Friday, March 13, 2015

From the Planet.... GONG! (In loving memory of Daevid Allen)



The Origins of Gong
Gong came into being almost by accident in the late sixties when Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Britain following European dates with Soft Machine. Deciding to stay in Paris, Allen began working alongside Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually become the phenomenal Gong.

The first recognized recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister (1970), followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, and You.

Various permutations of Gong have worked together over the years under various names including Mother Gong, Expresso Gong, Gongmaison, Planet Gong, and so on and so forth. They have all included an amazing array of musical talent moving through the ranks, to name but a few: Didier Malherbe aka Bloomdido Bad de Grasse, Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, Mike Howlett, Steffi Sharpstrings, Tim Blake, Hugh Hopper, and Robert Wyatt.

Gongmaison came about in April 1989 after Daevid Allen's return to the UK and, more importantly, following a French gig with former Gong member Didier Malherbe (pictured left, the most amazing wind instrumentalist alive on Earth - but, alas, a fact known only to initiates of GAS - or the Gong Appreciation Society!).

The name "Gongmaison" alluded to the mixture of house/jazz that the band played at the time - which, in fact, was nearer to house music although it still contained all the relevant Gong elements of old. This video clip comes from the band's performance in the early nineties and was filmed at the Fridge in Brixton.

The line-up includes key members of Gong - Daevid Allen, Didier Malherbe and the wiccan poet Gilli Smyth aka Shakti Yoni (right) who developed her own vocal technique dubbed the Space Whisper. It was Shakti Yoni, in fact, who helped to craft Gong's elaborate cosmomythology through her inspired poetry and storytelling.




The impact of GONG on my life

In the early 1970s I was in the habit of shopping for LPs in Singapore. My favorite source was Sing & Co. on Hill Street because they always had some real finds in the cheap bin. On one such occasion I spotted three albums by an unknown band called Gong. Drawn to the cover art (which depicted Pot Head Pixies in their Flying Teapots), I bought two albums without a moment's hesitation - and I wasn't disappointed one bit! In fact, I couldn't wait to return a few weeks later for Angels Egg which I had been forced by budget constraints to leave behind :-)

In 1969 I had been subjected to electroshock therapy on account of the amazing "visions" I'd been experiencing - of contact with extraterrestrials and angels and an Earth reborn in rainbow splendor, gone the historical (and hysterical) nightmare of smelly politics, rotten economics, and perpetual war. Looking at the Gong album artwork and listening to their fantastic music enormously cheered me and reconnected me with my core being. In Gong I had found my own spiritual and musical family at last - indeed, I'd go as far as to say Gong helped me regain my cosmic equilibrium and PHP humor! [PHP in this instance refers, of course, to "Pot Head Pixie" - NOT "Hypertext Preprocessor"!]

Gong's music, I thought, was akin to dervish dancing in that it induced in the listener a beatific trance state, opening one's consciousness to the kaleidoscopic worlds awaiting our discovery within our own neurology. Through all the ensuing decades, Gong and everything they represent have served as trusty friends and soul-family.

I'm indeed overjoyed to learn that Gong is very much alive and well. Daevid Allen is now a still-spritely 69 and rumored to be living in Byron Bay, New South Wales. His latest project is the University of Errors and I recommend a leisurely tour for some exquisite mental stimulation and not a few hearty belly laughs.

OWLY SONG by Daevid Allen (animation by Merav Shacham aka Bananamoon)



Watch GONG live in Nottingham, 1990!

The entire 7-part concert is on YouTube but as I can't embed the videos here, just click on each segment (if you don't have the patience to sit through all of it, go for Part 5 where Didier goes wild on his Yamaha WX7!):

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4a | Part 4b | Part 5 | Part 6

Daevid Allen in 1975: Cozmik Mad Hatter, Wizard of the Keys, and Master of Fohat!

[First posted 20 June 2007]

4 comments:

Yusuf/Martin said...

Thank you for these last two blogs - what did Jethro Tull sing...........

Your never too old to rock and rock if you're too young to die.

Sadly I left all my Gong and Kevin Ayers albums in England when I moved to Malaysia, though I still have some sounds on MP3.

Antares said...

The thing about musicians like Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers: they defy homogenization and mass marketing. They're raw and real and don't even try to be slick. Real food, not like so much junk forced down people's throats by "the music industry."

Yusuf/Martin said...

How right you are sir!
Caravan and Camel too, dare I say Brian Eno?
The early Pink Floyd with dear departed Syd and early Yes too.
Mark Bolan when he was Tyrannosaurus Rex with equally departed Steve Perigrine Took on bongos

IBU PUSPITA said...

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Saya ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda bahwa saya ini IBU PUSPITA seorang TKI dari malaysia dan secara tidak sengaja saya buka internet dan saya melihat komentar ibu hayati yg dari honkong tentan MBAH KABOIREN yg telah membantu dia menjadi sukses dan akhirnya juga saya mencoba menghubungi beliau dan alhamdulillah beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor toto 6D dan alhamdulillah itu betul-betul terbukti tembus,kini saya sangat berterimakasih banyak kepada MBAH KABOIREN dan jika anda ingin seperti saya silahkan hubungi MBAH KABOIREN di 085-260-482-111,saya juga tidak lupa mengucap syukur kepada ALLAH karna melalui MBAH KABOIREN saya juga sudah bisa sesukses ini dan jangan mudah percaya kepada MBAH yg lain selain MBAH KABOIREN karna saya juga pernah mengalami yg namanya dibohongin sama para normal yg lain,ini bukan rekayasa dari saya melainkan ini kisah nyata dari seorang TKI.... KLIK _ GHOB _ 2D 3D _ 4D _ 6D _ DISINI