Gareth Sager  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Gareth Sager (born 1960 in Edinburgh, Scotland) is a British guitarist, keyboardist, musician, composer and songwriter, and is a founding member of The Pop Group, Rip Rig + Panic (with Neneh Cherry), Float Up CP and Head.

In his early years Sager became acquainted with the works of Erik Satie, Frédéric Chopin and Claude Debussy, an influential starting point recently revisited and expanded upon with 2017’s solo piano album 88 Tuned Dreams. The collection exemplifies the urgency, experimentation and reinvention that has defined Sager’s myriad projects and collaborations over the last forty years. As a vital presence, both in The Pop Group’s original incarnation and in their subsequent reformation, Sager remains a principal foundation in one of post-punk’s most relentlessly evolutionary and antagonistic groups. His uninhibited approach to instrumentation as a guitarist, saxophonist and clarinettist and his astute use of electronics in recent material continues to inspirit the bands momentous radicalism.

Despite the ongoing importance of this affiliation Sager has remained open to the possibilities afforded by other projects. After The Pop Group first disbanded in 1980, Sager formed the conceptual collective Rip Rig + Panic, headed by a young Neneh Cherry. Releasing three acclaimed cult albums, a revered run of singles and indebted to the freeform and wildly discordant jazz of some of Sager’s acknowledged inspirations (Ornette Coleman and Rahsaan Roland Kirk amongst them) the collective persistently upended expectation throughout their four year existence. During these years Sager also played saxophone on 'A-Train', a track featured on The Flying Lizards Fourth Wall (album). In 1985 Rip Rig + Panic (with Neneh Cherry) changed their name to Float Up CP releasing one final album and single before amicably disbanding and ending a vibrant creative cycle.

Soon after, Sager helped initiate Head, transforming his work once again and pursuing a soused, anthemic pop under the influence of The Pogues, Captain Beefheart and the traditional sea shanties and folk tunes of Sager’s base for many years, Bristol.

In a solo capacity, as CC Sager, Pregnant and as Gareth Sager respectively, Sager’s work has been championed and comprehensively collated by Glasgow institution and John Peel favourite Creeping Bent. He was also engaged in manifold collaborations with the late Scottish punk poet and ‘tragedian’ Jock Scot, including regular live performances at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as a record, ‘Caledonian Blues’, released by Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records. Alongside his work with Scot, Sager has embarked on a stint playing live and on record with Davey Henderson’s The Nectarine No 9

An industrious collaborator and a prolific solo artist in his own right, Sager has been an unremittingly restless and versatile force in the post-punk era and beyond, both a dynamic presence and a true originator.

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