- WHAT'S RATTLIN' ?
:: The Weekly
Digest for Canterbury Music
Wednesday, February 10th,
A Word From The Moderator
First Canterbury gig of the year... Last Friday (February
5th) I attended the concert by Hugh Hopper & Polysons in
Annecy (SE of France, about an hour drive from where I live). This
was the second performance by this particular combination of the
former Soft Machine bassist and the Parisian ensemble that has
specialised in reviving the old repertoire of the old progressive
monsters. A few years ago, they toured playing a selection of
Zappa compositions. This time, they chose selections from the
1969-72 output of Soft Machine.
Joining Polysons members Pierre-Olivier Govin
(saxophones), Serge Adam (trumpet) and Francois Merville (drums)
was keyboard player Emmanuel Bex. Bex has become a highly
respected name on the French jazz scene in recent years; a couple
of years ago he was also leading a hot trio with Patrice Meyer and
The first part of the concert, however, was a performance
by the Hugh Hopper Band. In the last two years, it's been a
quartet, consisting of Hopper, Patrice Meyer on guitar, Frank van
der Kooij on saxophone and whoever happens to be available on
drums. Francois Merville of Polysons became the Hopper Band's
drummer for that night, and did a wonderful job.
Hopper and friends went through the usual HHB live
setlist, starting with "Wanglo Saxon" from the In Cahoots days,
followed by the old hit "Sliding Dogs" (of Monster Band and
Isotope fame), "Shuffle Demons" and "Lux Beta" from the latest
album "Carousel", and finishing off with two hitherto unrecorded
Patrice Meyer originals, "Grosso Modo" and "No Long Solos".
Everyone was on top form, with Meyer delivering the most memorable
performance, playing some amazing, lightning fast and lyrical
After a short intermission, "Polysoft" took the stage. The
setlist was, as announced, vintage Soft Machine material.
"Facelift", "Fanfare/All White", "Slightly All The Time", "Pigs"
(from "Esther's Nosejob") and "Chloe And The Pirates" were
performed, with "Gesolreut" added as an encore. The ensemble's
playing was tight, with Hopper's classic bass lines particularly
in evidence. The horns also did a fine job. I was less
enthusiastic about Bex's keyboard work. Despite using real Hammond
and Rhodes, he indulged in digital treatments that left little of
these instruments' trademark sounds intact, not to mention some
not very convincing vocoder atmospherics.
I forgot to mention that Patrice Meyer came back at
mid-gig to play "Dedicated To You, But You Weren't Listening", in
duo with Govin; and both Meyer and Frank van der Kooij jammed with
the others on the encore, "Gesolreut".
It has to be noted that most of the repertoire for the gig
was drawn from Mike Ratledge's compositions. It is a fine
testament to a great composer whose work is often overlooked. His
writing has really stood the test of time, and it's too bad we
don't get to hear this stuff more often. It is of a quality many
bands can only dream of.
Chatting with Hopper and Meyer after the gig provided the
- the Hugh Hopper Band is planning a Dutch tour in March.
- Meyer should be playing soon with the reformed
Equip'Out; the band led by Pip Pyle should have the same line-up
as on the last gigs in 1995 - Elton Dean and Paul Rogers will be
joining Patrice and Pip; no dates set yet.
Other plans for Hopper this year include the release of
the third Hughscore CD, "Delta Flora", on Cuneiform Records in
May; the first CD by the duo of Hopper and singer Lisa S.
Klossner, "Different", on Voiceprint; the first Brainville album
recorded last September at New York's Knitting Factory, with a
possible US and European dates in late May and early June; there
has also been talk of Hugh joining Gong as second bassist for the
upcoming European tour in May, but this is yet to be confirmed
(although the GAS website mentions the possibility). And finally,
Hugh has vague plans for some Italian gigs with Roberto Zorzi, and
new projects with Paul Schutze and Doctor Nerve's Nick Didkovsky.
1999 is really shaping up to be a most active year for good ol'
Subject: Forgas Band Phenomena
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 16:14:23 EST
Hello and a belated happy new year to you all.
Just a quick note to say that, after declaring that I
would, I did buy the Forgas Band Phenomena CD "Roue Libre"
(available from Aymeric) and I am pleased (though not surprised,
knowing Aymeric's good taste) to be able to tell you that it's a
very good record, worthy of gracing the collection of any
"Canterburist". It is full of echoes of our favourite music - Soft
Machine, Hatfield and the North and Gong being the most obvious.
There are also occasional hints of Henry Cow, Magma and
lesser-known Canterbury-style bands such as Art Zoyd (if you don't
know them check them out...), but the mixture still manages to be
The album contains three numbers, Déclic (6 min 14 s)
which, after some rather Gothic, krautrockish organ chords,
followed by what sounds like an out-take from "The Soft Weed
Factor" from Softs 6 suddenly takes off with a jubilant 5/4 surge
that is particularly uplifting - it's the only word I could find.
Patrick Forgas's excellent drumming, rhythmically impeccable but
with just the right dose of Wyatt-like rolls and diversions,
drives the mainly sax-led ensemble through some fascinating Spring
countryside... (Oops, getting a bit "poetical" there, but I admit
that I've never written a review before and I've found it much
more difficult than I thought).
The second 'song', "Sérum de Vérité" (Truth Serum for the
non-Francophones among us) lasts 18 min 30 s and shows the band in
full flow, with some impressive sax soloing by Fred Schmidely
(wonderful name!) who also contributes pleasant flute to some
Caravan-like calmer passages. there is also some very tasteful
guitar backing from Mathias Desmier, though I admit to being more
sceptical when he solos, as I find the influence of Allan
Holdsworth rather too evident, except when electronics (apparently
provided by Forgas himself) distort and transform his sound, as
they do on the next track too, but that's probably just personal.
Some very cheeky Gong-like sax parts in there too.
And the last number is a beauty! It's called "Roue Libre"
(Free Wheel) and evokes the now-disappeared giant Ferris wheel set
up near the Eiffel Tower for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. It
lays down a wonderful rotating theme (honest!) with just the right
hint of nostalgia. The variations in texture and mood in this
number, while preserving the feeling of a 'whole' are quite
impressive - and there are several delicious Wyatt-like Soft
Machinish moments (notably a little drum solo ending in a solitary
tom-tom roll that kicks off a fine sax-ensemble passage -
As I've indicated, I don't like everything (some of the
guitar, the relative discretion of the keyboards, though Aymeric
tells me that this because the keyboard player joined the band too
late to do more), but it's an album I'm delighted to own and I
must admit it's also one which has rarely left my CD player for
more than two days since I got it (about two month's ago!).
Like In Cahoots, this is a band making our type of music
NOW, not twenty years ago and, in my opinion, they deserve our
SO BUY IT.
Love to all.
P.S. Does anyone know any good parodies of CB music. Apart
from the obvious
White Neck Blooze on Banana Moon (Daevid Allen), the only
one I know is on an
album "Chips from the Chocolate Fireball" by "The Dukes of
are actually XTC pretending to be an early psychedelic
band. The song, called
"25 O'Clock if I remember rightly, is as unCanterbury as
possible until the
bridge/solos, when you hear a fantastic overall parody of
Caravan coupled with
a parody of a Dave Sinclair organ solo followed by a
guitar solo which is
(embarrassingly) Pye Hastings. Incidentally, it's also a
very good album all-
round. Anyone know of anything similar?
[A few comments about Forgas Band Phenomena: (1) of course
thanks Tom for this nice (& unsollicited) review; (2) the
initial pressing of the album is current sold out, but copies are
still available from some mail-order sources; (3) the
"electronics" Forgas is credited for the album are purely to do
with the "ghost track" at the end of the CD, which is a piece he
did on his own playing all the keyboard parts; the electronic
effects used by Mathias Desmier are his own; (4) the second FGP
album "Extra-Lucide" is being completed at this very moment; it
should be released by April at the latest - more on that later...
Subject: Re: Stewart/Gaskin news?
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 22:03:59 EST
[In WR#117, Davidkow@aol.com wrote:]
>Does anyone have any idea what's going on with Dave
>these days? etc.
I just completed an interview with Dave for the next issue
of "Progression" Magazine (due to come out in March, I think). I
tease him, saying that he's become the "Stanley Kubrick of Prog
Pop"! Actually, he and Barbara are indeed still working on the
album, and frankly, Dave is a perfectionist. He says that the
album this time consists of mostly original material, and the
lyrics are what's holding him back. He wants to get them
just right. In the meantime, though, his work can be found on Pip
Pyle's "7 Year Itch" album, he produces and gigs with friends, and
a new music theory book, the follow-up to "Introducing the
Dots"/"Musician's Guide to Reading & Writing Music", is about
to be published. So... he's been busy. As for when the new
album will be ready...? Will Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut"
really come out this summer? :)
Subject: The sacred scene
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 16:57:09 EST
From The Next Generation
I recently got online and have been browsing through the
Canterbury Scene sites and pages to see what everyone is up to. I
am a musician in Canterbury and have known some of the guys for
years, have jammed with them, taken lessons, played at the
same concerts, loaned equipment, socialised with them etc.
Of course they've come up with some superb music over the
years (and a fair amount of piffle, Neil's Heavy Concept Album
anyone?, Busy Doing Nothing? Hugh Hopper and Odd Friends? Battle
of Hastings?), and they cast a long shadow, but I have to say it's
a little frustrating that so many bands and performers in this
city have got pretty short shrift over the years from fanzines and
journalists. It's almost as if nobody else in Canterbury is
capable of playing a note worth listening to, but if you happened
to have drunk Mackeson from Phil Miller's underpants at a squat in
London in 1968, or clapped along in a stoned stupor in the
background at a Kevin Ayers recording session you have
inextricably become part of the fabric of the mystical Scene.
Why doesn't somebody come down and find out what's
happening now? We had a great little scene going in the early to
mid 90s with bands like Five Fat Sheep, Huggy and the Bears, Kilo,
Cajunologie, The Acid Test, Jazz Camels etc, all of whom produced
tapes and CDs. We even approached people like Voiceprint when they
were at gigs in Canterbury to see if they were interested in a
compilation CD of newer bands, but all they seemed interested in
was being close to their heroes and chugging beer. Yes, it's nice
to know that so many great players are still doing it and earning
a crust, but some of the Tweedledee and Tweedledum arguments and
rivalries that get wheeled out are just so tedious. And we've
heard it so many times already. Would you really rather read
through a complete list of every gig so-and-so has ever played
over the last 30 years, or hear about what's happening in
I think I know the answer to that one.
From: PT <email@example.com>
Subject: New Mushroom CD
Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 09:55:12 -0800
I just wanted to let everyone know that Mushroom, the band
that backed Kevin Ayers at his San Francisco show last year - has
a new CD available:
Mushroom - Hydrogen Jukebox
It was released on the label: Timothy's Brain.
This new Mushroom CD features the line up you saw playing
and opening for Kevin: 2 keyboardists (including mellotron), 2
guitarists (including one doubling on flute) bass and drums.
In other Mushroom news, a few of the members of Mushroom
recently went into the studio with Daevid Allen to record some new
songs to be released soon under the name: University Of Errors and
will be performing and recording with Daevid again soon in San
Francisco and LA.
Anyone interested in ordering the new Mushroom CD:
Hydrogen Jukebox, should contact the Timothys Brain label directly
Patrick of Mushroom
From: Gary Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 22:42:15 -0500
The latest Artist Shop newsletter is out and full of
You'll find it in its entirety at
Included in that newsletter are the latest releases from
Happy the Man, Motor
Totemist Guild and Paul Dumnall; ESD's
release of Henry Cow/Leg End (Original Mix); and from
<http://www.artist-shop.com/rer> comes Mnemonists/Horde.
Also, the latest issue of Expose
now out! 80 pages and stuffed with information, as
always. Among the
highlights of the new issue is:
- Hugh Hopper (legendary Canterbury bassist and former
member of Soft Machine),
Not too long ago, someone from What's Rattlin' dropped me
a note when I
forwarned of One Way dropping Soft Machine titles.
That person asked me
about the likelihood of another label picking them
up. I replied that since
One Way themselves had licensed them from the original
label, that it
certainly was possible, but that I had no information on
when or if that
might happen. Well, now I have information on at
least two of those titles.
The following is found on our import pre-order page
SOFT MACHINE-4 & 5
Reissue featuring the underground prog rock act's 1971
& 1972 albums
together on one CD. All tracks are digitally remastered.
I wonder if more are to follow ;-)
The Other Road
SUPPORT THE INDEPENDENT ARTIST!!!
Check out the latest
Artist Shop newsletter at
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[for more info : check out the 'Concerts' page of CALYX -
see URL below]
A European tour is being arranged at the moment.
A German tour between May 2-8 will be followed by dates in
Austria, Northern France (incl. Lyon) and possibly Switzerland and
This tour should bring many surprises - a radically
changed set, more improvisation-based; and an altered line-up -
Pip Pyle will be back on drums & other changes to be
DAEVID ALLEN - FESTIVAL OF SEVEN MOONS '99
Mar 25-31 : California
(also gigs with Gilli Smyth and friends feat. Percy Jones
Apr 24-30 : Cornwall
May 24-30 : France
Jun 22-28 : Ireland
Jul 22-28 : USA
Aug 20-26 : Scotland
Sep 19-25 : near London
DAEVID ALLEN - SOLO TOUR
Apr 18 - Leeds, Duchess of York
Apr 21 - Stoke-on-Trent, Riddles Music Bar
Apr 22 - Cheltenham, Axion Centre
Apr 25 - Exeter, Cavern
and more t.b.a.
DAEVID ALLEN/GRAHAM CLARK DUO
Apr 29/30 - Israel
HUGH HOPPER BAND
[H.Hopper-P.Meyer-F.van der Kooij + a drummer]
Tour of Holland in March (tba)
PIP PYLE'S EQUIP'OUT
There are plans for gigs in the coming weeks by Pip's
reactivated jazz line-up (first gigs since 1995!)
Billed to perform at Progfest'99 in San Francisco, late
UK and European dates currently being arranged for June.
DIDIER MALHERBE/PIERRE BENSUSAN
Feb 26 - Valenciennes (France), Théatre le Phoenix [tel:
Feb 27 - Faches-Tumesnil [near Lille] (France), Les
Arcades [tel: 03.20.62.96.96]
Mar 06 - Jarny (France), Espace Gérard Philippe [tel:
INVISIBLE OPERA COMPANY OF TIBET
UK tour in March/April (details tbc)
GRAHAM CLARK JAZZ GIG
Mar 02 - Stockport, Three Shires (w/ resident rhythm
BARBARA THOMPSON'S PARAPHERNALIA
[Barbara Thompson/Billy Thompson/Peter Lemer/Dave Ball/Jon
Mar 02 - Innsbruck (Austria), Treibhaus
Mar 03 - Dornbirn (Austria), Spielboden
Mar 04 - Luzern (Switzerland), t.b.a.
Mar 05 - Konstanz (Germany), t.b.a.
Mar 06 - Stuttgart (Germany), Theaterhaus
Mar 07 - Mainz (Germany), Frankfurter Hof
Mar 09 - Regensburg (Germany), Jazzclub
Mar 10 - Hockenheim (Germany), Pumpwerk
Mar 11 - Nürnberg (Germany), Hirsch
Mar 12 - Kufstein (Austria), Kulturfabrik
Mar 13 - Salzburg (Austria), Rockhouse
Mar 14 - Graz (Austria), Orpheum
Mar 15 - Wien (Austria), Metropol od. Szene
Mar 17 - Budapest (Hungary), t.b.a.
Mar 18 - St. Pölten (Austria), Bühne im Hof
Mar 19 - Oslip (Austria), Cselley Mühle
Mar 20 - Spielberg (Austria), Kulturzentrum
Mar 21 - Linz (Austria), Posthof
Apr 08 - Vlotho (Germany), t.b.a.
Apr 09 - Salzgitter (Germany), Kulturscheune
Apr 10 - Kiel (Germany), Räucherei
Apr 11 - Bremen (Germany), t.b.a.
Apr 13 - Kaiserslautern (Germany), Kammgarn
Apr 14 - Kehl (Germany), Stadthalle
Apr 15 - Pfullendorf (Germany), Stadthalle
Apr 16 - Heidenheim (Germany), Berufsakademie Heidenheim
Apr 17 - Singen (Germany), Gems
Apr 18 - Freiburg (Germany), Jazzhaus
Apr 21 - Osnabrück (Germany), Lagerhalle
Apr 22 - Gronau (Germany), Studio in der Brücke
Apr 24 - Tübingen (Germany), Zentrum Zoo
Apr 06 - Paris, festival Banlieues Bleues
Mar 15 - Paris, festival Banlieues Bleues
FRED FRITH GUITAR QUARTET
Feb 11 - Gent (Belgium), Vooruit
Feb 13 - Vienna (Austria)
Feb 14 - Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Feb 17 - Esslingen (Germany)
Feb 18 - Munich (Germany)
Feb 20 - Dortmund (Germany)
Feb 21 - Zurich (Switzerland)
Feb 22 - Florence (Italy)
Feb 23 - Marseille (France)
Feb 24 - Bordeaux (France)
Feb 25 - Coimbra (Portugal)
FRED FRITH/CHRIS CUTLER
Apr 14 - Torino(Italy)
Apr 15 - Roma
Apr 16 - Verona (Italy)
Apr 17 - Meldola(Italy)
Apr 18 - Bolzano (Italy)
Apr 19 - Milano (Italy)
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END OF ISSUE 118
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