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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:
(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 | 1332 ratings
4.29 | 645 ratings
Wyatt, Robert
4.24 | 774 ratings
4.27 | 585 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.23 | 771 ratings
4.26 | 516 ratings
4.20 | 759 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.24 | 299 ratings
National Health
4.15 | 568 ratings
4.18 | 426 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.29 | 217 ratings
Quiet Sun
4.10 | 526 ratings
4.13 | 322 ratings
Hillage, Steve
4.26 | 157 ratings
4.11 | 300 ratings
4.12 | 273 ratings
National Health
4.22 | 168 ratings
4.03 | 415 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.04 | 369 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.10 | 209 ratings
Picchio Dal Pozzo

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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Hopper, Hugh
Moving Gelatine Plates
Miller, Phil
Muffins, The

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Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews

 Face And Place Vol. 7 (also called Jet Propelled Photographs and At The Beginning) by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1972
3.19 | 16 ratings

Face And Place Vol. 7 (also called Jet Propelled Photographs and At The Beginning)
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by thwok

3 stars My review of JET PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPHS is primarily intended for big fans of the band like myself. This demo isn't for people with a passing interest in The Soft Machine. As others have suggested, this is the kind of late 60's psychedelic pop/rock which was so popular at the time. There are bands who wrote and played in this style more compellingly; Jefferson Airplane is the first band that comes instantly to mind. The 9 songs on JET PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPHS are very well-performed; the great skills of the group are evident even in their first recording. David Allen's guitar and Mike Ratledge's keyboards stand out for me.

Like other Soft Machine releases, the singing is just adequate. The song writing is also adequate, but I wish the band would stretch out more and show off their instrumental skills. Most of the songs, which appear in different form on later albums, haven't really stuck with me. Since we can't give 2 1/2 star ratings, I'll give JET PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPHS 3 stars. I like most of Soft Machine's music, although there's quite a bit I haven't listened to. If you listened to the band's early official releases repeatedly, JET PROPELLED PHOTOGRAPHS is a good alternative.

 Transmission from Sogmore's Garden by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.31 | 18 ratings

Transmission from Sogmore's Garden
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Hailemon

4 stars I stumbled upon this release by sheer accident (a review on the home page) and it's one of those rare occasions, when an album grabbed me from the get-go. I cannot stress this enough: this is a record that no fan of Caravan Mk1 can afford to miss. Now, I love my Caravan, however, I've always regretted that they never tried to recapture the stunning beauty and timelessness of the Grey and Pink sound. That 1971 album is for me the pinnacle of the prog genre and to be fair it would probably be impossible for the band themselves to achieve that unique atmosphere once again, even if Dave S. hadn't left (as can be witnessed on Back to Front , that last LP - which I love and feel is unjustly forgotten btw - by the original lineup) . Must have been one of those right place-right time things (plus a fair deal of punkweed fumes in the air).

Well, with this album my dream has been fulfilled, as Magic Bus recreates that folk-pop-prog sound of the third Caravan LP perfectly. The singer sounds remarkably like Richard Sinclair, the organist plays with the "Dave Sinclair 1971 Sound" dial turned to 11, and there's a fair deal of Jimmy Hasings-like flute parts (and also some Khan-like parts - man, these guys really know what's best in Canterbury). Pure bliss! And while Magic Bus' songwriting skills don't quite reach the dizzy heights of their heroes', there are no duds here and each track offers something memorable. I just wish some of them would go on for a bit longer. It seems as if they were afraid of extended instrumental jams (give me more of that delicious organ sound please!), or maybe it's just symptomatic of the album quality, when you feel that almost every song is over too soon.

Now to the score. Reading what I wrote above I feel like I'm doing injustice to the band. I mean, they do show some originality and the overall vibe, while surely an intentional recreation of that familiar Caravan sound, is much more pastoral than that of our favourite Canterbury combo (and the guitar is much more prominent). Don't get me wrong it's a great album in its own right, but I feel that those of you who are into Caravan will find the most to enjoy here, so up the rating to 4.5 stars, if like me you've always longed for Grey and Pink Part 2. Anyway this is 2015 and in these post-post-modern times, hypertextuality is the order of the day. So let us embrace this Canterbury sound of the 21st century.

 Iskander by SUPERSISTER album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.47 | 73 ratings

Supersister Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I do not know how many times I have started to Review this album, only to find myself failing to do so. Why is that, one might ask? I think that the main problem has been my ambivalence, not fully knowing how to rate it. Is it a four star album or isn't it? I think I have the answer now.

I am relatively new to Supersister. I have not spent years listening to them but I love Canterbury style progressive rock. It is marvellous. So, being a fan of prog I do love the idea of concept albums. Just imagine the grandeur of it all, giving musical wings to the epic story of Alexander the Great. The very idea gives me goose bumps. I dived into this album with every fibre of my inner being highly strung in anticipation. The resulting dive wasn't exactly what I had hoped for.

The opening trio of "Introduction", "Dareios - the emperor" and "Alexander" are by far the best tracks. What an opening! Eastern sounding (which is appropriate), heavy and fitting the theme. Beyond those tracks, however, I tend to get distracted all too easily. It all blends together and though enjoyable not very exciting. If I listen to any of the tracks I do not know why my complaints arise but when I listen to the album in it's entirity it is like eating ones way through a buffet. It's all very enjoyable at first but you do get filled up. And maybe that is the case here.

Obviously, the musicianship is excellent. There's not much to say about that. Supersister is/was a very talented band and created some great music but sorry to say, they did not manage to be up to par on this one.

I love this album, I do, but there's something missing. The theme is there, the ideas and the will. It is simply a question of not reaching the goal properly. Interesting and grandiose it remains simply good but by no means essential. Sorry.

 Softs by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.75 | 167 ratings

The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Quinino

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #5

Starting in 1968 SM released an album practically each and every year until this one in 1976, never repeating twice the same line-up, and culminating on this one with only Mike Ratledge remaining from the original band (and even here with a somewhat limited presence,would leave during recordings).
I wont go to another extended description of this allucinating sucession of musicians/recordings, others have done it already with enough detail, but only underline the much centerpiece role of Karl Jenkins either on composing as well as arranging this album.

Global Appraisal

In fact KJ composed and arranged almost every theme (some in collaboration), all instrumentals, what gives a feeling of continuity and wholeness to a work that can benefit with a un-interrupted listening, functioning well as a giant suite.

This is a masterpiece, really timeless and until this day bearing absolutely no riddles. A sure personal companion for every season of now 40 years, and counting.


Musicianship above any reproach, the set working as a tight unit on a delightful continuous rolling of jazz-rock of the highest standard.

 Transmission from Sogmore's Garden by MAGIC BUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.31 | 18 ratings

Transmission from Sogmore's Garden
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I feel lately that i'm always one step behind BrufordFreak when it comes to reviews of releases from the last couple of years, and i've also become aware of new bands because of his reviews as in the case of this group MAGIC BUS. These guys are from the UK and are listed here under Canterbury. The band they most remind me of is SMELL OF INCENSE, in fact i'd put them under Psychedelic/ Folk if we had that as a sub-genre. I do get the Canterbury tag, especially with the distorted organ that brings CARAVAN and other like bands quickly to mind but this is Hippy music all the way. My youngest daughter who i'm so proud of is a Hippy and she would completely agree with the lyrics here. If you don't agree with the lyrics you might find them a little corny but I like them. VIOLETO DI OUTONO also came to mind with the floating organ here and also GONG at times.

"Sunflower" is just too happy with plenty of floating organ as the Hippies sing about the sunflower sitting outside their window. We get a flute solo half way through and check out that distorted organ before 3 minutes, so good! That's followed by a guitar solo as the organ floats. "Ballad Of Lord Sogmore" does sound like KHAN as BrufordFreak mentions. Some nice organ, flute and guitar early on. A change after 1 1/2 minutes as these Grabriel-like vocals with strummed guitar and flute take over. Man this is so uplifting as the organ floats along. An Eastern vibe arrives after 2 1/2 minutes with some relaxed flute then back to that earlier full sound before 4 minutes. I like the guitar solo as well.

"Cosmic Rays Of Dawn" has some very psychedelic lyrics and intricate sounds. Every time the vocals stop the flute takes over. There's even a Celtic flavour before 2 1/2 minutes then it picks up. Great sound. "Three Days" opens with floating organ before it picks up with vocals. Steve Hillage comes to mind here. This is one of my favs and it's quite catchy with some nice flute. A change after 2 minutes with processed vocals then back to that earlier sound. Another change after 4 minutes as melancholic flute with piano lead the way before it kicks back in. The uplifting guitar after 5 minutes is a treat then we get flute and a jazzy vibe a minute later. Ahhh there's that distorted organ again before 7 minutes.

"Jupiter 3AM" is another favourite of mine and it has this spacey intro that gives way to reserved vocals, strummed guitar and flute. Organ too and then electric piano(nice) joins in with some intricate guitar as a beat arrives with bass. The melancholic flute before 3 minutes reminds me of SINKADUS. The mood then suddenly brightens, so uplifting. The melancholic flute is back as these contrasts continue. Great track! "Seven Wonders" is spacey with some harp before it settles in with vocals, a slow beat and more. Some cool vocal harmonies 3 minutes in and the distorted organ after 4 1/2 minutes is so CARAVAN-like.

"Morning Mantra" opens with a very BEATLES-like "love, love, love, love..." vocal part before the vocals start to sing the lyrics that are just so happy, especially the chorus. I can just see my daughter and fellow Hippies saying these words in the morning before they start the day. Lots of flute in this one and the drums and bass standout more than usual after 2 minutes. Themes are repeated. "Earthpod" has an impressive mellotron intro before strummed guitar takes over and reserved vocals also join in. Pleasant flute comes in after the vocals stop in this laid back number.

Probably closer to 4.5 stars and it's so cool to hear a modern band play in this late sixties to early seventies style.

 Seven Wonders / Eight Miles High by MAGIC BUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

Seven Wonders / Eight Miles High
Magic Bus Canterbury Scene

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars UK band MAGIC BUS first came to some prominence when they released their debut album back in 2010. This album was followed by a single release the following year, and then a second album followed in 2014. "Seven Wonders" is their second single release, and was released through UK label Fruits de Mer Records' sublabel Regal Crabomophone in 2015 on an old fashioned 7 inch vinyl single, with a cover of The Byrds classic Eight Miles High as the B side track.

The original composition Seven Wonders is the kind of composition that most likely will have a fairly broad appeal among those with a taste and affection for progressive rock first and foremost. It's a creation that mainly operates within what one might describe as a pastoral context, a slow paced creation with relaxed lead vocals, some nifty vocal harmonies here and there, with an acoustic guitar and organ combination that ebbs and flows in intensity and some flute details added in on occasion. A touch of Caravan with a slight side dish of Jethro Tull if you like, with a more energetic midsection sporting a stronger organ emphasis and a sound reminding more of mid to late 70's Eloy.

The cover of Eight Miles High opens with a drone and vocals sequence that smoothly segues into a vocals and organ combination, slow paced and deliberate, with a smooth transition by way of cosmic sounds into a more familiar acoustic guitars and vocals driven take on this classic song, alternating with subtly more intense instrumental interludes with dampened, funky guitar riffs and the flute given more room. Again with some associations in terms of the Canterbury scene as a distinct but subtle rather than dominant presence.

While the Fruits de Mer label is best known for their release of music within a psychedelic rock context, this particular single is one that, at least to my ears, would be more of interest to a progressive rock oriented audience. This goes especially towards the A side track obviously, as the B side cover of The Byrds is a piece that most likely will attract a stronger interest from a psychedelic rock interested audience. But whether you belong in one camp or the other - or both, this is yet another solid release from this label, by what comes across as a solid and refined band.

 Canterbury Tales: The Best Of Caravan 1968-1975 by CARAVAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
3.74 | 30 ratings

Canterbury Tales: The Best Of Caravan 1968-1975
Caravan Canterbury Scene

Review by Awaken 6am

4 stars This is mi first review for PA and while English is not my mother language i will try to give my best to make others belive it is !. For us argentinians and proggers of other countries in which bands like Caravan are almost unknown, therefore unreleased and not available at the very few prog stores available, this compilation is a must in our collections. It covers deeply the best and finest music this band produced, (as it usually happens, the first -golden era- years). One can agree on the song selection, with a huge thank you-very-much- for keeping albums in order of appearence, and for no "Edit" pieces no matter how long they are. The Disputable Dpt. includes the inexcusable absence of "Winter Wine", if no room on this 152 min collection , then the live version of "...For Richard" may have been left out. A true 4 stars must-have.
 Burden of Proof by SOFT MACHINE LEGACY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 25 ratings

Burden of Proof
Soft Machine Legacy Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I would highly recommend any of the three SOFT MACHINE LEGACY studio albums. This is the most recent studio release by the band which features Ethridge on guitar, Babbington on bass, Marshall on drums and Travis on sax, flute and Fender Rhodes which really adds to the sound here for me.

"Burden Of Proof" opens with spacey keyboards before it kicks into a jazzy mode around a minute with the spacey keys continuing. Sax joins in but when it stops after 2 1/2 minutes the guitar takes over. They will continue to trade off. A really good track. "Voyage Beyond Seven" is sax driven early on which i'm not big on but man does this turn for the better 1 1/2 minutes in when the sax stops and we get some intricate guitar and other sounds that come and go. So cool. It feels like an improv here, very innovative. The song ends as it began but the middle section just kills. "Kitto" features intricate guitar lines throughout intertwining and complimenting each other. "Pie Chart" is a lazy sax driven tune but I love when the guitar replaces the sax in this jazzy number. Sax is back but the guitar returns late. "JPS" is cymbals and drums throughout. Oh John Marshall you certainly love your solos. Nice piece. "Kings And Queens" is such a chilled tune. This all sounds so good as the flute joins in early before being replaced by the guitar, but the flute returns before 3 minutes. Excellent song.

"Fallout" has lots of prominent sax but check out the experimental section that starts around 1 1/2 minutes in. So good! It ends like it began. "Going Somewhere Canorous?" is a short piece dominated by cymbals and guitar. "Black And Crimson" is a top two track for me. I just love the Fender Rhodes here but the bass, drums and guitar really add a lot as well. The sax replaces the guitar 2 1/2 minutes in but it stops a minute later as the keys, drums and bass continue. The sax is back late. "The Brief" is drums galore early on as the sax joins in. "Pump Room" is so catchy as it really grooves. A really good rhythm section happening here. The sax comes in playing over top but then check out the guitar expressions that replace it. This is great! The sax is back before 4 minutes trading off with the guitar. "Green Cubes" is a top two as well. Sparse sounds come and go including flute, drums and guitar expressions. Man the guitar kills in this one. Sax arrives and some nice bass 3 minutes in but man the guitar begins to light it up later on after the song kicks into a groove. "They Landed On A Hill" features melancholic keys and guitar and they both seem to echo. A very cool way to end this very solid release.

Easily 4 stars and God bless Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper, both former members.

 Moving Gelatine Plates by MOVING GELATINE PLATES album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.09 | 70 ratings

Moving Gelatine Plates
Moving Gelatine Plates Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars Bursting onto the Canterbury Scene from across La Manche in 1971 came Moving Gelatine Plates with a much more dynamic, jazz foundation but with all the requisite quirky, silliness that The Softs had given the world in the previous two or three years. A quartet, the band was greatly enhanced by the multi-instrumental talents of organ and reed player Maurice HEMLINGER. The rhythm section is quite skilled and the compositional content is quite mature. Guitarist Gerard BERTRAM is quite creative and versatile. In my opinion the only song deserving of a full five star rating is the rollicking, hillarious, rollercoaster-ride that is "London Cab" (7:34) (10/10)--though the flute-dominated instrumental "Memories" (3:21) is quite nice. The other songs are far more technically jazz tunes with some experimental production techniques and Canterbury structures. The down-tempo vocal section and final five minutes of "Last Song" is less jazzy and more experimental oddness, but not as fun or engaging as the like from EGG, The Softs, or NATIONAL HEALTH. Culturally, this album is quite an amazing accomplishment to come out of France after all of the political upheaval they had been through. Based on the musicianship alone this album earns a four star rating.
 Hatfield And The North by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 585 ratings

Hatfield And The North
Hatfield And The North Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars The Canterbury Scene is without a doubt an incestuous one with virtually every representative band having members engaging in the ole switcheroonie with one another throughout the style's heyday in the 1970s. While many bands came and went, none would be able to exemplify this particular type of whimsical jazz-rock-fusion more than the supergroup HATFIELD AND THE NORTH. This band meant business and was in effect a culmination of all the Canterbury styles that came before. A sifted, refined and filtrated jazz-rock-fusion enigma that still sends shockwaves into the first-time listener by impregnating the casual progressive rock lover's ears with music so flirtatious and sublime that if one is not addicted to this particular brand of music yet, the gravitational forces of such magnanimous music will surely be the boon or bane to one's finances, for this particular album in general is one of my utmost gateway drugs into the extremities of the progressive rock archives and beyond the comfort zone from the more familiar and accessible sounds of Yes, Pink Floyd and Genesis. My bank account has never been the same since :P

This is one of those albums that really demands multiple listens for the magic to unfold. Upon first listen i was only dumbfounded. I was not at all accustomed to music like this. This takes the most adventurous of both the jazz and rock worlds and melds them together seamlessly which is a testament to the top notch musicians involved in this rarest of projects, one that is so daring and oblivious to contemporary trends that it actually succeeds in transmogrifying the listener's consciousness into a state of sonic bliss that feels as if it is taking place in a dream state or in an alien setting far away from the mundaneness of the every day world. While i would have never even dreamt of this existing in my top tier of musical pleasures upon first listen, this eponymous debut album with the equally magnanimous followup "The Rotter's Club" have only recently gained enough mojo to blossom into new musical arenas in my world, one where musical genres blur in a sonic firestorm that only tintinnabulates the most pleasant of musical expressions.

Let me speak a bit about this unbelievable music. This is music for the gods and of the gods, for this is truly a prog supergroup of the highest level. This eponymous album comprises the absolute best in the Canterbury jazz-fusion scene and although the music itself focuses more on intricate instrumental prowess, there is more than enough comedic lyrical whimsy to suck the ego out of the transpositional chromaticisms and instead create a beautiful universal sound of surrender where the musical deities take the rei(g)ns and lead to one splendid sounding piece of work. The main players in this game are Phil Miller (Delivery, Caravan, Matching Mole), Dave Stewart (Arzachel, Delivery, Egg, Khan), Richard Sinclair (Wilde Flowers, Caravan) and Pip Pyle (Delivery, Gong) but the subordinate cast is JUST as essential for this brilliant soundscape which is deviously melodic with occasional touches of pure surrealism.

These subordinate entities include Robert Wyatt on vocals, Geoff Leigh (sax, flute), Didier Malherbe (sax), Jeremy Baines (pixiephone, flute), Same Ellidge and Cyrille Ayers (vocals) and the beautiful enchantresses called the Northettes: Amanda Parsons, Barbara Gaskin and Ann Rosenthal. All the tracks connect like an early Soft Machine album and elements of all the contributing players unfold here into a frenzy of some of the most sophisticated music ever to exist in the rock world. HATFIELD AND THE NORTH just nails it. I have to emphasize that this is an acquired taste but just like triple IPA beer or certain stinky varieties of cheese, one that is well worth the effort. This kind of music is truly unparalleled at this point of time and still to this very day remains some of the most demanding yet satisfying music that exists. A veritable masterpiece of the ages that just hasn't been discovered by everyone yet. Inaccessible like the tombs of a long lost undiscovered Pharaoh but beckoning the progressive rock love to explore the nooks and crannies of some of the most sophisticated music ever. Can you tell? I love this one :O

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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
MAGIC BUS United Kingdom
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
SHORT WAVE United Kingdom
SOFT HEAP United Kingdom
SOFT MOUNTAIN Multi-National
SOFT WORKS United Kingdom
VOLARÉ United States
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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