While the psychedelic / progressive sounds of the classic Gong touring lineup were officially retired in 2001, many reunions of the bands various offshoots have taken place since then. One of these offshoots, Mothergong was originally conceived by original Gong vocalist and poetess Gilli Smyth in the late 70's. This collection of music was recorded at the 2006 edition of Uncon (Gong Family Unconvention) which was held in Amsterdam and which saw practically every Gong offshoot perform over the course of the three day gathering.
Boasting a formidable lineup of not only Smith, but also founding Gong member Didier Malherbe (flute, sax & doudouk) and Orlando Allen on drums, this version of Mothergong certainly proves they don't suffer from a lack of musical talent. In fact the brightest moments on O Amsterdam are when the musicians get to stretch out to weave their electric, psychedelic tapestry of sound. "Dream Star" features some dynamic interplay between Malherbe's frenzied sax soloing and Graham Clark's equally charged violin work, as the two trade off for a large portion of the song. "Today Is Beautiful" is another example of how this unit excels at creating ultra-modern, trippy, chill out sounds. The last track "Email From The Office Of The Most High" finds Allen laying down a seriously tight, funky groove underneath the low frequency squonks of Mark Robson's Didgeridoo and more of Clark's thrilling violin work. Smyth sticks to what she does best which is infusing each track with her own unique hippie-esque poetry and at times political ranting. Although not exactly my cup of tea, I think as a whole O Amsterdam would have been a lot more enjoyable for this reviewer if they had stuck to more music and less talk.
Overall O Amsterdam has a few shining moments musically and I wouldn't consider this an essential purchase for just the casual Gong fan. This is strictly for die hards only; however that being said, even completists will probably tire of this one after a couple of spins. Strictly average in the end.
1) Gong Friends
3) Dream Star
5) Robot Woman
6) Today Is Beautiful
8) Future Is Fantasy
9) Email From The Office Of The Most High