GONG has never stopped shape shifting in its 46 years of touring - from it's 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. It's 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!
We can also look forward to a vibrant new album of total Gongness, 'IN YOUR DREAMS', which nears completion.
…maybe it's the heat?
A little fun Gongtritus from hotter climes…
"I had everyone singing Gong songs…" - yes, even more from 'Steve Davis - Life in the Celebrity Jungle' [Prog magazine]
And also from the far side (of the world) we have Gong tunes through kitchen utensils by Steve Hillage and Miquette…
If you made it up and there was no evidence you'd be accused of spinning tall tales.
Invisible Opera download-only release
The Invisibles have a new download-only track, 'Lilith', available from their BandCamp page, the first 200 of which are free. The offer finishes at the end of 2013.
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 for free! And as is said at this time of year - Hurry, these offers must end soon.
Jackie Juno - Reincarnation Street DVD
…it's deja vu all over again
Also from the deepest Devonian realms from 'Invisibless' Jackie Juno a new animated film project. Here on Youtube is 'Reincarnation Street Ep. 1'. The full series with 5 episodes and outakes is available to buy on DVD.
Rovo & System 7 : live in Tokyo
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.
Here & Now on Prog magazine CD
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 website 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…
a summer evening 42 years ago
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 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 the lack of any 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.
daevid - Where he! What he! Gong…he he?
…follow the black-light ampersand
OZ-tralia of course, poeting, commission fulfilling and working on tracks for the next Gong album - which passes through the ethers from here to there (and there) and back again. The entire Gong band, daevid, Orlando, Dave Sturt, Fabio, Ian East and newest member Kavus Torabi of Cardiacs are deeply involved in the gestation process. All remains veiled in mystery, which is nice, not enough mystery these days.
daevid's next non Australian adventure is Japan in November with 'You, Me and Us'. There are no other gigs anywhere, despite what some social net-working sites (seething seas of rife rumour that they be) apparently say.
As for live Gong…there will be dates in Brazil and hopefully Argentina and perhaps Chile next March, and plans are currently being hatched for European dates, including the UK, in the Autumn of 2014.
They said it couldn't be done (some said it shouldn't be done): "How can you do the propellers?" "What about the pixies and the Teapot's interior?" Well all the design and manufacturing problems have been cleverly overcome and the prototype has just been delivered from the chaps (Richard and Christian) in the garage. I think it's a fabulous addition to the oeuvre to go alongside the mighty stained glass Gong mandala.
Steve Hillage in print and on the radio
The current issue of Prog Magazine features pages and pages on their awards event which included Steve Hillage getting his giant P for being a prog visionary. Expect lots of pictures, an interview with Steve and a review of 'Phoenix Rising'. I also notice that the cover-mount CD has a track from Nik Turner's new album.
Steve has recorded a programme for Prog Magazine Radio, their weekly internet show which is on every Sunday at 6pm. Steve's broadcast will probably be on Sunday 13th October.
There is another interesting two page interview with Steve in the latest copy of the Rock Society's magazine, issue 197, and he is featured in the October 'Guitar Techniques' magazine - which may well be about, er, 'what it says on the tin', or perhaps Steve's Koi Carp collection (not really).
Rovo & System 7 : Phoenix Rising
The Phoenix Rising album CD is released today, Monday 23rd September, and is available in the Planetgong Bazaar. All Phoenix Rising pre-orders have now been sent, except for a couple in the States which are waiting for another pre-order to become available before both are sent together.
Here is the stunning 'Hinotori' video (a full version of the track is on the album) from our Mood Magic friends in Japan who of course also did such amazing work on System 7 'Song For The Phoenix', 'Positive Noise' and Gong 'How To Stay Alive' videos - all of which and more can be found on Youtube at SteveH77.
Steve & Cyrille & Nik… & even Jim!
…guitar-slinger for hire
One of the things Steve Hillage has been working recently are guitar parts for a new Cyrille 'Clearlight' Verdeaux album entitled, 'Impressionist Symphony'. It's tracks are inspired by and named after famous painters. Steve worked on three tracks - Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin - an impressionist and two post-impressionists. This is the first time that Steve and Cyrille will appear on the same album since the 'Clearlight Symphony' LP back in the '70s, and which you can see was re-issued last year (yes I forgot). More news on the new album featuring Steve as it's received.
Steve also guests on a track of Nik Turner's new album 'Space Gypsy' which is out now on Cleopatra Records. The bits I've heard sound really good (there are 2 or 3 tracks on Youtube). Nik is touring the States next month. Go see him - one of the 'human beings'. Work on the follow-up album to 'Space Gypsy' is also in progress with Steve involved with 3 tracks. Cleopatra are also behind Steve's contribution to a Doors track, 'The Soft Parade', on one of those compilation tribute-y releases they do rather well.
I just realised that Nik Turner's band and Hawkwind with Tim Blake are both touring the States next month, and as they also both have new albums out I'd think it must be rather a wonderful time to be of a Hawkwindish persuasion, especially one living in America. Go enjoy and celebrate them both, for… (you know the words to the song) "Soon we will be gone…".
*SEE* videos such as my insane scene from the TV show "Trauma", in which I play a guy dressed as Wolverine who attacks another guy dressed as Wolverine…
*HEAR* an excerpt from the new 18-1/2-hour long audiobook I recently completed of the excellent Leonard Cohen biography, "I'm Your Man"…
*BEHOLD* a discography over 60 titles long, and counting…
*DOWNLOAD* tons of music, from tons of my bands/projects, some of it for free…
*MARVEL* at a video game intro in which it seems as though I'm acting opposite Hollywood Hilarity-meister Jack Black…
…and much, much more. Within seconds it will be obvious that this is clearly the greatest website ever created in the history of mankind. Enjoy…!
Please note : There is no correlation between Mr Pollock and Zappa's 'Po-jama People' despite him often being sighted in the aforementioned sleeping attire. Josh is the antithesis of boring, plus his PJ's do not have, "A little trap-door back aroun' 'em".
Steve Hillage - Prog 'Visionary' award
(it's official - he's a seer)
Something we have suspected for decades was confirmed and celebrated at Kew Gardens the other evening when Steve Hillage was given the 'Visionary' award at the second annual Prog magazine ceremony. He has certainly always embraced the spirit of 'progressive' in it's forward looking and forward moving essence as is so appropriately revealed on the new Phoenix Rising album.
A visionary could also be described as a utopian idealist, an enthusiastic mystic or a quixotic radical. Steve can be all of these inspiring, high-falutin things - but, thankfully for us, most importantly he is also someone who grounds the 'visions' and makes them into real music, castles in the clouds you can hear, otherwise it's all just so many daydreams.
Yes that is ex Goodie and keen twitcher Bill Oddie giving Steve his award, the other chap is BBC TV news journalist and presenter Gavin Esler, the host of the event, who is a prog nut apparently, with a special fondness for Floyd, Crimson, Tull and Colosseum.
So if Steve is a visionary - what then is Miquette? A dream-walker perhaps.
You Me & Us - Japanese Tour Yumi Hara, daevid allen, Chris Cutler
The improvising trio have announced 12 Japanese dates at the end of October and into the first two weeks of November. Several of the concerts involve special guest performers, Kazutoki Umezu, Tatsuya Yoshida & Kazuhisa Uchihashi, and the Õmihachiman gig is with keyboard player Dave Sinclair, ex. Caravan, Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, Camel, etc. who lives in Japan.
Vinyl Solutions : recent releases
grooved for your pleasure
The vinyl route to audio satisfaction continues to expand as more and more releases pop up. Here are most of the Gong related ones of the past while.
'Tried So Hard' - Invisible Opera Company of Tibet with daevid allen : The definitive vinyl artifact is surely the 7-inch single, it's what we grew up on before graduating to LPs. So it's marvelous to see such a good new one in the Gong Family. Available to pre-order now.
Whilst in the realms of vinyl…the past year witnessed Planet Gong supplies of what seemed destined to be stock-cupboard eternals selling out. There are no more Mothergong 'Robot Woman 3' LPs, or the Radio Actors' 'Nuclear Waste' and Steve Hillage 'Leylines To Glassdom' 7-inches, and we are down to a couple of copies daevid's 'Death of Rock' and a couple of boxes of 'Ex/Don't Stop', and of course re-issue of the originally impossibly rare 'Dreaming The Magic of Your Maya' was released and sold out almost in the same breath.
I rather enjoy the more finite physicality of vinyl. Not only will the record eventually wear away with repeated enjoyings (much like ourselves), but the actual method of pressing the vinyl, the stamper, also has a limited number of 'stamps' in it (around 5000), before it too is of no further use. At the height of CD-dom it sometimes felt as if we were to be condemned to a future knee-deep in indestructible shiny discs whether or not they were any good, or were even actually playable - and what do you do with a dead CD?
The Record Store Day idea is now well established, and believe it or not there is now a 'Cassette Store Day', which is Sept 7th, with some labels releasing albums on tape again for the first time in more than a decade. I wonder if it is still possible to get Shellac 78rmp discs pressed (or perhaps carved by hand)? I fancy the idea of a bit of Gong on 78 in an art-deco printed brown paper sleeve with a nice black and gold label saying, 'Vocal Refrain by Mr. D. Allen'.
g-wave : new website
g-wave.co.uk is a new website for Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy releases aside from pure System 7 | Mirror System ones. The site has sections on Rovo and System 7 (which is a hybrid a-wave/g-wave release), Steve Hillage Band releases, and Gong's 2032.
Continental Circus Booklet
'He, he, he, this accident bad…'
One of the rarer Gong artifacts is this slim 27cm x 18cm, 16 page booklet produced as a supplement to a French film magazine in 1972. It contains a synopsis of the film, an interview with the film's 'réalisateur', Jerome Laperrousaz, a dozen or more b/w stills, a couple of pages of lyrics in both English and French with some very basic Gong info, plus a full cast and crew list. I'll post more images soon and expand this item into a full archive article. Working on the same for 1966's 'Mongol Review' magazine, a key piece of the Gong story.
Spurred on by having more than half of the Continental Circus lyrics in the booklet an attempt has been made to complete them. Any suggestions about the missing words gratefully received.
Devotion to the Green Planet comes in many forms, even seemingly through a bit of pain. Here is a closer and static look at one of the stars of the University of Errors Uncon DVD, Askild - well a look at his back (there are a couple of pixies round the front as well). Over the years I've seen quite a few Gong inspired tats and these are certainly very good indeed. Any more out there?
The July issue of Classic Rock's Prog Magazine imprint features the year 1973 - a fine year indeed, 1905 is another. The fetching cover drawing collage features Steve Hillage, back in the day, Rick Wakeman and Gong (well a teapot), among other 73-ish images. Inside the magazine is an interview with Steve on the year in question, which means 'Angels Egg' and lots of Gonging around of course. Then bringing it all up to date, there is a 5 minute edit of 'Hinotori' from the Rovo & System 7 project on the cover-mount CD. Who could ask for more.
I imagine that you can probably continue to surge deeper into the paperless future at www.progrockmag.com and download the issue for a given number of survival tokens. Or you could just go to your local newsagent and ask for a copy.
On Monday evening, 29th July, Steve will be appearing throughout the first hour of Dr. Stu's N@ked Short Club on Resonance Radio 8pm-10pm, talking of and perhaps previewing some Rovo and System 7, his recent trip to Japan to play with Tomita, and maybe some of the other projects he is currently engaged in. Do not miss it
Dashiell Hedayat 1947-2013
Writer, musician, singer Jack-Alain Léger, also known as Dashiell Hedayat (one of his several nom de guerre), died yesterday, 17th July. We note and honour his passing here due to the wonderfully, psychedelic 'Obsolete', album he recorded (all within a single day) with the Camembert Electric Gong band of daevid allen, Gilli Smyth, Pip Pyle, Didier Malherbe and Christian Tritsch, and which was released in 1971.
The album became was a bit of a holy grail amongst early Gong devotees being quite hard to track down. However it was very worth it when you did eventually find an import copy - I speak as a UK Gongster - and realised that Obsolete was part of a sort of unofficial 'trilogy' of albums recorded by that great Gong band over a really short period of time along with the Continental Circus soundtrack and the masterpiece of Camembert Electrique itself.
There was small note printed below the credits on the back cover of Obsolete which read, Warning: This record must be played as loud as possible, must be heard as stoned as impossible and thank you everybody - as good a way as any to celebrate the man. Thank you Jack-Alain and sympathies to those he leaves behind.
Steve Hillage & Tomita live streaming 13.7.13
Steve is currently in Japan guesting with the venerable synthesizer pioneer Tomita. The performance is due to start 8:30pm UK time this Saturday 13th July - a live streaming link will be available at Dommune.
After all the touring and gigging, daevid, having been settled into his artist's chair in Australia for few weeks, has completed two more very fine drawing commissions. If you have been hankering after communing with himself to develop your very own alien original now is probably the ideal time as the queue is a short as it ever gets.
Ned and Finn Allen check in
daevid allen : I am delighted to announce the birth of Finn and Ned Allen to my eldest son Taliesin Allen and his partner Noey yesterday morning 26th June in Melbourne weighing in at 6lbs1oz and 5lbs7ozs respectively! These are my thirteenth and fourteenth grandchildren!!!
I think we might be going for a big band here rather than the traditional rock band size outfit. Welcome Ned and Finn and big congratulations Noey and Tali. Australians of Irish heritage born in June called Ned traditionally lead exciting lives - Finn will of course be a giant and build Causeways.
Rovo and System 7 UK live March 2014
Tickets went on sale today for the exciting and innovative rock/dance collaboration between Japanese psychedelic progressive jam-band ROVO and System 7, Phoenix Rising Live. There are just two gigs. The first at the Manchester Ritz on Friday 7th March 2014 and the second at London's Shepherds Bush Empire on Saturday 8th March 2014.
Phoenix Rising live is a combined show of Rovo and System 7 playing together, sometimes using the techno beats as the rhythmic basic and sometimes using the live drums, seamlessly morphing from one to the other - showcasing some of the most sophisticated blends of electronic beats and completely live playing ever produced, made possible by the skilled musicianship of eight players.
Admirers of Steve's can be assured that in the format of Phoenix Rising his masterful electric guitar style is fully unleashed, with extensive soloing and duets with the electric violin of Rovo's Yuji Katsui.
The full Phoenix Rising studio album is set for UK release on September 23rd 2013, featuring original collaborations from System 7 and ROVO. It also includes a new arrangement of Meeting of the Spirits by the Mahavishnu Orchestra - a perfect showcase for the album's outstanding blend of guitar and electric violin.
As a pre-taste for the album the System 7 and Rovo 'Hinotori' EP is released on June 3rd 2013 - but it's available to order now in the Planetgong bazaar.
Gong in Brazil
It sounds (and looks) as if Gong's trip to Brazil was a joyous sucess. Even as daevid and Orlando prepare to wend their way back to Oz there is talk of a return trip in 2014 with perhaps dates in Argentina and Chile being added. Time was also spent in the studio over there where some rhythm tracks were laid down as a start on new Gong album….
Steve Hillage in Prog mag
The start of the exciting new ROVO/System 7 adventure features in the new issue of Prog magazine (on sale today, 29th May) where there is an exclusive ticket offer. There is an interview with Steve in the magazine itself and larger feature is promised in a future issue.
40 Years of Virgin Records
On BBC radio this Sunday Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone' celebrates the beginnings of Virgin Records - first release, 'Tubular Bells' - second release - 'Flying Teapot' of course. It was pretty interesting and is bound to be hanging about on the BBC for a while to 'listen again'.
daevid allen is currently wizzing around the UK and parts of Europe involved in all manner of musical, poetical and artistic adventures - do go and say hello if you are able. He's moving fast, lean and flexible, so get your skates on, he's only here till May…
So unless you live in Brazil it's, "Last orders please…" for catching daevid outside Australia for the foreseeable future - meaning there are no future gig plans including daevid beyond the Magick Brother dates. And if you come to the Buxton gig you can sample the Magick Brothers/Gong ale - a barrel of which has been specially brewed for the occasion - see image.
daevid allen - Up Close, Far Out, Magick 'n' More
There are 4 steps to Alien this Spring :
Up Close - daevid allen with the Invisible Opera Co. of Tibet. A one-off unique event in deepest Devon with the chance to get 'Up Close' with daevid (what makes him tick or tock? Ginseng 'n' tea methinks). Also featuring Tim Hall, a Q & A session, display of rare artifacts and anything else we can think of for a jolly, jolly. For travellers there are some limited residental possibilities at the venue. Very special and unrepeatable. details
Far Out - daevid allen joins the keeper of the Sun Ra flame, Marshall Allan, along with James Harrar and Rogier Smal for a series of concerts which could really take us anywhere. details
Magick - daevid allen, Mark Robson and Graham Clark, the Magick Brothers electro acoustic trio have remarkably been performing together since 1991. Last September's concerts were a joy and this year it's special, lovely venues only - 'The Fairey Ball' - Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, the most wonderful 'Zu' - Lewes (go beore they ban it!), the very special 'Inspiral Caf ' - Camden (w/ a Steve Hillage DJ set), the marvelous Hendre Hall in Wales.
'n' more - daevid allen also has two solo gigs, one in Swindon and one in Temple Cloud (both listed in the gigs), and continuing the improvising vibe of this visit he is also playing twice at Club Integral in London as daevid allen/Yumi Hara-Cawkwell/Chris Cutler Trio (yet to be listed).
Horovitz and allen : special event
It's 50 Years since Dr Who beginnings (horray!) and Dr Beeching endings (booo!)…also in 1963 Michael Horovitz invited the daevid allen Trio, with Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge to perform poetry and jazz at his New Departures event at London's Marquee Club. Now 50 years later these two pioneers of performance poetry meet again to share their poetry in London on Monday 29th April, at The Art Worker's Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury WC1N 3AT starting at 7pm. £7.00 on the door. British beat poet Michael Horovitz still writing and performing [BBC]
System 7, UofE, Gong, Invisibles re‑stock
Steve Hillage's return from a recent trip to Japan means we once again have a small re-stock of the limited edition, Japanese only releases, the 'Passion' EP and the 'Phoenix Rising' EP/DVD. This may well be the last time we get supplies.
Steve and Miquette have just launched a Mirror System Soundcloud page. There are some previously un-heard edits as well as selections from the first Mirror System and Reflector albums. All manner of wonderful sounds await.
All of the chilled out/dynamic duo's 2013 dates (to date) can be found in the latest System 7 news, and there are more to come.
Both the Saturday 6th System 7 gig and the bonus Mirror System show on Sunday 7th, added at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, with, in the afternoon Steve presenting a mini master-class of guitar sounds, playing solo and describing some of the signature sounds from the past present and future are SOLD OUT. The Sunday events are exclusivly put on by Steve and Miquette as fund raisers for The Trades Club.
Last month Gilli Smyth and daevid allen became grandparents for the sixth time with the arrival of Leonardo, a son to Orlando and Tamara - everyone is naturally delighted. And that's not the end of this year's newbies. Gilli and daevid's eldest son, Tali, will become a father for a 4th and 5th time this Summer - yes twins on the way.
Farewell Kevin Ayers
Kevin Ayers died on 18th February at his home in Montolieu, France. He was 68. He was a dear friend of daevid and Gilli, well, forever. His life both musical and personal intertwined closely with theirs particularly in the 60's and early 70's. They lived together, made music together, had adventures and just experienced it all together in those heady days. Despite some of the many obituaries denying the fact, Kevin was to all intent purposes a member of Gong in 1971 when the band first toured the UK. He also played an instrumental role in Steve Hillage appearing in Gong's Universe in 1972 while Steve was touring France as a member of Kevin's band.
daevid told me on hearing the news of Kevin's passing he and Gilli thought, "If the situation was reversed, what would Kevin do?" Easy, a bottle of the best red wine affordable was purchased, Kevin's music went on heavy rotation and stories of the good times, full of good thoughts were shared with close friends and family in Australia. When all is said and done they simply loved him.
Bruce Garrard, with whom I have shared many things over the past 25 years (including The Old Clinic where the GAS HQ and psychic hermitage is located) now has a website - Unique Publications - a budding repository of wit, wisdom, history and lore on subjects close to the hearts of many of us. Glastonbury Archives and Green Gatherings, Fire Dancing and Greenham Common, Pyramid Stages and Old Clinics, with so much more to come.
Camembert Electrique t‑shirts youth sizes
It's one of those rare times when all the 'regular' sizes of Black Camembert Electrique T-shirts are in stock, small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large and xxx-large, and for the first time ever there are some children's sizes available. These are for 5-6 and 12-13 year olds. T-shirts The t-shirt size chart has been updated to include the measurements of these new sizes. Purple Camembert Electique shirts have also been re-stocked.