ALAN GOWEN — Before a Word Is Said (review)

ALAN GOWEN — Before a Word Is Said album cover Album · 1982 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Firstly Alan Gowen should be categorised under the post-fusion contemporary genre as well.

Before A Word Is Said, a musical testimony by Alan Gowen, almost totally unknown at the time of its release like the albums he recorded as a duo with Hugh Hopper. Well Hopper isn't featured on this album, instead Richard Sinclair plays bass and also does some vocals. I've always thought of Hopper as a far better composer than bass-player, on Sinclairs case it's almost the opposite. This album is maybe the best album Gowen ever made on his too short career. Gilgamesh' second release "Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into" is possibly equally good. This album has the cold (in a good sense) quality of the post-fusion genre high in the late seventies and early eighties. It shares similarities with Both Gowen's former bands: Gilgamesh and Soft Heap. Above And Below (Heaven and Hell?) starts the album and gives a good image of what to except. Throughout the album a high level of improvisations is shown. In the end everything can be wrapped in different songs. Gowen had the skill of composing songs that seem like total improvisation at first but through multiple listenings open up as concise songs. Some songs are shorter, only 1-3 minutes long, and some longer, up to ten minutes. The best of the short tracks is definetly Umbrellas, a "traditional" jazz-track with Sinclairs warm non-lyrical vocals. From the longer tracks both Above And Below and Before A Word Is Said stand out as excellent pieces of music. Lastly it's good to know that Gowen was diagnosed with leukemia a year before this LP was recorded. He wanted this record to be a musical testimony of his. You might think that this would have given the record a sentimental feel. Well, quite the opposite. This is propably the most cold and clinic compilation of music ever recorded within the loosely-based Canterbury genre. And what's best, even two weeks before his death, Gowen could play as fast, energetic and innovative as ever. Hats off and five stars I say!
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