Daevid Allen never needed any encouragement to come out of his shell, but with Angels Egg, he and the raggle taggle ensemble of psychonauts that travelled under the Gong banner arguably went out into the furthest reaches that their space-rock explorations had taken them to date.
The second instalment in the band’s fabled Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy, Angels Egg was also the second LP that the group released in 1973, flying out of the teapot on 7 December that year. Picking up where its predecessor left off, the album dropped back in to see what condition Zero The Hero’s condition was in… After a suitably ethereal opener, ‘Other Side Of The Sky’, we find out that Zero’s head has “floated away in the sky – don’t know why”, before he finds himself in an erotic tryst with a lady of the night. “I’m eating your mind/I’m eating your body” she purrs on ‘Prostitute Poem’, as the band work up a spooky free jazz march behind her, before woozing into the brief barroom knees-up of ‘Givin My Luv To You’.
As Zero’s adventures continue, it becomes… if not clear, then perhaps a reasonable interpretation of events to see that Zero’s journey here is an introspective one (“I left my body on my bed/I flew away inside my head” is how its termed on ‘Love Is How U Make It’). Helping him on his travels is, of course, the band’s phenomenal musicianship. Daevid Allen (crediting himself as Dingo Virgin, one of many imaginative pseudonyms he bestowed upon his cohorts for this outing – among them Hi T Moonweed (The Favourite) and Bloomdido Bad De Grasse) is the ringleader for this mélange of pastoral prog, space-rock and free jazz the likes of which would have sat comfortably on the French imprint BYG Actuel. Indeed, while it marks, for some, the high-water mark of Gong’s idiosyncratic way with a freak-out, it also saw guitarist Steve Hillage develop the playing style he would later explore on his debut solo album, 1975’s Fish Rising. For every ‘Inner Temple’ and ‘Flute Salad’ inviting you to leave your own head behind and drift off with Zero, there’s the free jazz skronk of ‘I Never Glid Before’ and the gnome-spanking, percussion-rattling instrumental ‘Percolations’, which make you sit up and hope you haven’t lost your mind, too.
Like every good sequel, Angels Egg built on its predecessor without losing the essence of what made the original so compelling. Today it stands as monumental testament to Daevid Allen’s vision: a heady brew, indeed.
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