Tuesday, October 7, 2014

CD Review: Gonzo Multimedia Remembers Hugh Hopper With New 10-CD Set

Former Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper is the subject of a ten-disc release from U.K. label Gonzo Multimedia. The discs are being released individually and are categorized by subject. The first disc is aptly titled at "Memories" and features seven of Hopper's unreleased demos and outtakes that have never been released before on CD. It was released on September 16th with Volumes two and three following two weeks later.
Hopper himself introduces the tracks, beginning with the Soft Machine demo "Memories," which places you in the studio with the band, back in 1969. This opening of the "vault" is a wonderful display of Hopper's talents as he showcases his unique bass style in eleven-minute running of "Was A Friend," performed by the Hugh Hopper's Franglo Band. He discusses his use of the fuzz box before allowing us to dive into the Frank Zappa-like "Shuffle Demos." One of the more recent recordings on the set is nine-minute jazz-fusion of "Debonaire." Volume one closes with a seventeen minute sound collage known as "Long Piece" as Hopper is at his most experimental.
The second volume of the set is entitled "Frangloband" and features Hopper performing live with his jazz band at the Triton Club in Paris in 2004. The seven song, seventy-minute set features all originals, except for a cover of John Coltrane's "Mr Syms." The set begins with Hopper using his fuzz boxed bass to the full effect on the progressive jazz fused "Facelift." The band heads into a more traditional jazz direction on the thirteen minute jam of "Lonely Sky and The Sea," before Hopper takes control with his outstanding solo on "Sliding Dogs." The night ends with a pair of ten minute pieces, first the dark, aggressive feel of "Wanglo Salon" and the more mellow "Miniluv" that harks back to the Soft Machine days. To find out more about these new releases to the Hugh Hopper catalog, please visit gonzomultimedia.com.

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