GONG — Gazeuse! (aka Expresso)

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GONG - Gazeuse! (aka Expresso) cover
3.98 | 23 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Fusion
By GONG

Tracklist

A1 Expresso 5:00
A2 Night Illusion 3:42
Percolations (9:58)
A3 Percolations - Part 1
A4 Percolations - Part 2
B1 Shadows Of 7:48
B2 Esnuria 8:00
B3 Mireille 4:05

Total Time: 39:43

Line-up/Musicians

Mireille Bauer / marimba vibraphone glockenspiel toms
Allan Holdsworth / electric guitar acoustic guitar violin pedal steel guitar
Didier Malherbe / Tenor sax flute
Benoit Moerlen / vibraphone
Pierre Moerlen / drums glockenspiel vibraphone marimba timpani
Francis Moze / Fretless bass gong acoustic & electric piano

About this release

Virgin – V 2074 (UK)

Released in US as "Expresso" in 1977 (Virgin)

Recorded At – The Manor

Thanks to snobb, EntertheLemming for the updates

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GONG GAZEUSE! (AKA EXPRESSO) reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

EntertheLemming
SxE Gong - the Miracle Hair Restorer

My sister once dated a Gnome Radio ham and when the relationship ended in tears (hers) she won custody of four Gong albums and bequeathed same to her little brother (moi) Forever hence, the original owner of said vinyl was referred to simply as 'the hairy stranger to soap' by Lemming soeur. To date I have never been able to make it through any of the Radio Gnome trilogy but was amazed to discover that this album is as coherent and disciplined as the former are rambling and slapdash. There is not a single pixie, orgone accumulator, teapot or paean to the futility of bathing anywhere on Gazeuse, and I really should recast the world's most grievously irritating longhair commune band in a whole new light. This is straight up jazz rock fusion, with themes, improvisations and recapitulations that Mahavishnu, Return to Forever and Weather Report would kill for. After a chemically constructed 'wall of force' decreed that Daevid Allen quit the original lineup they were still two albums short of fulfilling a contract with Virgin Records. Pierre Moerlen appears to have stepped in at this point to take control of affairs and whether he is considered a control freak or not, we should be thankful he grasped the reins, as shorn of Allen's wacky zaniness (a.k.a.stoned smug hippies dicking about) and without Hillage's gaudy psychedelia laced guitar this is a very different fusion beastie indeed.

Straight Edge Gong anyone ?

Expresso - I had to do a double take here as this can't be the same band that named a track I am Your Pussy can it ? Very carefully structured and paced right down to the last detail with sparing use of staccato unison sections and bolstered by the molten steel of Holdsworth's legato guitar. The textural detail provided by his brother's subtle vibes behind Moerlen Snr's intricate and groovin' kit plus the sparing sax interjections via Didier Malherbe are a joy. Even that 70's studio conceit of phasing the drum fills doesn't irritate here such is the strength of the material and playing throughout. Lovely double time contradiction towards the end set up by the chromatic percussion getting busier over the unwavering pulse of the underlying groove. I could swear my hair has grown since this track started ...

Night Illusion - Must be the first time I have heard Holdsworth play conventional power chords as illustrated by the intro. Another very robust composition with a main theme that lingers long in the noggin afterwards. If nothing else this album has convinced me that Pierre Moerlen is one of the best drummers I have ever heard and once again the dynamic contrasts afforded by the wealth of chromatic percussion deployed gives the track a depth of detail that rewards repeated listens. Zappa had a lifelong mallet fetish but he seldom put them to such effective use as Gong do on Gazeuse.

Percolations Parts 1 & 2 - The first part confounds my habitual prejudice about ambient style atmospherics i.e. this is assuredly not just any old flotsam drowned in a big reverb. Gorgeous swathes of composed chordal washes provide a backdrop whose source appears to be that of a pedal steel guitar put through a variety of chorused and/or overdubbed harmonies. (Whatever, it is just industrial strength sumptuous y'all) The second part racks up the tempo considerably and steals a march on much of the gamelan guitar work of the Crims that was to follow circa 1981 but here stated on vibraphone, mallets, marimba and glockenspiel. Take care to notice the compelling use of timpani on Percolations as unlike many rock bands, Gong resist the temptation to go bombastic '1812 meltdown' when armed with the orchestral critters. I am probably one of the few non-drummers who actually enjoys many drum solos and the one here provided by the multi talented Moerlen is as good an example of a carefully composed and 'musical' excursion I have encountered. Right up on a par with Billy Cobham and Tony Williams (praise indeed) Is that a light covering of fuzz I can now feel on my bald patch ?

Shadows of - Perhaps the best track on the album. Almost a perfect example of what jazz rock could be (but seldom is) The main theme is tear wellingly beautiful and the subsequent sections that follow, although all clearly discernible, serve to add to the whole and flow seamlessly into each other as the piece develops. Holdsworth's solo is a veritable 'stag night at the Whammy bar' and is just another example of the sort of light and shade and dynamic contrast that appears to have left his work as the years went by. Is this a fringe I see before me ?....

Esnuria - Crunchy riffing from Holdsworth and a rhythmic feel not a million miles away from Bill Bruford's Earthworks. Lovely ostinato from Malherbe mixed tantalising low in the mix as if to tease us into reaching for the 'repeat' button. Francis Mose contributes some plaintive singing bass on this number and like everything at the bottom end on Gazeuse, plays just enough and no more to get the job done. This discipline may be a product of his stint in early Magma ?

Mireille - Rather roomy little tail-ender. Not completely redundant as it does contain some plaintive acoustic from Holdsworth over some dislocated and dreamy harmonic accompaniment via Mose's ethereal Rhodes and neurotic acoustic piano. Although hardly a 'sea parter' it's the only track that features keyboards.

Gong's output appears to be split abruptly between the communal fruits of psychedelic breakfast cereal and the latter fusion material. Whatever side of the fence your preferences might lie, I am convinced that lengthy exposure to this band might actually promote hair restoration in we balding and ageing proggers. So wedge that retreating mullet between the speakers and watch that thick glossy pate miraculously regenerate itself.

Members reviews

seyo
"Gazeuse!" was my first GONG listening experience. Since I did not know the classic Daevid Allen-led Radio Gnome trilogy, I was pretty much impressed by the wonderful space/fusion sound of "Gazeuse!", because I had no previous model to compare to.

Now, when I know well most of the GONG 70s releases, I can even more appreciate this album. Pierre Moerlen took the lead and, backed by the enormous contribution of Malherbe's woodwinds, produced a jazz-rock masterpiece. Perhaps only on some of the MOTHERS OF INVENTION albums could I hear such a creative, playful and intelligent use of various percussion in the rock band format. Pierre and Benoit Moerlen, Mireille Bauer and Mino Cinelou act like a percussive symphonic orchestra, utilizing legions of instruments, some of which I never heard of before. Apart from Pierre's drum kit, you can hear vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone, congas, African bell-gong, cuica, maracas, talking drum, vibra, timpani... The best example of their capabilities is a two-part percussion suite "Percolations", which remind you that even the sole percussive rhythm instruments can create real music.

Another important contribution to this album is unbelievable lead guitar of Allan Holdsworth. The sound of his guitar is really unique and compositions where he gives his best like "Expresso" or "Shadows Of" are masterpieces of jazz-rock. Fans of LEB I SOL are strongly advised to listen to Holdsworth, because the undisputed ex-Yugoslav/Macedonian guitar genius Vlatko Stefanovski (ex leader of LEB I SOL) has repeatedly mentioned Holdsworth's influence on his own guitar technique.

Although the confirmed adherents to the earlier "Radio Gnome Invisible" space-rock mythology will probably dismiss "Gazeuse!" as ultimately a non-GonG record, other listeners (and specially jazz rock fans) are strongly advised to give it a try.
Warthur
This album is really the debut of the Gong spin-off known as "Pierre Moerlen's Gong" - they changed their name to that as soon as their contract with Virgin, and other Gong factions with other lineups performed parallel to them even before then - one wonders whether the name change would have happened sooner had Virgin Records been up for it.

The group plays a highly percussion-focused brand of fusion which at points is reminiscent of the work on Billy Cobham's Spectrum album. The lineup is structured around a core unit of no less than four percussionists, with a few other musicians to round out the sound - standouts here include Allan Holdsworth on guitar and Didier Malherbe on flute and sax. Though the band occasionally dip into 1970s rock/fusion cliches (a drum solo, when you have so many other awesome percussion instruments to play with? Really, Pierre?) but is otherwise a reasonably confident first draft of this Gong incarnation's distinctive style.
Sean Trane
Before starting the review, this album was apparently released in the US under the name of Expresso, which will explain why the following album will bear the name Expresso II. After the still very GonG-ian Shamal, where the spirit of Daevid was not completely erased yet, as can be seen by constant traits of humour in the instrumental music, Gazeuse is a rather different object, retaining a certain form of rock in their jazz-rock, that they are very much comparable of Canterbury bands like Hatfield, Gilgamesh or National Health. Even though Hillage is gone and replaced by Alan Holdsworth (ex-Nucleus and Soft Machine), the group is now in majority French in its personnel, Howlett being replaced by ex-Magma Francis Moze (also playing keyboards).

Gong is now a full-blown jazz-rock outfit, a very percussive one at that with no less than four members playing percussion instruments as disparate as marimbas, congas, drums, glockenspiels, maracas and temple blocks (even leaving a lengthy percussion passage at the end of Night Illusion; thus leaving only Holdsworth (guitars & violin), Malherbe (winds) and Moze (pianos) front the septet with solo instruments. With a stupendous and colourful (dare I even say joyous) artwork, it is a little amazing to notice that the album is so serious: Shamal and Gazeuse should've traded artworks to fit better the musical content. Moze's Kobaian-speaking bass adds a little je-ne-sais-quoi to the music that makes this album quite enjoyable. Holdsworth's heavy guitars often take the group to a Canterburian trail (the future National Health and UK guitarist is clearly blossoming in Gazeuse), and his composition Shadow Of is one of the album's highlights. While Gazeuse has no links whatsoever to the Daevid-ian Gong, it is certainly no less an album, just as worthy but differently, but likely to appeal to a different kind of proghead.

Ratings only

  • MoogHead
  • St Tree Fun
  • KK58
  • Argonaught
  • Vano
  • chrijom
  • yair0103
  • Lynx33
  • Rokukai
  • Chrysostome
  • leechburton
  • joe
  • toitoi2
  • kostasprog
  • jpmonterc
  • Tychovski
  • Hawkwise
  • triceratopsoil
  • b4usleep

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