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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gong

Angel’s Egg

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual, but entertaining disc. It seems to strike a good balance between mainstream and just plain weird. The result is that, even when it’s quite odd, it works well. It should appeal to fans of Rock in Opposition, space rock and King Crimson styled prog. Of course, that’s a pretty good audience for Gong in general, so it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to label that group as the obvious group to dig this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Other Side of the Sky

An echoey, processed, spoken voice starts this. Then we get waves of ambient echoey sound (not quite music, but musical) with non-lyrical vocals sort of jutting over the top. Eventually more musical, but rather jarring, elements protrude here and there as more space rock like bits emerge. Then a spoken male voice delivers the next lyrics in a poetry reading style. The weird space music continues on this, feeling at times like Hawkwind. More melodic music floats around here after that reading. This is great stuff. Then some sung vocals that are processed emerge, almost robotic. The piece gets into rather scat singing like directions from there as psychedelia and space rock merge to form the backdrop. This continues evolving in some great ways as saxophone solos over the Hawkwind-like tapestry. Weird little chants are heard near the end. This actually more segues into the next number than it does end, though.

Sold to the Highest Buddha
Psychedelic Hawkwind like music is the order of business here. There is a real Robert Calvert sort of feeling on the vocal arrangement to me. The music is quite busy with drums and guitar both showing off here and there. The saxophone somehow brings an almost King Crimson kind of vibe to this as far as I’m concerned. This is odd, but also very fun in its psychedelic jamming. Comparisons to early Pink Floyd wouldn’t be totally out of the question. Yet, a riff or two here and there makes me think of Cream, even. Some noisy jamming emerges later. It gets quite jazzy.
Castle in the Clouds
Chirping guitar opens this. The cut moves into sort of a cross between electronic music, fusion and space rock from there. This is just a short instrumental.
Prostitute Poem
Spacey music with female spoken vocals opens this. That runs through for a while and then a bouncy old time jazz vaudeville sound paired with space takes it next. The next spoken vocals are in French. Different types of world music come and go. The thing with this piece is, if you don’t like where it is, just wait. It keeps changing. The female spoken vocals carry through and the whole thing has a space meets jazz and more sound. Around the two minute mark, though, it goes more into pure space music. It moves back to the earlier stylings as it continues, though.
Givin My Luv to You
This is like a short pub singalong. The Robert Calvert reference works here, too.
Selene
Bass starts this. Psychedelia and space rock merge as it moves forward. The multiple layers of vocals add a real strangeness. That element gets more emphasis after the song crescendos and just the vocals, with some processing, remain.
Flute Salad
A short, spoken bit opens this. Then flute rises up bringing some great world music textures. After a time, it turns more towards strange psychedelia. It gets echoey and processed and just a little odd. It’s still quite pretty, though. It turns more electronic from there. Other than some spoken vocals more like “found sounds,” this remains an instrumental throughout.
Oily Way
The flute brings this one and carries it for a time. As it builds out, there is a playful, jazz meets classical vibe to it. Then, after the thirty second mark the arrangement expands and the cut changes direction. It has a real King Crimson meets jazz vibe to it. The vocal is spoken. Eventually, though, this shifts out to something that has a more melodic texture and some female sung vocals. It’s got sort of a King Crimson meets Jefferson Airplane texture to me. The spoken male vocals are still the main thing on the track, though. This thing just keeps shifting and changing as it moves along. It’s cool stuff.
Outer Temple
Jazzy, psychedelic space rock with spoken vocals is the concept here. This is like Hawkwind meets Traffic as far as I’m concerned. It’s a short piece that runs straight into the next one.
Inner Temple
As saxophone solos over the top, a jazzy meets space sound creates the backdrop here. This instrumental is one of the more mainstream and straightforward pieces here. It dissolves to more pure space at the end.
Percolations
This forty second piece is strange. It’s mostly percussive with almost cartoony sounds of torture included here and there.
Love is How U Make It

Bouncy jazz meets psychedelia and island music seems to basic concept here. The vocal harmonies are a bit odd, but also work quite well. Around the two minute mark it moves out to more of a rocking arrangement. Still, the other elements don’t go away. Vibes take over later and then a new fast paced movement rises up from there. That section serves to take it out pretty quickly, though.

I Niver Glid Before
This is a more mainstream tune. It’s got some shifts and changes, but overall, it’s riff driven psychedelia with jazz and space laced over the top. The instrumental section is more of a classic rock turned proggy sound. It has one of the most classic sounding guitar solos in the midst of that movement. There is also an interesting bass driven movement later in the piece. That gives us some tastefully off-kilter jamming. That section gets sped up as this works towards the end.
Eat That Phone Book Coda
Spoken bits followed by a saxophone burst is the beginning here. From there it works to a bouncy kind of psychedelic oddity. This works through quite a few changes. It’s all pretty bizarre, but oddly catchy, though.
Ooby-Scooby Doomsday or The D-day DJ's Got the D.D.T. Blues
Starting off with war-time pop music sounds, this evolves into more of a psychedelic rock romp from there. It’s another that’s pretty weird. It wanders this way and that. Early Pink Floyd merged with King Crimson wouldn’t be too far from a description of this. This really has some strange sections. Yet, it also has some smoking hot mainstream rock moments, too.

 

 
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