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
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.
THE GIFT OF PURPOSE
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.
HOPPER TUNITY BOX
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
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
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
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.
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
with Alan Gowen
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
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
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.