Pierre Moerlin's Gong — Pentanine
(Musea FGBG 4606.AR, 2004, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2006-05-01
The late percussionist Pierre Moerlen’s last Gong lineup was this outstanding group of Russian musicians assembled for the SKIF festival in 2001; the group recorded these 13 tracks in a St. Petersburg studio in mid-2002, prepared them for release, and now finally finding release three years later. Kudos to Musea. Their sound is a mix of tuned-percussion driven progressive rock, fusion and light funk, peppered with occasional playful electronic soundscapes. Moerlen handles the drum kit duties, as well as xylophone, vibraphone and programming, while the other three musicians handle bass, guitar, and keyboards (the latter doubling on hand drums and percussion). While Moerlen’s previous versions of Gong have generally been strong, there were a few early-to-mid 80s incarnations that were fairly hit-or-miss. I’m pleased to report that Pentanine represents one of the stronger editions of the band; even if not quite up to the ferocity level of Expresso II or Downwind, there are plenty of fresh ideas circulating here and the high calibre of musicianship plays directly into Moerlen’s best compositional strengths, while still offering the group plenty of room to stretch out and improvise. The disc seems to be backloaded as well, getting stronger and more spirited as it goes. Those who enjoyed all of the late-70s P.M. Gong releases are sure to find plenty of interest in Pentanine.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more