‘Canterbury’ is a label I’ve never really subscribed to because the definition itself is so loose. Basically, it seems to refer to a locale from which a number of disparate post-psych bands emerged – namely Soft Machine, Caravan and Gong, none of whom shared any delineative traits to really merit a collective tag in the musical sense – and other bands from around the world who sounded like them, such as Finland’s Wigwam. Canterbury also seems to be divided into two phases: the aforementioned post-psych phase of 1968-1972, and the more fusionoid period beginning with Henry Cow and Hatfield and the North in 1973 and concluding with National Health and their kindred stateside spirits The Muffins in 1978.
Below are some applicable bands hailing from across Europe whose classic recordings deserve an equal-opportunity preview:
Delivery – female-fronted jazz rock/blues rock ensemble from 1970 straddling the Stone the Crows/Goliath/Catapilla fence and featuring several future Matching Mole and Hatfield & the North players.
Egg – needs no introduction, but for those who haven’t actually gotten to hear them yet you can do so right here.
Quiet Sun – the pre-Roxy Music prog/fusion band of Phil Manzanera, who regrouped in 1975 to cut this one amazing disc.
Brainstorm – terrific German purveyors of the early Soft Machine sound.
Moving Gelatine Plate – conjuring the strongest points of Soft Machine – both the manic asymmetry of Volume Two and the elongated ambitions of Third – over two fantastic albums in 1971 and 1972.
Carpe Diem – a spacey yet tight and tuneful midway between Gong and Camel.
Forgas – breezy late ’70s Francophone twist on the Matching Mole style with a startlingly Robert Wyatt-like voice in foreign tongue.
Pazop – who took the jazzy rock choppiness of Soft Machine‘s Volume Two to its most hyper and wacky extreme.