TIM BLAKE

Blake’s heaven.

Prog - - Echoes - KN

Api­oneer­ing elec­tronic war­rior, Tim Blake cut his teeth sup­ply­ing synth and keys to Gong’s 70s de­but tril­ogy, Fly­ing Teapot, An­gel’s Egg and You. After his prog-flavoured fling with Saratoga Space Mes­sen­gers, Blake teamed up with French light­ing de­signer Pa­trice War­rener for his Crys­tal Ma­chine pro­ject, forg­ing a tem­plate for mod­ern prog shows with lasers and synths that man­i­fested in the pure elec­tronic rhap­sodies of 1977’s self-ti­tled de­but al­bum, then the fol­low­ing year’s Blake’s New Jerusalem. He joined Hawk­wind for a year be­fore 20 out of the spot­light, bro­ken only by 1991’s Mag­ick, then en­joyed a 21st cen­tury re­birth, which in­cluded re­join­ing Hawk­wind in 2007.

Even if the beau­ti­ful cos­mic weird­ness of the Gong years is rel­e­gated to three wigged-out ex­trap­o­la­tions, all bases are cov­ered over three discs (and DVD of 1979 French TV footage) that com­prise this as­tute sum­ma­tion of this of­te­nun­der­sung elec­tronic trail­blazer’s idio­syn­cratic ca­reer. That first Crys­tal Ma­chine al­bum is rep­re­sented by the glis­ten­ing Mid­night and 15 shim­mer­ing min­utes of Syn­these In­tem­po­ral, show­ing how he beat Tan­ger­ine Dream at the snow-peaked se­quencer pul­sa­tion game. Bet­ter still are the New Jerusalem pair, in­clud­ing its un­du­lat­ing ti­tle epic. The first Hawk­wind stint is re­flected by Light­house and Who’s Gonna Win The War, with a dash of Mag­ick be­fore his re­turn in mes­sage-strewn space prog mode with 2000’s The Tide Of The Cen­tury, 2002’s Caldea Mu­sic II mark­ing a re­turn to pure in­stru­men­tals.

This is the mode that dom­i­nates disc three’s pre­vi­ously-un­re­leased gems; three from The Birth Of Crys­tal Ma­chine (in­clud­ing multi-lay­ered 20-minute am­bi­ent mon­ster Forter­esse/Crys­tal Mir­rors To In­fin­ity dis­play­ing dis­tinct Terry Ri­ley in­flu­ences), plus six from live shows in Am­s­ter­dam (2006) and Ex­eter (2009). As this set shows, Blake was best be­fore the world caught up with him but still plough­ing a fear­less field up to 2012’s most re­cent work Noggi ’Tar.

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