Posts Tagged ‘Gong’

Echoes in Video-Hillage & Foxx

August 9, 2013

Some really great videos have been coming our way in the last two days.

hinotoriFirst up, Steve Hillage, a member of the psychedelic progressive band, Gong, and a prolific solo artist in various guises including this one as System 7.  I love Hillage’s electronic music but when he plays live, I like him better with a guitar in his hands and a band and he’s found a great one here in Rovo, a Japanese psychedelic progressive jam-band With some driving dual drummer grooves, violin and Miquette Giraudy’s electronics, they fly on this piece from the forthcoming album, Phoenix Rising.  But as good as that is, the visuals on this track, “Hinotori”  are their equal with a mix of live performance interpolated with some gorgeous Japanese animation based on images from the Manga animation pioneer Osamu Tezuka and his Phoenix series.   The entire project is a merging of live performance and programmed electronics.

image002The other video is by John Foxx, formerly the lead singer of Ultravox, but now a solo artist resolutely devoted to electronic pop with occasional forays into ambient music.  He has a new collaboration with house producer Jori Hilkkonen called European Splendour, that’s coming out in Europe on August 19.  Ahead of it, they’ve released a beautiful video by Gabriel Pulecio and Lorena Kraus of light imagery, but with an antique feel for the song, “Evangeline.”  I’m not sure what the video has to do with it, but it fits the brooding, seductive song of swampy, reverse rhythms and Foxx’s filtered vocals.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Find your local Echoes station or streaming options here.

Choose either a one time $1000 or on-going $84 Monthly PaymentSupport Echoes by becoming a member of the Echoes Sound Circle.

Think of the great artists you love on Echoes. Think of the informative interviews and exclusive live performances. Then, think of a world without Echoes. You can make sure that never happens by becoming a member of the Echoes Sound Circle.

Echoes is a non-profit 501(c3) organization just like your local public radio station. And all donations are tax deductible. You can support Echoes with a monthly donation that will barely disturb your credit card. 130528_Echoes

Join the Echoes Sound Circle and keep the soundscapes of Echoes flowing!

Sherman Hemsley-George Jefferson-Prog Rock Fan.

July 26, 2012

Sherman Hemsley Contemplating the Meaning of Tales of Topographic Oceans.

In Progressive Rock circles, it’s been known for years that  Sherman Hemsley was a Prog Rock fan.   But with the recent death of the actorbest loved for his role as the peripatetic  George Jefferson in The Jeffersons and All In The Family, here’s a few glimpses into the George Jefferson no one might have expected, not even “Weezie.”

Apparently Hemsley, a jazz pianist, was also a big fan of the psychedelic progressive band, Gong.  Gong founder, Daevid Allen related a wild bacchanalian tale of meeting his “biggest fan” in Magnet.

He was also a fan of Nektar, who he managed to slip into a Jefferson’s episode.

During an appearance on the Dinah Shore show, Dinah! Hemsley performed a dance to the Gentle Giant song “Proclamation” from The Power and the Glory . Then he gave a five minute speech about the band.  I would love to find that clip.

You never know where a Progressive Rock fan might be listening.  Here’s to Sherman Hemsley, who died on July 24, 2012.  He’s riding the great Flying Teapot in the sky.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

The Echoes July CD of the Month is Marconi Union’s  Different Colours.   Click on the link for review and several complete tracks.  You get great CDs like this by becoming a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind the next time a progressive rock fan dies.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Life On Planet Gong: Echo Location

November 11, 2009

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.

gong6

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.

IMG_0246

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_

NEARFEST 09 Pt.2: Gong & PFM

June 26, 2009

nf_logoSomeone is dancing in pajama robes and a wizards hat.  It must be Daevid Allen and Gong.

In this second part of the Echoes Nearfest 2009 review it’s the Old Guard Part Two.

Gong @ Nearfest 09 Photo Gino WOng

Gong @ Nearfest 09 Photo Gino WOng

Gong is the rock mirror image of the Sun Ra Arkestra.  Like Sun Ra, Gong is  a free-wheeling eclectic band that wraps itself in its on myth and mystery, namely,  that we came from the Planet Gong and were spawned by aliens.  It’s never quite clear whether Allen and his closest disciples treat this as fact or metaphor.  Like Sun Ra, they seem to live the life and speak the jargon, whether on-stage or off. Nevertheless, for 40 years, Gong has made some riotous music with dada lyrics and the definition of “space guitar.”

Gong played their first concert in 1969, so their Nearfest date was something of an anniversary.  Daevid Allen and singer Gilli Smythe are the only remaining charter members, but longtime associates from the golden era of Gong were there, namely guitarist Steve Hillage and bassist Mike Howlett (who also produced several great 1980s new wave bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Gang of Four and Flock of Seagulls).  This was essentially Steve Hillage’s band with Howlett, Miquette Giraudy on synths and Chris Taylor on drums, with the addition of Allen, Smythe and Theo Travis on reeds.

Angel\'s Egg (Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt. 2) Gong proved that you can go home again, as long as home is the Planet Gong.  The band essayed music from their Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy, but like Van Der Graaf Generator, they wanted to play new music as well, so we got tracks from their forthcoming album, which, essentially sounded like vintage Gong.

Whether wearing his pajamas or his pure white Pot Head Pixie suit with boa feather fringe, Daevid Allen brought a berserk energy to the proceedings, singing out his tales of pothead pixies, octave doctors and alternative consciousness.  He’s in his 70s, but bobbed around stage like David Lee Roth in his prime.  “Geriatric Acid Trip Prog!” as AyRon enthusiastically proclaimed on the NEARfest Board.  Gilli Smythe is a bit older and sadly showed every second of her age. Wearing Alice in Wonderland-style queens raiment, it seemed like she  was wheeled on and off the stage, where she stood motionless and silent, occasionally letting out a shriek or space whisper, but usually looking and sounding lost.  She’s not the winsome wood nymph she once was.

The band rocked for the first half and once they hit the materiel from the trilogy, launched into space with some key jams.  Theo Travis was a more than adequate substitute for longtime Gong reedman, Didier Malherbe.  He squonked and squealed dueling with Hillage one moment and laying down the plaintive sounds of “Flute Salad” the next.  The instrumental passages were vintage psychedelic excursions with shimmering glissando guitar from Allen, free-jazz solos from Travis, and Hillage’s careening, distortion-drenched and delayed solos.  It was all accomplished over the driving ostinato basslines and grooves from Howlett and Taylor respectively.  If you’re a follower, you had to love their performance even if it was stuck in 1974.

Photos of Ghosts The Italian band, PFM, (Premiata Forneria Marconi), only one year younger than Gong, made their second NEARFEST appearance.  They opened the 2005 show and their set was an ungainly mixed of  epic symphonic prog and showboating, naive blues jams.  They must have gotten the memo this time and stuck with their expansive compositions from albums like Photos of Ghosts and The World Became the World and some nice tracks from their 2006 release, Stati di immaginazione.  It wasn’t until more than 90 minutes into their set that they pulled out some cloying pop tunes and a smooth-jazz vamp with a Kenny G sax line played on synthesizer.

The classical roots are immediately evident in this band which boasted three original members and two versatile replacements.  Vivaldi echoes through much of their music. Of all the NEARfest bands this year, PFM explored the widest dynamic range, from ripping, guitar-stoked symphonic grandeur, to quiet and extended pastoral themes.  World Became the World Guitarist Franco Mussida had a distinctly different sound from other players at the festival. His solos built in melodic development instead of shards of flashy licks.  Patrick Djivas knows how to plow through the undertow, holding it together on bass, although his lone solo sounded arthritic.  Franz Di Cioccio is a powerhouse on drums, and I wish he’d spent more time behind them instead of acting like progs version of Italian actor Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) all outsized Italian joy, manic frontman antics and way to much hand-clapping.  In fact, PFM had more clap-alongs than the rest of the festival combined.  This is prog.  We sit and watch sternly.  We don’t clap.

I found the several films they played behind some tunes an occasional distraction.  At times I thought, great music and a PBS lesson too boot.  I learned more about Archimedes than I ever knew before.  But it often put the music in the background.

Based on their 2005 set, I had told my friends that if they wanted to leave at any time, I was okay with that.  But this year PFM came to play and stake their claim on their legacy.

Next up: NEARFEST surprises: Mexico’s Cabezas de Cera and Belgium’s Quantum Fantay.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Someones dancing in pajama robes and a wizards hat.  It must be Daevid Allen and Gong.

In this second part of the Echoes Nearfest 2009 review it’s the Old Guard Part Two.

Gong is the rock mirror image of the Sun Ra Arkestra, a free-wheeling eclectic band that wraps itself in its on myth and mystery, namely,  that we came from the Planet Gong and were spawned by aliens.  It’s never quite clear whether Allen and his closest disciples treat this as fact or metaphor.  Like Sun Ra, they seem to live the life and speak the jargon, whether on-stage or off. Nevertheless, for 40 years, Gong has made some riotous music with dada lyrics and the definition of “space guitar.”  Gong played their first concert in 1969, so their Nearfest date was something of an anniversary.  Daevid Allen and singer Gilli Smythe are the only remaining charter members, but longtime associates from the golden era of Gong were there, namely guitarist Steve Hillage and bassist Mike Howlett (who also produced several great 1980s new wave bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Gang of Four and Flock of Seagulls).  This was essentially Steve Hillage’s band with Howlett, Miquette Giraudy on synths, Chris Taylor on drums, with the addition of Allen, Smythe and Theo Travis on reeds.
Gong proved that you can go home again, as long as home is the Planet Gong.  The band essayed music from their Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy, but like Van Der Graaf Generator, they wanted to play new music as well, so we got tracks from their forthcoming album, which, essentially sounded like vintage Gong.
Whether wearing his pajamas or his pure white Pot Head Pixie suit with boa feather fringe, Daevid Allen brought a berserk energy to the proceedings, singing out his tales of pothead pixies, octave doctors and alternative consciousness.  He’s in his 70s, but bobbed around stage like David Lee Roth in his prime.  “Geriatric Acid Trip Prog!” as AyRon enthusiastically proclaimed on the NEARfest Board.  Gilli Smythe is a bit older and sadly showed every second of her age. Wearing Alice in Wonderland-style queens raiments, she seemed to be almost literally wheeled on stage, where she stood motionless and silent, occasionally letting out a shriek or space whisper, but usually looking and sounding lost.  She’s not the winsome wood nymph she once was.
The band rocked for the first half and once they hit the materiel from the trilogy, launched into space with some key jams.  Theo Travis was a more than adequate substitute for longtime Gong reedman, Didier Malherbe.  He squonked and squealed dueling with Hillage one moment and laying down the plaintive sounds of “Flute Salad” the next
The instrumental passages were vintage psychedelic excursions with shimmering glissando guitar from Allen, free-jazz solos from Travis, and Hillage’s careening, distortion-drenched and delays solos.  It was all accomplished over the driving ostinato basslines and grooves from Howlett and Taylor respectively.  If you’re a follower, you had to love their performance even if it was stuck in 1972.
PFM, (Premiata Forneria Marconi), only one year younger than Gong, made their second NEARFEST appearance.  They opened the 2005 show and their set was an ungainly mixed of their epic symphonic prog and showboating, naive blues jams.  They must have gotten the memo this time and stuck with their expansive compositions from albums like Photos of Ghosts and The World Became the World and some nice tracks from their 2006 release, Stati di immaginazione.  It wasn’t until more than 90 minutes into their set that they pulled out some cloying pop tunes and a smooth-jazz vamp with a Kenny G sax line played on synthesizer.
The classical roots are immediately evident in this band which boasted three original members and two versatile replacements.  Vivaldi echoes through much of their music. Of all the NEARfest bands this year, PFM explored the widest dynamic range, from ripping, guitar-stoked symphonic grandeur, to quiet and extended pastoral themes.  World Became the World Guitarist Franco Mussida had a distinctly different sound from other players at the festival. His solos built in melodic development instead of shards of flashy licks.  Franz Di Cioccio is a powerhouse on drums, and I wish he’d spent more time behind them instead of acting like progs version of Italian actor Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) all outsized Italian joy, manic frontman antics and way to much hand-clapping.  In fact, PFM had more clap-alongs than the rest of the festival combined.  This is prog.  We sit and watch sternly.  We don’t clap.  Patrick Djivas knows how to plow through the undertow, holding it together on bass, although his lone solo sounded arthritic.
I found the several films they played behind some tunes an occasional distraction.  At times I thought, great music and A PBS lesson, as well.  I learned more about Archimedes than I ever knew before.  But it often put the music in the background.
Based on their 2005 set, I had told my friends that if they wanted to leave at any time, I was okay with that.  But PFM came to play and stake their claim on their legacy.

Next up: NEARFEST surprises: Mexico’s Cabezas de Cera and Belgium’s Quantum Fantay.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

NEARFEST ’09 Pt.1: Van Der Graaf Generator & Steve Hillage

June 25, 2009

nf_logoNEARFEST 2009

Part One: Progressing into Yesterday, Steve Hillage and Van Der Graaf Generator

NEARFEST, the North East Art Rock Festival, took place this past weekend and as is the custom of this 11-year-old institution, it was a mix of progressive rockers old and new.
Today, Pt 1 of The Old Guard

There is a tendency for progressive rock fans to want their heroes to remain locked in the past.  Most audience members at NEARfest had never seen these acts and wanted to hear live versions of the music they grew up with.  Two of the old guard complied and two of them didn’t to varying degrees.

31AilmzpzxL._SL500_AA240_Early on in Van Der Graaf Generator‘s set Friday night set, founder, singer and composer Peter Hammill declared.  “We didn’t come here just to be holograms.”  Which meant that as much as fans wanted to hear “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers,” VDGG wasn’t just going to dish up hits and they played several tracks from their 2008 album, Trisector.

This is a leaner, more focused  VDGG without saxophonist David Jackson. But with Hammill on keyboards and guitar, Guy Evans on drums and Hugh Banton on organ and keyboards, they created a big sound.  Banton in particular was a whirlwind, sprawling out across his keyboards and beating out bass-lines on his pedals, he created an orchestra of sound centered by his churning Hammond B3 organ (or a digital variation thereof).  Although he doesn’t quote anything directly, you can hear the  classical roots in everything he does, especially his left-handed comping.  While most of the festival’s keyboardists come from right-hand-riffing/left-hand-modulation-wheel school of soloing, Banton creates full orchestrations, connecting the intricate chord changes and rhythms of the band.

Peter Hammill  thrives in this context.  I was  underwhelmed by his overwrought performance at Nearfest 2008.  A solo piano arrangement isn’t enough to contain a voice that is by turns melodramatic and whispering, mannered and manic.   But corralled in the frame of Van Der Graaf Generator, Hammill’s voice is given depth and context and it’s just not so uninhibitedly naked.

VDGG enlivened tracks from Trisector, and breathed new life into old favorites like “Man-Erg” “Lemmings” and “Sleepwalkers.”   It was their first US appearance since 1976 and it was worth the wait.

51maJlUlHvL._SL500_AA240_The Steve Hillage Band closed out Friday night’s show.  Like VDGG, they’re considered progressive rock, but they couldn’t be more different.  Guitarist Steve Hillage, who has been pushing the electronica envelope with his System 7 and Mirror System projects for nearly two decades, instead went back to his classic 1970s work.   Hillage had been a member of Gong and his own band took those aesthetics and extended them into a more technological brand of rock. On Friday, he revisited that work, playing in a quartet that included Chris Taylor on drums, old Gong bassist Mike Howlett and Hillage’s wife and longtime partner, Miquette Giraudy on synthesizers.  They whipped out tunes from Hillage’s Fish Rising, L and Green albums, with Hillage deploying his delayed guitar solos across the slamming riffs of  “Salmon Song,” and raving it up on “Octave Doctors” with a nice jam of rampant, distorted guitar.  Hillage’s set was marred a bit by technical problems with his guitar, which caused him to repeat his cover of The Beatles “It’s All Too Much” in his encore.  But what really hurt was Hillage’s singing.  You don’t listen to Steve Hillage for the vocals, but on this night, he was grievously off-key, warbling blindly around the tonal center.   When the band zoomed off into space jams with storming the heavens guitar solos, they harkened back to their glory days, but as soon as Hillage  opened his mouth the music stumbled like a tripped gyroscope.

Ironically, seeing Ozric Tentacles, a band heavily influenced by Gong and Hillage, a few nights later, I realized they had found their way out of the pop conundrum by eschewing lyrics and song form.  Hillage does that with System 7 and maybe he should do it with the Hillage Band.  Or at least get a singer who can stay on pitch and hold up to the bands aggressive onslaught.

Next Up Two more Old Proggers: Gong says you can go home again, as long as home is Planet Gong, and Italy’s  PFM redeems their middling performance from NEARfest 2005.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echo Location: Ozric Tentacles

August 6, 2008

The program director of an Echoes affiliate asked, “Are those guys still around?”  But Ozric Tentacles are still taking trips to the center of your mind.

(You can hear an audio version of this Echo Location, with music.)

Guitarist Ed Wynne was only born in 1961, but he has a unique perspective on the 1960s. Growing up in London, he lived in a duplex home next door to psychedelic folkie, Donovan.

Ed Wynne: Yeah, yeah, he rented half the house we lived in when I was growing up, it was very normal to have Donovan around the place and…
Brandi Wynne: And normal to have the Beatles around the place.
Ed Wynne: Yeah, yeah, they were popping in as well, and um stuff, yeah.
Brandi Wynne: Jimi Hendrix.
Ed Wynne: Yeah, it was funny in school when Donovan use to pick me up from school sometimes he was, you know we if my mom was busy or something and he’d come and pick me up from school, funny.

It was all just another magical mystery day for Ed Wynne. He was too young to actually participate in the 1960s revolution, but he made up for it when he formed a band called Ozric Tentacles at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1984. Ozric Tentacles created a bridge from 60s acid rock to 80s rave culture.
Erpland/Jurassic Shift Erpland
 

Ed Wynne is the only original member left in Ozric Tentacles. He’s a goofily affable presence on stage with shaggy brown hair curling down to his shoulders. He’s managed to keep this band going through shifting trends, releasing over 30 albums and becoming the Grateful Dead of space music. Ozric layers syncopated grooves, synthesizer swirls, deep throb bass lines and serrated guitar solos from Wynne. He was heavily influenced by the band Gong and their guitarist, Steve Hillage.  (Hear Hillage Echo Location here)

Ed Wynne: First off the guitar did not necessarily sound like a guitar to me, and I thought well okay, there you go, that opens up a whole little door way there.

Like Hillage, Ed Wynne can turn a single strummed chord into an epic tone poem, morphing it through effects and torquing a whammy bar the way Picasso wielded a brush.

A lot of musicians have passed through Ozric Tentacles including some that have gone on to play in Eat Static, Transglobal Underground and Jamiroquai. Currently Ed Wynne and his wife, bassist Brandi Wynne, continue waving the Ozric freak flag high. With Ozric Tentacles, you strap yourself in and hold tight for the ride.

The latest album from Ozric Tentacles is a live set and DVD called Sunrise Festival. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.
Sunrise Festival

(You can hear an audio version of this Echo Location, with music.)

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


%d bloggers like this: