Sunday, 2 November 2014

An Endlessly Evolving Parable: Daevid Allen Of Gong Interviewed

So in the beginning, there were a bunch of green pot-head pixies in propeller hats bopping around through the galaxies in flying teapots, and they dragged this guy Zero off to Planet Gong after plying him with drugs, space radio and Foster's lager. Along the way, he was helped by sexy witches, sneaky but friendly cats, and wise space prostitutes on a mission to gather all the world's freaks, cleanse everyone's third eyes, and prepare the world for a golden age of silliness, harmony, understanding, drinking tea, smoking pot and grooving on, with more truth to be revealed in the year 2032.
Or: In the beginning - sometime in the mid sixties - there was Daevid Allen, the psychedelic pied piper from Australia and early member of Soft Machine at their trippy peak. In 1967, stuck in France thanks to visa problems, he joined forces with space-whispering Sorbonne professor Gilli Smyth to form the first incarnation of Gong. They fled to Mallorca to avoid the chaos of the 1968 student riots, where they met flautist and saxophonist Didier Malherbe, who was living in a cave on Robert Graves' estate. (Graves, the master mythkeeper, would have been hard pressed to create a more symbolically resonant origin story for anyone's press kit.) From there, Gong signed to Virgin, Pierre Moerlen and Steve Hillage joined, and the group produced a run of albums building the Planet Gong mythology and images. Meantime, and for the next several decades, solo projects and offshoots flourished, from Mother Gong, Planet Gong, Pierre Moerlen's Gong (without Allen), Acid Mothers Gong (with Acid Mothers Temple) to involvement with countless jazzy spacerock supergroups, all surfing the weirder shores of the hippy cosmos.
Which story is more true? The history and music of Gong are like world mythology textbooks: sprawling, nomadic, full of people who come and go and come back again; stories that change with each telling while still holding on to some essential spirit. If you try to map all of the connections and offshoots and collaborations of the group's past 45-plus years, you get something that looks less like a rock family tree and more like some complex digital visualisation of a tangled neural network. But hey: these are the kinds of structures that anchor down roots for the long haul.

Australian beatnik Daevid Allen was a founder member of Britain's earliest psychedelic band, Soft Machine.He departed from the band after the release of their first classic single Love Makes Sweet Mus..

Australian poet and musician Daevid Allen, born in 1938, moved to Europe in 1960, inspired by the writings of the ‘Beat Generation.’ After a year or so in Paris he arrived in the UK in 196..

Whichever way you look at it, Daevid Allen is one of the most interesting and enigmatic characters in modern music. An Australian, he was working in a Melbourne book shop when he discovered the writin..

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