKSZYK United Kingdom
KHAN United Kingdom
THE LODGE United States
MAGIC BUS United Kingdom
MANNA/MIRAGE United States
MASTER CYLINDER United States
MATCHING MOLE United Kingdom
MILLER & COXHILL United Kingdom
PHIL MILLER United Kingdom
MOOM United Kingdom
MOVING GELATINE PLATES France
MR. SIRIUS Japan
THE MUFFINS United States
NATIONAL HEALTH United Kingdom
PANTHEON Netherlands
PAZOP Belgium
JOHN G. PERRY United Kingdom
PICCHIO DAL POZZO Italy
PIP PYLE United Kingdom
QUANTUM JUMP United Kingdom
QUIET SUN United Kingdom
SHORT WAVE United Kingdom
RICHARD SINCLAIR United Kingdom
SOFT HEAP United Kingdom
SOFT MACHINE LEGACY United Kingdom
THE SOFT MACHINE United Kingdom
SOFT MOUNTAIN Multi-National
SOFT WORKS United Kingdom
STUBBS Japan
SUPERSISTER Netherlands
TORTILLA FLAT Germany
TRAVELLING France
VOLAR╔ United States
THE WILDE FLOWERS United Kingdom
THE WINSTONS Italy
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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