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Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.24 | 1017 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars There's something about the planet Gong experience that reminds me (in a non-musical way) of The Grateful Dead, or maybe Rush: an entire cult surrounds the band and its music, making a newcomer feel like an intruder in an exclusive club with an unwritten charter discouraging trespassers.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. It may take a little effort to go with the flow and get into the whole Pothead Pixie cosmology. But the band's high-flying hippie idealism offers an open invitation to everyone, giving intrepid listeners the chance to negotiate a thrilling rite of passage across one of the more colorful and eclectic intersections along the Progressive Rock highway.

All of Gong's conflicting musical impulses found their perfect balance in the closing chapter of the RGI album trilogy, notably also the final effort of the classic Gong line-up before the first of many confusing fragmentations. Even a veteran Proghead would be challenged to name another group able to shift so effortlessly between silliness and sobriety, with so much as a hiccup. From the giddy kindergarten melody of "A P.H.P.'s Advice" (longstanding acolytes won't need help deciphering the acronym) to the awesome Tibetan mantra of "Magick Mother Invocation" to the killer spacer jams heard in "Master Builder" and beyond, this is truly exciting stuff, arranged and played with a fluency uncommon even for its time.

The ongoing saga of Zero the hero reads like a psychedelic catalogue of Flower Child philosophies, albeit told with enough tongue-in-cheek detail to suggest a metaphysical parody. The humor keeps the album fresh after forty years, but the music itself was even more ahead (while still a part) of its time, revealing the missing link between Jazz Rock fusion and Space Rock exploration, with the saxophone acting as a sort of glue between them. The longer, more dynamic instrumental passages even anticipate the cosmic Arabian ragas of Ozric Tentacles (and other modern Proggers) by several decades.

The only reason the album doesn't crack the five-star plateau is because it sounds even better when heard in the context of the full trilogy. Otherwise, it's a quintessential slice of the '70s counterculture, but one that transcends the nostalgia value of its age.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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