Friday, 13 March 2015

Daevid Allen RIP

Sad news about the passing of Daevid Allen, the founder of Gong. A unique character and true  musical visionary.

For an Australian his links with France were deep, living and recording some of his most highly regarded work there.

His move to France was unplanned, he was working in England, part of the Soft Machine and the Canterbury scene when a UK borders agent refused to allow him back into the country, so he settled in France.

Sometimes fate takes us to places we didn't expect to go to. Sometimes this turns out to be he right place after all.

He would become part of the expat anglophone beat poet scene, hook up with French musicians and other expats, and sign to BYG/Actuel French jazz label.

The rest is history. His long musical career, it's ups and downs and sideways movements, breakthroughs, flashbacks and insights merit a library of books rather than a meager blog post.  

I've listened to Gong for years, recently listening to them again over the past couple of year in depth after a friend who died left me his vinyl collection. I'd always liked them, but taking the time to explore their recorded legacy was a real treat. The well-known works, the more obscure, Allen's solo material and the manifestations of Gong that he wasn't involved in.

The silliness, the wisdom, the fun and the quite extraordinary music over the decades leaves a body of work that few will ever match. Although perhaps a greater legacy will be the creativity he inspired.

Gong released their most recent album I See You just at the end of last year and not long before the news emerged that Allen was in his final days.

I listened to I thoroughly just the other day, and couldn't help but think as the final blissful drone of the track Shakti Yoni and Dingo Virgin faded out that if that was the last release by Daevid Allen, it would be an absolutely perfect farewell.

Daevid Allen took to the stage at a poetry event in Australia at the end of last month, for what would be his final performance.

He quoted Khalil Gibran, with the lines: "For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."

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