MENU
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

CANTERBURY SCENE

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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 | 1566 ratings
IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK
Caravan
4.30 | 775 ratings
ROCK BOTTOM
Wyatt, Robert
4.25 | 927 ratings
IF I COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I'D DO IT ALL OVER YOU
Caravan
4.27 | 706 ratings
HATFIELD AND THE NORTH
Hatfield And The North
4.24 | 913 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 3 - YOU
Gong
4.27 | 635 ratings
SPACE SHANTY
Khan
4.22 | 879 ratings
THIRD
Soft Machine, The
4.26 | 372 ratings
OF QUEUES AND CURES
National Health
4.20 | 504 ratings
THE ROTTERS' CLUB
Hatfield And The North
4.16 | 665 ratings
FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT
Caravan
4.24 | 283 ratings
MAINSTREAM
Quiet Sun
4.12 | 606 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE VOL. 2 - ANGEL'S EGG
Gong
4.15 | 373 ratings
THE POLITE FORCE
Egg
4.24 | 225 ratings
TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
Supersister
4.12 | 382 ratings
FISH RISING
Hillage, Steve
4.24 | 191 ratings
VIVA BOMA
Cos
4.12 | 342 ratings
NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
4.36 | 122 ratings
THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.06 | 436 ratings
VOLUME TWO
Soft Machine, The
4.03 | 493 ratings
THE SOFT MACHINE
Soft Machine, The
4.10 | 248 ratings
PICCHIO DAL POZZO
Picchio Dal Pozzo
4.01 | 306 ratings
BUNDLES
Soft Machine, The
3.93 | 498 ratings
RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE PART 1 - FLYING TEAPOT
Gong
3.93 | 368 ratings
GAZEUSE!
Gong
4.01 | 191 ratings
PRESENT FROM NANCY
Supersister
4.17 | 96 ratings
POSTAEOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY
Cos
4.16 | 93 ratings
MOVING GELATINE PLATES
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.11 | 101 ratings
ABBIAMO TUTTI I SUOI PROBLEMI
Picchio Dal Pozzo
3.95 | 161 ratings
I SEE YOU
Gong
4.09 | 85 ratings
MANNA/MIRAGE
Muffins, The
3.92 | 177 ratings
GREEN
Hillage, Steve
3.92 | 173 ratings
LITTLE RED RECORD
Matching Mole
4.07 | 78 ratings
CAMERE ZIMMER ROOMS
Picchio Dal Pozzo
3.82 | 358 ratings
CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE
Gong
4.17 | 56 ratings
JOHN GREAVES, PETER BLEGVAD & LISA HERMAN: KEW. RHONE.
Greaves, John
3.96 | 111 ratings
PUDDING EN GISTEREN [AKA: PUDDING & YESTERDAY]
Supersister
3.82 | 331 ratings
SHAMAL
Gong
4.22 | 44 ratings
BARREN DREAM
Mr. Sirius
3.87 | 149 ratings
GILGAMESH
Gilgamesh
4.02 | 71 ratings
DANCE OF THE GOODBYES
Amoeba Split
3.87 | 131 ratings
REJOICE! I'M DEAD
Gong
3.76 | 505 ratings
WATERLOO LILY
Caravan
3.90 | 98 ratings
THE WINSTONS
Winstons, The
4.25 | 34 ratings
MAGIC BUS
Magic Bus
4.03 | 56 ratings
TRANSMISSION FROM SOGMORE'S GARDEN
Magic Bus
3.78 | 249 ratings
EGG
Egg
3.80 | 193 ratings
THE CIVIL SURFACE
Egg
3.79 | 199 ratings
SOFTS
Soft Machine, The
4.10 | 41 ratings
SUNSET WADING
Perry, John G.
4.19 | 33 ratings
CUTTING BOTH WAYS
Miller, Phil
3.82 | 121 ratings
SHLEEP
Wyatt, Robert
3.91 | 71 ratings
SECOND SPLIT
Amoeba Split
3.95 | 56 ratings
THOUGHTS
Zyma
4.02 | 44 ratings
DIRGE
Mr. Sirius
3.73 | 251 ratings
EXPRESSO II
Gong
3.87 | 67 ratings
ARRIVING TWICE
Gilgamesh
3.68 | 477 ratings
CARAVAN
Caravan
3.86 | 58 ratings
PHILLIP THE EGG
Magic Bus
3.78 | 79 ratings
ACID MOTHERHOOD
Gong
3.79 | 72 ratings
COMICOPERA
Wyatt, Robert
3.77 | 79 ratings
DONDESTAN
Wyatt, Robert
4.54 | 10 ratings
SEABIRD
Perry, John G.
4.20 | 15 ratings
AUSTRALIA AQUARIA / SHE
Allen, Daevid
3.82 | 42 ratings
HUGH HOPPER & ALAN GOWEN: TWO RAINBOWS DAILY
Hopper, Hugh
3.85 | 36 ratings
CHRONOMETERS
Muffins, The
4.21 | 14 ratings
IN CAHOOTS: RECENT DISCOVERIES
Miller, Phil
4.43 | 10 ratings
IN CAHOOTS: MIND OVER MATTER
Miller, Phil
3.78 | 50 ratings
DAEVID ALLEN & EUTERPE: GOOD MORNING!
Allen, Daevid
3.78 | 49 ratings
HOPPER TUNITY BOX
Hopper, Hugh
3.82 | 37 ratings
BURDEN OF PROOF
Soft Machine Legacy
3.71 | 72 ratings
OLD ROTTENHAT
Wyatt, Robert
3.82 | 34 ratings
THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE
Volaré
3.64 | 169 ratings
L
Hillage, Steve
3.86 | 26 ratings
PROGRESS
Giles, Michael
4.02 | 16 ratings
SONGS
Greaves, John
3.82 | 30 ratings
REMOVING
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.02 | 15 ratings
IN CAHOOTS: ALL THAT
Miller, Phil
3.74 | 42 ratings
BEFORE A WORD IS SAID
Gowen - Miller - Sinclair - Tomkins
3.62 | 220 ratings
MATCHING MOLE
Matching Mole
4.20 | 10 ratings
IN CAHOOTS: OUT OF THE BLUE
Miller, Phil
3.62 | 240 ratings
SEVEN
Soft Machine, The
4.53 | 6 ratings
MERCY DASH
Hopper - Dean - Tippett - Gallivan
3.91 | 17 ratings
PALINDROME
Muffins, The
3.66 | 72 ratings
KEVIN AYERS & THE WHOLE WORLD: SHOOTING AT THE MOON
Ayers, Kevin
3.79 | 26 ratings
185
Muffins, The
3.90 | 16 ratings
BANDWIDTH
Muffins, The
3.73 | 33 ratings
'68
Wyatt, Robert
3.78 | 24 ratings
STEAM
Soft Machine Legacy
3.88 | 15 ratings
DIVIDED ALIEN PLAYBAX 80
Allen, Daevid
4.00 | 10 ratings
ACCIDENT
Greaves, John
4.00 | 10 ratings
HUGH HOPPER BAND: CAROUSEL
Hopper, Hugh
3.71 | 32 ratings
DAEVID ALLEN WEIRD QUARTET: ELEVENSES
Allen, Daevid
4.40 | 5 ratings
PAZOP
Pazop
3.92 | 12 ratings
IN CAHOOTS: PARALLEL
Miller, Phil
3.61 | 99 ratings
JOY OF A TOY
Ayers, Kevin
3.63 | 66 ratings
WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING
Ayers, Kevin
3.90 | 10 ratings
PHIL MILLER & FRED BAKER: DOUBLE UP
Miller, Phil
4.25 | 4 ratings
PSYCHILLIS OF A LUNATIC GENIUS
Pazop
3.73 | 15 ratings
BONE IDOL
Moom
3.62 | 44 ratings
BABEL
Cos

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

NATIONAL HEALTH
National Health
CHRONOMETERS
Muffins, The
SOFT HEAP
Soft Heap
HOPPER TUNITY BOX
Hopper, Hugh

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews


 Fourth by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.49 | 304 ratings

BUY
Fourth
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars Although they had only formed a mere five years prior from the ashes of the Wilde Flowers, THE SOFT MACHINE had transmogrified from a beat inspired 60s psychedelic pop and proto-prog entity into a fully fledged jazz-fusion behemoth after adding Elton Dean to the roster for their epic 1970 double length album "Third" which found the trio turned quartet not only dropping the definite article "THE" from their moniker but also found the role of founding member Robert Wyatt's input quickly diminishing from the overall scenario. On the first two SOFT MACHINE albums, Wyatt's role was the main feature with his unmistakably unique vocals showcasing the music but with the addition of Dean along with an additional cast of guest musicians mostly out of the jazz circuits, Wyatt found himself ever more estranged from the creative direction that his fellow band mates were conjuring up around him and by the time "Third" came out he had to fight tooth and nail just to get the one vocal song to be sandwiched into the jazzy skronk wonderland of all things free form jazz surging with psychedelic overtones.

On the logically yet uncreatively titled 4 (pronounced FOURTH), the SOFTS had all but jettisoned their Canterbury influences and psychedelic vocal whimsy in favor of an all out instrumental jazz-fusion attack set on sizzling with Elton Dean casting his weight based off his recent solo album "Just Us" of the same year. The result is the beginning of the classic jazz-fusion era of SOFT MACHINE and on FOURTH they followed Dean's lead who developed his fierce alto sax and saxello playing skills in his days with Keith Tippett. While the avant-garde Ornette Coleman styled free-for-all sax solos whizzing around at light speed play a central part of the overall sound of FOURTH, the psychedelic 60s hadn't been totally erased from memory as Mike Ratledge finds the perfect way to engage his complementary Lowrey organ and Hohner piano riffs into the jazz-rock paradigm that hearken back to the swinging 60s so close yet so suddenly so very far away. Likewise Hugh Hopper's grounding and stabilizing bass lines rein in the loose-wire horn sections augmented by Dean's frenetic sax attacks along with guest musicians Mark Charig (cornet player also of Keith Tippett fame), Nick Evans (trombonist of Keith Tippett fame), Jimmy Hastings (alto flute / bass clarinet of Caravan) and Alan Skidmore (tenor sax also of Keith Tippett fame).

The result of the heft of this brass heavy congregation steered the SOFT MACHINE sound into extreme avant-garde jazz-rock fusion territory which even added yet one more guest musician: Roy Babbington of Delivery to contribute his double bass. The tracks run the gamut of chilled to frenetic. The moderately improvised nine minute opening track "Teeth" takes influences ranging from the bop fueled epics of John Coltrane to the fuzzed out surrealism of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" era. The track exhibits the perfect compromise between the structured hard bop chord patterns and sophisticated harmonic idioms with the unstructured improvisational soloing of Dean's hyperactive sax runs. "Kings And Queens" offers a completely chilled out contrast, a bass groove dominated Hopper contribution in between the more frenetic constructs created by Ratledge and Dean.

"Fletcher's Blemish" on the other hand is a Dean written piece that takes the free form avant-garde schizoid madness of crazed masters such as Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor and channels their unhinged tendencies through a flurry of tortured jagged sax attacks in a style that is directly lifted from Dean's solo debut. On the original album the second side of FOURTH was completely consumed by the four part suite "Virtually" which are treated as separate tracks but thematically connected and constructed out of a more collective approach of various extended themes that keep enough structure in the mix to allow individual members to go off on musical tangents all the while finding the perfect tension between composition and improvisation although like most of the running time of FOURTH, Dean does seem to get more than the lion's share of soloing time.

While utterly musically ostracized in the very band he helped create, Robert Wyatt may be silent and sitting in the back corner like a castigated child misbehaving on the playground but he is in fact on the album and it would be his last one with SOFT MACHINE before permanently solidifying his newly found Matching Mole (which as is commonly known a parody of SOFT MACHINE from the French translation "Machine molle.") However despite any demotion in creative input to the band's musical selections, Wyatt performs like a pro easily pounding out the heavy duty hardcore jazz drumming skills required of a seasoned veteran to handle when playing in a jazz-fusion ensemble of such magnitude and while he may have suffered a terrible accident which would rob him of his talents, on FOURTH his talents are eked out in a most satisfying way as he effortlessly and impeccably morphs his stylistic approach between the fuzzy psychedelic Gong inspired brume into the punishing freneticism of Dean's sax abuse segments in full hard bop mode.

SOFT MACHINE's FOURTH has been chastised and kicked around since it was released and to this very day remains substantially less revered than its predecessors as well as later releases with some even calling it the absolute nadir of the SOFT's vast and overarching career and i for one am quite disconcerted with how Wyatt's bandmates treated him and subjugated him to the role of a circus chimp who merely went through the motions of what he was told to perform, however at the same time i'm rating the music itself and as a lover of free form jazz and all things musically extreme, i have to fall on the side of loving this one with the caveat of agreeing with the almost universal consensus that it is indeed a step down from the SOFT's first three classics. One of the problems results of course from the obvious overreach of Elton Dean's influence which affects Ratledge's ability to stand out for much of the album despite his warm and inviting key runs filling every nook, cranny and cadence. Taken as a representative album of the Canterbury Scene, this one will surely disappoint but if accepted as a unique slice of early 70s jazz-fusion that happens to have a little of what came before in the mix with an emphasis on free form improv passages, then i have to say that this album easily achieves the "excellent" seal of approval.

 Blue Dogs by MANNA/MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.98 | 4 ratings

BUY
Blue Dogs
Manna/Mirage Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. A must for anyone into THE MUFFINS as Dave Newhouse spear-headed this project bringing along fellow MUFFINS Billy Swann and Paul Sears. Dave's son George also plays drums along with Paul Sears. We also get a guitarist and French horn player. The music is Canterbury in nature and I like how they give a nod to the past at times plus the humour on display. The album is named after the cover art, a painting by Gonzalo Fuentos Riquelme who happens to be a big fan of Rio/Canterbury.

"Canterbury Bells" is a top three and man what a feel good song this is for me. Like being home really, especially the Canterbury-like keyboards. Bass and a beat support and horns arrive around 1 1/2 minutes. A toe-tapper and head-bobber for sure. A calm 3 minutes in with piano only but soon the drums and keys join in. Horns again after 4 minutes as it stays relaxed. Keyboards end it.

"Duke Street" opens with keys that create a catchy melody before the horns join in. Back to the piano and some percussion before a bass horn or is that clarinet joins in playing a melody over top. Soon horns are blasting. It ends with a sample of a classy man speaking about music and theatre. It's funny.

"Muffin Man Redux" features blasting horns but they are restrained some are taken over by drums, an upright bass, guitar and horns. So much going on. This great sound goes on and on then the intro returns with drums this time. I like when it turns melancholic with a bass horn, percussion, other horns and atmosphere. A darker mood here. The drums signal a change as horns arrive in an upbeat and lighter mood, silly in fact. A change with dark piano lines and melancholic horns, drums and more. So good. Love the sound late too with the distorted keys, piano and drums before that sample of the original Muffin Man song ends it.

"Lost In A Photograph" opens with horns that drone before a beat and bass join in. This is laid back but it does turn louder with keys and horns before settling back again with a lazy horn over top. Themes are repeated.

"Blind Eye" is a top three although I'm not sure how "Muffin Man Redux" isn't in my top three but this is a really good album. This was my favourite right from the very first listen. That dark sounding organ to start sounds amazing before it kicks in with drums. So good! Electric piano only then it kicks back in with horns this time and some inventive guitar as the organ runs. Horns and drums to the fore as it changes then settles back with electric piano, horns and more. A dissonant horn starts to make some noise late.

"Shaving Time" brought HATFIELD & THE NORTH to mind right away. Bass and drums to start and they create this catchy rhythm. Soon horns and more join the fun. The tempo picks up as things get even more lively. Drums only before the clarinet joins in. Horns start to blast as it builds. Here we go! A lot of fun!

"Rovian Cue" is my final top three and maybe my favourite along with "Blind Eye". Man that piano is so uplifting to me as the horns and percussion join in. So beautiful when the flute arrives. Keyboards and piano impress here too. Why am I so moved? Tasteful horns are back then that catchy beat returns with horns then flute as themes are repeated.

Man this was too much fun and so well played and composed of course. Makes it inside my top 20 for 2015 so yeah this was one of the ones I missed a few years ago.

 Pic_nic'@'Valdapozzo by PICCHIO DAL POZZO album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.56 | 28 ratings

BUY
Pic_nic'@'Valdapozzo
Picchio Dal Pozzo Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Of PICCHIO DAL POZZO's four studio albums this one seems to get completely ignored by fans. This is the re-union album and so far their final studio release from 2004. When they got back together they decided to make an album dedicated to AREA's singer Demetrio Stratos. In part they did this because one of the band members found a tape of Demetrio singing live and solo from a 1979 concert. After cleaning the tape up and going digital with it they were able to use a lot of Demetrio's incredible vocal expressions on this album.

This all sounds too good to be true but my biggest issue with this album is with how experimental it is. I mean this is an Avant album all the way and as such it can be difficult. I'm not surprised to see Laplace's excellent review with 4 stars knowing what a fan he is of Avant music. My enthusiasm for this isn't really there despite being a big Demetrio fan and also a huge PICHIO DAL POZZO fan. Kind of strange too that the final 16 minute suite is live while the rest of the record is considered studio. They composed and recorded this album in a week at a farm called Valdapozzo. At least I tried and here's what I heard.

"Adriatico" has these avant pulses of sax, keys and more before some dark piano lines take over. Drums follow. I really like this. Some dissonant sax too. Some vocal expressions then the tempo picks up after 2 minutes. A slow almost swinging melody takes over with off- kilter sax. It picks up again and we get some odd vocal sounds before 5 minutes. Percussion and keys as it calms down after 5 1/2 minutes. Smooth sax after 6 minutes as vocal expressions and keys continue.

"Fetakyma" opens with spacey vocal sounds that come and go as we get some samples and a dark atmosphere. Strange stuff. Some sparse piano then sax arrives before 4 1/2 minutes. Bass before 6 minutes then the song starts to brighten with a beat and sax. It turns chaotic and avant 8 minutes in. Suddenly this catchy beat takes over, distorted keys too then blasting sax. A calm with vocal expressions, samples and atmosphere follows.

"Pugni Chiusi" was actually a song Demetrios sang with in his first band called I RIBELLI. Dark atmosphere as sounds echo and sax comes and goes. Percussion as it all turns louder and more dissonant after 4 minutes. It settles down again then a change as it brightens with sax and a beat to end it.

"Boccasedrio" opens with what sounds like vibes as spoken words arrive. Other sampled voices too as it builds. It's kind of cool how they use Demetrio's vocals. An active rhythm kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes with vocal expressions coming and going. Sax after 2 1/2 minutes. Vocal expressions then more sax. Dissonant sax after 4 minutes. It winds down late with vibes like the intro. "Epitaffio" is the final short track before the live suite. Tribal-like drums and Native chanting along with nature sounds.

The Valdapozzo(Live) suite worth about 16 minutes is up next to end the album. "Laboratory" is the first section and we get atmosphere as drums and other sounds come and go. Guitar too along with keys join in. It's quite experimental here, no real melody before 3 minutes. Sounds like electronics late as it blends into "Kitchen" with the smooth sax arriving along with percussion. Melancholic sax late as it blends into "Upstairs Room" where deep bass sounds, a beat and sax take over. It turns intense around 2 minutes with frantic sax sounds, percussion and more. Dissonant sax before 3 1/2 minutes then slow pulsing sounds with active percussion. It brightens late and blends into "Entrance" where we get an energetic beat with plenty of other sounds. It's building 2 minutes in. This is good! An intense ending followed by applause.

Avant music fans should check this out along with AREA fans of course. I wish I liked it more.

 Split Seconds by MILLER, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.48 | 20 ratings

BUY
Split Seconds
Phil Miller Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Phil Miller needs no introduction to those of us who are into Canterbury styled music. He's played guitar with DELIVERY, MATCHING MOLE, HATFIELD & THE NORTH, NATIONAL HEALTH and more. "Split Seconds" would be Phil's second solo album after the excellent "Cutting Both Ways" from the year before. He again decided to have his IN CAHOOTS band play on one part of the album as we get Pip Pyle, Fred Baker and Steve Franklin while Phil along with Elton Dean are the constants. The other part of the album features Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskins with John Mitchell helping out on one of those tracks and Richard Sinclair on another. It just seems to me that this is a pale version of his debut, you know like KING CRIMSON's fist two albums. The same style just not as good in my opinion. I miss Hugh Hopper too.

"And Thus Far" opens with guitar and synths as the drums and bass join in. A pleasant sound. Sax comes into the spotlight before 3 minutes. A calm around 4 1/2 minutes with the bass and a beat leading the way as synths and more come and go. Smooth sax after 8 minutes with bass and synths as it calms right down. The drums are back and soon it's a full uptempo sound before 11 minutes. A good start.

"Final Call" has a nice bass solo to start as the guitar and band all join in. I like the guitar after 3 minutes. "Dada Soul" is my favourite with Richard Sinclair singing and playing bass. It opens with percussion, atmosphere, guitar and beautiful female vocal melodies from Barbara. After that gorgeous intro Richard comes in with vocals. That intro will return and they will combine forces too. A really enjoyable track thanks to Gaskins and Sinclair.

"Truly Yours" is mellow as the sax joins in and it will be the dominant sound until the synths take over after 3 1/2 minutes. "Double Talk" is a uptempo track with a lot going on with the percussion, bass, synths and more. Soon the guitar is playing over top. It lightens before 3 1/2 minutes with picked guitar and percussion before kicking back in. "I Remain" is a smooth and relaxed tune.

"Your Root 2" sounds good to start as we get some depth to the sound here with the bass and drums. The sax comes in over top around a minute. A calm with bass before 4 minutes. Nice. This continues as drums help out then other sounds start to come and go until the synths start to make some noise before 6 minutes. Sounds like vibes and also sax kicking in before 7 minutes after some nice drum work from Pip.

I do like some of those IN CAHOOTS albums that would follow better than this one but "Split Seconds" certainly has it's highlights.

 Waterloo Lily by CARAVAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.76 | 505 ratings

BUY
Waterloo Lily
Caravan Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars While critics and fans alike praised the unique concoction of jazz, folk and rock on CARAVAN's third album "The Land Of The Grey And Pink," despite it all the record company and management refused to put any money into promoting the album or the band in any way which led to incredible inner tensions and ultimately resulted in the departure of David Sinclair who was seduced away by Robert Wyatt to join the ranks of Matching Mole. While dumbfounded that they had lost such a vital ingredient to their unique piano, organ and mellotron driven sound, they avoiding a complete breakup by finding one of the few musicians in Sinclair's league in the form of Steve Miller who had played with Carol Crimes & Delivery prior.

Miller was a gifted jazz musician and after finding it impossible to adapt to Sinclair's unique style of playing, the band finally settled on placing Miller's style as the focus of the band's sound and thus CARAVAN was forced to jettison their digestible psychedelic pop sound of the previous album and create a more sophisticated collection of tracks that resulted in perhaps one of the most progressive albums of their career with some of the most bold and daring instrumental deliveries of their canon.

The album was titled WATERLOO LILY and found Steve Miller pushing Pye Hastings, Richard Sinclair and Richard Coughlan into more challenging musical arenas and thus stands as one of CARAVAN's most diverse sounding albums. The beautifully performed title track which opens, really presages a future supergroup event called Hatfield And The North which finds Richard Sinclair's sole vocal performance on the album sounding like something that could have been on "The Rotter's Club." The track which exudes a bouncy bass driven swing type of groove tells the tale of a large lady of questionable reputation while the musical drive simultaneously juggles a more ambitious construct with the expected Canterbury whimsy.

The album sports two lengthy multi-suite tracks surrounded by shorter ones with vocals. The first of these spirited displays of musical playfulness is the instrumental "Nothing At All / It's A Coming Soon / Nothing At All" which delivers a beefy bass line that ties the entire track together as the guitar solos trade off with keyboards and sizzling jazzy sax runs. The groovy rhythm ties the band's previous digestible pop hooks with a more jazz-laden speakeasy swinging sort of vibe which despite the length is quite easy on the ears. The three suites linked by the bass groove are quite distinct but somehow transition with ease.

The second of these is a medley of catchy vocal oriented jazz rock with extra emphasis on symphonic backings. The track breaks into an the most outstanding instrumental performances on the album with a flute solo that sounds like it's on speed! This track is easily the most ambitious thing CARAVAN ever laid down to tape and one of my top dog favorites of their career. The remaining tracks are pop gems finding Pye Hastings in excellent vocal form with brilliant songwriting and if you are lucky enough to have newer versions there are extra bonus tracks well worth the time.

Although the Canterbury jazz-fusionists had a dedicated audience, none of these bands managed to garner success at a substantial level but for those fans CARAVAN did attain in the past, many were not too keen on the new musical style that was thrust upon them. While "The Land Of The Grey And Pink" sold poorly, WATERLOO LILY literally almost caused the band to call it quits entirely. However after some internal reflection and the decision to sack Steve Miller, luckily Hastings, Sinclair and Coughlan found that the public was beginning to catch up to their musical style and by the time they regrouped with a new team to produce "For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night," as CARAVAN was finding slightly more enthusiastic public support.

Personally i may be one of the few who finds WATERLOO LILY to be one of CARAVAN's crowning achievements musically speaking. I find this album infinitely more interesting than the more uniform and toned-down "In The Land Of The Grey And Pink." WATERLOO LILY simply adds a new gusto to the classic CARAVAN sound with beautifully performed vocal tracks side by side with sophisticated jam band instrumentals that tackle multiple suites of true progressive rock brilliance. In my world WATERLOO LILY plays second fiddle to the only album of theirs that i consider a true masterpiece "If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You."

 Smell Of A Friend by LODGE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.04 | 9 ratings

BUY
Smell Of A Friend
The Lodge Canterbury Scene

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

3 stars While many artists in the Canterbury Scene and progressive rock in general faded away during the 80s while other forms of music dominated the attention span of the MTV generation, these same musicians didn't just go find a pasture and die! Many of them adapted to the scene but some stuck it out in the underground and pumped out projects with others from the scene. Such was the case for the short lived New York City band THE LODGE which found members of Henry Cow, Slapp Happy, Art Bears, Golden Palominos and others briefly getting together from 1987-1989 to create one album of 80s art rock titled SMELL OF A FRIEND.

THE LODGE is most notably the followup of Peter Blegvad's "Kew.Rhone" era or at least it was a intended to be as he and John Greaves were the primary forces that created their one album and the material was inspired by their previous projects together. The material continues in the line of Slapp Happy's pop sensibilities dressed up in Carla Bley's progressive jazz with a touch of Canterbury quirkiness and whimsy. After the lineup was complete the band consisted of Blegvad, Greaves, ex-64 Spoons guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, ex-Pere Ubu drummer Anton Fier, Kristoffer Blegvad and pianist / singer Lisa Herman with a few guest lending a hand.

SMELL OF A FRIEND was recorded and released in 1988 and to no surprise came and went without hardly anyone noticing. While the subject matter and overall style is mined from the previous decade, the production and use of new wave type of guitar playing and electronic styles was clearly an attempt of being somewhat contemporary. While supposedly a successor to the well-received "Kew.Rhone" album of 1977, the album in reality feels nothing like that one as it is primarily driven by straight-forward rock guitar riffs or piano ballads. It would be fair to call SMELL OF A FRIEND a much more pop friendly album with only small touches of progressiveness.

Lyrically the album was more of a strange beast with several songs tackling the unlikely topic of "milk" in the perspective of ritualistic practices found in the occult world. Many tracks were derived from the worlds of philosophers and mythologists. The album also mixes in elements of tone poetry, African rhythms, art rock and chamber chorales. All in all, there is also a loose Steely Dan type of vibe to the whole thing. After THE LODGE released SMELL OF A FRIEND they toured around Europe with old members leaving and new ones jumping on board but ultimately the loosy-goosy nature of the band resulted in a premature breakup.

While connected to the Canterbury Scene of progressive rock, it seems a stretch to include it in such but remains an interesting artifact from the underground of the 80s. Unfortunately THE LODGE's one and only album doesn't really catch on fire like Bevgrad and Greaves earlier albums. There seems to be too much focus on trying to be contemporary and therefore the pop aspects overshadow the obvious attempts to create more subtly complex music. If melodies were the focus of music in the 80s, THE LODGE didn't seem to craft very many exciting ones and while trying to do so extinguished the progressive touches that could have been nurtured. Overall, THE LODGE pumped out on good album but i highly doubt that it will go down as some lost classic.

 Rock Bottom by WYATT, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.30 | 775 ratings

BUY
Rock Bottom
Robert Wyatt Canterbury Scene

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars There is no album like it in my collection, even Soft Machine. The album has a "downer" mood to it, many thanks to the accident (pushed out of a third story window) that left him wheelchair bound, but the surprising thing about all this was the material was written before the accident, but recorded after, so I'm sure the mood was caused because of the accident, but not the lyrics. Sadly he was no longer able to play a full drum kit anymore, so he had to switch to keyboards and hand percussion. He brought in some guests that many will recognize, such as Mike Oldfield, Richard Sinclair (Caravan, and by then a member of Hatfield & the North), Fred Frith, Hugh Hopper, Laurie Allan (who played drums on Gong's Flying Teapot), Ivor Cutler (no relation to Chris), and others. So the music has the somber, reflective tone to it, instead of manic drumming like he did on Soft Machine and Matching Mole. The music has a rather experimental edge and tends to have a more RIO feel to it, so I can't see why RIO fans wouldn't like this. Besides I'm certain this album did have a major impact on RIO to begin with. It's not an easy listen and it's not something you'd listen to everyday, but it's one of the greats of music regardless of genre well worth seeking out. I'm discouraged to throw five stars just anywhere (like what happens at Amazon), but this is truly deserving of it! Of course, don't expect anything like Soft Machine's first three albums (I know he's on the fourth one as well, but was forced by the other band members not to sing, a big reason he left), as this is totally different (he was clearly letting everyone know that he's not completely bound to the legacy of Soft Machine).
 Rejoice! I'm Dead by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 131 ratings

BUY
Rejoice! I'm Dead
Gong Canterbury Scene

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

4 stars It's always a crying shame when a prominent member of a classic rock band passes away after decades of divine musical service but even more so when two of the founders pass on within a year of each other. Of course i speak of Christopher David Allen or better known as Daevid Allen who passed on in 2015 after having founded the sounds-like-no-other band GONG all the way back in 1967 only to be joined shortly thereafter by the unparalleled space whisperer Gilli Smith the following year. It seems like their bond was strong as they traveled the space ways together and even death could not separate them. With their passing so too does the entire identity of GONG as a new chapter unfolds without two of the most unique personalities in all of rock history. After 2015's "I See You," which saw the duo laying down their last earthly performance together, the rest of the crew was given the green light with blessings to continue one of progressive rock's most recognizable Canterbury jazz infused space bands. While many fans may find this of poor taste, it certainly isn't the first time that Allen parted ways only leaving the band name to showcase other talents. The only difference now is that he won't be coming back.

REJOICE! I'M DEAD is officially the 14th studio album released by GONG only two years after the last Allen contributions and the following year after his passing however despite Allen having reached the proggy pearly gates, his resonant vocals from the past appear on the tracks "Model Village" and "Beatrix." Officially at the helm is newbie to the band Kavus Torabi of former Cardiacs and Knifefield fame on on vocals and guitar but the rest of the band remains steady since the previous release giving GONG a somewhat stable lineup despite the loss of two founding members. There are two versions of this album. The regular nine track version and another special 2-CD version with a bonus DVD. The second disc on this version has a couple extra tracks, a few demos as well as some rehearsal recordings. The DVD is an audio disc with 24/96 PCM stereo and DTS 96/24 5.1 digital surround mixes.

The album is somewhat of a serious salute to the mastermind and whimsical hippie who started the whole thing back in the 60s as is apparent by the title and soundwise the band pretty much traces the footsteps of the past and straddles through the Canterbury tinged psychedelic rock that they have been famous for since the Radio Gnome Trilogy in the mid-70s. REJOICE! I'M DEAD sees a lot of different new flavors as well as Torabi brings a lot of his post-punk sensibilities to the table most notably on the new wave guitar sounds heard on the title track. However they do become engulfed by the special guest star appearance of Steve Hillage who cranks out some retro sounding space guitar most remanent of his "Fish Rising" period and with an extended journey into the psychedel-o- sphere, GONG prove that they have what it takes to carry on the jazzed out space ways of planet GONG's most tripped out jam sessions.

The track "Kapitial" is particular rough around the edges with a frenetic heavy guitar although it's pacified by the jazzy sax outbursts of Ian East. Likewise the vocals are heavily fortified with an echoey space syrup that in tandem creates one of my favorite tracks of the album. "Model Village" offers a last of an Allen performance and one that borrows right from the Radio Gnome days with subdued space rock and jazzy brass sequences embraced by Allen's poetic prowess and another surprise appearance by off and on again member Didier Malherbe offering his most respectable duduk performance which sounds like a magic eulogy and celebration of life for his long time friend of the ages. Unfortunately the duduk does not stick around and leaves the party way too soon.

"Beatrix" is some sort of short French chanson performed by Allen by would have been much better with Gilli Smith as it sounds like something right out of the "Angel's Egg" playbook. "Visions" is a true space cadet journey into an ambient stream of synthesized sounds accompanied by a lazy sax that slowly oozes out sultry notes as the electronica slinks by with tripped out vocals joining in intermittently and serves sort of as a long extended intro to the near twelve minute "The Unspeakable Stands Revealed" which continues the tripped out space effect only the jazz-rock instrumentation tags along for the ride and thus ups the tempo. This is one of those ratcheting up effect tracks that slowly builds on itself and adds progressive electric guitar riffs, vocals chants as well as those clever Canterbury sax phrasings. The track adds a sprinkling of vocals after several minutes and becomes a heavy post-punk type of track swimming in the psychedelic sea of Canterbury jazz!

Both ending tracks "Through Restless Seas I Come" and "Insert Yr Own Prophecy" offer more of the same heavy guitar induced psychedelic space rock juiced up with jazz and flute. REJOICE! I'M DEAD is overall a fairly decent album as it carries the torch with dignity and gusto and ushers GONG into the post-Allen era well into it's fifth decade of existence as a band that turned a greater rotation of talents sort of ensemble. While this is indeed an excellent album it does lack some of my favorite GONG characteristics provided by the irreplaceable team of Allen and Smith. Perhaps my biggest complaint about this one is the poor vocal skills of Torabi as he is the weakest vocalist in the GONG history books. While getting the job done, he doesn't have that unique flair and offers no humor to the mix. That's another thing i miss tremendously is Allen's zany silliness that popped out when least expected.

REJOICE! I'M DEAD is a serious affair much in the vein of Pierre Moerlen phase despite the sound being different and tainted with vocals. Admittedly i had an instant negative reaction to this one as it was substandard to my ears compared to the great "I See You," but many listens in it began to unleash it's magic. One of the most noticeable differences is the most pumped up rock guitar with much more bravado than on previous albums. Also noticeably lacking is any attempt to replace Allen's zany antics and idiosyncratic silliness that permeates every release he had his hand in. Sadly missing as well are the Gilli Smith space whispers that add a cosmic feminine divinity to the mix. This is a pure boys club now and it really sounds like it. Not a classic but an excellent array of jazzy space rock in true GONG spirit. Allen is obviously overseeing from his unknown whereabouts. Miss the duduk's ubiquitous sound as well.

 Matching Mole by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 220 ratings

BUY
Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by Kingsnake

2 stars Maybe this isn't just for me. When I listened to this, I thought the other reviewers wouldn;t like it, as I did.

But the reviews are raving. Maybe it's just not my kind of humor, or maybe it's because I don't do drugs. I can hear that the musicians are very talented and here and there I hear beautiful melodies (especially the piano-parts).

But the humor is just to much. I can't be bothered with this amount of humor in music. I do like Caravan and Supersister, but they are enjoyable to listen to. This is just annoying. "this is the verse, this is the bridge, this is the chorus or just another part of the song".

The music sounds like a jam-session, not like worthy compositions. It would have been funny if someone I knew did this, while being stoned. But it's not for me. Sorry.

 Barren Dream by MR. SIRIUS album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.22 | 44 ratings

BUY
Barren Dream
Mr. Sirius Canterbury Scene

Review by nikitasv777

5 stars This is Mr. Sirius debut album released in 1987. One of the most unique and individual progressive rock albums. The music covers the Canterbury Scene and Symphonic Prog. It's very pleasant music with lots of flute, vintage keyboards and female soprano vocals. This album is chock full of wonderful melodies sung in Lisa Ohki's (Hiroko Nagai) nightingale-sweet, soaring voice. Simply put, an absolute masterpiece and a basic addition to any serious progressive rock fan - the flute work are just flawless. This is high-quality symphonic progressive music. If you are an early Camel, Renaissance and Italian symphonic prog fan, you will love this album!
Data cached

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
OCARINAH France
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
VOLARÉ United States
THE WILDE FLOWERS United Kingdom
THE WINSTONS Italy
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives