Daevid Allen

Stroking the Tail of the Bird

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A strictly ambient, drummerless set, 1990's Stroking the Tail of the Bird is like an hours' worth of purified essence of Gong, lacking the forced attempts at conceptual structure and bouts of prog rock noodling that littered the band's '70s albums. Recorded by Daevid Allen on his trademark glissando guitar with former Gong associates Harry Williamson on keyboards and Gilli Smyth on wordless "space whisper" vocals, these five lengthy tracks are pure ambience, with minimalist layers of sound rippling through an otherwise empty soundscape. In other words, think Brian Eno, not the Orb, but next to the ultra-sparse, at times nearly silent Stroking the Tail of the Bird, even albums like Music for Airports or Thursday Afternoon sound gussied-up and busy. Most impressively, the Voiceprint reissue from 1999 adds a previously unreleased ten-minute meditation called "Deep Sea" that was recorded by Allen, Williamson, and Smyth in 1975 (!!), but sounds like it came from these very sessions.

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