Gong: Band led by the Australian guitarist Daevid Allen that also included musicians of various nationalities over the years: sax wizard Didier Malherbe, vibraphone player Mireille Bauer and drummer Pierre Moerlen, all from France; drummers Pip Pyle and Chris Taylor, vocalist Gilli Smyth, keyboard player Tim Blake and saxophonist Theo Travis from England; bass player Mike Howlett from the Fiji island; Argentinian violinist Jorge Pinchevsky as well as many others.
Gong: band that became famous during the 70s thanks to a series of albums that combined jazz with rock, sense of humor and a mythology invented by the very Allen, and among which we can find "Continental Circus", "Camembert Electrique", "Flying Teapot", "Angels Egg" and "You".
Gong: band that subsequently broke up into a series of groups all led by its various former members: Gong New York, Gong Maison, Mother Gong, Gongzilla, Pierre Moerlens Gong, etc.
Gong: band that got together again around the trio Allen-Smyth-Howlett during the 90s and who issued two more studio albums: "Shapeshifter" and "Zero to Infinity". However, their most accurate definition could be: a band that, even as time went by, managed to keep their principles and sound young even though they have been on stage for the last 30 years.
Yes, "Zero to Infinity" was the most recent studio album by the Pot Head Pixies and Octave Doctors led by Captain Capricorn, and on which the great majority of this new Canterbury live album is based: "Live to Infinitea". Its members? Drums: Chris Taylor; keyboards: Gwyo Zephyr; vocals (space whispers): Gilly Smyth; bass: Mike Howlett; sax: Theo Travis and Didier Malherbe; glissando guitar, cover, humor and everything that the album includes: Daevid Allen (now known as "Daft Alien").
Actually, a lot of the progVisions readers must now be thinking: Another live album by Gong? Another live by a classic band? Nooooo, please! Well, yes, its another concert, but what a concert! Great recording quality (not a bootleg one), a different track list to that of the previous live albums, new members, new ideas. This is another completely different band. Its not another "Gong est Mort" or any "Bataclan 1973" in its 2000 remix. It is certainly hurrying things a little to get another live album knowing that the studio version appeared only about 8 months ago, but... Who wouldnt be interested in hearing in its natural environment, a band that has always been better on stage than in the studios?
The track list of this album includes 8 of the 11 songs from the "Zero to Infinity" album: "Foolefare", "Magdalene", "The Invisible Temple", "Zeroid", "The Mad Monk", "Yoni on Mars", "Infinitea" and "Bodilingus". On top of that, introductory sequences of doudouk and improvised flute were added to "Bodilingus" and "Magdalene" and it gives them an even greater feeling of mysticism and fun (although they are intrinsically fun). A remarkable job. Another positive point of this album is that only three tracks were taken from anterior works: "Zero the Hero and the Witchs Spell", "Inner Temple" and "Tropical Fish". All through the album, the most impressing job is that of the two saxophonists during their respective parts, even though it can be said that the musicians are amazing as a group and a great complicity and true communion between them can already be felt.
One of the greatest things about this Gong is that they are focusing on this new story within the groups history and they are not living on nostalgia, as so many other bands do. Moreover, they also did the right thing when they managed to issue this material with an optimum recording quality, compared to those who unfortunately dont. Finally, although this album is excellent, it is not indispensable in a collection, except if you are a Gong fan, because the humor and everything that makes this band alive on stage has to be understood first before one can gain access to the world of Daft Alien and his accomplices live.