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Ggggong-go-long

Next to a Rainbow in Curved Air by Terry Riley (1968) my most favorite album (with a rainbow in the title) is Rainbow Dome Musick by Steve Hillage (1979), a magnificent two tracks/two sides album from the Canterbury school of progressive rock. I don’t really know whether to give credit to Brian Eno for liberating late 70s English proggers like Hillage to giving longer expression to the hauntingly beautiful, but oh-so-short instrumentals that figure only as too-brief intermissions on the early Gong albums like Angel’s Egg (1973, listen to “Castle in the Clouds” a painfully short 1:15 track). I first came across Hillage when after a long starved period, my hunger for beautiful electronic music was finally satiated in the early 90s by a visit to a music kiosk in a long-defunct (and de-funked) Cincinnati music store. It was there that I carried a pile of cds, and scanning their barcodes one by one, listened to segments from new-ambient albums by the Orb, FSOL , Skylab, and 777 (aka System 7), the latter, the revived prog-electric-ambient-house band of Steve Hillage.

Oh it was an intense day. The wait had begun years earlier when I was 11 or 12 in the mid-1980s. I had been listening to a collection of cassette albums by the Berlin Schooled Japanese Korg master, Kitaro (aka Masanori Takahashi) and begged a clueless record store clerk for any other artists who sounded like him. Such disappointment came after I went home with a crap newage album by Andreas Vollenweider. (A more knowledgeable and sympathetic clerk would have turned me onto Neu!, Cluster, Dieter Moebius, Kraftwerk, or a handful of the other Krautocking space music types that Kitaro hung out with before he went solo and when he was playing keyboards for the Far East Family Band.) In the meantime I kept my ears open, hearing tantalizing glimpses of the genre that had given birth to the music of my desperate craving on Classic Rock Radio. (It would take me many more years to interpret the tree of influence leading from Terry Riley and Philip Glass to the Who, Yes, Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons, and some really cool intros and breakdowns by folks lie the Steve Miller Band. Breadcrumbs).

But, thanks to a pre-Internet commercial music kiosk, the wait was over in 1992. Which leads me back to Steve Hillage by way of the Orb. The most wonderful thing about Dr. Alex Patterson’s music (beyond his lovely mixes) is how through his selections he schools his listeners to the ambient, krautrock and canterbury prog albums from the 70s and early 80s. There’s so much to learn in following the train of his musical references and spotting the pattern he’s leaving for the attentive. (Try your hardest to follow them on the Orb’s most experimental, and I think, enduring album, Orbvs Terrarvm, 1995). Listening (and mixing) to the Orb is what led me back to the 70s and eventually to Hillage. Being more of a fan of instrumentals than silly lyrics about UFOs and electric gypsies, I urge you to give listen to Rainbow Dome Musick. But if you do have the patience for silly lyrics, the live and (alas, Rare-on-Soulseek) album Ggggong-Go-Long is the one to check out of your local public library’s CD collection. For your curious nature, you’re rewarded with a fearless cover of George Harrison/The Beatles’ “It’s All Too Much”, a few minutes of lovely guitar noodling making you feel just the same way the hairs on your neck feel when they stand up in ovation to a good saw bowing. (listen to “Radio” on disc 1 and “Crystal City” on disc 2).

I needed to go through all of this because what I really wanted to do was have an excuse to post about a particularly wonderful and serendipitous discovery of a synaesthetic art, the kind where artists try to reproduce the experience of one sense in that of another. I was hunting for a nice album cover image for my ill-begotten Ggggong-go-long P-threes, when I stumbled across this site thanks to google images search. Behold for your viewing pleasure, the Gong, as quilt:

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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