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Daevid Allen Weird Quartet – Elevenses

Purple Pyramid

Daevid Allen Weird Quartet - ElevensesBeloved Gong frontman and Soft Machine legend Daevid Allen‘s posthumous album, recorded not long before his death in March 2015, finds this most extraordinary of musicians in the company of Don Falcone (Spirits Burning), Michael Clare (of Allen’s own University of Errors and occasional member of the far-out collective Mushroom) and one of three drummers, Trey Sabatelli (The Tubes), Jay Radford (also from University Of Errors, Mushroom and Spirits Burning) or Paul Sears from The Muffins for a second rendezvous for their collective musical freakshow freakout.

Known as Weird Biscuit Teatime the last time they released an LP in 2005, the various permutations of the quartet tread the thirteenfold path of raucous blues, reggae-tinged psychedelia and extended instrumental workouts, Allen sliding some scrawling gliss guitar melodies among the genial echoed breakdowns, organ runs and head-nodding grooves of tracks such as “Secretary Of Lore” or the interrupted pleasantries of “Dim Sum In Alphabetical Order”.

Likewise, “Grasshopping” lets a brightly curvaceous breeze flutter through the grey matter and the lateral meanders of “The Cold Stuffings Of November” finds its somnolent wanders lifted up from woolgathering into brisk passages of urgency. Throughout the production is flecked with intonations, FX splashes and detournements which avoid lightweight prog cliché in favour of providing range of genial atmospherics and reflective timbres. There’s grittiness too, as when “Killer Honey” riffs up the motive force in some muscular bass and drum interaction while the electronics ripple and self-divide in ominous swirls. Hippy-dippy this track is not, and neither is much of the rest of the album for that matter, the noirish fuzz-jazz of “Under The Yum Yum Tree Cafe” igniting some particularly frazzled quartet interaction.

When Allen sings, as on the frazzled folkishness of “God’s New Deal”, he brings an instantly recognisable warmth and twinkling charisma to the fore, his geniality flecked as ever with both a humorous glint and an underlying clarity of purpose. Naturally and suitably enough, Allen gets the last word(s), delivering an impassioned manifesto of sorts in a valedictory poetic address from the precincts of freaksville. It’s left to the music to say a proper goodbye, and “Banana Construction” soon gives itself fully to discordance, breaking down and resurging as the quartet let rip in a final foray into improvised dissolution, jamming off this mortal coil in fond farewell to a genuine musical legend.

-Linus Tossio-

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