As each musician rotates between a handful of instruments (with a robust focus on synth and electronics), tracks like the free jazz "Awake" and the motorized "Non Fiction" freely move between moods and modes. From the skeletal experiments of "Cluster" to the smooth cowpoke of "Sun Sets in the West", what makes Life Is a Gong Show such an engrossing listen is how Songs of Tales never rely on the novelty of their sounds — they're much too engrossed with making something so sonically sundry come off so lifelike. 8/10
Daniel Sylvester – Exclaim!
'Burning Bright' begins with a rhythmic drum introduction and then something of a miracle happens and I listened, open-mouthed at the goings on in the nether sections. Differing tempos, rhythmic changes and time sets yet all centred around a repeated 8 bar riff which is delivered largely by sax and even in a markedly slowed down improvised section before it returns. Glorious music… It is an extraordinary sonic adventure.
Sammy Stein – Jazz Views
What is evident throughout the program is how much fun the band is having creating this music and overturning one's expectations.
Richard Kamins – Step Tempest
By dynamically alternating moods and modes of expression the band keeps the performance captivating and the momentum taut… recording truly reflects the wide fluctuations of kismet especially in these trying times.
Hrayr Attarian -All About Jazz
Jazz is a shared reference, a musical education held in common for the members of Songs of Tales. However, calling them a jazz group is misleading and limiting. Their new album opens with the reverberating electric guitar of “Traure,” which paints a bleak, prickly sonic landscape descended from Ennio Morricone. New Orleans parade rhythms set the tempo for the lively “Burning Bright’s” avant-cacophony. “Awake” is dreamy, “Cinema” suggests an instrumental Tom Waits might have written (but didn’t). The Canadian quartet seamlessly brings together influences that span the world in a context anchored by a rock-solid rhythm section.
David Luhrssen – Shepherd Express
These four gifted and diverse musicians combine in Songs of Tales to create something unlike anything I’ve heard recently. The combination of guitar, violin and saxophone is not common and the fluid conversations among them are compelling, all glued together with the pulse and texture of Jean Martin’s thoughtful playing.
David Reed – Belleville Intelligencer
…a melange of various inspirations, ranging from Mingus to Ornette Coleman and some free elements and the end result is exciting and fresh and for sure worth checking out… ‘Life Is A Gong Show’ is all about variety and surprises, but it is as well a captivating and remarkable debut.
Today, a lot of interesting work has come over from Canada. The Songs Of Tales group provides a new colorful proof of this with "Life Is Gong Show”
Georges Tonla Briquet – Jazzenzo (Netherlands – via Google Translate)
The unique instrumentation on 11 uncommon compositions is thoroughly entertaining, bewitching and memorable, ripe for repeated listening… this could be construed as jazz for people who don’t like jazz. Its tentacles reach deep into prog, world and soundtrack-styled mysticism.
Mike Greenblatt – Goldmine: The Music Collector’s Magazine
The compositions allow the full breadth of each individual's instrument to weave and connect together in a sculptural way that encompasses several styles and genres of the musical spectrum. The key element here is fluidity, and this is achieved by Songs of Tales' unique sense of eclecticism that embodies the essence of the sounds produced.
Marty Delia – The Jazz Music Blog
The team likes to focus on big backbeats and grooves, throwing in melodies ranging from American folksy themes such as on “Sun Sets In The West” to a Middle Eastern Vaudeville on the wild ride of “Jojis” with oud and tenor sax vying for attention. Eastern European themes are well scribed by Zubot’s violin with dark colors yearning on “Traure” while Martin punches out some sharp kinetic ricochet’s for Cancura’s tenor on “Burning Bright”. Electric guitar, breathy sax and folksy violin create a warm campfire on “Awake” and the team gets fun and funky for “Non Fiction” while displaying a 50s rock feel on “Sideways”. A panoply of a musical pleasures.
George W. Harris – Jazz Weekly
Can you be award winners in the mainstream and still be underground sensations? Gordon Grdina and this edition of his pals seem to prove it so. A worldly jazz outing (as opposed to strictly world), this bunch takes you on excursions that contradict it's smart ass title as the depth and focus are mind blowingly progressive.
Chris Spector – Midwest Record