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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

4.27 | 1261 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.30 | 614 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.25 | 734 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.27 | 554 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.24 | 723 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.27 | 484 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.21 | 732 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.15 | 542 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.18 | 413 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.23 | 280 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.29 | 205 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.10 | 501 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.13 | 313 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.23 | 157 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.12 | 261 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.06 | 393 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The
4.23 | 147 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.08 | 282 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.02 | 346 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The
4.06 | 209 ratings
PICCHIO DAL POZZO
Picchio Dal Pozzo

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

BEFORE A WORD IS SAID
Gowen, Miller, Sinclair, Tomkins
SOFT HEAP
Soft Heap
THE BRUISED ROMANTIC GLEE CLUB
Jakszyk, Jakko M.
HOPPER TUNITY BOX
Hopper, Hugh

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Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


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

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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 clearly talented eleven musicians you'd think you'd be in for something special. Such a pity then that they seem to continually overlap 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' call 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

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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
4.24 | 723 ratings

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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

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Mainstream
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 | 134 ratings

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L
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 | 93 ratings

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I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

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".

 Camembert Electrique by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.76 | 280 ratings

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Camembert Electrique
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Friday 13th March, 2015. Listening to this mind-blowing Space-Prog offering from Canterbury eccentric Daevid Allen, who has sadly passed away this day, I dedicate my rather simplistic review of this wonderfully joyous album in memory of him. In those heady, early-60's days of self-consciousness and discovery, guitarist Daevid Allen graced some of those Wilde Flowers/Soft Machine/Caravan members with his prescence and incredible knowledge of obscure music/artists of the past, and pointed out their revolutionary ideas, which wormed their way into the conciousness of all folks within miles of him. Soft Machine with Daevid were right up there with Syd Barrett Floyd and even further stretching than the revolutionary Beatles offerings. The first, entirely band oriented album, Camembert Electrique, sees Allen joined with his partner Gilli Smyth (under many 'Yoni' variations, on her psychedelic ooh's and aaah's, referred to as 'space-whisper'), Drummer Pip Pyle (from Carol Grimes' Delivery, at this time), bassist Christian Tristch, Sax-Jazzer Didier Malherbe, and various other communal, tech space-heads who helped shaped this final slab of futuristic, sonic art. Each musician is adventurous on their respective instruments, and display a solid understanding of more complex musical forms and scales etc. Allen even forming his unique, Glissando-guitar technique, adding amazingly spacious textures when applied to any given piece of music. This, at least to my ears, is a truly eccentric album fusing much humour, Psychedelia, hard-rock, and complexity, as well as vividly colourful sonic experimentation and Jazzy inclinations, making for something really special. Peppered throughout the album are such amusing, Zappa-esque 'doodles' as Radio Gnome Prediction, Wet Cheese Delerium, Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads and Gnome The Second, all displaying a background of zany sounds which have been sped-up and looped, with child-like rants from Allen. Let me say this ; if you don't have a sense of humour, then skip this album, skip Gong altogether, in fact. Without getting too immersed in this rather unknown album, there are some long-ish cuts, of which the classic, heavy riff-laden You Can't Kill Me (obviously penned without cancer in mind.....), is rather well known, and the total spacey, bliss fest known as Fohat Digs Holes In Space, should be enough for the listener to be transported from their everyday drudgery. I find this a totally flawless, varied, and exciting album from late-1971, with a very 'new' sound, and has always been with me since years. No doubt an excellent album, but I grant this piece of historic Prog a glowing 5 stars, with respect to Daevid. Bless your soul, musical friend.
 I See You by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.93 | 93 ratings

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I See You
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars There have been rumours that this will be GONG's last album, at least with Daevid Allen involved. If that is so they went out on a high(haha). This might be my favourite release by them, i'm just so blown away by how innovative this is and i'm surprised at the variety as well. I can hear pieces that remind me of their glory years and also things that i've never heard from this band before. It's really cool that Kavus Tobabi(KNIFEWORLD) is part of this band playing guitar. The album cover is very classy as well.

"I See You" opens with spoken words and cymbals as the drums and bass join in then it kicks into a full sound before a minute. This is catchy stuff with a spacey ending. "Occupy" is urgent and uptempo to start as the vocals come and go. It settles back just before a minute with the sax standing out then it kicks back in. I really like the contrasts. "When God Shakes Hands With The Devil" has almost spoken vocals and I love the guitar tone and style. I have to comment on the excellent drum work here and throughout this album. The flute is a nice touch as well. Such a cool track. Strangely i'm reminded of GENESIS during the mellow sections. There's a surreal and hazy mood on those lighter pieces.

"The Eternal Wheel Spins" has the drummer on vocals and I can't help but think of their "Continental Circus" record here with that driving rhythm and spacey atmosphere. Again the guitar sounds great. The sax after 2 minutes plays over top. Check out the Gliss guitar after 4 minutes then the other guitar is back to the fore a minute later. "Syllabub" is another track with some cool contrasts including a section that reminds me of their trilogy. Check out the dreamy psychedelia led by the sax starting 2 1/2 minutes in.

"This Revolution" has this melancholic and spacey atmosphere as Daevid speaks the lyrics even mentioning Gil Scott- Heron's classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". "You See Me" is catchy with sax and some killer drum work. There's almost a VDGG-like feel after a minute. An excellent instrumental. "Zion My T-Shirt" opens with children singing then before a minute they stop as the guitar cries out in a spacey vibe. Reserved vocals join in as well. So freaking good. A change in the mood 2 1/2 minutes in but it's brief as the previous sound returns. It picks up 4 minutes inwith spacey flute and it's very spacey late to end it. "Pixielation" sounds like it could have been off one of the trilogy albums both lyrically and instrumentally. It turns very spacey a minute in but it's brief as themes are repeated.

"A Brew Of Special Tea" is a short piece that is also very spacey with spoken words bringing "Continental Circus" to mind. "Thank You" sure sounds like a farewell song from Daevid. A lazy summertime mood to this one to start then it changes before 4 minutes as the vocals stop and it settles right down. Back to that earlier sound though before 8 minutes with vocals. "Shakti Yoni & Dingo Virgin" sounds like it could have been done by THE INVISIBLE OPERA COMPANY OF TIBET a GONG off-shoot. This is extremely spacey with space whispers from Gilli Smyth. Just a gorgeous piece that is almost 10 minutes long. I will say also that this is Daevid's creative piece on what it will be like passing on to the other side.

I'm very shocked at how amazing this record is, I mean what band who began life in the seventies makes albums this good in 2015? I don't know of any. 5 stars all the way. P.S. Daevid Allen has passed away less than a week after this review, very sad. It's his son Orlando playing the drums on this record and he's amazing plus he's a huge fan of GONG's classic period. Kavus mentioned that Daevid simply asked him to play on this album and when Kavus said "You haven't heard me play?". Daevid said he didn't need to and that he hired Mike Howlett back in the day without hearing him play, he just knew both were right for the band.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.08 | 282 ratings

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The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Canterbury scene is one of prog's most fascinating sub-genres. It holds within it everything that makes progressive rock so great. The very nature of prog is to experiment, challenge and discover. Sometimes it is even a test of the listener's patience. The heart of Canterbury flows with a quirky seriousness that makes me as a listener to smile. It is a brave and bold take on rock music that simultanously is both endearing and challenging. All in a days work, one might say. As ever, Canterbury is also a genre of great warmth. The fairytale dreaminess of, say, King Crimson's early work is one reference but I feel that it does not hit the mark. It has a tone of it's own, one that is Canterbury's own. And yet this warmth is encircled by the most spiky and challenging, difficult creations ever made. I know that alot of subgenres might fit into this description but Canterbury is to me the optimum of them all. If I wa sto pick out any subgenre that fully embodies prog I'd say "Canterbury". I would. I swear.

Egg is one of the groups engaged in the Canterbury scene. The organ of Dave Stewart is as ever present and recognisable, not only by sound but very much in execution. The man is brilliant. The sound of Egg on this album (as I am reviewing it) is not easily defined. It all kicks off with the heaviest organ riff ever (sort of) but leads into this jazzy, laidback groove which manages to draw strength from an oozing power source. This source of power and might comes, obviously, from the musicians themselves. There is a restrained demonstration of power I find hard to describe. Anyway, the song is amazing and the best of the lot, I feel. It is the track I listen to more than the others, if that accounts for anything.

"Contrasong" is another very good track, built around chords and beats that sound hectic and askew. But all in a good way. "Boilk" is an experimental piece that is interesting and certainly very well performed. It is however very experimental and not one I retur nto with the same urgency as the first two tracks mentioned.

The B-side of the old vinyl, I suppose, is made up of "Long piece", a suite consisting of four pieces. It is also very experimental and complex but very enjoyable. They stretch out and showcases a musical vision that is really somethig to behear. (Is there such a word? I suppose not.) The parts are different, obviously, but when listened to in one long sitting the result is baffling. One might accuse them of noodling but I feel they never enter that empire of Boredom. I am intrigued throughout.

So, when all is said and done I have to say that this album is an essential listen, if you at all is interested in the development of progressive music. If you're simply into good, challenging and diverse prog I'd say this is for you aswell. The impeccable musicianship and vision of the possibilities if musis is baffling, enjoyable and very much endearing. It has stood the test of time very well and offers a great listening experience.

 Air - Fiction by MUFFINS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1979
1.05 | 2 ratings

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Air - Fiction
The Muffins Canterbury Scene

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

1 stars In 1979 The Muffins released an under-the-radar LP, which had neither a catalogue number nor a label, was pressed in about 1000 copies with a black front cover and was handed in gigs or sold via mail order.Title was ''Air - Fiction'', first side were home studio recordings, while the flipside was captured live on March 3rd, 1979 at Psychedelly (propably somesort of stage/club, located in Bethesda, Maryland).

If you have listened to the atonal moments in ''Hobart got burned'' from the band's debut, then you should propably know what to expect from this album in its full length.This is highly improvised R.I.O.-styled music flirting with Free Jazz and not comparable to the very interesting sound of the debut.Totally dissonant, deeply experimental, bursting a sense of freedom and getting even a bit noisy in the process, ''Air - Fiction'' should be regarded as a fun experiment by the band on loose performances.The first side contains only hints of ''Manna mirage'' in a couple of tracks, featuring bass, drums, sax and flute, otherwise this falls deeply into musical non-sense with keys, sax, flute and clarinet changing heading roles and competing for useless soloing.At least some parts remind of the dense and intercative sound of the band's debut.''Fiction'' is even worse.It tends to a rather minimalistic execution on Experimental Music with some R.I.O. influences, lacking the meanings of cohesion, structure or composition.And speaking earlier of ''Hobart got burned'', the flipside contains the abstract minutes of this piece in full live display, without noticing that this track was recorded for the band's debut.

I consider this to be a recording joke and nothing more.The band itself has admitted that this was nothing more than a short experiment.Recommended only for die-hard fans of the group and starving prog collectors.

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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
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
MILLER, SINCLAIR, TOMKINS GOWEN 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
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
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
SUPERSISTER Netherlands
TORTILLA FLAT Germany
TRAVELLING France
VOLARÉ United States
THE WILDE FLOWERS United Kingdom
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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