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Tree In Fish

Mother Gong

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Album Review

This is one of Mother Gong's strongest and most representative efforts, albeit a little late in the group's classic period. Furthermore, the album reissued by Voiceprint in 2004 bears little resemblance to the original U.S.-only release, with only five tracks appearing on both. The lineup includes Robert Calvert (saxes), Conrad Henderson (bass), and Robert George (drums and percussion), in addition to the nucleus of Gilli Smyth and Harry Williamson. Old Gong mate Didier Malherbe guests on "Greenfields," delivering a smooth flute solo on a track similar in style to the light jazz-rock recipe he favored at the time. Other guests on the album include Tom the Poet, Shayamal Maitra, and Kangaroo Moon. Recorded in part during Mother Gong's 1991 tour of America and in part in an Australian studio, Tree in Fish offers a good balance of space poetry and groovy instrumentals. Smyth's effects-drenched voice takes center stage, but the musicians are left ample room to breathe. "Four Horsemen," "Wilful Housewife," and "The House Is Not the Same" (the latter with brilliant lyrics by Henry Normal) remain among her best performances from that era. "Buddhas Birthday," the aforementioned "Greenfields," and "Song of Skye" provide pleasant interludes without lyrics — the latter piece is unusually tender and pretty, bordering on easy listening. This album's strength resides in its free-flowing, spontaneous-sounding track list hiding carefully scored tunes. Tracks like "She Smiled," "Cafe Reflections," and the two "Simple" pieces keep things ethereal and improvised, framing more precise songs into a single album context — a feature that is lacking on the group's other records. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Tree In Fish, Mother Gong
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