GONG — Shamal

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GONG - Shamal cover
3.68 | 21 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1975

Filed under Jazz Related Rock


A1 Wingful Of Eyes 8:19
A2 Chandra 7:16
A3 Bambooji 5:21
B1 Cat In Clark's Shoes 7:45
B2 Mandrake 5:07
B3 Shamal 8:58

Total Time: 40:41


- Mike Howlett / bass, vocals
- Didier 'Bloom' Malherbe / Tenor & Soprano saxophones, flutes, Bamboo flutes, Gongs
- Mireille Bauer / marimba, Glockenspiel, xylophone, assorted percussions & Gongs
- Pierre Moerlen / drums, vibraphone, Tubular Bells
- Patrice Lemoine / pianos, organ, Mini-Moog synth
- Steve Hillage / guitars ("Bambooji" & "Wingful of Eyes")
- Miquette Giraudy / vocals ("Bambooji")
- Sandy Colley / vocals ("Shamal")
- Jorge Pinchevesky / violin ("Cat in Clark's Shoes", "Bambooji", "Shamal", "Chandra")

About this release

Virgin – V 2046 (UK)

Recorded at Basing Street Studios, London and at Olympic Studios, London

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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Members reviews

My first introduction to GONG was via "Gazeuse!" which I liked very much and was one of my favorite jazz-rock albums. Then I checked this out and found it again interesting although slightly less prominent.

The main problem for me was Howlett's singing and I did not like it. His voice lacks the charm of David Allen's. On the other hand the instrumental part of this album is excellent, particularly for fusion fans. This is the most guitar-less album of GONG and Hillage's guitar is present on only two songs. But the rest of the crew, Moerlen and Malherbe in particular shine brightly. Very good album, representing the transition towards Pierre Moerlen-led jazz fusion adventure with emphasis on percussion instruments.
Shamal is an awkward album from a time when Gong were clearly no longer the whimsical teapot-obsessed pixies of the Daevid Allen years but Pierre Moerlen's fusion force hadn't emerged from the cocoon yet. Jazzy in places, spacey in others, the album meanders around in search of a cohesive sound and hasn't quite found it by the time the title track plays us out. Steve Hillage's contributions seem subdued and lacklustre, as though he were already eyeing the exit, whilst Pierre Moerlen's percussion work knocks this piece up to a three-star piece. Pleasant but forgettable, Shamal is one you want to listen to if you find yourself curious as to how the madcap psychedelic Canterbury group of You became the sleek jazz-rock unit of Gazeuse, but unless you are very interested in the band's history I wouldn't make it a high priority.
Sean Trane
With Daevid kindly invited to step out, or his gracious bow-out over with, GonG suddenly realized that they were indeed Gong, but apparently the madness was missing, especially so that Steve Hillage, his wife and Tim Blake, the You trio, were also gone. So what's left on GonG??? Outside Didier Bloomdido Malherbe, and to a lesser extent Pierre Moerlen and Mike Howlett, we've got a brand new group compared to RGI's second tome. And musically it shows mega tons, as the unit is developing a sold jazz-rock with moods ranging from atmospheric to mad to reflective, ethnic, furious etc. On keyboards appear Patrick Lemoine from Ribeiro's Alpes, while Bauer's many tuned percussions give another twist to the new line-up. Fantastic desert photo gracing the gatefold. Out of the six tracks, three are sung, somewhat as capable as Howlett was able to, but obviously vocals and conceptual lyrics are no concern of the new band. Their jazz-rock is highly haunting, with a tad of orientalism thrown in, and Gong can be seen as a full blown Canterbury-an group, sounding like Hatfield, National Health and a few more including Hillage, even if THE big semi-absent here. Opening on Wingful Of Eyes, where the Hillages make a quick come back, Shamal makes an awesome reassurance to fans that if Daevid is gone, Gong remains a first class group although in a very different field of excellence. While WOE and its follow-up Chandra are both sung funky jazz-rock, they are not necessarily representative of the rest of the album. A Bambooji shows us, where Extreme Oriental influence of Bloomdido lead us in a very complex tune, where Hillage finds his way through for a short but powerful solo.

The flipside returns to a solid jazz-rock where Howlett's bass plays up Moerlen's awesome drums and Bauer's tuned percussion instruments in a 100 MPH groove, while Malherbe soars with his sax, but gets a discreet help from guest (appearing on 4 of 6 tracks) violinist Pinchevski, but soon digress in an insanely complex prog tirade with crazy time sigs, and then grotesque carnival music, before reverting to the insane time sigs. Cat In Clarck's Shoes is a real tour-de-force, but one of many highlights of Shamal. Mandrake shows a slower pace and a more reflective where Didier's flute and Mireille's xylo glide on their cloud over a smooth lava rhythm section. The closing title track is yet another superb track, although the sax and violin solos (interrupted by chorus lines) are a tiny bit predictable.

Difficult to rate such an album in comparison to Gong's previous oeuvres, but Shamal is easily Gong's best album under the Moerlen- era (named as such because he will be the only constant member in the next few albums, before renaming the group to his name in order to accommodate older members' access to the name), with every new album coming after, although remaining solidly virtuoso and excellently executed, but also every time a bit less inspired. But this one is a must for the Moerlen-era.

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