HRIII's composing team of Hansford Rowe - bass and Julien Sandiford - guitar join Gong alumni François Causse - drums/perc and Benoît Moerlen - vibes/marimba for the recording of the album by Gong Expresso titled “Decadence.”
This near re-iteration of the PM Gong rhythm section (Hansford, François and Benoît) is the first such grouping since the passing of influential drummer Pierre Moerlen in 2005. PM Gong was a major branch of the massive Gong tree, which includes artists as varied and diverse as Steve Winwood, Bill Buford (King Crimson, Yes), Dave Stewart (Bruford/Hatfield) and even, in an indirect way, The Police, among innumerable others.
Gong, under the leadership of art-rock visionary / neo-shaman Daevid Allen, was as influential and controversial in the European ’60’s and ’70’s counter-culture as Pink Floyd— who was in many respects inspired by Gong— or The Grateful Dead in the U.S..
In the mid 1970’s, Pierre Moerlen separated from Daevid Allen, marking an end to the Flying Teapot period and a powerful jazz/rock unit was formed and signed to Virgin Records. Pierre’s brother Benoit Moerlen, Hansford Rowe, Francois Causse and Allan Holdsworth were core members. Many major guests joined them both on albums and touring, and among these, Mick Taylor, Mike Oldfield and French violinist Didier Lockwood were key participants. Mike Oldfield called on members of PM Gong for classic albums such as “Ommadawn”, “Incantations”, “Exposed” and “Platinum”, and often used the rhythm section for touring in the era in which he was selling out Wembley Stadium, performing instrumental avant grade jazz.
The reunion of these original PM Gong members— Benoit Moerlen (vibes, marimba), Hansford Rowe (bass) and Francois Causse (drums)— is truly a cause for celebration among fans of progressive jazz. Hansford Rowe and Montreal guitarist Julien Sandiford. Gong Expresso is another extension of the legendary Gong tree, and a new record, Decadence, is in production at this time. The album was recorded at Montreal’s Piccolo Studios and Francois Causse’s Paris studio, and co-produced by Denis Savage (Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Isabelle Boulay).
Says Hansford Rowe, “ ‘Decadence’— the title song— means ‘falling away.’ I hope this song and all the music on the album somehow addresses this phenonmenon in an unadorned, direct way. When I play with these three musicians I am convinced there is something special happening. Benoit and Francois and I began playing together in early 1977 in PM Gong and our rapport is of the kind that only long term relationships can provide. On the other hand, Julien— who is 26— has been alive less time than I have been playing with the others… yet our musical relationship feels infinitely long.”