Friday, June 18, 2010

Gong - Shamal (1975)

The band's first post-Allen release, Shamal was an album of transition and confusion. The only three holdovers at this point were Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe, and Pierre Moerlen (with cameos as well from Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy). Marimba goddess Mireille Bauer, who was in the background of You, was now on board as a full member. Keyboardist Patrice Lemoine filled out the quintet. The sound was decidely shifting more towards a tuned percussion-fusion-funk direction, a European parallel to Frank Zappa's 70s fusion band here in the States. Lemoine particularly contributed to this redirection, with the electric piano overtaking the dense, dreamy moog and mellotron textures of his predecessor Tim Blake. The tracks that work best are the instrumentals. Stepping up to the plate with lead vocal duties, bassist Mike Howlett tried his best. Still, it sounds hollow and uncharismatic, especially following in the footsteps of Daevid Allen. Howlett probably realized this, and departed the band right after this. A worse offense are the lyrics, which on this effort are abysmal. The music is enough to make Shamal a minimally interesting listen. Still, though, it's a disappointment, barely capturing an ounce of the spirit and fun of before. The next release, Gazeuse!, while still being dry, would show an increased maturity of this stage of the band's new style, drifting ever further from the land of pot-head pixies


Virgin (CDV 2046)
UK/France 1975

Mike Howlett, bass, vocal; Didier Malherbe, saxes, flutes, gong; Pierre Moerlen, drums, vibraphone, tubular bells; Mireille Bauer, marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone, gong, percussion; Patrice Lemoine, piano, electric piano, organ, mini-moog; with Steve Hillage, acoustic and electric guitars; Miquette Giraudy, vocal; Sandy Colley, vocal; Jorge Pinchevsky, violin

1. Wingful of Eyes — 6:20
2. Chandra — 7:18
3. Bombooji — 5:11
4. Cat in Clark's Shoes — 8:50
5. Mandrake — 3:03
6. Shamal — 9:54

total time 40:43


marram62 said...

Anonymous said...

Many Thanks!!!