Gong Expresso [Release date 20.02.18]
Once upon a time there was a band called Gong. They were hippy, trippy and certainly dippy. In their ranks was percussionist Pierre Moerlen who evidently saw an eye to the main chance. Pierre established his own offshoot, signed to Virgin initially, and then with Arista proceeded to make a series of excellent fusion albums. If these lacked outright commerciality they were at least more widely accessible than the Planet Gong he’d previously inhabited.
Moerlen, who also worked with Mike Oldfield, died in 2005 and on this – a new Gong offshoot – the mallet is passed to his son Benoit Moerlen who continues the jazz/fusion blood line.
This is a beautifully produced album and one to turn down the lights to, kick off the shoes (or slippers) and chill. Things get going a little slowly, if surely, on the opener and title track. ‘Zephyr’ is a little more engaging and so it goes on.
Original Pierre Moerlen’s Gong bassist Hansford Rowe adds both credibility and bottom-end gravitas whilst Julian Sandiford contributes tasteful guitar fills. Francois Causse completes the line-up on drums.
But, throughout, it’s a vehicle for Benoit’s vibes and marimba and in that context a suitable tribute to his father. Less funk and more contemplative than we remember it may even open up a reappraisal of olden times, and 1979′s ‘Time Is The Key’ is a very good place to start. ***
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Archive review (Pierre Moerlen’s Gong)
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