Sound Obsession

Canterbury Scene Special

120 minsFirst aired 25 Feb 2016
Artwork by Nick Taylor

The quiet revolution from rural England: a guide to the Canterbury scene, featuring Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Caravan, and more.

Kirk takes you on a trip to the pastoral sites of South-East England, revisiting a time when Canterbury, Kent became the centre of a quiet revolution in sound. The Canterbury scene of the late ’60s, early ’70s was a loosely affiliated network of musicians from the wider Kent area, who engaged in various forms of improvised jazz, rock and prog madness. Many of the key figures of the Canterbury scene derived from the band Wilde Flowers, including the likes of Brian and Hugh Hopper, Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt. From there on the Canterbury Sound brought forth a multitude of outfits with often overlapping players, most notably Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong (spearheaded by influential Australian musician Daevid Allen), Pye Hastings, Matching Mole, National Health, and more. Besides sharing a common knack for surrealist lyricism, beatnik slang, complicated chord progressions, the Canterbury Sound actually covered a variety of genres going from Soft Machine’s trippy jazz-rock to Robert Wyatt’s more ethereal solo recordings and National Health’s scarce conceptualism.

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