Friday, March 13, 2015

Gong - 1973 - Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot

Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot

01. Radio Gnome Invisible (5:33)
02. Flying Teapot (11:49)
03. The Pot Head Pixies (2:59)
04. The Octave Doctors And The Crystal Machine (1:44)
05. Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell (9:37)
06. Witch's Song/I Am Your Pussy (5:05)

- Daevid Allen / guitar, vocals
- Francis Bacon / VCS3 synth, electric & upright pianos, bass
- Tim Blake / VCS3 synth, crystal machine, vocals
- Steve Hillage / guitars
- Rachid Houari / drumbox
- Didier Malherbe / soprano & tenor saxes, flute
- Gilli Smyth / orgone box, vocals, space whispers
- Christian Titsch / slide guitar

With Flying Teapot, Daevid Allen and company have given us the first part of the infamous Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy. While it's not the introduction of the saga (look to the previous album, Camembert Electrique, for that), it's the album I always consider to be the first full-fledged, full-concept album dealing with the Radio Gnome Invisible storyline which continues on and off throughout Gong's massive catalog. Some love it, some hate's the stuff of dreams, or nightmares, depending on how you look at it. For me, it's the stuff of dreams. The dreams in question, based on the music on display here, are off-the-wall, zany, and playful, yet never simplistic. This album, though not the BEST of the trilogy, lets interested listeners realize one very important thing: while Daevid and friends were probably...not quite in their right minds...while recording the album, they surely knew how to make some good music whatever the case may have been.

In a nutshell, the album is comprised of singing about such topics as flying teapots, pot head pixies, witches, radio gnomes, the planet GONG, octave doctors, the storyline's "hero" Zero, etc., all being sung over some well-played fusion-esque music. It's never quite that simple, though. The instrumentals have hints of avant-garde, and the vocals have their fair share of moans, groans, and just plain old strange noises (all of the above could be used to describe Gilli Smyth's "space whispers", which to some listeners could be the icing on the cake or the worm in the apple).

I think that to fully enjoy this album, listeners must agree at least a little bit with the band when they say "I am, you are, we are CRAZY!" I personally do agree with that statement, so the group's off-kilter sense of humor, bizarro drugged-out ideas and fun instrumental work appeals to me. The vocals are solid, the bass work (on this album, provided by Magma's Francis Moze) is great...everything's solid, really. Who needs drugs when you've got bands like Gong and albums like this one? While the trilogy gets better after this one (coincidentally, when Pierre Moerlen joins for the second installment, Angel's Egg), Flying Teapot is a strong album. I'd suggest starting with either Angel's Egg or You in your journey to the planet Gong, but this one's just about as deserving of many listens as those two are. Along with the other two installments in the trilogy, this is one of the best albums Gong released, by a long shot.