Gilli Smyth - Mother album review

Musings on motherhood from Mother Gong herself

Gilli Smyth Mother album cover

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Certainly something of a curate’s egg in 1978’s post-punk milieu within which it was hatched, Smyth’s wide-reaching maternal qualities were channelled into this feminist, exploratory polemic fusing both the free-form jazz meanderings of the Gong universe and beat-inspired cut-up audio collages.

Though unlikely, there’s much in common here with the work of Crass’s Gee Vaucher and Eve Libertine than would immediately be apparent, albeit with a softer, more hippie sensibility and 100 per cent more ‘space whisper’.

Orbiting Planet Gong denizens Daevid Allen (Smyth’s partner and long-time collaborator), Didier Malherbe and Pip Pyle provide much of the musical continuity from the mothership, and recurring lyrical snippets and phrases present can be found throughout her and Allen’s careers, illustrating their original passion – performance poetry.

Fragmented and disjointed in parts, though that’s kind of the point, it’s hard to get a cohesive handle on, riffs and melodies disappearing almost as soon as they’ve appeared. In many ways it’s more a work of art than a traditional album, and viewed in those terms, it’s a success.

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Tim Batcup

Tim Batcup is a writer for Classic Rock magazine and Prog magazine. He's also the owner of Cover To Cover, Swansea's only independent bookshop, and a director of Storyopolis, a free children’s literacy project based at the Volcano Theatre, Swansea. He likes music, books and Crass.