Excellently produced jazz-rock, with a very low pixie count!
Gavin Wilson | 03/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To my ear, many early 70s albums by British prog groups (for instance, Caravan, Robert Wyatt, Hatfield & the North) sound tainted by quirky vocals. Gong, the anglo-French consortium, caught this foot-in-mouth disease right from the start. The earlier CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE has enough space pixies to last you a lifetime. Steve Hillage, with Miquette Giraudy, still had the bug when he recorded the solo L.Gong's creator, Daevid Allen, left the band in 75 -- he maintained he had been prevented from appearing on stage one night by a 'force field' of uncertain origin.This 1975 outing by Gong-sans-Allen was a revelation. A band that I'd written off as both lunatics and cheap -- it had been Richard Branson's idea to sell CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE for just 69p (around ...) -- suddenly demanded to be taken very seriously indeed. A very clean production (for the time) by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason created a very disciplined, democratic performance by the band.This album deserves to be much better known than it is. It's certainly in my top 50. My brother prefers the successor, GAZEUSE!, which has fewer vocals, and, having just read and been entranced by some of the amazon reviews of that album, I may well go buy that one."
Masterful Transition Album!
Carl Johnson | Detroit, MI United States | 02/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shamal is close to my favorite Gong records. Daevid had begged off the band completely and Steve plays on just two songs. The band masterfully begins to develop as a fusion unit. Wingful Of Eyes is a masterpiece in commercial fusion and flows fresh even today! Didier Malherbe executes some Bamboo flute solos on a lot of the record that are truly mystifying. Patrice Lemoine's keyboards are gracefully understated. Mireille Bauer brings the renowned vibes sound we associate the band with to a fuller fruition. It is a wonderful piece of prog rock art with a jazzy funky edge. Yet it is still spacey in the Gong tradition. Pierre Moerlen starts to take over but he hasn't completely done so on this record. His percussion is stupendous and yes, they were trying for some commercial sucess. Heck the legacies of the band had either split or sat in for a session or two. Fusion purist do not like this record because it is not instramental. The space cadets don't like it because it is not spacey enough. In is right inbetween! Perfect spin!"
Deep in the heart of Nowhere
loteq | Regensburg | 03/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Shamal" is an important transitional album in Gong's convoluted life-span. Founder Daevid Allen just had departed and Steve Hillage (who is only listed as a guest musician here) strove for a solo career after having commercial success with his first solo effort "Fish rising". Finally, Gong became the vehicle of Pierre Moerlen, who led the band into jazz-rock fields with 1976's "Gazeuse!". Although "Shamal" is produced by Nick Mason, the music bears very little resemblance to Pink Floyd. The sound is also quite a step from Gong's preceding, legendary "Radio Gnome Trilogy". The songs are shorter, better structured and more tuneful, coming up with jazzy bass lines, croaky saxophones, and pearling vibraphones. I particularly enjoy Mike Howlett's hesitant talk-singing on "Wingful of eyes", the beautiful, both funny and melancholic "Mandrake", and the Eastern flavor of "Bombouji". "Shamal" is not one of my favorite Gong albums (these are "Camembert electrique", "Downwind", "Shapeshifter", and the remix collection "You remixed"), but it is one of Gong's most accessible and well-thought efforts."
A superb example of lost-in-space music.
loteq | 03/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was alway mystified about this album. It was produced by Pink Floyd's drummer, and sold well in Europe but is relatively unknown in the U.S. It is a superb fusion of excellent winds (flute, sax) and percussion (marimba, vibes, drums) overlayed with great '70's synthesizer, moody lyrics and space guitar."
Gong continues on without Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, etc.
BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 08/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1974's You had showed Gong at their peak, closing off the Radio Gnome trilogy with what had to be their finest album. Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, and Tim Blake had all left the band after that album. Steve Hillage got to work on his first solo album, Fish Rising (which basically featured all the Gong members, plus Dave Stewart and Lindsay Cooper, minus of course, Allen). That left Gong with Didier Malherbe, Pierre Moerlen, Mike Howlett, and Mireille Bauer. Vocal duties were now handled by Howlett, and they decided to add a Frenchman by the name of Patrice Lemoine to handle the keyboards. Lemoine was obviously a much more conventional keyboardist than Tim Blake, so no fancy VCS-3 synth bubbles and spacy Moog leads. Instead he went for a Fender Rhodes electric piano and a Mini Moog played more in the fusion manner. Without Daevid Allen anymore, it's no surprise that stories of the Planet Gong and Pot Head Pixies were absent, but the lyrics often still remained quirky, especially "Wingful of Eye". Some of the songs on this album have a rather strong ethnic bent to them, especially "Bambooji". "Chandra" shows the band at their more fusion-oriented side. "Cat in Clark's Shoe" is a rather quirky number, gets a little cheesy in places, especially when you have an Argentine by the name of Jorge Pinchevesky provide some violin. He was a guest on the album and apparently a fixture in Argentina's music scene. Steve Hillage is now pretty much credited as a guest on this album, as he'd be going solo full time after this album. Shamal shows that Gong was still able to make some great music without the presence of the Pot Head Pixie crew. Unfortunately, for me, I felt the band moved to more conventional fusion after this album that didn't do much for me. But for Shamal, it's still another recommended album if you like Gong, although of course, I prefer You."