HUGH HOPPER


"Hugh Hopper...was a man of ideas, always exploring new directions, trying new things and collaborating with like-minded musicians around the world. One of his many recent collaborative projects was Bone, the trio of Hopper, Doctor Nerve guitarist and main man Nick Didkovsky, and Forever Einstein drummer John Roulat. Their 2003 album Uses Wrist Grab is an amazing tour-de-force, and where the bulk of the material on The Gift of Purpose is culled from, presented live at Orion Studios in Baltimore on 2/16/2008. Didkovsky’s blistering electric leads over Hopper’s pulsating bass and Roulat’s precision drumming on “Big Bombay” and “Foster Wives…” gets the show off to a great start, and it just keeps going. A lengthy group improvisation breaks the set up nicely, and offers a more experimental take on Bone’s collective consciousness. A special studio track “The Gift of Purpose,” recorded especially for this release, is a tribute to the man himself, with lyrics written and sung by Daevid Allen, and joining Didkovsky and Roulat are saxophonist Yves Duboin and stick-man Colin Marston.
As respected a musician as Hopper was, financial success never found him, and his passing created hardship for those closest to him. Steve Feigenbaum at Cuneiform generously released this disc with all the proceeds going to Hugh’s family. Buy two copies, one for home and one for the office. The music here is about as good as it gets." – Peter Thelen, Expose


BRACKNELL - BRESSE IMPROVISATIONS

with
Alan Gowen and Nigel Morris




RUNE 3348

I knew Alan Gowen personally only from 1978 to his death from leukaemia in 1981 – three short years really when I think how close I felt to him musically and as a friend.

With his technique and talent he could have been one of those keyboard monsters playing in giant stadia and making gothic concept albums – if he’d been a more arrogant and extrovert person. Instead he spent most of his time in his front room in Tooting surrounded by keyboards, LPs and cassettes, reams of sheet music, small bells and percussion instruments, hooters and clockwork toys. And there he would sit writing and playing music – working wonders with Mini-moogs and other analog keyboards that in those days were somewhat less than user-friendly.

Half of the music on this CD was recorded on the first tour we did together in May, 1978. It was supposed to be three weeks of gigs in France for the band Soft Head, but the middle week disappeared as if by magic and by French ‘promoter’. Elton Dean and drummer Dave Sheen went back to England for the week, but Alan and I drove down from Paris to the tiny Burgundy village of Bress-sur-Grosne where we were due to play the following weekend. What we discovered there was the near wreck of an old village inn in the process of being renovated by longhaired, bearded, ex-actor Jacky Barbier and his entourage, with the eventual idea of setting up a club and recording studio. The first of many visits to Jacky’s…

Alan and I floated through the days eating fabulous food cooked by Jacky’s wife Pascale, drinking the local wine, and occasionally rehearsing music for the gig. One afternoon Jacky Barbier plugged us in and just let the machine run unti the tape ran out. What you hear on the second half of the CD is the result – some noodling, some lulls and pauses for breath and some colourful extended improvisations. Sixteen years later it still recalls for me that pleasant, unplanned week.

The other three tracks here come from the very last music I did with Alan. We’d recorded the LP Two Rainbows Daily in June, 1980, the first musical project I’d been involved in after giving up all music for over a year. Alan was always trying to get me back into playing and writing, and when he finally persuaded me, we made the LP at his house in a low-profile way – Peter Ball recording just the two of us, overdubbing keyboards and basses. So when I was offered a one-off gig at Bracknell a few months later, Alan was the obvious partner to choose. We asked percussionist Nigel Morris to play too – Nigel had been in East Wind and Isotope with me, but I hadn’t played with him for about four years. A chance to do some improvising and other strange stuff.

I prepared a backing tape of loops and other weirdness for us to play along with for the first set, another thing I hadn’t done for a long time – in fact not since the LP 1984 or the last gig I did with Soft Machine in Hamburg in May, 1973. We had no rehearsal for the gig. Nigel showed up at Bracknell with a wonderfully eccentric drum kit, including a giant, custom-made cowbell about two foot across that gave the whole kit a special reverberation. No good for a clean jazz rock band, but a marvel to behold for the subtle free improvisation he was playing at the time.

It rained hard, limiting the audience to a few enthusiasts. And those who did come were further bombarded by another bizarre tape I took along to be run off during the interval – voices and loops and all manner of oblique statements of musical intent. Sensibly, most people went to the bar.

Alan was off on holiday to Morocco the next day. I had a postcard from him saying “Gad – the heat! The flies!” Two weeks later Celia, his partner, called me to say that Alan was in hospital with suspected leukaemia. He died eight months later.
-Hugh Hopper, December 1994

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THE GIFT OF PURPOSE

RUNE 3334

"I got a message a few months ago from Hugh Hopper's wife Christine. She reported that since Hugh's passing, she's been struggling with finances. Of course she's also struggling emotionally, as she misses him terribly, but the gist of her message was a call for financial help. She recalled that Hugh told her that if she ran into trouble, to ask their friends for help. So she did. In response, John Roulat, Steve Feigenbaum, and I decided to produce a limited edition benefit CD, 'The Gift Of Purpose'. The CD features a live concert by Bone (Didkovsky/Hopper/Roulat) that was beautifully recorded at Orion Sound in Baltimore. There is also a bonus track by myself, John, Colin Marston (Behold....the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Krallice), and Daevid Allen (Gong, Soft Machine, etc). Daevid contributed some very moving vocals which pay tribute to Hugh. John, Steve, and I are splitting the manufacturing costs and donating the gross income to Christine. Steve has already wired her some money in advance. For those of you new to Bone, we were a trio that was initiated when Hugh contacted me some years ago suggesting we collaborate on a record. Our record "Uses Wrist Grab" came out on Cuneiform a few years back, and we figured we were done. However, we were sort of drafted into doing live performance by Bruce Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery, who invited us to perform at a festival he'd organized. Once we discovered we could pull off this material live, we did a handful of gigs, including the one on this record. We're very proud of the performance we unleashed in Baltimore, and thrilled that we can make it available to all of Hugh's friends through this benefit CD! I hope you will support this project by purchasing a copy of The Gift of Purpose." – Nick Didkovsky

This CD is only being sold by people who have agreed to pay the Hopper family the full selling price of $15.00 each copy. That means that right now, you can buy it from Downtown Music Gallery and Cuneiform Records/Wayside Music only. Every cent of your $15.00 goes to Hugh's family.

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HOPPER TUNITY BOX



RUNE 240

Freshly remastered from the master tapes and issued on CD from the master tapes for the first time, this was the second solo album by Soft Machine bassist and composer Hugh Hopper.

This was Hugh's first solo album after leaving Soft Machine. In my fan-boy opinion, it is one of the best records Hugh's ever made and is a fine and distinctively unusual progressive/fusion album that has all the compositional and performance twists and oddities that make it distinctly Hugh's.

Originally released in 1977 on the Compendium label, it highlights Hugh's quirky compositional sense and trademarked fuzzbass/looping/lead bass stylings with stunningly great contributions from

Richard Brunton-guitar
Mark Charig-cornet
Elton Dean-alto sax and saxello
Nigel Morris-drums
Frank Roberts-electric piano
Dave Stewart-organ, pianet, oscillators
Mike Travis-drums
Gary Windo-bass clarinet and saxes

There were no outtakes or additions to add to this reissue, but Hugh did contribute new notes that tell the story of the making of this album and he gave us reproductions of some of the musical scores for the booklet.

An absolutely essential album that I've been pestering Hugh to allow us to release for well over a decade! This is a lost jazz/rock classic that demands to be rediscovered 40 years later! The original lp had a skip in the middle of one of Elton's wonderful solos and the only previous CD version was recorded off of a vinyl record and had the same skip! This is the first time this album has been released on CD with the care that it deserves. Don't miss it!

"An old Soft Machinist never lets you down. Somehow he's brought with him much of the flavour of his old band.... [Hopper Tunity Box] belongs up there with Third and Fourth...." – Melody Maker

"Ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper augments his rather infamous fuzz-bass attack by performing on guitar, recorders, soprano sax, and percussion on this reissue of the original LP. Recorded in 1976, this outing features the bassist's fellow Soft Machine bandmate, saxophonist Elton Dean, along with others of note.
...This production stands as one of Hopper's finest solo efforts -- largely due to the inspiring ensemble work and the bassist's strong material. Recommended." – AllMusic

Hopper Tunity Box press release

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1984



RUNE 104

Bassist/composer Hugh has been involved in many projects during his more than 30 years in music. 1984, originally released in 1973, & his first solo release, remains perhaps his most singular. This combines Hugh's unique fuzz bass & compostions with tapework, multiple overdubs, & a very avant esthetic & then contrasts those works with short, weirdly devolved James Brown-inspired pieces.

25 years later, the originality and distinctiveness of Hugh's vision on 1984 remains untouched. This is the DEFINITIVE CD edition, taken from the original master tapes, including a never heard bonus track from the original sessions, as well as new notes by Hugh that tell the story of 1984.

"Originally released in 1973 by the Soft Machine bassist shortly after the band had lost eccentric drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt and had begun their evolution into a respectable (and somewhat predictable) jazz-rock ensemble, this was Hopper's attempt at something more experimental. As he reports in his amusing CD notes, the record label CBS was all in favor of his solo excursion until he let them know what he had in mind, at which point they declined to pay even for studio time, so Hopper had to take out a bank loan to make the recording -- which says a lot for Hopper's belief in his artistic vision, and not much at all for the musical (as opposed to financial) vision of CBS.

Hopper's 1984 is inspired by George Orwell's totalitarian fantasy of the same name, and the two longest tracks, "Miniluv" and "Miniplenty," feature Hopper's multitracked solo work on bass, percussion, mellophone, loops and electronics, with only John Marshall, the Soft Machine drummer, contributing additional percussion on the second piece. This music had an appropriately eerie, ominous quality, with heavy use of chattering tape loops, reverberating bass drones and woozy, sometimes harsh slide work on bass guitar strings.

Terry Riley's early cyclical trance music was a large influence on Hopper at the time of this recording, and there are also strong echoes of "Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band," for example, in the intertwined, looped sax lines in "Minitrue." However, several of the shorter selections on this CD, with the addition of various saxophones, trombones and other horns, are inexplicably tied to a rather twisted and ponderous R&B groove. Hopper suggests, retrospectively, that these several pieces may have represented the "normal" citizens in Orwell's dystopia, who were nonetheless a little "bent" by their soul-destroying environment. However, it is just as likely that Hopper was simply indulging his admitted fondness for James Brown.

1984 was always a musical oddity, and it may be a little incoherent and self-indulgent at times, but it has held up well over time, and still contains music of great interest." – William Tilland / AllMusic

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TWO RAINBOWS DAILY

with Alan Gowen



RUNE 77

Two Rainbows Daily is a reissue of a long out of print classic from 1980 from these two fine composers and insrumentalists (keyboards and bass). While rich in sound due to overdubs, this doesn't have a full band sound, and this rather stripped-down approach makes for a "intimate" release filled with crafty melodies and subtle tonal colors. Mastered directly off the master tapes it sounds terrific; finally! No vinyl crackle! As a bonus there is 20' of extra live material and excellent liner notes by Hugh, which tell the story of this disc. Absolutely a "Canterbury" classic.

“...the coming together of two British jazz-rock giants. ...These gracefully introspective instrumentals feature Gowen's trademark flowing analog synth and Hopper's unique high-register bass work in equal measure.” – muze.com

“...showcases harmonic and compositional sensitivity....” – Revue & Corrigee



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CAROUSEL

RUNE 67

After a decade of work together, several live albums, many concert tours, and lots of satisfied listeners, we finally got Hugh and crew into a studio to record Carousel, certainly their best yet. After all this time together, the band is really a WORKING unit, with fine playing from all members. This is a powerful set of fusion and beyond from a creative, hard playing outfit. A disc good enough that it might even give fusion back it's good name!

"[Carousel is ] a solid and convincing record, with many of the old Soft Machine qualities of compositional interest and high standard of performance in evidence. Enjoyable and consistant" - Chris Cutler

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MECCANO PELORUS

CUNEIFORM 55006

Originally released only as a limited edition in the early 1990’s, and out of print for over 5 years, Meccano Pelorus was Hugh’s fourth album and the first release under his own name since the 1970’s! Featuring his great FrangloDutch band (Patrice Meyer-guitar, Dionys Breukers-keyboards, Frank Van Der Kooij-saxes, Pieter Bast-drums + Hugh on bass), this was recorded live in 1987 and 1989 and was the beginning of his career back in the musical arena, after laying out for a good number of years. Newly re-designed package.

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MEDIA
For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.

PRESS RELEASES
Hopper Tunity Box press release
Hugh Hopper (Band) / Hughscore press quotes

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