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Canterbury Scene definition

With many other types of English progressive music developing mostly in London, it may at first seem strange that the old pilgrimage centre and relatively quiet cathedral city of Canterbury, became the centre of this very English form of progressive music and jazz fusion. Originally the Wilde Flowers, a teenage band of members living in and around Canterbury, playing a mix of pop, R'n'B and band members with a developing love of jazz, was formed in the 60's and became the seedling from which the Canterbury Scene grew. Australian beatnik Daevid Allen during a long stop-over at Robert Wyatt's parent's home, a refuge for many left field artists, was to catalyse the evolution of the Wilde Flowers into the fledging Soft Machine and the development of some avant music during the English psychedelic and underground period. From 1963 to 1969, the Wilde Flowers included most of the figures who later formed Canterbury's two best known bands, (The) Soft Machine (Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hugh Hopper) and Caravan (Pye Hastings, David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Richard Coughlan).

Canterbury was then to be the cradle for several of the more freewheeling British bands of the post-psychedelic era. While fans would suggest this is the home of an English musical quirkiness tempered with quite a bit of whimsy, within the Canterbury Scene's musical spectrum any similarities between Canterbury's major bands, (e.g. Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Hatfield & the North, Egg, National Health), are not immediately obvious*. Most bands will be found employing a clever fusion of rock rhythms and jazz improvisation with intellectual song-writing and varying strengths of psychedelia - some would too include folk elements (e.g. Spirogyra), others blues (e.g. Carol Grimes and Delivery). In addition, a number of bands employed various elements from classical music, for instance those bands with Dave Stewart playing keyboards. Whilst there have been a handful of excellent and distinctly different guitarists to play with Canterbury bands (e.g. Andy Summers, Allan Holdsworth, John Etheridge, Steve Hillage, Phil Miller), the lead instrument of choice has been keyboards. One English peculiarity of Canterbury is what the late John Peel called the 'School of Anti-song' because of particular Wyatt, Ayers and Richard Sinclair's approaches to vocals and perhaps the whimsy. More recently Richard Sinclair's vocal style has perhaps accurately been labelled as 'English jazz singing' by Jazzwise (i.e. singing jazz with an English rather than the usual American accent). In addition Canterbury musicians have experimented as avant garde, free jazz players, e.g. instance Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill, Steve Miller.

(*However, once you've heard some Canterbury bands the commonality becomes more obvious - chord sequencing e.g. Caveman Hughscore's electric piano opening on the tune 'More Than Nothing', the vocals, the lyrics etc.)

Both the Soft Machine and Caravan were popular in England's psychedelic/ underground scene before releasing their first albums in 1968, with Machine completing on level footing with Pink Floyd. However, by the early 70's a series of fragmenting changes of bands' line-ups, (Soft Machine went through about 30) and the subsequent formation of new bands, rapidly broadened Canterbury's range, with many newer musicians with only loose and in fact, no previous Canterbury connections. Early Soft Machine member Daevid Allen formed Gong in Paris. Both Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt left the Softs because of musical developments they did not like, to begin their own solo careers. By the mid-70's, most the old and new Canterbury bands had progressed away from psychedelia, developing their distinct forms of progressive rock some embracing jazz fusion, many playing extended jams with now limited lyrical input (e.g. Hatfield and The Norths, National Health, Gilgamesh). Caravan became more folky. However, as the 70's progressed several Canterbury bands would lose most of the rock element from their music. Gong retained their psychedelic side longest, but with the departure of Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage in the mid 70's, the band evolved into the percussion-oriented, jazz rock group Gong, which eventually became the modern day Gongzilla. Daevid Allen regained Gong's name in the 90's and through his solo work and with his University of Errors, is still evidently producing psychedelia. Steve Hillage's form of psychedelia evolved into the glissando rock of his own band and then into electronica, by the end of the 70's. In particular, Hillage through his work as a successful record producer of new bands from the 80's, develop his form of electronica through other bands. This music lost much of its complexity e.g. few riffs played over and over, rather than dozens per tune that previously had often typified prog, into a very popular form that is the antithesis of prog, i.e. the various forms of house music, with associated remixing/turntablism. For instance, Gong's "You" got the remix treatment in the 90's - but then to reflect his range of activities, Hillage has also produced and played guitar for Algerian Rai singer, Rachid Taha for over 20 years.

Many of Britain's better known avant-garde and fusion musicians of the 70's and 80's - including Fred Frith (Henry Cow), Allan Holdsworth (Gong, Soft Machine, UK, Bruford) and Peter Blegvad - were involved during their early careers playing in Canterbury bands. And still new musicians join the Canterbury Scene's ranks, Theo Travis being perhaps the most notable recently (Gong, The Soft Machine Legacy). The Canterbury scene was to have a major influence on musicians in Europe, especially France (e.g. Gong, Moving Gelatine Plates), the Netherlands (Super Sister)and Italy (Daedalus), and more belatedly in the USA (Hughscore). Caravan reformed in the mid 90's, while ex-members of Soft Machine could be found in various avant jazz and straight jazz fusion groups, e.g. Just Us, Soft Heap, Soft Works and most recently The Soft Machine Legacy. From the Canterbury Scene, RIO it its various forms has developed.

FOOTNOTE: As indicated above, many Canterbury Scene bands are acknowledged as having played/are playing jazz rock fusion. However, because of their strong Canterbury affliations are listed under "Canterbury Scene" in Prog Archives.

Dick Heath
Based loosely in part on the source:
(Edition 3, Aug 2009)

Current team members as at 9/12/2022:
Scott (Evolver)
Phil (Man With Hat)
Mike (siLLy puPPy)
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Canterbury Scene Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Canterbury Scene | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.31 | 1959 ratings
4.29 | 979 ratings
Wyatt, Robert
4.26 | 1116 ratings
4.28 | 877 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.28 | 803 ratings
4.25 | 1161 ratings
4.28 | 512 ratings
National Health
4.19 | 1128 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.23 | 646 ratings
Hatfield And The North
4.17 | 858 ratings
4.26 | 317 ratings
4.14 | 758 ratings
4.31 | 187 ratings
Moving Gelatine Plates
4.12 | 482 ratings
4.12 | 451 ratings
National Health
4.11 | 490 ratings
Hillage, Steve
4.12 | 454 ratings
Soft Machine, The
4.12 | 361 ratings
Quiet Sun
4.11 | 310 ratings
Picchio Dal Pozzo
4.15 | 238 ratings

Canterbury Scene overlooked and obscure gems albums new

Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Canterbury Scene experts team

Hopper, Hugh
Miller, Phil
Jakszyk, Jakko M.
Gowen - Miller - Sinclair - Tomkins

Latest Canterbury Scene Music Reviews

 Zopp by ZOPP album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.10 | 221 ratings

Zopp Canterbury Scene

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars The Canterbury scene of the early 1970s was one of prog's most recognizable and most idiosyncratic movements. It's been experiencing a small revival as of late: Homunculus Res (featured in part one of this list) utilizes many Canterbury tropes, and other acts incorporate Soft Machine or Gong influences semi-regularly. Zopp wholeheartedly embraces the Canterbury sound and invigorates it with a fresh and modern energy. The retro organ tones are delightful, and a driving, jazzy energy sucks the listener right into the first proper song, "Before the Light". Each song is distinct. Some feature dark, discordant moments and others feel light and sunny. Most songs deftly blend both sides. What makes this even more impressive is that this is an instrumental record.

Review originally posted here: //

 Andiamo in Giro di Notte e ci Consumiamo nel Fuoco by HOMUNCULUS RES album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.89 | 87 ratings

Andiamo in Giro di Notte e ci Consumiamo nel Fuoco
Homunculus Res Canterbury Scene

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Back in the early days of progressive rock, Italy was second only to the UK in the scope and vibrancy of their prog scene. The Italians infused Anglo-originating prog with native folk and classical influences, they sang in their native language, and their use of uncommon scales and modes made them stand out. Not many of these bands found success beyond Italy's borders, though, perhaps due to just how intensely Italian the music was.

Homunculus Res, then, have somewhat subverted prog tropes. Andiamo in giro di notte e ci consumiamo nel fuoco (We Go around at Night and Consume Ourselves in the Fire) is Homunculus Res's fourth full-length release. This Sicilian quintet plays a variety of progressive rock strongly inspired by the Canterbury scene. The sound of the Canterbury scene was intensely English, and that's why it was so surprising to find an Italian act in that vein.

Andiamo opens in a jazzy manner, with "Lucciole per lanterne" ("Fireflies for Lanterns") featuring light guitar strumming and saxophone. Before long, though, a cascade of keyboard tones?organ, synthesizers, and clavinet?fill in the auditory space. The organ tones especially pay homage to Caravan and Soft Machine. "Il Carrozzone" ("The Caravan") continues with lush synth tones embellished with silky sax lines over unusual rhythms. Even the vocal delivery is reminiscent of Robert Wyatt's distinct style.

"Buco nero" ("Black Hole") is bouncy, light, and summery, in stark contrast to its rather grim lyrics. (Thanks, Google Translate!) "Supermercato" ("Supermarket") features some of Homunculus Res's most Italian moments, with a reeds-brass-and-strings arrangement in its second half, before "La Spia" ("The Spy") enters with a fittingly slinky, sneaky electric piano heartbeat.

Even this album's darkest moments?the opening moments of "La Salamandra" ("The Salamander")?are relatively light. Buzzy electric organ is the lead instrument here, and there are some great instrumental excursions. "In girum" ("The Roundabout") is mostly instrumental and highlights interplay between a biting, funky bass and rich, warbling synthesizers.

Andiamo closes on something of an odd note. "Non dire no" ("Don't Say No") works in its role as the record's finale, but stripped of that context, it's not quite strong enough to stand in isolation. It's slow-moving and based around a waltz rhythm. Layers of keyboards gradually build up with flute and bassoon adding more textural depth.

The particular brand of keyboard-forward, jazz-infused, Canterbury-style prog is not exactly common nowadays. And when I do run across acts that play it, they frequently run the risk of sounding derivative or simply paling in comparison to the original founders of the scene. Homunculus Res largely succeeded at paying homage to the big names of the Canterbury scene while also making something distinct. The frequent inclusion of classical instruments helps to keep the sound diverse and engaging, while the classic keyboard tones work to evoke an era of prog, not blindly ape it.

Review originally posted here:

 Quiet Euphoria by AMOEBA SPLIT album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.95 | 18 ratings

Quiet Euphoria
Amoeba Split Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars For a band that was formed as far back as 2001, the A Coruña based AMOEBA SPLIT from the Galician region of Spain has hardly been the most prolific artist in the world of progressive rock but one thing is for sure and that is that although this band is slow to deliver the goods, quality is always a top priority and disappointment isn't even in the possibility pile. It took the band nine years to formulate it's 2010 debut "Dance Of The Goodbyes" and another five for the sophomore offering "Second Split" to emerge. As the band has emerged as one of the 21st century's most revered Canterbury jazz acts that mines the retro sounds of the classic prog years and reinterprets them with modern twists and turns, Canterbury fans have been chomping at the bit for a new release and at long last on the 7th of April, 2023, AMOEBA SPLIT will release its third album after 22 years of existence.

QUIET EUPHORIA comes seven years after "Second Split" and pretty much picks up where that album left off without missing a beat. What's changed after all this time is the lineup (sort of). While "Second Split" featured six official members with a large number of session musicians, on QUIET EUPHORIA the official count is up to eight members with no guests on board. The band's sound has always revolved around the jazzy keyboard tradeoffs of Alberto Villarroya López and Ricardo Castro Varela only now there is another top player on board and that is IagoMouriño who only sat in as a part-time guest last time around. The keyboard sounds are expansive and cover all the expected retro sounds ranging from the moog, Hammond organ, electric piano, vibraphone as well as good old-fashioned traditional piano. Add to that, band has retained the heavy brassy jazz sounds as well with stealthy action from saxophones (tenor and soprano), the trumpet and flugelhorn.

As with the previous album QUIET EUPHORIA follows the classic vinyl years' playing time, in this case just a smidge over 40 minutes. Fortified with six feisty tracks, this time around the band upped the tempos a bit making this album rock a lot more than the rather dreamy mid-tempo processions of "Second Split." What remains constant on all of AMOEBA SPLIT releases is a keen perfectionist detail to the compositional fortitude, an obvious love of retro classic prog which in this case is firmly rooted in the world of the idiosyncratic world of jazz-fusion that emerged in the English city of Canterbury and was propelled onto the world's stage by the likes of Soft Machine, Matching Mole, Caravan, Supersister, Moving Gelatine Plates, National Health and Hatfield & The North. AMOEBA SPLIT is very faithful to those that came before but offers enough innovative takes on the style to make this a refreshing musical experience that builds on the traditions of the last half century.

This is an all instrumental affair like "Second Split" and given the lack of vocals to offer the whimsical side of the Canterbury Scene, AMOEBA SPLIT instead offers classically infused jazz-fusion workouts that tackle a wide swath of the progressive jazz-rock world while keeping that Canterbury warmth alive and kicking. The album's title track starts things out slow and brooding with a sombre piano roll belying the jazz-rock to come but once the horn section kicks in the larger than life interplay of brass and multiple keyboards display a fascinating interplay of musical motifs playing together to form a larger than the sum of parts brilliance. The album remains in an upbeat mood for the majority fo the playing time and it's not until the closing "No Time For Lullabies" that the mood dials down a little and offers a more sombre piano-based approach that follows suit from the opening aspects of the album.

Seven years is a long time to wait for a band to unleash its next chapter of musical masterworks but QUIET EUPHORIA was definitely worth the wait with excellent classic Canterbury sounds brought to life in the modern world with an impeccable production and mixing effort and a wide range of tones and timbres that perfectly decorate the Canterbury jazz-rock underpinnings. It's clear that this style of classic prog is in no danger of dying out any time soon and AMOEBA SPLIT has been instrumental in breathing new life into this most beloved style of progressive jazz-rock. QUIET EUPHORIA is a brilliant instrumental album that will get your retro prog juices flowing. Excellent! Will we really have to wait another seven years for the next album? Lord i hope not!

4.5 stars but i'll enthusiastically round UP!

 Second Split by AMOEBA SPLIT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 89 ratings

Second Split
Amoeba Split Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Proving that the English Canterbury Scene jazz-rock of the 1970s has long evolved past the geographical location and into a unique nook of the world of progressive rock, Spain's AMOEBA SPLIT has been active since as far back as 2001 but hasn't been the most prolific band since as i write this in the year the 2023, the band is only now about to release its third album. In fact it took nine years for the debut "Dance Of The Goodbyes" to emerge and then another six for this sophomore effort SECOND SPLIT to follow. This band was formed in the Galician city of A Coruña and has nurtured the retro sounds of such acts as Soft Machine, Supersister, The Muffins, Hatfield & The North and Robert Wyatt and carried the torch proudly into the 21st century with only a smattering of other bands following suit.

One of the reasons for these long delays between albums seems to be that the members of this band are studio perfectionists with large swaths of tones and timbres all polished smoothly like a diamond into a sparkling production-rich extravaganza. Whereas the debut featured a lineup of five with a brief cameo guitarist, SECOND SPLIT goes above and beyond the call of duty with a new roster of six band members and another eight guest musicians adding all kinds of supplemental sounds that give SECOND SPLIT a much more robust plentitude of musical fortitude. Of the five members of the debut, only four have returned for round two with the most notable difference between the two albums being that vocalist / flautist María Toro has left the band and SECOND SPLIT features no vocal parts at all. This album is exclusively instrumental which allows for more complex instrumental interplay to unfold.

While the band's primary underpinning centers around the dueling keyboard parts of Ricardo Castro Varela and Alberto Villarroya López, the addition of the new member Rubén Salvador on trumpet and flugelhorn brings AMOEBA SPLIT's sound even further into the world of jazz-fusion and add yet several guest musicians who contribute violin, viola and cello, likewise the already rich musical entourage is fortified by elements of classically infused chamber rock. The other new member Eduardo "Dubi" Baamonde took over Toro's flute duties but also serves as a tenor sax player so in essence with the exception of the vocal parts, SECOND SPLIT pretty much takes the template laid down on the debut release and takes everything to the next level.

Keeping more in line with a classic album's playing time of over 41 minutes rather than the bloated hour plus playtime of the debut, SECOND SPLIT offers a more sophisticated approach that sounds like the perfect mix of classic 70s moog and vibraphone infused jazz-rock fusion and fortified with all the warmth and familiarity of classic Canterbury sounds that range from those unique chord progressions, psychedelic overtones and light, breezy musical passages that offer just enough hooks to keep your senses enthralled but laced with enough hi-brow complexities to give your more intellectual sensibilities a stellar workout. Given the lack of lyrics, SECOND SPLIT doesn't provide the comic whimsical relief that many a classic Canterbury act would excel in and instead delves into the meaty compositional staples that make this subgenre of the world of jazz-fusion so endearing and enduring.

With only six tracks, four of which are more than eight minutes long, the music is on the mellow side with plenty of musical motifs allowed to develop slower and slowly unfold. Tracks like "Those Fading Hours" are light and fluffy like musical representations of clouds slowly shapeshifting in the sky as they hover at glacial speeds above. Other tracks like "Clockwise" and "Backwards All The TIme" are a bit more upbeat with stealthy bass grooves, jazz-fusion grit and robust horn sections that are brass rock in essence only steered into the retro vaults of classic Soft Machine's instrumental jazz classics of the early 1970s. Although i loved the band's debut i think i love this one a tad bit more simply because i find their idiosyncratic take on the Canterbury jazz scene is best suited for instrumental interplay. No sophomore slump here. This is excellent musical mojo strutting itself in full Canterbury regalia!

 Dominion by ZOPP album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.24 | 100 ratings

Zopp Canterbury Scene

Review by Hokeyboy

4 stars You could fit all I know about the Canterbury Scene on the head of a pin and still have room for the Chinese Army, but the good news is that that's the last of such clichés we will be employing in this review.

I've enjoyed some Caravan and Soft Machine from time to time, but overall, the genre didn't feature prominently in my album rotations. So when I noticed Zopp's 2023 release Dominion getting a huge amount of buzz among prog fan circles, I gave the album a fair listen.

My preconceived trepidations led me to expect a challenging, impenetrable, or deeply inscrutable work, predicated around the apprehension that the album showcased self-indulgent meanderings in lieu of connective musical artistry. Boy, am I pleased to report that this couldn't be any further from my experience with Zopp's sophomore album.

While it does not suffer from any lack of intricate musicianship, compositional innovation, or Canterbury-laden idiosyncrasies, the album skillfully suffuses them along and among enthralling melodic content. Dominion is a thrilling and impactful fusion of numerous progressive rock elements into a cohesively engaging work.

The slow organ drone, keyboard-driven riffs, soft drumming, and abstract vocalizations by Sally Minnear and Caroline Joy Clarke on the opening track 'Amor Fati' might lead one to believe the record is immediately diving deep into avant-garde territory. Make no mistake though, these and other disparate elements culminate into a driving musical purpose that leads directly into the second track 'You,' a riveting 11-minute showcase, almost a mission statement.

Stevenson's keyboards and Moneta's drumming ramp up 'You' with swirling musical tension as a prologue, and then powerfully resolve into the song's intro, developing its central melodic themes. Drenched in fuzzy keyboards and Stevenson's affected, slightly nasal vocals, alongside tasty sax work from Mike Benson, 'You' engages so directly that, when the sojourn ends after 11 minutes, it still feels sudden. Not jarring or incomplete by any means, but sudden. You don't want the ride to end.

'Bushnell Keeler' moves into different but no less intriguing territory. Almost out of the gate, the song hits us with some predominant tenor sax work from Jørgen Munkeby, which, complemented by Stevenson's organ lines, lends an air of Steely Dan-esque Yacht Rock jazziness. Munkeby also provides some flute accompaniment, and the fuzz and distortion used to beef up the overall tone evokes early King Crimson. With all these disparate elements, it could be easy to lose the thread, but Stevenson brings the entire mix into resolution as a satisfying, complete piece. 'Bushnell Keeler' disarms with its breezy, uptempo melodic charms.

"Uppmärksamhet" drops the tempo with a somber, melancholic keyboard rumination in quiet conversation with a reassuring bass line. A shimmering piano line falls like raindrops over an acoustic guitar backbone, with outbursts of electric organ and guitar like desperate voices working through the atmosphere to grab our attention. Of all the album tracks, this is the only one that I felt needed more time and development, as the hypnotic scene painted by all the instrumentation is quickly shattered by "Reality Tunnels."

"Reality Tunnels" hits hard, fast, and with the immediacy of a grade school recess bell. The aura is frenzied and dynamic, with a heavy focus on its driving rock elements. Here is where we have some really strong bass work that is prominent through the track, locked in place with Moneta's drumming but still with room to really walk and groove. Moments of distorted havoc are balanced with piano interludes that attempt to bring the song's frenzied eccentricities in for a soft landing, but instead opts for resolution via mellotronish dissolution (alongside a final drum fill from Moneta). "Reality Tunnels" is a satisfying romp, a total brat of a tune: childish, petulant, and utterly unyielding.

We take a breather with "Weitko Approaching," in which Stevenson returns to the microphone to deliver a measure of a piano-driven ballad. With its subdued, somewhat shambling atmosphere, this is the shortest and perhaps least- developed song on the album. Viewed as a prologue into the next track, "Weitko Approaching" works much more effectively.

And speaking of the next track, "Toxicity" triumphantly closes the record in grand fashion. This piece indulges the listener with a thick melodic fusion of symphonic and eclectic prog, flowing with both purposeful uptempo drive and a loose, innovative spirit. The centering riff roots itself in bluesy, minor pentatonic territory, practically Zeppelinesque, providing the foundation around which Stevenson and company layer a barrage of dynamic musical content. Stevenson's howling vocals remind me of Sting and Ross Jennings (in style if not quite in timbre), bringing assertive inquisitiveness into the mix.

The song maintains momentum with multiple instrumental stretches featuring organ, sax, and guitar solos scattered throughout its runtime. There are even two vocal shout outs to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, who Stevenson cited as one of the album's inspirations. Rob Milne's sax and flute work deserves recognition for adding splashes of tone and character that contribute to the song's overall cohesive flow. "Toxicity" might be the most musically concordant ode to entropy I've heard in a good while. And much like the epic opener, when the closing track ends, even at 14 minutes, it still feels too soon.

Dominion is a great album. I mean it though, this record provides uptempo rock, proggy innovation, jazzy swing, tight musicianship, and impressive compositional development throughout. Sure, you can appreciate any and all of the lofty, innovative elements, but these songs go for both the head and the heart. While I could (and did) nitpick some very minor criticisms, none of them detract from the album's overall quality. Zopp crafted a deeply engaging and satisfying experience with Dominion.

 Quiet Euphoria by AMOEBA SPLIT album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.95 | 18 ratings

Quiet Euphoria
Amoeba Split Canterbury Scene

Review by newdawnofprog

5 stars Canterbury scene - Irony, fantasy, and spontaneity: these are the watchwords of this submerged branch of prog rock, in the perennial balance between jazz, prog, and psychedelia. The band with their third album "Quiet Euphoria" presents the magical alchemy of surreal atmospheres, lightness, and jazz flavor to reach its stylistic and expressive peak. There is room for everything: experimentation, delicacy, and power, they all manage to coexist in this album with a thousand faces, very tight and full of feeling in a fully jazz-rock sound. Behind this floral, colorful, and complex creature are the eight members of the group: Alberto Villarroya López / bass, guitars, keyboards, compositions, Ricardo Castro Varela / piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, arrangements, Iago Mouriño / piano, electric piano, Moog, Hammond organ, Fernando Lamas / drums & percussion, Pablo Añón / tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, Dubi Baamonde / soprano saxophone, flute, Rubén Salvador / trumpet, flugelhorn, and Israel Arranz / vibraphone.

This album explodes into an exciting ride supported by a rhythm section with a bass loaded with a melodic, imposing, sometimes enhanced with a distorted effect and constantly evolving groove. Also, notice how the rhythmic inserts of the guitar are placed to mark the accents with few but effective chords, but above all pay attention to the refined melodic embroidery of the keyboard which expands and enrich the already excellent bass lines. Music also shows colorful horn arrangements with rhythm changes and beautifully played keyboard sounds in a Canterbury dress. The musicians are given the freedom to perform solos, and so are allowed to shine individually.

There is a constructive and compositional constant, a very coherent line, but also an enlargement and a deepening towards each theme, so that the jazz parts sound even more jazz, the Canterbury contacts are decidedly clearer, all the purposes and proposals have become coherent, and more robust. The great and skillful use of wind instruments leads to orchestral jazz sounds, sometimes in the classic jazz-rock style, sometimes with a greater reference to the big bands of the twentieth century. However, a certain catchiness of the themes remains firm, although the arrangements are always elaborate and rich. Also occasional dissonances give additional volume and RIO touches, proto-prog feeling also sneaks into the melodies and all this together forms a masterpiece of progressive music.

The entire work is developed around fantastic melodies, here in great shape both on a strictly technical level and in terms of compositional taste. The album flows rapidly alternating valuable instrumental sections, halfway between jazz fusion technique, prog, and some caressing folk melodies. The album is strong in every respect, the songs have a melodic feel on the one hand, and yet not less demanding. On the contrary, the band acts in a complex way, be it in relation to the song structures themselves or the instrumentation. Long and complex instrumental pieces, which blend psychedelia, jazz, rock, classical references, and that difficult-to-explain note typical of the Canterbury movement, are never boring, on the contrary, they sound agile and fluid. The instrumental presentation is of excellent workmanship and allows us to better appreciate the multitude of themes, and counterpoints contained within it. Describing this album means peeking into the lavishly decorated pieces, where the musicians translate all their knowledge and skill into a musical context, loading each piece with strangeness, layering the arrangements, and zigzagging the melodic paths.

A lot of time has passed since their last album, seven to be exact, but I have to say that the wait was worth it, with this album the band reaffirms its place as one of the best bands in the world and delivers another masterpiece that will definitely, and with every right, resonate into the world of prog and jazz rock and become an inevitable classic of this music.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 482 ratings

The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars The second album by EGG is a more serious effort, no short pop-influenced melodies and playing is more refined. "A visit to Newport hospital" is partly heavy dramatic partly floating in the Canterbury style. Well composed, bringing Hammond with the fuzzed organ a la Soft Machine. I like the doomy organ that does not need any additional guitar really.

The second song is a great rhythm workout. "Boilk" is a letdown, fully loose organ experimentation and the worse thing is that it lasts 9 minutes. The final epic suite is more cohesive and better composed than the one on the debut album. It's very solid listening to a bit majestic, classically oriented motives and thankfully, no vocals this time. Despite one weak track, it is still a worthy addition to a Canterbury music vocabulary.

 Egg by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.80 | 335 ratings

Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Egg was quite a unique band with a mellower Canterbury sound thanks to the absence of guitar and a classical music elegance. On this first album, there are even some traces of psychedelia in particular because of the organ arrangements. I find shorter pieces up to 5 minutes better developed and accessible than longer experimentation-filled suites. The band could combine vocals, interesting ideas into tasty pieces whereas the long 20-minute suite is not cohesive at all. Classical music covers are OK but nothing that makes you acquire the album. The choice of "Fugue in D minor" is one of the most generic organ choices but hey it could have been hot in 1970. Instrumentally, I like the intensive "The song of..." mainly because of the winning rhythm section. Bonus tracks are really pleasant and feel nostalgia in the "Seven is a jolly good time".
 Quiet Euphoria by AMOEBA SPLIT album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.95 | 18 ratings

Quiet Euphoria
Amoeba Split Canterbury Scene

Review by DiversionConVinilos

5 stars After a long absence (since 2016 when their second album was released) the long awaited new work of Amoeba Split does not disappoint. Quite the contrary: it fully meets all possible expectations.

Without moving a millimeter from their style (a jazz-rock with classical influences, elegant and vigorous, a 21st century update of the Canterbury scene), the Galician band is able to offer a set of very inspired songs, with a very coherent structure, great timbric richness and, above all, very well performed.

Although the inheritance (or homage) of bands like Soft Machine, Caravan or Hatfield And The North can be perceived, the language and musical lines are so unquestionably of their own that you get that feeling of listening to something you know, but that at the same time is new and refreshing.

In short, this latest album by Amoeba Split is a solid addition to their discography, and I think it confirms them as one of the contemporary references of the Canterbury scene. A personal and original reinvention of progressive jazz-rock, musically creative, emotionally balanced and skillfully and sensitively executed.

 Quiet Euphoria by AMOEBA SPLIT album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.95 | 18 ratings

Quiet Euphoria
Amoeba Split Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

5 stars Who is not excited for the release of another AMOEBA SPLIT album? The Galician (Spain) band's previous two albums--2010's Dance of the Goodbyes and 2016's Second Split--have been nothing short of masterpieces of Canterbury-inspired modern Jazz-Rock Fusion. And now, after a seven year gap, they release this, their third studio album. I am SUPER excited!

1. "Quiet Euphoria" (7:18) what starts out a little bland (with slow lower register piano note play for the first minute) suddenly breaks into quite the jazz classic--with almost a big band feel, thanks to the horns. The bass, drums, and vibraphome really get a groove on over the second two-thirds of the song. I LOVE it! (And I love that vibraphonist Israel Arranz has not been promoted to a full band member.) The sound clarity given each and every one of the instruments is nothing short of astonishing. And I marvel as I listen to the unusual, "old" effected synths, bass, and keys. And thank you, THANK YOU, for recording the drums without that horrible gated effect! This is the way drums are supposed to sound! Even the kooky, laughter filled ending is both fitting and engaging. (14/15)

2. "Shaping Shadows" (5:20) Opening with a Japanese shamisen-sounding instrument, the song graduallly morphs into a very cool, gently relaxing vibe. Then, at 1:30, when the horn section joins in, the music takes on an almost like an old BURT BACHARACH lounge jam feel (if Burt, in fact, ever jammed, that is). I love the heavily-effected "old style" sound of the keys and guitars as the trumpet solos. And, me, such a sucker for the trumpet: I am in heaven! Great Latin drum stylin', too! Like our favorite comfort foods, this one just has a great feel to it. In the fourth minute I hear a little relaxed DAVE STEWART-like sound coming from the keys while the synth and drums go native. Then the PAUL DESMOND "Take Five" horns bring us back to center for the finish. Magical! (9.333/10)

3. "The Inner Driving Force" (5:59) Despite the horns above (which open the song soloing as if in a processional for some mediæval king), and the initial MILES DAVIS Sketches from Spain feel, I hear a kind of combined CHICK COREA-VINCE GUARALDI piano foundation to this song. Great interplay between the soloists in the fourth minute. (8.875/10)

4. "Divide and Conquer" (3:02) opening with an odd high-pitched electric-horn-like synth squeaking, the drums and band enter with a very SOFT MACHINE-like sound palette. As the musical groove gets established I'm hearing things that remind me of early British band NUCLEUS, THOMAS DOLBY, and even HOMUNCULUS RES (the Casiotone soloing). Nice weave. Very cinematic. (9/10)

5. "Thrown to the Lions" (7:23) Very pleasant modern Canterbury sound and feel to this one--not unlike some of DAVE NEWHOUSE's recent songs, or even a little bit of old MILES DAVIS. That rolling bass play coupled with the Fender Rhodes keyboard is killer! Reminds me of 1970s DEODATO. When things settle into a more laid-back combo format in the fourth minute, they sound more like Devonshire band MAGIC BUS's releases of the 2010s. I love the flute play and then the band's dynamic interplay with the horns. Man! The bass and drums are so synched in! Cool flute and wah-ed Fender Rhodes interplay in the sixth minute! (Weird ending: as if the drummer got caught in the springs beneath his snare!) (14.25/15)

6. "No Time for Lullabies" (11:05) The opening two minutes of this one sound almost like a piece of classical music.. Such poise and deliberation! Then, beneath the alto clarinet, the piano begins to roam and flourish a bit--signalling a move into the realms of jazz. Electric guitar and synthesizer noises are companioned by the drummer's play on his kit's tom-toms before tenor saxophone joins in as the lead instrument. Do I hear some Coltrane riffs at the end of the fifth minute? Vibes join in with more prominent bass play as drums add cymbal play and synths continue to add their subtle magic. Synthesized trumpet and flugelhorn play off one another over ominous pipe organ cords in the seventh and eighth minutes. This is nowhere near the kind of music I was expecting--though there is something here that seems to tap into not only both John Coltrane's and Miles Davis' end-of-life albums but also the spirit of those early SOFT MACHINE/ROBERT WYATT albums. Just when I thought the song was winding down--with some lullaby-like percussion instrument playing alone, a gentle piano and flute duet starts back up and then takes us out with an eerie sonic "sound-check overload" type of synth sound. Weird! Though this was not what I was expecting, I definitely love it; I find myself totally in awe of the unusual avenue of expression explored here. (19.5/20)

Total Time 40:07

I love the fact that the band has been able to keep the exact same lineup of members since their 2016 release, Second Split. It is, in fact, nothing short of amazing. Though the music here feels more rooted in old, classic styles of the lounge and early jazz-rock fusion jazz movements, I am impressed with the courageous use of odd synths and stylistic shifts within each of the songs. In fact, I am blown away by the subtle integration of old styles and sounds into these very original yet-familiar (and comforting) feeling compositions.

A/five stars; a full-blown masterpiece of original Jazz-Rock Fusion--one that feels as if it is paying homage to many of the key shakers and movers of the 1960s and 1970s jazz-rock fusion movement.

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Canterbury Scene bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
KEVIN AYERS United Kingdom
BIG HOGG United Kingdom
THE BOOT LAGOON United Kingdom
BRAINVILLE United Kingdom
CARAVAN United Kingdom
CLEAR FRAME United Kingdom
COS Belgium
DELIVERY United Kingdom
EGG United Kingdom
THE GHOULIES United Kingdom
MICHAEL GILES United Kingdom
GILGAMESH United Kingdom
GONG Multi-National
JOHN GREAVES United Kingdom
GRINGO United Kingdom
STEVE HILLAGE United Kingdom
HUGH HOPPER United Kingdom
JAKKO M. JAKSZYK United Kingdom
KHAN United Kingdom
THE LODGE United States
MAGIC BUS United Kingdom
MANNA / MIRAGE United States
MATCHING MOLE United Kingdom
MILLER & COXHILL United Kingdom
PHIL MILLER United Kingdom
MOOM United Kingdom
THE MUFFINS United States
PANTHEON Netherlands
PAZOP Belgium
JOHN G. PERRY United Kingdom
PIP PYLE United Kingdom
QUANTUM JUMP United Kingdom
QUIET SUN United Kingdom
SHORT WAVE United Kingdom
SOFT HEAP United Kingdom
SOFT MOUNTAIN Multi-National
SOFT WORKS United Kingdom
VOLARÉ United States
ROBERT WYATT United Kingdom
ZOPP United Kingdom
ZYMA Germany

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