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The late Daevid Allen’s legacy is enough to fire up the most jaded amongst us. This latest reissue of Gong’s ‘Camembert Electrique’, which comes with stunning packaging, does just that
With the recent passing of Daevid Allen, one might think that Gong’s catalogue would have gone through the roof. Yet since their 1970's heyday the band have continued to gain new fans (and hold on to those there at the beginning; a neat trick for any band to achieve, I’ll give you that) at a snail’s pace. This lavishly packaged remastering of Gong's 1971 sophomore ‘Camembert Electrique’ wont rectify this, but it’s been a fascinating listen all the same.
It is, would you believe, only the second album this reviewer has heard from them. My only other dabble in the world of Gong was when a record store owner advised me that I should try out their debut album, ‘Magick Brother’ when I bought a bunch of Soft Machine LPs off him last year. I listened to it a few times, but found myself sticking to my Canterbury prog safety net of the first four Soft Machine albums.
So, I approach this as if it were a new album released for the first time in 2015, and I find it hard to think of anything else that has come out this year that tops it. If I were to be ultra-harsh, then maybe the only thing that dates it is that the saxophone isn’t quite unhinged enough. It is still pretty out there, but ever since I first heard John Zorn everything sax- related seems dated.
Listening to the likes of ‘You Can’t Kill Me’ and the clearly mental ‘Dynamite/I am Your Animal’ filled me with excitement. The musicianship is spot on; the ideas appear to know no bounds and yet are reined in enough to form enjoyable and listenable songs.
Knowing that there is an extensive back catalogue to devour just adds to my new found passion for Gong. Already I have lined up a free weekend to log in some serious Gong listening hours; I’ve dug out and dusted off ‘Magick Brother’, and will be scouring record shops as soon ass possible to complete my collection.
For any record collector or even casual music listener when a moment like this arrives it’s not to be taken lightly. It’s a rare treat. Gong were a breath of fresh air then as they are to me now, and ‘Camembert Electrique’ is in every respect a classic album for 2015 as much as it was in 1971.
Re-masters and re-issues tend to get lost in the current musical climate. There is simply so much going on that nobody has the time or money for that matter to collect and listen to them all. Yet this release has been a complete success. If you need a helping hand and are finding yourself crushed under the weight of the sheer glut of new/old recordings out there, then may I suggest you could do a lot worse than starting here.
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