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1. Second Degree Soul Sparks 4:33 (Allen, Falcone, Palmer, Pinnock, Thoms) 2. New Spell 4:35 (Allen, Clare, Falcone, Williams) 3. Drive-By Poetry 5:40 (Falcone, Smith) 4. Retrospective 2:47 (Jeter, Anderson) 5. Clear Audient 4:31 (Falcone, Magnusson, Rockwell, Thoms, Williams) 6. I'll Give You Cumulus 2:38 (E. Pearson, Birdsong) 7. Hidden Rope Trick 2:48 (Allen, Falcone, Palmer, D. Pearson) 8. Gods At the Top of the World 11:00 (Falcone, E. & D. Pearson-s, Thoms) 9. Eye = I 6:32 (E. Pearson, Birdsong) 10. Bird Swarmy Loop 2:11 (Allen, Falcone, D. Pearson) 11. Intelligent Sparking Fish 2:23 (Falcone, Jeter, D. Pearson) 12. Blood & Oxygen 3:25 (Falcone, Anderson, J. & C. Crutcher-s, Grawer) 13. Walking Shadow 4:30 (Falcone, Jeter) 14. The Idle Hours of the Fruit Fly 1:44 (Williams, Gerwes) 15. Clouds of Hypno Smoke 1:39 (Falcone, Palmer, Rockwell, Xaliman) 16. Elliptical Orbits 11:05 (Allen, Clare, Falcone, Rockwell) Lyrics & texts by Robert Calvert (ex-Hawkwind, RIP), Thom The Poet, D. Allen, & D. Falcone. Line-up: Daevid Allen - guitars; vocals (of Spirits Burning, Gong & Solo) Jerry Jeter - guitars; lead vocals (of Spirits Burning) Don Falcone - keyboards & piano, vibes & percussion (of Spaceship Eyes) Michael Clare - bass guitar (of D. Allen-solo) Paul Williams - drums & vibes; synthesizers (of Quarkspace) Guest musicians: John Birdsong - saxophone, trumpet, & recorder (of Mushroom) Doug Pearson - violin; piano & synthesizers (of Mushroom) Erik Pearson - guitar (of Mushroom) John Crutcher - guitar (of ST37) Carlton Crutcher - keyboards (of ST37) Kenneth Magnusson - mellotron (of The Moor) Knut Grewers - voices (of The Moor) Karen Anderson - voices Neil Pinnock - reed Steve Palmer - synthesizers Trevor Thoms - guitar Teed Rockwell - stick Bruce Smith - drums Grawer - drums Don Xaliman - bass-synth & Several others Recorded, mixed, & produced by Spirits Burning. Mastered by Rick Wilson.
Prologue. As you see, Spirits Burning is kind of Daevid Allen's supergroup, which, though (unlike Asia, for example), have many guest musicians take part in the creation of their albums. "Reflections In a Radio Shower" is the second album by the band, the original line-up of which featured the well-known drummer Gary Parra (ex-Cartoon, PFS, and Trap).
The Album. Although only five compositions were here composed through the direct participation of Daevid Allen, his influence is evident everywhere on this album. While the music on "Reflections In a Radio Shower" is on the whole original, structurally, the half of the tracks that are featured on this album are much in the vein of the first two parts of Gong's famous trilogy about a radio gnome. (Of course, I mean the "Flying Teapot" and "Angel's Egg" albums.) These are Second Degree Soul Sparks, New Spell, Drive-By Poetry, Retrospective, Hidden Rope Trick, Bird Swarmy Loop, Intelligent Sparking Fish, The Idle Hours of the Fruit Fly, & Clouds of Hypno Smoke (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 14, & 15). Most of them are the instrumental pieces, and only two of them are songs (3 & 7). All of these eight compositions feature the arrangements that, on the whole, are typical for that sort of Space Rock, which was a hallmark of Gong in 1972-'73. Now, I'll try to describe a general structural picture that is typical for all seven of the said tracks. The seemingly abstract solos of electric, semi-acoustic, and bass guitars, and passages of various synthesizers, as well as eclectic interplay between these instruments, are accompanied by lots of 'flying' sounds and other spacey effects. All of this is for the most part supported by the rhythm section, the work of which is often advisedly monotonous (hypnotic!). The parts of percussion instruments, vibraphones, and piano are notable only on a few tracks. Jerry Jeter and Daevid Allen sang all the songs that are featured on this album, though Karen Anderson's whispered vocals and other specific voices, which clearly reminds me of those by Gillian Smith, are heard here and there on the album as well. About a half of the tracks on the album contain episodes of a real or radio talk. Well, it's time to talk about the remaining eight compositions, among which are also only three songs. It must be said that this bunch of the tracks is better than the first one. The stylistics of music that is featured on six of them, namely Gods At the Top of the World, Eye = I, Blood & Oxygen, Bird Swarmy Loop, Walking Shadow, and Elliptical Orbits (8, 9, 10, 12, 13, & 16), can be defined the next way. This is a blend of the 'royal' sorts of Classic Space Rock, consisting of the structures that are typical for Hawkind circa "Astonishing Sounds Amazing Music" (1976) and Gong circa "Angel's Egg". Certainly, all of these compositions are, musically, rather heavy. The addition of the heavy guitar riffs, solos of saxophone, trumpet, and violin to the parts of all the other instruments makes the sound of all eight of the remaining tracks much richer than that on the eight compositions that I described first. Surprisingly, it turned out to be that Clear Audient & I'll Give You Cumulus (5 & 6) are very original instrumental pieces, consisting of the arrangements that are typical exclusively for Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. The piano, organ, and Mellotron are the main keyboard instruments on these pieces. The passages of them and a semi-acoustic guitar, the solos of recorder, sax, vibraphone, and electric guitar, masterful interplay between all of them, a diverse work of the rhythm-section, frequent changes of tempo and mood, complex meters, etc. All of this is typical for both Clear Audient and I'll Give You Cumulus. So I regard them as masterpieces and the best tracks on the album as well.
Summary. While not a masterpiece, "Reflections In a Radio Shower" is by all means an excellent album. In my view, it is way better than any of the solo albums ever released by Daevid Allen. Certainly, this album should please not only the fans of Gong and Hawkwind, but also all those who miss the sound of Classic Space Rock of the 1970s.
VM. May 20, 2002
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