Exposé Online banner

Gong — Camembert Eclectique
(A GAS CD 001, 1970/1995, CD)

by Steve Robey, Published 1995-07-01

Camembert Eclectique Cover art

Seminal French space prog band Gong may be best known for their pioneering work in the early to mid 70s, as evidenced by the indispensable Radio Gnome Trilogy of albums: Flying Teapot, Angels Egg, and the space fusion masterpiece You. These albums helped launch the admirable solo careers of Steve Hillage, Daevid Allen, and (to a lesser extent) Tim Blake and Mike Howlett. The pivotal album which preceded this trilogy was wittily titled Camembert Electrique; however, material recorded prior to this album has been largely unavailable outside of haphazard compilations (The History and Mystery of the Planet Gong) and patchwork albums (Magic Brother). Now a new chapter has been added to the early Gong archives. Because it is titled Camembert Eclectique, and has cover art almost identical to the aforementioned similarly titled album, the cover bears the caption "not what you think..." One listen to this CD, released by GAS (Gong Appreciation Society) records, reinforces the notion that this CD is quite different from what we usually expect from Gong. The cast features Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Didier Malherbe, Christian Tritsch, and a variety of lesser known players. Although a few of the pieces are well known to Gong fanatics ("Dynamite/I Am Your Animal," "Time of Your Life," and "Garcon Ou Fille" — later titled "Est Que Je Suis"), many are previously unheard cuts. Most notable among these is the 13 minute "Hauted Chateau Rehearsals," which attempts to recreate in the studio an approximation of their live show at the time. Spooky spoken parts give way to fiery guitar solos, adding a valuable asset to the Gong canon. Allen was heavily into tape loop experiments as well, and one of his first and best efforts is included here, "Gongwash Indelible." It's subtle, but very effective upon close listening. The aforementioned "Dynamite" appears in two versions, each one decidedly rawer and more sinister than later versions. Those who have heard the late 70s album About Time (under the name New York Gong) will recognize the bouncy "Big City Energy," which later became "Jungle Window" for that album. In all, this CD is packed with many crucial additions to the Gong fanatics collection. But is it indispensable? Probably not, since the sound quality is sub-par, and while this sometimes adds a bit of charm and mystery to the proceedings, it may detract from the audiophile's listening experience. If you're not already a Gong fan, you ought to proceed with caution before buying this disc. Certainly it's not Gong at their best (for that, refer to the Radio Gnome Trilogy mentioned above). To its credit though, this may be the best example of early Gong yet released. This album is to Gong what Inedits is to Magma: a raw collection of out-takes and jams, revealing interesting new sides to a well-known band. For a bootleg-type collection of odds and ends, you could do a lot worse than get this CD.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 7, 1995 releases, 1970 recordings

Related artist(s): Gilli Smyth / Mother Gong, Gong, Daevid Allen, Pip Pyle

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

(Tom Newman) - Variations on a Rhythm of Mike Oldfield - David Bedford – This is a four track EP, and is basically a Tom Newman album. It's confusing, I know. This is some of that stuff you know Oldfield and Co. did for laughs (when perhaps beer and worse entered the...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues