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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

4.29 | 1730 ratings
4.28 | 872 ratings
Wyatt, Robert
4.28 | 781 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.25 | 1001 ratings
4.24 | 1020 ratings
4.27 | 711 ratings
4.21 | 990 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.27 | 436 ratings
National Health
4.20 | 731 ratings
4.21 | 567 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.14 | 672 ratings
4.26 | 261 ratings
4.16 | 412 ratings
4.14 | 427 ratings
Hillage, Steve
4.17 | 315 ratings
Quiet Sun
4.34 | 151 ratings
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.12 | 383 ratings
National Health
4.21 | 216 ratings
4.10 | 356 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.06 | 485 ratings
Soft Machine, The

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new

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

Picchio Dal Pozzo
Miller, Phil
National Health
Muffins, The

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews

 Gilgamesh by GILGAMESH album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.86 | 170 ratings

Gilgamesh Canterbury Scene

Review by Psychedelic Paul

3 stars GILGAMESH (named after a legendary Sumerian king of Mesopotamia) were a two-album Canterbury Scene band led by keyboard player Alan Gowen. Gilgamesh are closely associated with two other Canterbury Scene bands from the proggy 1970's era: Hatfield & the North and National Health, with various band members migrating from one band to another. Gilgamesh recorded two mostly instrumental albums of complex Jazz Fusion:- "Gilgamesh" (1975) and the comically- titled "Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into" (1978), the album title no doubt inspired by the comic duo Laurel & Hardy. There was also a much later compilation album "Arriving Twice" which arrived once in the year 2000. It's time now to delve into the not-so-ancient musical legend of Gilgamesh and check out their first self-titled album.

The Gilgamesh album opens with the three-piece-suite: "One End More / Phil's Little Dance - For Phil Miller's Trousers / Worlds Of Zin". With a total running time of over ten minutes in this opening number, there's plenty of time for a wild excursion into typical experimental Canterbury Scene territory. It's mostly laid-back instrumental Jazzy music, focusing mainly on keyboards, electric guitar and delicate understated percussion, with occasional harmonising vocals courtesy of Amanda Parsons. This dynamic and ever-changing style of inventive Jazz Fusion will be instantly recognisable to fans of Hatfield & the North and National Health, so even if you've never heard this particular Gilgamesh album before, listening to this album on the record player will sound as comfortably familiar as wearing a comfy woolly sweater or donning a pair of fluffy carpet slippers that have been warmed-up by the fire. Having been introduced to the album, it's now time to meet "Lady and Friend", which opens as a tranquil keyboard piece to put one in a relaxed frame of mind, but be prepared for the occasional outburst of strident electric guitar when you least expect it. This is like the kind of cool Jazz you might hear played in a cocktail lounge, only this endlessly entertaining music comes shaken and stirred with a slice of lemon and a cherry on top. Notwithstanding the fact that the complex instrumental Jazz on this album has so far been as enigmatic as the mysterious legend of Gilgamesh, "Notwithstanding" takes us into even wilder exotic realms of musical experimentation, which will no doubt leave fans of the Canterbury Scene sound awestruck in amazement at the musical proficiency on display here. For the uninitiated though, this may be one step beyond what is enjoyable or even listenable.

Arriving at Side Two now comes "Arriving Twice", a short and sweet, pleasant stroll along the mellow Canterbury Scene trail. We come to the second of the three extended three-piece-suites on the album now with "Island Of Rhodes / Paper Boat - For Doris / As If Your Eyes Were Open". It's a seven-minute pleasure cruise opening in calm waters, but with occasional large waves in the shape of dynamic keyboard and guitar runs. This is music that should come supplied with a windbreaker and a sou'wester hat, as it's a constantly changing fusion of Jazz and Rock, charting an unpredictable course through some choppy windswept waters. It's time now to spare a thought "For Absent Friends", a gentle acoustic guitar diversion running at just over one minute long, and we're all at sea again with the final three-piece suite "We Are All / Someone Else's Food / Jamo And Other Boating Disasters - From The Holiday Of The Same Name." There are no real surprises in store here. It's a very familiar 8-minute-long pleasure trip aboard the good ship Canterbury for another weird and wonderful excursion into the outer reaches of complex Jazz Fusion. To play us out now comes "Just C", a 45-second-long gentle tinkling of the keyboards to put one in a relaxed and mellow frame of mind.

This Canterbury Scene album of experimental Jazz Fusion will almost certainly appeal to fans of Hatfield & the North and National Health, so even if you've never heard this album before, you'll know exactly what to expect from Gilgamesh if you're at all familiar with those two legendary bands of the Canterbury Scene. If you've already headed up the Great North Road to the sound of Hatfield & the North and picked up a prescription for National Health on the way, then Gilgamesh would make an ideal third stop-off point on the musical journey along the Canterbury Scene trail.

 Für Ein ¾ Stündchen by TORTILLA FLAT album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.66 | 26 ratings

Für Ein ¾ Stündchen
Tortilla Flat Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Though Tortilla Flat hailed from Germany, you'd be well-advised to put all thoughts of Can-esque krautrock or Tangerine Dream-esque cosmiche music out of your head before listening to their sole studio album. What you get here instead is an incredibly tight fusion band playing in a style highly reminiscent of that pioneered by the more serious end of the Canterbury scene - post-Third Soft Machine, for instance, or the more intense moments of Hatfield and the North or Gilgamesh. Hermann Josef Basten on flute may well be the star player here, rocking out on that instrument like there's no tomorrow, but the whole band are highly proficient and deliver lively performances.
 Seven by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.67 | 261 ratings

The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by fenman

4 stars In the 1970's Soft Machine were one of those bands who developed and changed their music - and some listeners just didn't like it. Some didn't like them after Kevin Ayers left, some after "Third", some after Robert Wyatt's departure. Around the time of this album some reviewers thought they were "past their best", "trading on past glories" and press views of this and the following Harvest albums were often lukewarm.

Looking back, this is a well composed, well played and (to me at any rate) very enjoyable album, in line with what bands such as Nucleus and Isotope were offering. The next album, "Bundles", featuring the late, great Allan Holdsworth, continued this trajectory and remains one of the most special British jazz-rock albums of that decade. At the time, some people weren't impressed with that either.

In 2020 these albums are still available and perhaps are more appreciated than ever - they deserve to be anyway.

 NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973 by SOFT MACHINE, THE album cover Live, 2010
4.49 | 29 ratings

NDR Jazz Workshop, Germany, May 17, 1973
The Soft Machine Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Wow, what an eye-opener! This archival release offers up a live set recorded by Soft Machine in the gap between the "Six" and "Seven" albums. That places it in a time period which is a little contentious among followers of the band; Robert Wyatt is out, as is Hugh Hopper (though he guests in a bonus feature on the DVD performing a little something from his "1983" solo album), and Roy Babbington, Karl Jenkins, and John Marshall are all in.

In other words, at this stage only one founder member of Soft Machine is left, and he's increasingly taking a back seat in terms of the compositional direction of the band, which is increasingly dominated by the new members, all of whom are ex-members of Nucleus. A shift in the band's overall sound is only to be expected, and for some fans - especially those who prize the psychedelic aspects of the Machine's early output - it isn't really Soft Machine any more, just a Nucleus side project with Mike Ratledge along for the ride.

Regardless of how you feel on that front, though, there's no denying that this live set is absolute dynamite. Yes, it's very much in the jazz fusion side of Canterbury and might be just a shade over the borderline into straight-ahead fusion of the Nucleus school, but it's really goddamn good fusion!

Since the set was recorded for television, you get the best of both worlds here: the release combines the energy and rawness of a live performance with the sound quality of a professional studio. The upshot is a release which really captures the capabilities of the lineup, and to my ears sounds better than the rather polished, mild-mannered studio albums the band were putting out at this time.

Frankly, I think it's a bit of a shame that Soft Machine's post- Wyatt lineups never quite managed to produce a studio album on the level of this set; had they done so, I think their legacy would be far less contentious. As it stands, I have to say that this is the best post-Wyatt Soft Machine release I've ever heard.

 Sprezzatura by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.19 | 8 ratings

The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by alainPP

3 stars THE KENTISH SPIRES is an English out his second CD Group genre almost forgotten today, but very used namely Canterbury. The groups had to bathe their children can call CARAVAN, JETHRO TULL, ELP, SOFT MACHINE, more recently it's side WOBBLER, FLOWER KINGS of the notes may have been stolen, just to remove the very substance . Otherwise, mostly PINK FLOYD giving prog and psychedelic returns to this extraordinary group. Do not forget a jazzy overtones, and Irish folk and you will have some all ingredients. The use of clarinet and flutes, saxophones and violins others also occupies an important place.

Knots (A Trilogy) on hand with an instrumental "Overture" and lets see where the group drew its sources: jazzy, folk, clarinet and festive background dinosaur, until the coming of the votes for the second sub- entitled "A Sea Shanty" deuce beautiful voice! A calm, laid starting on the doors of Canterbury in effect, flute, Hammond, psychedelic guitar to get inside us our plays of yore, lively atmosphere and also seaside end to move to "Do not Shoot the Albatross "closing this first triptych that combines reminiscences of oldfieldiennes and caravaniennes, floydiennes surely is singular and amazing juggling as many notes on various trends; in texts, stories and legends! "Horsa From Beyond The Grave" continues on the evocation of a story of the King of Kent and his brother Horsa. It is a warm way, captivating, singular with the prominence of that sublime voice giving the creeps, you almost forget the instruments yet the tone of great lyrical epic.

Second triptych on the story of three lovers and "Wishing Well" which opens the track, surrounded by crows (listen!) We start on a quiet ballad, again to give pride to Lucia operator voice in multiple aspects ; the instrumental development in the end song is chilling in the use of the proposed instruments, like what it's not just the synth and bass to vibrate in the prog; "You Better Shut Your Mouth" comes with a bass clarinet sax energetic guitar flirting interaction with a free jazz or irritating side innovative, voice soft spoken Lucie giving progressive atmosphere in that capacity; these instruments jealously guarded by jazz musicians back on stage in front of it and remind me of the use by bands like XTC there is already a long time. "Never Tell On Me" finished the triptych by a decidedly pop song that could have OLDFIELD himself compound, it is simple, catchy, it's just beautiful, a development tool restores the thrill wind up a guitar synth development that takes me there squarely in large MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND back to the refrain like a wave that comes crashing down the cliff. Here comes "The Long Goodbye" coming this close academic album on a title a bit cliché, taking phrasing typically PINK FLOYD, rather then after Roger Waters 'The Wall'; Here again, it is the wind instrument that gives the sensation gradually from the second part of the title. Note a "Horsa" remix with Robert Reed as a guest (like when I was talking to Mike OLDFIELD I was close I think!

Well, no need to tell you that I am not Canterbury in the soul, but it allows me to work my musical ear of fact. So, what to say, except that I am somewhat disillusioned: their first album was an even more resolved, but at least we knew what to expect. Here the melodies are somewhat disparate, a little touch everything and may even surprise the listener. Paradoxically, with voice and wind instruments that I felt the most prog evolution in this album, leaving the rest in full of anachronistic view dismantle the directions, perhaps was it the purpose too. So, to get an idea, forget some all genres and open your ears, your ears, because yes I admit, I liked.

 The Rotters' Club by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.21 | 567 ratings

The Rotters' Club
Hatfield And The North Canterbury Scene

Review by Psychedelic Paul

3 stars HATFIELD & THE NORTH were a two-album Canterbury Scene band, named after the well-known A1 Motorway sign on the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh. Their first eponymously-titled album passed by virtually unnoticed at the time of its release in 1974, but their second album "The Rotters' Club" (1975) is much better-known. The line-up for this second album featured Dave Stewart on keyboards, Phil Miller on guitar, Richard Sinclair on bass and lead vocals, Pip Pyle on drums, a 4-piece brassy horn section and a 3-piece female choir of Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons & Ann Rosenthal, collectively named The Northettes.

The opening song "Share It" sounds strangely familiar, even upon first hearing. This upbeat jaunty Jazz-Rock number is very reminiscent of both Caravan and Camel. There's no doubting that Hatfield & the North are an English band from Richard Sinclair's clear-cut vocals, which sound as English as fish & chips. The obscure lyrics are a riddle wrapped in an enigma though, but that only adds to the quaint English charm of this catchy tune . Here's a brief opening taster of the lyrics:- "Tadpoles keep screaming in my ear, Hey there! Rotter's Club! Explain the meaning of this song and share it" ..... The bizarre meaning of this particular song will perhaps forever remain shrouded in mystery, when even the singer sounds baffled by the abstruse lyrics. And now for a little instrumental lounge music with "Lounging There Trying", which sounds like the kind of sophisticated improvisational Jazz you might listen to whilst coolly sipping a gin and tonic in a trendy cocktail lounge. There's no clue as to what the strangely-titled "(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology on the Jaw" might be all about, because it's a brief 43 second instrumental, and the slightly discordant music bears little relation to the bizarre song title. This leads us into the even shorter "Chaos at the Greasy Spoon", which does indeed sound chaotic and a bit of a tuneless mess to be absolutely honest, so it's something of a blessed relief that it's less than half-a-minute long. Next up is "The Yes No Interlude" which is not so much an interlude, but more of an extended 7-minute instrumental jam session, where the musicians throw caution to the wind with gay abandon and let loose with some wild and improvisational Canterbury Scene Jazz. We're back to more familiar territory with "Fitter Stoke Has A Bath", which sounds like a typical lively Jazz-Rock song that Caravan might have recorded, although the meaning of the weird song title and lyrics are just as obscure as Hatfield & the North's instrumental numbers. Here's a brief example of the totally nonsensical lyrics:- "Bing billy bong - silly song's going wrong, Ping pong ping, clong cling dong, Tie me up, turn me on, Bing billy bang, Desperate Dan, frying pan, Cling clong cling, Bong bing bang, Michael Miles, Bogey man," ..... Yes indeed! Song lyrics don't come much sillier than that! They sound like the kind of wacky lyrics you might have heard in a typical Eurovision Song Contest entry from the 1970's. There's a return to some kind of normality - or whatever passes for normal in the bizarre musical world of Hatfield & the North - with "Didn't Matter Anyway". This is a gentle Caravan-esque song floating on a mellow wave of flute and delicate keyboards. It's the most approachable and easy-to-listen-to song on the album. You can just relax and let the worries and cares of the day slip away listening to this gorgeous insouciant song, because whatever might have been troubling you, it probably "Didn't Matter Anyway".

It's time now to don a dinner jacket and order a dry martini - shaken not stirred - for the Side Two opener "Underdub", because it's another pleasant cocktail lounge diversion to while away four minutes of spare time whilst waiting for your dinner date to arrive for the evening. And finally, we arrive at the 20-minute long suite "Mumps" to close out the album. The music is divided into four parts with the kind of weird and crazy titles that we've come to expect by now:- 1. "Your Majesty Is Like a Cream Donut (Quiet)"; 2. "Lumps"; 3. "Prenut"; 4. "Your Majesty Is Like a Cream Donut (Loud)". The Jazzy Canterbury Scene music is just as eccentric and off-kilter as the titles suggest, featuring another wild excursion into uncharted realms, occasionally sounding atonal and disjointed, but always unexpected and totally unpredictable. It's an endlessly complex arrangement that deserves to be listened to several times to truly appreciate the musical diversity on offer here.

"The Rotters' Club" is undoubtedly an essential album for fans of the Canterbury Scene sound, but it's not so essential for Prog-Rock fans generally. The album won't be to everyone's taste, because this is wild and improvisational Canterbury Scene music that's nowhere near as approachable and easy to listen to as the more melodic and harmonious sound of Caravan and Camel for instance. "The Rotters' Club" album is not for the uninitiated. If you've dipped your toes into the Canterbury Scene with Caravan, then Hatfield & the North by contrast are like jumping into the deep end. Their complex music veers more towards the Jazz Fusion end of the musical spectrum, than the more traditional British Jazz-Rock sound. On the other hand, if you're in the mood for some uninhibited and unrestrained Jazzy flights of fancy, then head on up the Great North Road to the sound of Hatfield & the North.

 National Health by NATIONAL HEALTH album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.12 | 383 ratings

National Health
National Health Canterbury Scene

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars NATIONAL HEALTH were a Canterbury Scene outfit formed from the remnants of Hatfield & the North and Gilgamesh. The band featured Dave Stewart on keyboards (who later went on to form a duo with Barbara Gaskin in the 1980's), Phil Miller on electric guitar, Neil Murray on fretless bass, Pip Pyle on drums and percussion and Amanda Parsons on vocals. National Health recorded three albums during their brief time in the spotlight:- "National Health" (1977); Of Queues and Cures (1978); and "D.S. Al Coda" (1982). It's time now to take out a prescription for National Health's first album and find out if music really is the best medicine.

The album opens with the bright and sparkling "Tenemos Roads". Running at over fourteen minutes long, it's a complex improvisational and uplifting piece of music with some truly dynamic keyboard virtuosity from Dave Stewart, with Amanda Parsons' lovely soprano vocals soaring up up and away into the wild blue yonder like a high-flying bird. It may be hard to discern the lyrics to discover what "Tenemos Roads" is all about, so here's a brief taster:- "From the cradle to the grave, There are roads for us all, That we'll find, and follow to the end, Leading upwards to a place in the stars, Ten million miles away, There's a path called Tenemos Roads" ..... This warm and inviting opening number is like a radiant sunburst of glowing rainbow colours that's guaranteed to brighten up the the dullest of days. It's All That Jazz and a lot more besides and just what the doctor ordered.

Next up is the 10-minute-long "Brujo" which transports us to calmer climes with a gorgeous pastoral woodwind opening, conjuring up images of gently rolling green pastures bathed in warm golden sunshine. This serves as a prelude to another sunburst session of wild improvisational Jazz-Rock with some ethereal vocalese ad-libbing from Amanda Parsons. The music is positively aglow with complex time signatures, dynamic changes of tempo and some delightful keyboard flights of fancy from Dave Stewart. In other words, it's everything we've come to expect in the best Canterbury Scene music. Apparently, "Brujo" is Spanish for sorcerer, so just lie back and let this music weave its magical spell on you.

The first two pieces of music on Side Two "Borogoves (Excerpt from Part Two)" followed by "Borogoves (Part One)" seem strangely back to front, but putting that minor detail aside, "Borogoves" is a complex and compelling 10-minute piece of music where the listener never quite knows what's coming next upon first hearing. To try and put such a dynamic improvisational piece of music into words would do it a disservice, other than to say it's intricate and invigorating Jazzy music with more than enough unexpected twists and turns to keep any Canterbury Scene fan happy, and just in case anyone's wondering what a "Borogove" is, it's a silly mythical bird invented by Lewis Carroll for his nonsense poem, "Jabberwocky".

There are "Elephants" in the room for the final piece of music, which turns out to be a 14-minute-long free-flight instrumental jam session. It's another complex Jazz-Rock composition containing undecipherable lyrics, with the music sounding as marvellously wild and unpredictable as a stampede of "Elephants". It's an endlessly entertaining combination of gentle pastoral flute and keyboard passages and wild uninhibited outbursts of unrestrained Canterbury Scene music.

"National Health" is a playful and passionate avant-garde demonstration of evergreen Canterbury Scene music at its best, featuring an accomplished and experienced group of musicians who are really in their element with this eclectic and endlessly diverse album. Sometimes the Jazzy music is manic and unrestrained, and sometimes it's pleasant and pastoral, but it's always energetic and exhilarating. National Health is just the prescription you need for some lively Canterbury Scene Jazz.

 The Universe Also Collapses by GONG album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.65 | 46 ratings

The Universe Also Collapses
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Progressive rock listeners will mostly like Gong because of the charismatic psychedelic space rock albums of the Radio Gnome Trilogy. Since enigmatic frontman Daevid Allen and 'space whisperer' Gilli Smith have both passed away the Gong tradition has been continued by a group of musicians which has been present since 2014's 'I See You' album - which was the last album on which Allen and Smith performed. Without any members of the seventies Gong the legitimacy of this line-up is debatable, but I would argue that this band deserves to be continued - especially with an album like 'The Universe Also Collapses'.

Present are the psychedelic and slightly dopey vocals with their jazzy timing, the space rock soundscapes, the jazz rock elements, a lost-in-time sixties refrain, the strong rhythmical section and above all that typical Gong sympathetic vibe. Add some very strong wind-sections by Ian East (that add a layer of VdGG intensity!) and some keyboard sounds that remind me a bit of CAN's 'Future Days' album - and you might get a picture of what to expect. The totality of it comes across as a group effort, rather than focusing on individual talents - which are evidently present. Of course, there's no replacing Deavid Allen's personality, but the vocals on this album are well done. I didn't like them at first, but somehow one moment later I 'found out' how much they are a charming tribute to Gong's founder. The production of the album is also very well done; a bit retro, yet modern enough to feel relevant in today's progressive rock landscape. Definitely better sounding - than say - 90% of the best albums of 2019.

I consider all songs (except the last) to be equally satisfying. 'Forever Reoccurring' is a twenty minute multi-part track that throws around all typical Gong elements and has a nice listenable pace to it. This song has the most Canterbury-like feel to it as well. Somehow this track has this conclusive or 'after though' feel about it, as if would perfectly fit right after the 'You' album. 'My Sawtooth Wake' is a thirteen minute track that further elaborates on the opening track and ends by musically referring to it. This would have made for a perfect ending to the album. The final song 'The Elemental' than sound a bit out of place with its songy feel and slightly flat mixing job. I actually rated the album as if this was just a bonus track.

In conclusion. With or without Gong legitimacy, this is the most charming space rock (and perhaps Canterbury as well) album of 2019! If the band would want to improve on this effort, it would have to expand on that varied Allenesque psychedelic songwriting - which also had a certain humanity to it. The jazzy instrumental space rock part is about as good as it could get in this tradition.

 Fish Rising by HILLAGE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.14 | 427 ratings

Fish Rising
Steve Hillage Canterbury Scene

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars Renowned guitarist STEVE HILLAGE has been part of the Canterbury Scene since the late 1960's. He was involved with two early one-album band projects: the psychedelic Arzachel (Uriel) album in 1969 and Khan's outstanding "Space Shanty" album in 1971. He's also been a longstanding member of the Jazz-Rock band, Gong. More recently, Steve Hillage was one half of the electronic dance duo, System 7. He also teamed up with ambient musician Evan Marc in 2008 to record the album "Dreamtime Submersible". The album reviewed here, "Fish Rising" (1975), is his first album in a long solo career spanning four decades and seven studio albums. He followed the "Fish Rising" album with six more releases in the late-1970's & early 80's:- "L" (1976); "Motivation Radio" (1977); "Green" (1978); "Rainbow Dome Musick" (1979); "Open" (1979); & finally, "For to Next" (1983). Many of Steve Hillage's bandmates from Gong featured on his first solo outing, including most notably, Pierre Moerlen on drums and percussion and Mike Howlett on bass. The line-up also included Dave Stewart on keyboards, who later paired up with Barbara Gaskin for "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To) in 1986. The 2007 remastered CD edition of "Fish Rising" added two bonus tracks to the original five pieces of music on the album.

"Fish Rising" consists of three long suites of music and two shorter songs. The album opens radiantly with the four-part "Solar Musick Suite", the longest piece on the album at nearly 17 minutes long. The first part "Sun Song (I Love It's Holy Mystery)" bursts into view like a brilliant ray of sunshine. This warm and melodic prog is positively glowing in rainbow colours with some simply sensational soaring guitar riffing from Steve Hillage. He's in fine voice too with his rich silver-toned vocals adding to the sense of warmth. It's a joyous and uplifting song with a flower-power message of love and peace and eternal optimism as these lyric reveal:- "So people look into each others eyes and gaze at them with certainty, We're gathered here today from all around to celebrate eternity, The spirit in the air is never far immersed in our totality, And the answers that we sit and hope to find, Are living here in side of we." ..... This joyful and invigorating music feels like the burgeoning arrival of spring, where colourful flowers are blooming in a twisting and transitional dance of new growth, as mother nature shakes off winter's cold embrace. This is warm and radiant music to stimulate and rejuvenate the soul. The "Solar Musick Suite" merges effortlessly into "Canterbury Sunrise", a lively Jazz-Rock instrumental, giving Steve Hillage a chance to really shine with some impressive soloing and with Dave Stewart providing sterling accompaniment on the organ. Next up is "Hiram Aftaglid Meets the Dervish", a wild and uninhibited whirling dervish of stirring Canterbury Scene music that's very reminiscent of some of Caravan's wilder Jazz-Rock freak-outs. Finally, there's a brief reprise of the glorious opening "Sun Song", to leave one feeling in joyously buoyant mood. Next comes the simply-titled "Fish", which is a bit of a tuneless mess to be perfectly honest, with the discordant music thrown together in a seemingly haphazard fashion. This is a fish that would have been better left in the ocean. The only good thing about this musical mash-up is it's less than 90 seconds long. Moving swiftly on now with the dreamweaving "Meditation of the Snake", a swirling and twisting magic carpet ride of transcendental ambience that washes over the listener like a blissful dreamwave of sound.

Opening Side Two now, we're going fishing with the 9-minute aquatic suite, "Salmon Song", and it's a pretty good catch too. It's a psychedelic rainbow trout swimming in a sea of spacey guitars, combined with some heavy sonorous riffing, and not forgetting those trademark Hillage guitar glissandos which soar right up into the stratosphere. This is one fish you won't want to throw back into the sea. And now we come to the album highlight, the 15-minute-long seven-piece suite, "Aftaglid", to bring the album to a dramatic and powerful conclusion. This is a real psychedelicatessen of musical styles, featuring gently pastoral acoustics, wild psychedelic riffing and Middle Eastern mantras, all combined together into a magnificent musical melange of sound.

"Fish Rising" is an album full of psychedelic delights, featuring super soar-away soloing, spacey New Age ambience, dynamic keyboard virtuosity, and jaunty Jazz-Rock, all combined together into a delicious potpourri of Canterbury Scene music. This fish-themed album will have you hooked.

 De Lorians by LORIANS, DE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 37 ratings

De Lorians
De Lorians Canterbury Scene

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars What a novel impression. De LORIANS were born in Tokyo as a Japanese experimental rock combo in late 2010s, but with incredible technique and soundscape grandeur in their early days. This eponymous album has been released in July 2019, after gigging many many times around Tokyo and Europe, and you can find their energetic intention for launching their individuality strongly inspired by jazz rock, psychedelic, avantgarde, and especially Canterbury vanguards. This 32 minute theatrical framework is filled with explosive power of quirky melodic lines, complicated rhythmic basis, sensitive movements, and respect for rock pioneers.

Apparently sounds like their primary axis of "rock" should be in the Canterbury Scene like Matching Mole, Moving Gelatine Plates, especially Soft Machine. Guess they should've run toward worldwide music scene and this fact is told by their debut creation indeed, but some oriental, Japanese essence (aka "wa no seishin") can be found here and there, that can be accepted without any hesitation, amazingly. Based upon excessive tense atmosphere all around, there are momentary loose vibrations, phrases full of humour, or heartwarming intervals. And interesting is positive phase like a rolling stone or roller coaster jog reminding me of a Japanese jazz rock combo Djamra. Their soundscape can be thought not monistic nor centralized but pluralistic and diverse.

In conclusion, such a dramatic 32 minutes creation of theirs cannot be separated in 8 pieces. This is a magnificent suite to give you enthusiasm. Cannot believe half an hour under their parallel world will go away in a minute, mystically. Trust me, where will they go after releasing such a fascinating debut shot?

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Canterbury Scene bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
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
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
MANNA / MIRAGE United States
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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