Transforming sound: Jane Weaver, Bowie and the legacy of Daevid Allen and Gong9th June 2017

Modern Kosmology by Jane Weaver has become one of my albums of the summer. Her very English, folky voice shimmers over pulsing beats that recall Hawkwind, German motorik bands like Neu! and even the Velvet Underground. The sum, however, is far more than the total of its parts and this is one of those albums that sounds quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.

Reading an interview with Jane Weaver, I was delighted to discover that Daevid Allen and Gong are a major influence on her work. Deia strikes again.

Daevid Allen and Deia

Daevid, who made his exit from this dimension in March 2015, first spent time in Deia around 1964 when, together with Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers, he was a prime mover in the formation of Soft Machine.

In 1969, Daevid returned to Deia with his partner Gilli Smyth – fleeing the clampdown that came in the aftermath of the 1968 Paris riots. While in Paris, Daevid and Gilli had developed the concept of ‘total space music’. This was fundamental to the concept of Gong and a perfect soundtrack to Deia Daze.

The name Gong was inspired by a vision Daevid had in the Tramuntana mountains around Deia while tripping on acid.

Daevid went on to make strange, sometimes preposterous but always thought-provoking music for the rest of his life. As so often happens, his peculiar genius, if you can call it that, wasn’t enormously celebrated during his lifetime. The accolades came later.

I have to say that I’m one of those people who never quite got Daevid’s music. But I am a huge Bowie fan. When Bowie named Daevid’s 1971 album Banana Moon as one of his favourites it seemed more than a little strange, but I dutifully went back and listened to Gong.

Now that Jane Weaver has enthused about her love of Gong, especially 1970’s Magick Brother, Mystick Sister, with its ‘out there’ lyrics and ‘European psychedelia vibe’ I’ll have to go back and listen again.

Paying homage at the Banana Moon Observatory

Daevid and Gilli made music and magic in a house they called the Banana Moon Observatory in the Clot in Deia. Jane Weaver remembers making a pilgrimage to the place with a friend named Andy.

‘It was 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning and we found the house… All the shutters were down and Andy knocked on the door and these young 18-year-old Spanish lads appeared. Andy said, “Sorry to disturb you, do you know that this is a famous house?” and the boys just shook their heads. We told them that it was the Gong house and they were like “No way!” Their friend’s mum owned the house so they had no idea of the history. They invited us in and we sat round with our kids and loads of Spanish lads in their underpants.’

I wonder if she’d got the right house.

If you’d like to pay homage to Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Gong, stroll down to number 24, the Clot. To get a feel for those times, listen to the absolutely wonderful ‘Deya Goddess’.

And, whatever you do, try to immerse yourself in Jane Weaver’s Modern Kosmology.

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