Gong: I See You

Eccentric collective brew a strong cup.

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Though always more of a revolving collective than a band in any traditional sense, the current incarnation of propeller-hatted, tea-guzzling Gong-ites – mainstay Daevid Allen aside – has completely new personnel.

Perversely, in comparison to 2009’s 2032, which featured Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, Miquette Giraudy and other Radio Gnome stalwarts, I See You channels that classic era far more authentically. Allen’s long-time partner and collaborator Gilli Smyth takes a back seat, while their son Orlando impresses with a wonderfully deft drum performance.

Overall, it’s a virtual précis of the last 40 odd years: haunting glissando guitar, jazz-flirting pyschedelia, pot-headed puns (Pixielation, Zion My T-Shirt), plus recycled snippets of past motifs – the cockney singalong from Giving My Love To You, audio-collage samples of ‘Bert Camembert’ and so on.

Allen’s ire remains undimmed in the mantra/wig-out of Occupy, and the counterculture icons of his youth – Kenneth Rexroth and Allen Ginsberg, along with Gill Scott-Heron – inform the spoken-word This Revolution. Perhaps it’s more vintage than vital in any modern sense, but it’s the equal at least of anything since 1974’s You./o:p

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.