George Martin's 'Theme One' slips effortlessly into one of those cool, jazzy Hammond organ things Jimmy Smith used to do, lubricated by Jimmy McGriff groove grease, infiltrating a little 'Sunshine of Your Love' quote in there... and that's just Andrew Keeling's one-minute-and-fifty-six-seconds 'Prolude'. Ship of Fools' title track starts with 'Song For Our Ancestors'' nautical effects, and while the song, rich with metaphor, is pure Mark Graham, the accompaniment flits and flirts in fleet-foot elaborate melanges that incorporate a sax solo from Van der Graaf's David Jackson.

 

The Gong Farmers have nothing to do with bongs or flying teapots. It's a term for Tudor cesspit operatives! The duo, with friends adding bass, drums and techno loops as required, know what they're about, from Bert Jansch-sharp fingering, on instrumental 'Shamrok', to agile chamber-flute conversations that are both Roland Kirk... and birdsong.

Fluid and literate music, conjuring orchestral textures from small-group formats - is this some kind of free-jazz prog-folk? More likely it's forging its own definition in a 'Strangeland' of their own design Until 'Selling England' full-circles to the 'Prolude'. Scarily impressive. Gong Farmers are heads ahead of most.

Andrew Darlington, RnR.

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