Hopefully it's just 10 weeks until the release of the new Gong studio album, 'I See You' - Monday 3rd November is pencilled in as THE day. Everything is now in the hands of the record label - daevid's artwork, all the credits, lyrics, notes and writings, plus a host of photographs both live shots and from a photoshoot in Brazil, and of course the LP and CD audio masters. Snapper's artwork team have all the elements to design an appealing and edifying package, one that will illuminate and enhance some great Gong music - I'm sure they'll do just that.
This year and particularly this month it has been impossible to miss the marking of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Many of us will have family links with that conflict, but I doubt any of us will have our relatives on film talking in depth of their experiences of the war.
The father of Mothergong's Harry Williamson can be found on the BBC website recalling life on the Western Front and the Christmas Truce of 1914 in a 30 minute interview recorded in 1963 when Harry was 13 - The Great War Interviews - 3. Henry Williamson. Fascinating stuff.
daevid allen will not be touring with Gong this year. He needs much more of time to recover from the series of operations he had in June and his month in hospital. He will then need further a period of recooperation after a course of radiation therapy which will begin in a couple of weeks. All of this will last until almost November.
Consequently the UK tour and most of the European dates have now been cancelled. It is probably best that you check directly with any venue hosting a Gong concert which you were hoping to attend to find out what the situation is and for any ticket refunds.
It is with regret and sadness that Gong must announce the cancellation of the UK tour this coming Autumn. Following daevid's illness we had hoped to make the tour viable in some way without him. This has ultimately proved impossible. Apologies to all who looked forward, as we did, to the shows. We hope to see you all again before long.
Love and flying teapots, Gong
There's the old Military Two-step, Three steps to Heaven of course, and the slightly too well known amongst certain friends and relations 12-step Programme. Here now revealed are '5 Steps to System 7' at datatransmission.co.uk. These are seminal points on Steve and Miquette's journey to sonic blissdom (with us hitching a ride). Some you will know, others may be new to you. It seems sort of logical that there should actually be 7 steps to System 7 - but maybe a couple of them rightly remain a little more personal.
Steve Hillage guested live on the N@ked Short Club on Monday, June 23rd, between 9pm-10:30pm on Resonance 104.4FM (London). He talked about the new 'Out' album and played some of the tracks. Other topics included the System7vsGong live mashup plans that happened at the following weekend's Glastonbury Festival. I'm sure there is a listen again facility somewhere on resonancefm.com.
When Gong’s much-anticipated headline slot at The Glade stage on Friday 27th June had to be cancelled due to Daevid Allen’s health problems, Steve Hillage, who was to guest with Gong that night, was asked to step in with System 7. Due to the circumstances Steve wants to do something uniquely special - the obvious choice was to invite some of the current Gong musicians to guest with him and partner Miquette Giraudy.
Together they plan to incorporate a few well known Gong instrumental tracks into a rocking System 7 set and bring it all to a rousing climax of rock/techno fusion. Joining them will be current Gong members Dave Sturt (bass and ambient sounds) and Ian East (flute and sax) plus Magick Brother and long-time Daevid Allen collaborator Graham Clark (violin). And sending a wave of positive Glastonbury Love and healing vibes to Daevid.
So we aim to vibe up the ailing alien allen with the positive, energising vibration of music - with the System 7, demi-Gong, Magick Brother combi, which will mix and match in new, mysterious and powerful ways, raise the holy cheeses high and send their essence around the globe - always our intent - but now with added laser-like focus.
The crazy joyful and eternally renewable world of Gong returns with a sparkling new studio album entitled 'I See You' due for release on 27th October 2014 on Madfish.
Daevid Allen & merry pranksters are back with a new album and a potent and colourful line-up that includes Cardiacs guitarist Kavus Torabi, 21st Century asteroid guitar man Fabio Golfetti, virtuoso hornsman Ian East 'wind' on saxoflutes, plus sinuous bassist and sonic manipulator Dave Sturt trading sparks with the flamedog Orlando Allen's fiery drumming and with the serene Gilli Smyth guesting
Dynamic, unexpected, whimsical, brilliant chops and huge fun.
There's a new System 7 double CD (AAWCD016) entitled 'Out'. It's a super, definitive gathering of tracks and mixes that in the main have previously only been available on 12" vinyl or as downloads. The release date was 7th July, the pleasingly appropriate 7.7.14, and you can order it now.
Rovo magic band - magic sounds [updated Sun 10 Aug]
One of the joys of the year so far has undoubtedly been the discovery of the music of Rovo, thanks to Steve and Miquette and the amazing Phoenix Rising Tour.
Rovo produce a stunning mixture of the types of music and sounds many of us hold dear - but in an excitingly new way. Thunderous jamming, psychedelic space-rock, an adventurous combination of electronica and dynamic percussive creativity and joyous, uplifting melodies exuberantly demand our attention on each of their albums. If they were based in the UK or Europe they'd be huge.
Due to the strength of the Yen and the fact that Japanese releases have held a high price (lower-priced downloads sales, which pull down the price of physical sales, are still quite small in Japan compared with other territories) this all means that Japanese DVD and CD sales are some of the most expensive in the world.
So having this window of opportunity to offer the remaining Rovo tour stock at reasonable price (have a look at what they cost on Amazon!) is a one off pleasure. But there is a very imited supply on all of the Rovo releases, some in single figures.
Cyrille Verdeaux has just released a new Clearlight album, 'Impressionist Symphony', with Steve Hillage, Tim Blake and Didier Malherbe featuring among the guests. I've not heard the whole album yet but here's a link to Cyrille's You Tube Clearlight 2014 Teaser which certainly put me in mind of the glory of the 1975 'Clearlight Symphony' album which also featured our Gongsters as guests.
From the deepest Devonian realms a new animated film project from Jackie Juno. Here to sample on You Tube is 'Reincarnation Street Ep. 1'. The full series with 5 episodes and outakes is available to buy on DVD from jackiejuno.weebly.com, or HERE! - the Planetgong Bazaar.
Josh Pollock ...guitar wrangling for fun and occasionally profit [updated Mon 20 Jan]
Here's a cool interview with Josh Pollock from All About Jazz in which he chats about all sorts of aspects of his rich and varied musical life which naturally includes the University of Errors and playing with daevid..."When he [daevid] is inspired, I have heard him play some of the most astounding, mind-blowing guitar I've ever heard from anyone, anywhere (though I have also heard him sound like an orangutang wondering what the hell this thing is hanging from his neck...".
- To-day, 13th January...Christopher David Allen is 76
- daevid allen is either 3 or 300 - opinion remains divided
- but...then again the divided alien remains, so that's all fine then
The physical being has reached his Trombone-age (or wind driven, manually operated, pitch approximator as it's known by the rest of the brass section).
Although one aspect of his personalities has been known to 'post' none of his beings to date actually reads forums or social media pages - he probably wouldn't be who we think he is - if he did.
I am however happy to let you know on his behalf and in lieu of any 'regular' social media postings, that he does have weather where he is, would love to see you at his next concert and would be delighted if you found time to listen to any of his works. I can also assure you that he has really liked/hated something recently - but it wasn't on the net.
When I spoke to him this morning (the evening in Australia) convivial commemorations had commenced with continuing carousing until the wee small hours a certainty - the musical gathering sounded in full swing in Byron Bay. Oh yeh - Gilli is very cool as well.
Hopefully there will be many opportunities to see, hear, meet and experience daevid for real in 2014. If they come your way - don't ignore them - unlike so much that passes before our eyes and ears - THEY will be memorable.
On this day next year he will entering his Sunset Strip-age, then it's onwards to his Shellac-age, etc.
Before Christmas, while he and Miquette were in the Far East, Steve Hillage asked me to send 'Phoenix Rising' CDs to John Newsham and Jasper Johns. This was great news as it meant that both were up for the Rovo and System 7 March dates.
In John Newsham there couldn't be a better Front of House engineer. He first worked with the Steve Hillage Band in the 70's and was the most genial of sound-gurus at the Gong Amsterdam Unconvention alongside Venux DeLuxe and David Id. He designed the wondrous Funktion One PA, and has worked with the very best including a long association with Pink Floyd. John is an ultimate sonic adventurer so naturally the dance world has always been perfect fit as well. You may have encountered his surround-sound trance set-up at a Festival.
Jasper is THE go-to Gong lighting/projection wizard who you will have experienced, been immersed within and transported by if you have seen Gong in the past few years. What he can summon forth with his hypnotizer lighting system is quite incredible - a true psychedelic quester and visionary.
For the Hillage guitar-rich, synthy, Prog/dance/jam band extravaganza we head towards all of this is brilliant news. The Rovo and System 7 dates continue to develop into a very special Spring break - their like will not be experienced again - which is exactly how it should be.
Gong 2014 …what awaits down the road and around the bend? [updated Thr 9 Jan]
GONG has never stopped shape shifting in it's 46 years of touring - from the origins in the Parisian revolutions of '68, through the Virgin years to it's newest incarnation. Unorthodox and unpredictable it continues to defy show-biz gravity, most forms of logic, every fad and fashion, and pretty much anything else you care to conjure up. Weeeellll, it is GONG.
Here is the class act of 2014:
DAEVID ALLEN at 75 carries the banner for the original vibe with the irresistible
ORLANDO ALLEN on drums, while new guitarist
KAVUS TORABI ex Cardiacs leads the charge into the future. Add to this the virtuoso
IAN EAST 'WIND' on horns and flutes, the sexy sinuous bass lines of
DAVE STURT (the sonic manipulator), and the soaring psychedelic guitar lines of Brazilian
FABIO GOLFETTI and you have a 21st Century supergong
If you miss it, it will miss you!
In 2014 we can also look forward to a new album of total new Gongness which is nearing completion, the working titles of which include, 'In Your Dreams' and 'I See You'. No-one outside the band and a couple of studio chaps, not even me, has heard a peep of this baby yet - naturally they are all highly enthused. What will it be?
How can one expect to cut a meaningful swathe through this complicated life without a Here & Now t-shirt? Whether worn as a simple, focused statement of active intent or detached Zen-like equanimity you can't really go wrong.
For years, until the return of Andy Roid, if you wanted a Here & Now shirt you had to wait for a gig to come along (usually in the UK) and hope they'd remembered to bring some. Shirts did not feature high on the H&N agenda.
Now for the first time, and in collaboration with the band themselves, everyone around the circle has a chance to pre-order a spanking new, crisp Here & Now t-shirt.
Odd Gong …maybe it's the heat? [updated Tue 7 Jan]
A little fun Gongtritus from hotter climes - "I had everyone singing Gong songs…" - yes, even more from Prog mag. And also from the far side (of the world) we have Gong tunes through kitchen utensils by Steve Hillage and Miquette…
If you made all this up and there were no evidence you'd be accused of spinning some exceedingly tall tales.
While we are skirting the fringes here's a wee article from the Independent On Sunday about how the super Snooker progger and the new Gong guitarist got to know each other - How We Met: Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi
Some more Bandcamperage this time from singer - songwriter, Tim Hawthorn, Tim Hall as was - Elder Bard of Ynys Witrin, 'Silver on the Tree' mainstay, 'Avalonian Free State Choir' chorister, UK Invisible Opera founding member, a Silver Twiglet, and lead archetype (you guess which one) in 'Tim Hall and The Archetypes', and sometime busker of this parish.
Tim's BandCamp page reveals 3 fine albums to sample, with more to be posted imminently, such as the results of a gig on the Winter Solstice.
The Invisibles have a new download only track, 'Lilith', available from their BandCamp page. Payment is by open donation.
While you are there you can also stream the complete 'Live @ Sonic Rock Solstice 2011' album - and if it tickles your fancy, download it at the special price of £5 - or buy an actual CD for £10 and get the download straight-way for free! And as is said at this time of year - Hurry, this offer must end soon.
Here's a stunning live version of 'Meeting Of The Spirits' as performed by Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy and Rovo in Japan on 24th November. It certainly wets the appetite for what can be expected next March on the Rovo/System tour - the dates are listed here.
The London gig on the 8th March has moved to the 02 Academy in Islington (much better acoustics than the original venue), and one last UK date has been added at the Concorde 2, Brighton on Sun 9th March - a gig which could easily sell out, so if it takes your fancy don't delay.
Due to the dynamic, ever changing nature of the music of this set-up, if I wasn't lucky enough to be on the tour I'd be tempted to follow the entire jaunt à la Deadheads. A Springtime adventure!
Have a look at some of the other related videos from the current Japan visit (linked at the end of the clip), there's some great fun stuff there including Steve and violinist Katsui jamming (ending with an impromptu performance of a well known Fishy song), and Steve being interviewed via a translator.
Yet another bit of Prog Magazine news (anyone would think we have shares!). 'Telly Song' from the new Here & Now 'Live in London' album appears on the cover-mount CD of the new issue, number 41. That's gotta be a H&N first.
I see from the Prog mag web-site that Steve Hillage also makes cameo appearance in an article about being glad about never having a No.1 album. A certain kind of logic there I'm sure - it's one thing to have, "danced with the devil in the pale moonlight", but if you go 'all the way' is there any coming back? Probably not, a weird kind of pseudo country squiredom seems to be the fate of any Progger who had a number one album, that or going aeroplane/car mad. Boring…
Christian Tritsch, Kevin Ayers (with bowl on head), Gilli Smyth, daevid allen, Sam Wyatt, Pip Pyle (Sam's step-dad) and Didier Malherbe
This wonderful photograph of Gong recently surfaced and has been around on the fleece-book. I thought it was high time to try and flesh it out a bit. It was taken by Robert Wyatt's brother, photographer, Mark Ellidge, in the gardens of the Chateau d'Herrouville in the Val d'Oise, North East of Paris where 'Camembert Electrique' was recorded. The Chateau later became famous as Elton John's 'Honky Chateau', where both that album and his 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' were recorded. Among many other albums of note recorded at the Chateau's studios were, Floyd's 'Obscured By Clouds', 'The Slider' by T Rex, Bowie's 'Pin Ups' and Iggy Pop's 'The Idiot'.
I'm guessing that the picture was taken in late Summer of 1971 (the dandelions being the giveaway?), sometime after the recording of 'Camembert Electrique' and after the trip to Glastonbury Fayre, both of which were in June of that year and neither of which involved Kevin Ayers. Perhaps the band were rehearsing at the studios prior to the first UK Gong tour in October/November, which did include Kevin.
One thing I've noticed with all these old photographs, slides and contact sheets of the Gong tribe back in the day is there are none featuring Gilli's daughter and daevid's step-daughter Tasmin, who would have been about 11 years old at the time of this particular photograph. Perhaps she was very shy, unlike young Sam.