GONG — Camembert Electrique (review)

GONG — Camembert Electrique album cover Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
No this isn’t quite the “Radio Gnome Triology” despite the first short track being titled “Radio Gnome” but despite the lack of Steve Hillage’s spaced out echo guitar trippiness, Daevid Allen in cahoots with Gilli Smyth manages to create a healthy dose of Canterbury psychedelia on his own terms. CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE is the second release by Daevid Allen’s GONG and probably one of the most rockin’ of the entire GONG discography. On this release it is Daevid Allen who plays guitar and bass as well as handling the expected vocal duties. BTW although my remastered copy says the first track is “Radio Gnome” i see it listed as “Radio Gnome Prediction” on the very first vinyl release as well as other subsequent releases. How clever, hmmm?

This is an interesting transition album that feels like it has connections to the heavy psych of the 60s while branching out its tentacles into a new 70s space rock style garnished with all the zaniness and humor that the Canterbury scene was so famous for. If you listen to the old Wilde Flowers and Soft Machine demos with Daevid Allen still in the band, you can trace some of these riffs to those days, only with the addition of Gilli Smyth’s famous space whispering and the excellent addition of Didier Malherbe’s excellent sax and flute to create some really good solid musical madness on this one. This is a great example of how to combine the Canterbury whimsy with space rock, progressive heavy rock and healthy doses of anarchic psychedelia with totally original experimental elements.

This indeed was time of the birth of the space age hippie music and Daevid Allen’s decade long roster of ideas that were suppressed and underdeveloped really were allowed to bloom for the first time on CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE. This is really a fun album! Musically, lyrically, rhythmically etc. Just look at the zany titles of the songs: “Mister Long Shanks, O Mother, I Am Your Fantasy,” “Dynamite: I Am Your Animal,” “Fohat Digs Holes In Space!” This is just wonderful music being melodic, demented, innovative, unique, experimental, daring, sacrilegious, comical, uproarious and above all spaced out, maaaan! While most of GONG’s discography displays complex band interactions, this is the one that screams out that it’s Daevid Allen’s baby and what a cute and adorable little baby it is! Sadly Daevid passed away recently on 13 MARCH 2015. Thank you Daevid for all this excellent music and R.I.P. No doubt this music will entertain for a very long time to come :)
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