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Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.93 | 500 ratings

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3 stars Listening to Gong's "Radio Gnome Invisible" trilogy of albums is like watching a tightrope walker dancing over the Grand Canyon: you have to admire the dexterity of the performance, but underneath all the fancy footwork it's a lot deeper than you think. And so it goes with the pothead pixies from Planet Gong. Their music and mythology is totally benign and (mostly) harmless, and yet it contains all the ingredients necessary for driving your parents to anxious distraction: a little sex, some mind-expanding drugs, and a facsimile of rock 'n' roll played on crystal machines and orgone boxes.

Never mind that the proportions of each element are so lightly measured. And don't judge the band by Daevid Allen's earlier association with SOFT MACHINE. The Canterbury tag is just a convenient label for music that can't be easily defined by any readymade geographic or stylistic comparison. At this stage of their scrambled-egg evolution, Gong had already polished a unique blend of Jazz Rock Fusion, klezmer cabaret songs, and playful Space (or is it Spaced?) Rock.

Not being able (or willing) to follow the convoluted narrative only makes the music even more attractively weird (or weirdly attractive, if you prefer). Ditto the oddball cast of characters: octave doctors; extraterrestrial gurus; a hero named Zero; and a good witch named Yoni (nudge, nudge), disguised here as a cat while singing "I am your Pussy" (wink, wink). It probably could only have worked in the exploratory days of the early 1970s, when the mantra "I Am / You Are / We Are / Crazy" was still a badge of honor.

The album ends a little abruptly, but it's only the first part of a trilogy, so the cliff-hanger is forgivable. The music would become richer as the saga continued, in the albums "Angel's Egg" and "You". But this first chapter proved it was possible, even under the influence of too much dope, for a motivated group of counterculture misfits to create some truly eclectic and challenging music, with their collective tongues locked firmly (but not entirely) in cheek.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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