Happy Hugh Hopper Day!

Today would be Hugh Hopper’s 66th birthday. Unfortunately, he died of leukemia a little less than two years ago on the 7th of June 2009.

Hugh Hopper was an accomplished bass player from the Canterbury scene. He’s well known for his fuzz bass and tape-loop experiments and also for his music. When he was a teenager in 1963, he was part of the Daevid Allen Trio where Daevid Allen recited poetry while musically accompanied by Hugh on bass and Robert Wyatt on drums and also, at some point, Mike Ratledge on keys (some sources claim), despite the name of the band having trio in it.

After the trio, he was in The Wilde Flowers alongside his brother Brian and actually wrote a lot of the Flowers’ songs. Later on, Hopper played in many of the avantgarde/jazzy Canterbury bands like Soft Machine, Gilgamesh, Isotope and In Cahoots just to mention a few. He also released a sizeable discography under his own name and is still one of the most influential musicians on the scene, despite having passed away.

30 years ago in 1981, leukemia claimed the life of Hugh’s friend and musical partner, keyboardist Alan Gowen. In 2008, Hugh was also diagnosed with leukemia. On the fifth of June 2009, he married his sweetheart Christine Janet and a couple of days later, he passed away. As a tribute to Hugh and Alan, here’s the Waltz For Nobby from their deliciously beautiful and laid-back album Two Rainbows Daily.

 

If you have a favourite Hopper tune, I encourage you to post it in a comment. May their music and memory live on!

Caravan – 1970 – If I could do it again, I’d do it all over you

If I could do it all over again, I’d do it all over you

(Decca 1970)

  1. If I could do it all over again, I’d do it all over you
  2. And I wish I were stoned – Don’t worry
  3. As I feel I die
  4. With an ear to the ground you can make it / Martinian / Only cox / Reprise
  5. Hello Hello
  6. Asforteri 25
  7. Can’t be long now / Françoise / For Richard / Warlock
  8. Limits

Now we’re talking! Full frontal prog, with song lengths setting a standard that in 1970 was still to be assimilated by the prog community. Of course, song length is not a value in itself and if you can’t justify it with good melodies and/or intriguing instrumental passages then it’s just grating. Thankfully, Caravan at least partly succeeded in this respect from the very beginning although I feel that the closing suite consists too much of uninspired jamming and little actual songwriting, but up until then we’re sorted.

The overall atmosphere is somewhat lighter than on the debut, despite the even more bombastic approach with all the multi-part suites because basically every song on here is built upon melodies lighter than a feather. Kinda reflective of the forest grove on the cover with all the ‘foresty’ organs and flutes abound. This atmosphere is especially present on “And I wish I were stoned”, “As I feel I die” and “With an ear to the ground you can make it”. Well, there’s half the album already! However, it all begins with Caravan’s already established brand of quirky pop in “If I could do it all over again, I’d make the title even longer”, but I honestly don’t think that it’s very good. The looping melody with interweaving harmonies is inventive for sure, but I don’t really care for the actual song.

But then we’re going places, supposedly into that aforementioned forest. “And I wish I were stoned” is one of my favourite tracks on here, essentially just two oh-so-obvious pop ditties merged together with some tasteful organ-led passages and what is actually the first real guitar solo from Hastings. Then, still in the forest, we have “As I feel I die” beginning as a slow, almost unbearably quiet melody (that nonetheless rule) building up tension, only to suddenly shift gears and tipping its hat to their jazz-tinged legacy. Can’t you imagine the elves skipping around in the morning sun finding its way down through the green foilage? Or yourself, for that matter.

But then we are ever so slightly running into trouble. The, once again, multi-part “With an ear to the ground” begins on a similarily quiet note, then gradually picks up steam but its first part (reprised at the end) doesn’t really cut it. It gets better in the mid-section though, and as it slows down we are greeted with lush harmonies and a lovely flute solo so all in all it qualifies. “Hello hello” continues the line of the title track, although in a minor key this time and noticeably better. But then we have that closing suite which just seems to go nowhere. There are a few moments which approaches ‘decent’, like the reocurring organ theme that concludes the measures in the second part about four minutes in and onward, as well as after the sax/flute solos. I also like the part which follows, with that four-chord organ swirl adding at least some power to an otherwise lame exercise in pointless noodling. Why couldn’t they make a proper song out of these neat little ideas instead of trying to one-up the… oh wait! This piece is actually breaking some new ground. Like I said, the side-long prog suites were still to be taken up by contemporaries like Genesis, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Yes (who at the time hadn’t even released “The Yes album” which even there didn’t boast anything longer than ten minutes. “For Richard” is over fourteen).

So that somewhat ruins the experience since it takes up way too much of the overall running length. Too bad, since some of the other tracks manages to surpass the quality of the debut. Their best work was yet to come.

Caravan – 1968 – Caravan


Caravan

(Decca/Verve 1968)

  1. Place of my Own
  2. Ride
  3. Policeman
  4. Love Song with Flute
  5. Cecil Rons
  6. Magic Man
  7. Grandma’s Lawn
  8. Where but for Caravan Would I?

Somewhere around 1967 after the Wilde Flowers had withered, half of the crew proceeded to invent a soft machine in order to explore the depths of the London underground. When the other half heard about their venture they decided to scrap together yet another band and dub it Caravan, and listening to this debut sure makes you feel that the very name is sensed in the music. It’s nothing short of a caravan of massive sounds stately and steadily proceeding through your speakers and into your subconsciousness. That statement may seem somewhat exaggerated now but consider that this was 1968, before all the crimson kings and armadillo tanks and ready suppers and all that. The closest equivalent I can think of at this point is Procol Harum, but they were still sporting a more soulish brand of baroque-tinged rock whereas Caravan went down the majestic route as well as spicing it up with playful folk-jazz passages, like in “Love song with flute”, one of the best tracks on here.

You might as well already get adjusted to the weak singing voice of Pye Hastings (very weak actually, in places sounding like on the verge of cracking, carefully balancing on the right note) which would get better over the ensuing albums, but personally I don’t really mind (I’ve heard much worse, especially considering the swedish indie scene) as it suits the songs well. He’s occasionally assisted by Richard Sinclair who technically has got a better voice but there’s something about it that ever so slightly annoys me. It’s a bit meek and syrupy, but I’m not really complaining as it works as a good counterpart to Pye’s whiney falsetto.

The songs cook however, and it starts off with a true highlight in “Place on my own” where the aforementioned grandness, emphasized by the echoey production and the somewhat foreboding intro/verse parts and the organ-led interlude make for a great contrast with the uplifting chorus. “Love song” is, like I said, another favourite with its wonderfully sharp transition into the chorus, as well as the closing “Where but for Caravanwould I” showing the first signs of true prog dexterity, not least in its multi-part structure. “Magic man” is also a highlight, effectively working its way through three looping chords on which they weave several different melodies.

Out of the rest of the tracks I feel “Grandma’s lawn” and “Policeman” to be a bit iffy even if the latter sports an obvious nod to Beatles in its McCartneyesque melody. (And it’s always fun to bash the law enforcements every now and then). “Cecil Rons” is a lot of fun though, with a faux-scary organ arrangement underpinning a nursery rhyme not unlike The Who’s “Silas Stingy”. Finally there’s the conga-driven mantra “Ride” that surely conjures the feeling of a caravan making its way out from Canterbury to wherever they ended up. Or more figuratively, from the humble beginnings of artrock into the vast and yet unknown terrain of progressive rock. Groovy!

Syd Arthur’s debut : Moving World

Syd Arthur have released their debut, Moving World. This news is actually a month old, but it may still be fresh enough for many Canterbury connoiseurs as the band Syd Arthur is likely still a treasure waiting to be discovered for many fans of the scene.

Syd Arthur is one of the new members of the Canterbury scene and also a name fans of english 70s prog rock may find eerily familiar. The group’s members have cited rock bands from the 60s and 70s as big inspirations and influences on their sound. As the group is Canterbury based, some of those inspirations are obviously from the Canterbury scene which Syd Arthur is now also generally considered part of. In an interview from 2009, singer and guitarist Liam cited Hatfield and the North as his favourite group. We heartily approve!

I first heard about Syd Arthur on the Canterbury Soundwaves podcast as they’ve been played in each episode (I believe) and also did an interview in episode 5. Listening to the podcasts made me curious enough to check them out. I also recently contacted them asking for pictures and information I could use on this site which they were kind enough to provide (thanks guys!). The timing has been pretty good because just about a month ago, the band released their debut EP Moving World. The music on their debut EP is energetic, beautiful, layered and accessible and has been described as “Jamiroquai jamming with Jethro Tull” by Paul Lester in an article for The Guardian. I’m not sure how comfortable the band are with that description, but Moving World is an impressive debut that you should check out, particularly if you’re interested in what’s happening in the Canterbury scene today.

The EP can be listened to in it’s entirety and ordered from the band’s website for 5 pounds or bought digitally for an optional price at a 1 pound minimum. Pocket change in other words .. Check it out!

Link : sydarthur.co.uk

Syd Arthur

Syd Arthur is an english Canterbury based rock band. They are considered (new) members of the Canterbury scene and recently released their debut EP, Moving World.

History

Before settling on the name Syd Arthur, the band was called Grumpy Jumpers and then Moshka. The band’s live career dates back to 2006 and they’ve spent the years between then and their debut playing concerts, also at festivals, both in England and elsewhere in Europe. In 2009, they set up Wicker Studios, their own self-funded studio space on the outskirts of southeast London. During a hectic week at the end of 2010, they recorded what would be their first release, the Moving World EP. Moving World was released on the 28th of March 2011.

Trivia

  • Guitarist and singer Liam Magill has cited Hatfield and the North as one of the band’s major influences.
  • The name Syd Arthur was humorously inspired by Herman Hesse’s book Siddartha
  • Raven Bush is the son of John Carder Bush who is the brother of famous artist Catherine ‘Kate’ Bush, making Raven Bush Kate Bush’s nephew

Members

  • Liam Magill
    • Lead vocals, guitar, flute, percussion, effects
  • Joel Magill
    • Bass, vocals, percussion, effects
  • Raven Bush
    • Violin, mandolin, piano, percussion, vocals, effects
  • Fred Rother
    • Drums

Discography

Moving World (2011)

 

Links

Syd Arthur – 2011 – Moving World

[cc_img_effect url=”http://politeforce.torden.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Syd-Arthur-Moving-World-300×293.jpg” frame=”on” id=”1″] Moving World is the debut EP by the Canterbury band Syd Arthur. It was the first release from the label Dawn Chorus Recording Company and was released on the 28th of March 2011. Digital versions of the album are currently sold for an optional price at minimum 1 pound.

Track listing

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]All songs by Syd Arthur.

  • Morning’s Calling (4:40)
  • Pulse (4:36)
  • Exit Domino (3:26)
  • Planet of Love / Hermethio (6:54)

Personnel

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]

  • Liam Magill
    • Lead vocals, guitar, flute, percussion, effects
  • Joel Magill
    • Bass, vocals, percussion, effects
  • Raven Bush
    • Violin, mandolin, piano, percussion, vocals, effects
  • Fred Rother
    • Drums

On-site reviews

  • None!

External links

Canterbury Soundwaves podcast

Would you like to listen to obscure Canterburyan recordings intermingled with insightful comments, trivia and even interviews?

If yes, you should check out the blog and podcast by official Canterbury-smart-cookie Matthew Watkins who have done all us Canterbury fans a big favour. He’s put together his own little “radio show” for people like you and me where he explores what’s thought of as the Canterbury sound. Aside from playing wonderful music (of course), Matthew is also incredibly insightful when it comes to knowledge on the scene and he has a lot of interesting information and trivia to share, including rare recordings and radio interviews. Last month’s episode 5 also featured an interview with new and upcoming Canterbury band Syd Arthur and more interesting interviews may pop up in the future.

In short, every podcast is a journey and truly a gift to us interested in the scene. Canterbury Soundwaves have our warmest recommendations and we hope Matthew keeps it up well into the future. Check it out!

Link : Canterbury Soundwaves

First discography covered!

Today is a gay and merry day on our site as we’ve completed the first band discography complete with band page etc. The band in question is the Norwegian Canterbury related outfit called Panzerpappa who were kind enough to donate and allow the use of pictures and art like album covers. Many thanks, guys!

The fact that the band’s entire discography is up along with a panzerpappa info page/post does by no means mean we’re done with them. Our information is not intended to stay static, but will hopefully be edited and further developed in the future to include more information on this brilliant prog-outfit. For now, check out their band post on the site (every mention of the band’s name on the blog will automatically turn into a link) and don’t hesitate to say if you have more information to add or something you’d like changed. If your ideas are good and your heart is true, we may make you an editor.

Check out Panzerpappa’s page and the discography links contained therein!

 

Panzerpappa – 2002 – Hulemysteriet

[cc_img_effect url=”http://politeforce.torden.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Panzerpappa-Hulemysteriet-2002-300×300.png” frame=”on” id=”1″] Hulemysteriet (in english: “the cave mystery”) is norwegian avant-prog band Panzerpappa’s second album, released in 2002.

Production

The album was recorded in Amatøren studio and in Trond Gjellum’s living room between late 2001 and May 2002. Technicians were Trond Gjellum and Thomas Meidell. Mastering was done by Trond Gjellum. A revised version of the cover was made by Anders Kristian Krabberød in 2004.

Track listing

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]All songs by Panzerpappa.

  1. Spacefunkopera (8:41)
  2. Kamel uten filter (6:04)
  3. Jiddisk juksepolka (4:07)
  4. Verktøyet er den 23.veien (8:13)
  5. Hulemysteriet (5:16)
  6. Syk samba (6:27)
  7. De 99 trappetrinn (10:06)

Personnel

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]Panzerpappa

  • Endre Begby
    • Electric guitar and bass guitar [track 3]
  • Steinar Børve
    • Saxophones and keyboards
  • Trond Gjellum
    • Drums, percussion and electronics
  • Jørgen Skjulstad
    • Electric bass guitar, melodica and piano [track 3]

External links

Panzerpappa – 2000 – … Passer Gullfisk

[cc_img_effect url=”http://politeforce.torden.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/folder.jpg” frame=”on” id=”1″] … Passer Gullfisk is the debut album of norwegian avant-prog band Panzerpappa.

Track listing

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]All songs by Panzerpappa.

  1. Billettkontollørenes inntogsmarsj
  2. Skolepiano
  3. Malist
  4. Landsbysladder
  5. Kliving i masti er forbode. Det er fårleg å komme borti dei elektriske leidningane og festi deira

Personnel

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]Panzerpappa

  • Knut Tore Abrahamsen
    • Electric guitars
  • Steinar Børve
    • Saxophones, keyboards
  • Trond Gjellum
    • Drumkit, acoustic & electric percussion, balaphone, Glockenspiel, sampler, trondofon, melodica
  • Jørgen Skjulstad
    • Electric bass guitar, additional guitars, piano, melodica, Glockenspiel

External links