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.