Life On Planet Gong: Echo Location

Gong-The Original Psychedelic Space Gypsies at 40.

You can hear an audio version of this blog, with Gong’s music.41XlNV03VfL._SL500_AA240_

The voyage of the original Star Trek ended in 1969, but another band of space travelers called Gong launched that year and they’re still wandering the galaxies. Gong is a free-wheeling psychedelic band that wraps itself in its on myth, namely, that we’re in contact with mystical, acid drenched beings from the Planet Gong. It’s never quite clear whether the band treat this as fact or metaphor.  Like Sun Ra, they seem to live the life and speak the jargon, whether on-stage or off.   Gong’s founder is the 71 year old Australian guitarist, Daevid Allen.  Speaking backstage at Nearfest 2009 in Bethlehem, Allen articulates the ethos  of Gong.

Daevid Allen:  Well Gong has an ongoing story to it.  So that is kind of a backbone and guide.  It really is a teaching story–in the old Sufi sense– it’s meant to be a story.  But we never wanted it to sound serious because then everyone embraces it as a religion– a terrifying prospect.  So we made it as silly as we possibly could, so that most people wouldn’t take it seriously.

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Daevid Allen @ Nearfest Photo: Gino Wong

Needless to say, psychedelics played an important part in Gong’s creative process.

Daevid Allen: It’s almost like channeling because we were consciously saying there are more intelligent beings than us that wish to work through us.  And the acid was really a way of getting rid of our egos so that that could come through as purely as possible.

Gong’s best known work is the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy. It tells the tale of Zero the Hero while careening from space to jazz to rock, minimalism and beyond.  It also marks two signature sounds of the band, heavenly glissando guitar and deep space echo.  Gong guitarist Steve Hillage.

Steve Hillage: If you’re doing music that has a philosophic connection to the universe and space.   there is nothing better than creating this unearthly spatial environment with all the unearthly reflections.

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Allen & Hillage @ Nearfest Photo: Diliberto

Both Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage claim to be teetotalers now, but they’ve just released a new album called 2032 that’s in the spirit of 1972. What that means is, Gong is still making a joyful, hallucinogenic music full of cosmic whimsy and sonic exploration.  Forty years later, Gong is still traveling the spaceways and currently touring Europe. I’ll have an interview with them next week on Echoes. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

You can hear an audio version of this blog, with Gong’s music.

Read review of Gong’s 2009 Nearfest performance.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

You can hear an audio version of this blog, with Gong’s music.41XlNV03VfL._SL500_AA240_

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One Response to “Life On Planet Gong: Echo Location”

  1. Andy Douglas Says:

    Great article about Gong. Have loved their music and Hillage’s for many years. Have also became a teetotaler un-potted pixie like Daevid and Steve as I and many of my friends have gotten into our fifties and sixties. Their music was great. “Fish Rising” and “Gong You” were great albums.

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