01. Heavy Tune (6:22)
02. Golden Dilemma (4:51)
03. Sleepy (7:17)
04. Soli )7:37)
05. Boring (6:23)
06. Three Blind Mice (4:47)
- Mireille Bauer / marimbas, vibraphone
- Francois Causse / congas
- Allan Holdsworth / rhythm guitar
- Bon Lozaga / acoustic guitar
- Benoit Moerlen / glockenspiel, vibes, xylophone, tubular bells, claves
- Pierre Moerlen / drums, glockenspiel, xylophone, tubular bells, timpani
- Hansford Rowe / bass, rhythm guitar
- Mick Taylor / electric guitar
- Darryl Way / violin
Just as a starter, this album wears the number II after its name, because Gong's previous album Gazeuse was marketed Stateside as Expresso. By the time of release of this album, Gong didn't have much to do with the unit that had recorded the RGI trilogy: they were more of rhythm section waiting for frontmen to come in the forefront. Don't get me wrong I wouldn't call this line-up Sly & Robbie (they're much too good for that), but let's face it: three percussionists and a bassist make the core of the Gong. Sure some very prestigious guest such as violinist Darryl Way or guitarist Holdsworth or more surprisingly ex-Stone Mick Taylor just to mention these few. And one wonders why Daevid was trying to get the name back. I'm not too sure how they went along, but this line-up's next album would go on to record as Pierre Moerlen's Gong and produce another string of albums under that moniker.
What strikes in this album is that we have already the first draft of Gongzilla and the music is extremely percussive, sounding a bit like Maneige circa Libre Service. Although at first one is taken aback with the aptly titled Heavy Tune that sounds like a quasi metallic blues-rock, with two guitars in tow, Holdsworth on the rhythm and Taylor pulling a brilliant solo on lead. The lengthy Sleepy is also quite a fine track and doesn't bear its name well as is Boring, which sports some of violist Darryl Way's best works ever, both sounding very Maneige like, if you'll except the violin. Another highlight is the 7-min+ Soli, which gives a few good examples of it. But overall, if you don't appreciate vibraphones or xylophones, you'd better steer clear ofd this album because it is loaded with them, which renders the music lively, but also tends to make the different tracks a bit uniform.
As can be obviously deducted, Expresso II is yet another fine jazz-rock album with many moments but its good dose of heard-elsewhere developments, the interest of every new album from Gong was getting lesser, partly because of the amount of groups that were around were becoming quite a crowd stepping on each other's toes, partly because musically, all the grounds that were to be discovered were for a while now. As flawlessly played as Expressso can be, even if Gong has their own typical sound and intricacies, they were sounding like "just another jazz-rock/fusion group" and therefore were losing much interest of many, and to the light of this album, I'd say that this was slightly unfair, but then again the same can be said of many other JR/F albums of these years. And things would get even harder with the passing of the decade, once these groups tried to adapt to the new decade by "innovating" on such ugly instruments so typical of the 80's, therefore starting to lose their soul. Anyway, coming back to this album: hardly essential, yet eavesdropping on it every now and then seems like a much tempting idea.