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Stroking the Tail of the Bird

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Album Review

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.


Born: 13 January 1938 in Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Daevid Allen was one of the founders of the British progressive rock band the Soft Machine in 1966. After recording just one album with the group, he became the founder/leader of Gong, which he left in 1973 to begin a solo career (though his first solo album, Banana Moon, was released in 1971 while he was still in the group). Allen explored his quirky, folky take on rock throughout the '70s and '80s on albums like 1976's Good Morning and 1983's Alien in New York. His solo work also included collaborations...
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Stroking the Tail of the Bird, Daevid Allen
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