14 November 2004

from the "Sometimes, there IS justice!" Dept.

Pocket Orchestra

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to know that the music of Pocket Orchestra (formerly Knebnegauje) is finally being released some 20+ years after their fact.

Tim Lyons, Tim Parr, Bob Steerman, Craig Bork, Joe Halajan

Actually, it was 25 years ago when I happened to be over at their house on a warm summer evening in Phoenix, drinking beer and listening to them rehearse in lieu of an upcoming show (opening for Gong I think). My own band at that time, Cartoon, had just finished recording our first record that week and frankly, we were feely pretty cocky about ourselves. I still vividly remember to this day being so completely knocked out by how polished and amazing they sounded that night. Yeah, I’d heard them play live before many times, but sometimes they could reach this inexplicable “higher-level” and play their (very intricate and difficult) songs so effortlessly that it bordered on mystical. This particular night was one of those times, and I was just totally floored by how great they were. They pounded out a few cover-songs that they “needed to play” in order to fill the hour & a half set required: remarkable versions of “Rats & Monkeys” by Art Bears, King Crimson’s “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic Pt. 2”, (which was way better than any of the KC versions, I’ve always said) and the Samla song “Little Karin” from Schlagern’s Mystik. A few days later, they blew-away all the Gong fans who heard them. Since then, I’ve seen (and was fortunate to play with) some great avant-rock bands, and I still believe that Pocket Orchestra was right there among them all. In the following years through 1984, I saw them play a lot, especially after they relocated to the Bay Area, when they would play shows with Cartoon whenever possible.
I wish that Tim Parr (guitar) and Tim Lyons (bass) were still around to see this. I only can hope that Bob Steerman (drums) recovers from his recent health difficulties to appreciate and smile about this. I’m guessing that it might be bitter-sweet for Craig Bork, (keyboards) Joe Halajan, (clarinets, saxes) and Bill Johnston (cello). Today I feel privileged that I knew, learned, played and recorded with these guys. (The first Henry Cow, Samla, and Univers Zero records I ever heard were on Tim Parr’s turntable in high-school.) This is so long overdue. I’m buying one as soon as it is released, and it all makes me realize that I miss them a lot.


Sue (Gibbons) Welch said...

It is exciting to know that the music of Pocket Orchestra lives on! I was very fortunate to be around during dozens of practice sessions with Tim Parr and the guys. They were a truly unique group. Being around them was like watching diamonds form from coal. Lots of grating experimental cacophany gradually resulting in tight, focused melodies and rhythms. I look forward to listening to their music again, and lifting some tasty brew in a toast to their talent and hard work.

Anonymous said...

These guys are weird as hell i heard the mp3s on the link page, they are great. I cant beleive this music was in the 80's why werent they playing like Duran Duran ha ha

Craig Bork said...

Justice or just blind intervention. I get home one day and my wife has a message that a guy in Minnesota wants to talk to me about Pocket Orchestra. Being an experienced band wife she almost didn't give me the message. 25 years after the fact someone in Israel wants to put out our music? Well. after long struggles to gather the material and over a year it is actually going to happen. Thanks Scott for your kind words and the many memories we share. True it is bittersweet but for those of us around to experience it, it's a little strange to be reliving those glory days of the past. I'd often heard rumours of bootleg copies of our music showing up in foreign lands and didn't quite believe them but apparently some music never dies and one of those bootlegs made it into the right hands.