Esoteric Recordings selected again an album from the seventies to remaster and to re-release. This time it's the eponymous debut album by the British band Gilgamesh (1975). This band from the Canterbury scene, were built around Alan Gowen (keyboards) and Mike Travis (drums), were formed in 1972. At various times the line-up included former Caravan and Hatfield & The North member Richard Sinclair, Mont Campbell, formerly of Egg, and Neil Murray (Michael Schenker Group, ex- Gary Moore). The line-up that recorded this debut album consisted of Alan Gowen, Phil Lee (electric and acoustic guitar), Jeff Cline (bass) and Mike Travis. The tracks Worlds Of Zin and Jamo And Other Boating Disasters feature the vocal contribution of Amanda Parsons. Gilgamesh recorded two more albums: Another Fine Tune You Got Me Into (1978) and the reunion album Arriving Twice (2000).
After listening several times to Gilgamesh it was still difficult for me to judge it properly. At first I didn't like the album at all, but being a reviewer it's my task to listen to it several times in order to write a judgment as unbiased as possible. In general, the music on this album is too jazzy and too chaotic, aggressive and unpolished for me. Part one of the three-piece track One End More is a good example of this nervous kind of jazz. When my wife heard this one she immediately left the room. Both the piano and the guitar play all kinds of strange and unpredictable rhythms. The second part Phil's Little Dance is much better since only Phil Lee plays a nice and melodic electric guitar piece without being 'disturbed' by any other instrument. In the last part Worlds Of Zin the song develops to a kind of duel between the piano and the guitar.
Lady And Friend starts with an acoustic guitar in the vein of Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips ; the way the bass guitar and the piano are played in this fine club song provide for a very jazzy atmosphere. Another nervous and strange tune is Nothwithstanding. My first thoughts after listening to this track were: let's skip this thing on a second listen. Arriving Twice is just two minutes long and dominated by different pianos and synths played by Alan Gowen. Not bad at all. A lot more experimental jazz is performed on the three-piece track Island Of Rhodes, Paper Boat For Doris and As If Your Eyes Were Open. The start is quite okay, but all the rest really isn't my cup of tea. For Absent Friends lasts just a bit longer than a minute and is only performed on acoustic guitar. We Are All, Someone Else's Food and Jamo And Other Boating Disasters is another three-piece track containing a kind of jazz music I don't like at all. It seems as if every individual musician is playing his own part without listening to the others. The result is a chaotic and unpredictable piece that lacks the structure of a proper jazz song. The last 36 seconds of this album contain a short piano tune named Just C.
If you like experimental jazz this album may be a good choice for you. However, I have to confess that Gilgamesh will never be one of my favourite albums...
*+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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