Tag Archives: psychedelic rock

Interview with Steve Hillage about Love From the Planet Gong Boxed Set

A new boxed set titled Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75 will be available on September 27, 2019. From that we’ve listened to so far, the remastered versions are outstanding. We spoke with progressive music and electric guitar innovator Steve Hillage, who was a member of Gong during the early 1970s.

Steve Hillage

Q. The original Gong is described as a Franco-British or international band. How did the French, British, Australian and Fijian musicians meet each other?

Daevid Allen always used to refer these magical meetings a “by chance and by trance”. But the basic story is that Daevid, as a young aspiring poet and musician, left Australia in the early 60s and wanted to come to London and Paris, which he saw as epicenters of the Beatnik movement. After various adventures he eventually formed a band with some other quirky and experimental musicians, based in Canterbury, UK. They became the Soft Machine, and they quickly developed into one of the two (along with the Pink Floyd) top psychedelic bands in the UK in the heady years of 1966 and 67.

Later, in 67, after an extended tour in France, where they became highly acclaimed in the French underground arts scene, the Soft Machine returned to the UK but Daevid was stopped at the UK border and was refused entry, having an incorrect visa. He stayed on in France and formed an initial experimental collective, also with Gilli Smyth who was living in France, and later met up with French saxophone and flute player Didier Malherbe who was to become a hugely important part in what eventually became Gong.

The band’s first official gig was in October 1969, which makes this year the 50th Anniversary! Gong went through various line-up changes, and after the recording the Flying Teapot album went into a state of dissolution, with an entirely new line-up formed, initially without Daevid and Gilli. Starting with myself, Tim Blake and Didier we were approached by an amazing drummer Pierre Moerlen, from a classical percussion background. Daevid met a bass player, Mike Howlett, who was born in Fiji and had been in bands in Australia, and he recommended him to us. And so was born the so called “classic” line-up that recorded the Angel’s Egg and You albums, as featured on this box set.

Q. What spoken language did you use to communicate?

French and English, often mixed together in what we call “Franglais”…

Gong in 1974

Q. Gong became a breeding ground for various musicians who moved on to make progressive rock, jazz-rock, electronic music and other musical forms. How was the music making process and was there a lot of experimentation in terms of music and musical instruments?

I can only really speak of the period 1973-75, when I was in the band, in particular on the Angel’s Egg and You albums. We had a fantastic mixture of musical personalities with different styles and we succeeded in making a whole that was definitely greater than the sum of the parts, but with a strong Gong sonic identity. We used to jam a lot and developed shared skills in going on musical journeys. It was a wonderful time, but it was a combustible mix as we each had strong personalities and it became difficult to sustain for more than a couple of intense years.

Q. What did you enjoy the most during those early Gong years?

Creativity, fun and psychedelic adventures. And we had a lot of laughs too.

Q. Tell us about your favorite performance venues in the 1970s.

Hard to say, but one club we played at several times, in central France, was the Club Arc En Ciel (in translation “The Rainbow Club”). This was a very free place with a great crowd and we loved playing there. Luckily, we got the Manor Mobile studio to come down and record a whole show there in 1973, and we have included it in the new box set.

Cover of Gong;s Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75

Q. The new boxed set “Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75” includes the first original albums. Are these reissue remasters and was there any remixing as well? Were any original members of Gong involved in the process?

The key thing about this box set release is that we, the surviving members of the 1973-75 line-up, have been able to examine all the master tapes in the Virgin Records archive, and most importantly we have for the very first time a CD release of the Flying Teapot album from the original masters used for the original vinyl release.

We had access to all the multi-tracks, but we weren’t particularly interested in making new mixes. We just wanted to make the original mixes from the original masters sound great. And here we have the second key thing, in that the original engineer from the Manor Studios, who engineered these albums and was our co-producer, was Simon Heyworth, who is now a noted mastering engineer! So we got Simon to master or re-master everything, which goes right back to the roots of the sound we were making then, and making it sound good and pristine for now! Also Simon is experienced in 5.1 surround sound, and after some searching we located the original tapes of the quad mixes of the You album, that he was involved in at the time, and these have also been re-mastered for contemporary digital surround.

Gong boxed set – Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75

Q. The boxed set also contains a lot of other material. Tell us about the bonus tracks and previously unreleased material contained in this anthology.

Some of the album bonus tracks have been released before but some, including various different mixes of the title track of Flying Teapot, and the Shamal alternative mixes, have never been released before. Apart from the Bataclan live show, which was only partially released before, all the other live gig recordings have been mixed from multi-track by our former bass player Mike Howlett, and only some tracks from these shows have ever been out before. And, like the studio albums, the bonus tracks, radio recordings, and live show recordings have all had the meticulous mastering attention of Simon Heyworth.

We feel we’ve extracted all the best stuff from the Virgin tape archives. There’s nothing really left now – it’s all here – with Love from the Planet Gong!

Q. Gong continued with newer musicians after Daevid Allen died. A new upcoming tour was announced featuring yourself. What is the line-up and what songs will you perform live?

Gong’s story has continued right up to the present day. It was Daevid’s adamant dying wish that the final line-up he had assembled should carry on as Gong. They’ve now released two successful and brilliantly received new albums since Daevid passed away and they are a brilliant band with their own sound, but one that is still fully imbued with the unique vibrations of Daevid and Gong. So they continue to fulfill Daevid’s wish, and also I’ve collaborated on some of their recordings and have played a number of shows guesting with them.

When I was offered the perfect opportunity to play some Steve Hillage Band shows earlier this year, the obvious choice was to invite the guys from the current Gong line-up to play with me as the Steve Hillage Band. It worked out great, and now we have a substantial UK and Europe tour coming up in November. On this tour the Gong guys will also play their own Gong set, featuring high energy Gong classics and tracks from their acclaimed new album The Universe Also Collapses. The Steve Hillage Band set features tracks from my 70s albums Green, Fish Rising, L and Motivation Radio. We see our November/December tour as a great way to celebrate the release of this box set and Gong’s 50th anniversary!

Q In addition to the boxed set and the live concerts, are there any activities planned, such as new studio or live albums?

There are all kind of thing on the front burner, the back burner, the side burner. We move forward “by chance and by trance”…..

More about Gong.

Artist Profiles: Gong

Gong in 1974

Gong is a psychedelic rock band formed in the late 1960s when Australian musician Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Great Britain following European tour dates with Soft Machine. He decided to stay in Paris, where he began working together with Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually be recognizable as Gong.

The first recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister in 1970. Followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, Angels Egg and You. These last three albums followed the fortunes of Zero The Hero and told the tale of the pothead pixies and was told over the course of the three albums and became the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy.

Following the release of You in 1974, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth left Gong and Steve Hillage became the band leader. He also left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. Gong continued in a jazz fusion oriented direction which was very different from the original musical concept of the band.

Since the 1970s, Gong experienced various reincarnations with variations of the Gong name: Mother Gong, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, Planet Gong, New York Gong and Gongmaison.

Founder Daevid Allen re-formed Gong various times and his last album was I See You, released in 2014. He died in 2015 and a new Gong lineup without Daevig Allen released Rejoice! I’m Dead! (2016). This new lineup, led by Kavus Torabi, featured Fabio Golfetti, Dave Sturt, Ian East and Cheb Nettles.

in 2019, a boxed set titled Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75 was released.

Discography:

Magick Brother (BYG Records, 1970)
Camembert Electrique (Philips, 1971)
Continental Circus (Virgin Records, 1972)
Flying Teapot (Virgin Records, 1973)
Angel’s Egg (Virgin Records, 1973)
You (Virgin Records, 1974)
Shamal (Virgin Records,, 1976)
Shapeshifter (Celluloid, 1992)
Zero to Infinity (Snapper Music, 2000)
Acid Motherhood (Voiceprint, 2004)
2032 (G-Wave, 2009)
I See You (Madfish, 2014)
Rejoice! I’m Dead! (Madfish, 2016)
The Universe Also Collapses (Kscope, 2019)
Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75 (UMC, 2019)

Gong to Release 13-Disc Boxed Set Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75

Pioneering psychedelic progressive rock band Gong will be releasing a 13-disc boxed set titled “Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75.” The collection is curated by Steve Hillage and released with the full involvement of original members.

Gong – Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75

Released to coincide with Gong’s 50th Anniversary, the anthology includes the band’s classic years in a remarkable package that includes: their essential first four Virgin studio albums plus bonus tracks; previously unreleased, multi-tracked full gigs, the complete John Peel Sessions from 1973 and 1974; previously unreleased quad Pye and Westlake mixes of ‘You’ re-formatted to 5.1 surround-sound, and artwork including rare and previously unseen work by the late Daevid Allen.

Artist Profiles: Gong

Gong in 1974

Gong was a psychedelic rock band formed in the late 1960s when Australian musician Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Great Britain following European tour dates with Soft Machine. He decided to stay in Paris, where he began working together with Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually be recognizable as Gong.

The first recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister in 1970. Followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, Angels Egg and You. These last three albums followed the fortunes of Zero The Hero and told the tale of the pothead pixies and was told over the course of the three albums and became the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy.

Following the release of You in 1974, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth left Gong and Steve Hillage became the band leader. He also left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. Gong continued in a jazz fusion-oriented direction under Pierre Moerlen, which was very different from the original musical concept of the band.

Gong returned years later and recorded several albums until the death of Daevid Allen. The band continued with a post-Daevid Allen lineup.

Discography:

Magick Brother (1970)
Camembert Electrique (1971)
Continental Circus (1972)
Flying Teapot (1973)
Angel’s Egg (1973)
You (1974)
Shamal (1976)
Shapeshifter (1992)
Zero to Infinity (2000)
Acid Motherhood (2004)
2032 (2009)
I See You (2014)
Rejoice! I’m Dead! (2016)
The Universe Also Collapses (Kscope, 2019)
Love From The Planet Gong: The Virgin Years 1973-75 (Universal, 2019)

A Whirlwind of Progressive Psychedelia

Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha (Progressive Promotion Records, 2019)

Belgian band Quantum Fantay has gradually become one of the most exciting psychedelic progressive rock acts in recent years. The group combines the best of instrumental spacey progressive rock with transfixing electronic music and world music elements.

Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha

The current line up includes Pete Mush on synths; Tom Tee on guitars; Jaro on bass; and Louis Van der Linden (who replaced Gino Bartolini) on drums. Guests include Charles Sla on flutes; Maera on vocals; and Rafaela on vocals.

Yemaya Orisha contains a set of masterfully constructed progressive music wizardry. So far, one of the finest progressive rock releases of the year.

Interview with Icelandic Band Lucy in Blue

Rising Icelandic act Lucy in Blue has released a superb new album titled “In Flight.” The band delivers an exquisite set of songs deeply influenced by psychedelia and progressive rock, especially early 1970s Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Camel and Gentle Giant. It’s beautifully-crafted material with timeless soaring guitars, mesmerizing keyboards, soft vocals, creative bass lines, psychedelic effects and multi-faceted drums.

Lucy in Blue – In Flight

Lucy in Blue was founded in 2013. The young band released its self-titled debut album on Bandcamp in 2016. The lineup includes Arnaldur Ingi Jónsson on keyboards and vocals; Kolbeinn Þórsson on drums; Matthías Hlífar Mogensen on bass and vocals; and Steinþór Bjarni Gíslason on guitar and vocals.

How did you come up with the band title Lucy in Blue?

When Naldo and Matti had just met and started jamming, they were also taking a physics class together. Both of them had a hard time with the mathematical concepts in the class and their focus always seemed to be on music so it looked like they would fail the class. But nearing the end of term they had their final chance to save their grade by doing a group presentation. An exchange student from South Africa called Lucy was the third member of their group. When Lucy discovered their musical aptitude and lack of mathematical grace she offered to write the whole presentation by herself on the condition that the boys in the band played for her while she wrote. Steini and Kolli were eventually persuaded to do so, even though they had to play through the night.

The band struggled to keep playing after midnight, but Lucy provided them with caffeinated drinks from her home country, packaged in blue. All the while Lucy wrote and, in an absent way, commented harshly on their playing ability. Improving as band at a staggering rate after that gruesome night (even though Naldo and Matti flunked their physics class) they decided to name the band Lucy in Blue, even though they never heard from the South African girl again.

Lucy in Blue

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Earth, wind and fire.

How did your musical ideas evolve throughout the years from your debut album to your new recording, In Flight?

Those years are all a haze, so we can‘t really comment on that.

Tell us a little about the band members and their background.

Naldo started playing music quite young, starting with the baritone horn in a brass band in school. He slowly shifted all his focus to the piano, and keyboards eventually, studying both classical music and jazz, while always strumming a bit on the guitar at home and now in his solo project, Dread Lightly.

Kolli started playing the drums at the age of 10 and soon started to grow steadily as a musician as his interest in the craft enveloped him, playing along with everything from Metallica to Frank Zappa. At the age of 15 he started learning jazz drumming and a bit of classical percussion which led him to meet Naldo, and they played in a pop group for a few months before Lucy got together.

Steini has been playing guitar since the age of 7. He went on to take guitar lessons for for a few years, studying popular music. He took a big jump in skill when he discovered the world of thrash metal. He and Matthías had gone to school together in the small town of Hveragerði and had played together on a few occasions and was yearning for something new when Matti contacted him.

Matti grew up around a lot of musicians as his father was in one of the biggest pop groups of Iceland at that time. He started to play music when he got his first bass on his 10th birthday but the real interest started when he was a teenager and started listening to the rock bands of the 1970s. After finishing elementary education in Hveragerði he went to Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð, a school renowned for drawing in all the creative and strange kind of people. There he met Naldo on his first day and soon they started to share their favorite bands with each other. For the past couple of years he has played every kind of music with a large amount of professional musicians and the obsession of analog synthesizers has become a big part of his sound resulting in a empty wallet and a electronic solo project named Endlessly.

After Matti, Steini and Naldo had jammed once or twice Matti came to see Unmusical Smooch Depot, the pop group Kolli and Naldo were in, play an off-venue Iceland Airwaves gig. He persuaded Kolli to try jamming with them and what followed were 30 minute jam sessions over Em and A and an eager enthusiasm for jamming out psychedelic tunes. Matti introduced them to the magic of Pink Floyd and Trúbrot and eventually the boys discovered the exciting world of prog.

Lucy in Blue

What guitars, keyboards and other instruments do you use?

In the keyboard section we have a Nord Stage 2, Hammond XK-3c, Prophet REV2 and a Moog Sub 37, in addition to an everchanging synth collection in the hands of Matti.

Kolli uses Gretsch drums, zildjian cymbals and a 6.5 x 14” Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum.

The bass rig includes a Rickenbacker 4003s, FBT amflifier and a TC Electronic RS212 and Steini plays a Modified 60th anniversary Fender Stratocaster through a Farfisa/FBT stereo amplifer rig.

And what effects do you use to develop your progressive and psychedelic sounds?

Lots of delay and pathos.

Lucy in Blue

How’s the progressive rock scene in Iceland in terms of bands and venues?

Iceland has a wealth of progressive rock bands, like Trúbrot, EIK and Icecross, but they were only persistently active during the 70‘s, but we‘ve had access to all the main venues of the rock scene downtown, mostly playing with metal bands. A lot of the metal bands are quite progressive, though, and the metal scene is blisteringly vibrant so it‘s not a bad crowd at all.

Mainstream media ignores progressive music. How do you promote your music?

Unsuccessfully, through mainstream media.

If you could gather any additional musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

The heavenly vocals of Árstíðir or Graduale Nobili could be a welcome addition to our sound at some point. And of course, if time is on our side, we hope to someday work with Megas.

Aside from the new album, do you have any additional upcoming projects to share with us?

After the release of In Flight we plan to release some more albums, as well as singles. And we all have our Sally on the side, although we haven‘t released much individually except for Heift, the raw and seething black metal lovechild of Kolli, Matti and Alli from Auðn.

A Hypnotic Trip from Sonora Sunrise

Sonora Sunrise – The Route through the Canyon (Trail Records, 2019)

The Route through the Canyon is an album by Russian progressive music band Sonora Sunrise. They are based in Altai, a mystical land in southern Siberia with olden mountains where you still find ancient shamanic rites.


Sonora Sunrise – The Route through the Canyon

The culture and wilderness of Altai inspires Sonora Sunrise. Their music is a superb mix of progressive rock, psychedelia, space rock along with ambient and Berlin-school electronic music. It is a spellbinding sound developed with electric guitars, effects, soundscapes, vintage analog synths from the Soviet Era, and a rhythm section.

Sonora Sunrise includes Artem Demidov on guitars, soundscapes; Dmitry Shershnev on keyboards, guitar; Alexey Shulepov on bass; and Vitaliy Khard on drums. Vocalist Katya Zlobina appears on various The Route through the Canyon tracks, delivering entrancing performances.

Mesmeric Space Rock from The Spacious Mind

The Spacious Mind – The Drifter (Trail Records TR-020, 2018)

Trail Records never fails to deliver the good stuff. The Drifter is a collection of tracks by the fabulous psychedelic progressive rock band The Spacious Mind, from Sweden.

The Spacious Mind recreates the enchanting atmosphere of progressive psychedelia generated by Echoes-era Pink Floyd, with a boatload of acid guitars, vintage keyboards, spellbinding effects and modern electronic sounds.

The material on The Drifter includes tracks from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. Great stuff indeed.

Buy The Drifter

After Nations Announce US tour this August in support of New Album, Consteleid

Psychedelic progressive band After Nations has announced the release of a new album titled Consteleid, scheduled for release on August 1st.

Guitarist Andrew Elliott said about the new recording: “This is definitely our most ambitious work to date. I’ve really focused the past few years trying to develop as both a song-writer and guitarist, and in working with Travis and Zack to create something that feels like it represents where we are musically. I think the ideas and themes all feel more developed, more mature, more focused – and the album feels more expansive in the sonic ground it covers. I hope people will experience and feel that when they hear it.”

 

 

The band will be presenting the new album across the US Midwest, southwest, and West Coast later this summer. This time they’ll be joined by an additional guitarist, David Sandoval (Eat the Sun, Chaff, Kenaima).

In the past, I’ve written guitar parts for albums that I have to condense down for live performances,” says Andrew Elliott. “I couldn’t play everything that’s there, it’s just not possible, so I’d focus on critical parts and cut other things. With this album, I just didn’t feel we could do that. The writing is all interdependent; everything has a place, every part is serving the music. It just doesn’t have the same energy, feeling, or texture without all of it being played live. So I reached out to Dave – an incredible musician and friend from past tours – and asked him if he’d want to join us. He was down, and here we are.”

After Nations’s earlier recording is titled The Bearing Point.

 

Tour Dates:

8/17 Lawrence, KS at Replay Lounge
8/18 Colorado Springs, CO at Triple Nickel
8/19 Denver, CO at 7th Circle
8/21 Salt Lake City, UT at The Underground
8/22 Boise, ID at The Olympic
8/23 Salem, OR at The Space
8/24 Portland, OR at Kenton Club
8/25 Seattle, WA at The Central
8/29 Oakland, CA at Elbo Room
8/30 Las Vegas, NV at TBA
8/31 Phoenix, AZ at Rogue
9/1 Albuquerque, NM at TBA

Transfixing Psychedelia from Superfjord

Superfjord – All Will Be Golden (Svart Records, 2018)

All Will Be Golden is the second album by Finnish psychedelic rock band Superfjord, scheduled for release September 21, 2018. The band plays a superb mix of Pink Floyd-inspired space rock, progressive jam rock, trance music and mantra chants

The band includes Jussi Ristikaarto on guitars, electronics, vocals; Mikko Kapanen on guitar, vocals, percussion; Ilari Kivelä on drums, percussion; Teemu Soininen on bass; Juho Ojala on keyboards; and Jussi Peevo on drums, percussion.

All Will Be Golden is a mesmerizing album by a rising talent in the field of progressive psychedelic rock.