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Cos - Viva Boma CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.16 | 231 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The second album by Belgian band Cos, `Viva Boma', is certainly one of the more original Canterbury albums in my collection, and one that I initially had immense trouble coming to appreciate! First of all, the unique female vocalist of the group, Pascale Son, sings in a spontaneous, improvisational and nonsensical language, preferring words that simply flow with the music and are just as much their own instrument. Anyone who has heard the first album by Zao, or the vocal ticks of Henry Cow's Dagmar Krause will have a better idea what to expect here, and listeners will either love it or hate it. Secondly, although considered an album in the Canterbury style, the band incorporate a whole range of other genres to take the music in different directions that other bands and albums associated with that style never did. It makes for an initially difficult album to get your head around, but persistence pays off beautifully!

The appropriately titled opener `Perhaps Next Record?' is an experimental electronic and sitar fragment that sounds unlike anything else on the rest of the album. The title track is a joyous hippy shuffle of piano and acoustic percussion that you could almost dance to - go on, give it a try! The downbeat first section of `Bog Verder' has Pascale take on the same fragility that Paatos singer Petronella Nettermalm exudes, a somber tune with glistening electric piano before an Egg-like march in the middle that leads straight into a frantic uptempo Zeuhl run filled with snarling guitar and gnarly bass. `Boehme' keeps the same Zeuhl intensity with a spiky dash of electric guitar fusion for good measure. `Flamboya' starts as a sexy purr over the loveliest of placid synth washes before taking an unnerving darker turn. Pascale's deranged and breathless phrasings weave around edgy electric guitar soloing that twists the piece into a disturbing psychedelic dream-state.

`In Lulu' is more along the lines of the guitar driven sections of National Health and Gilgamesh, as is the eleven minute centerpiece `L'Idiot Leon', full of driving momentum, playful diversions and loaded with extended and manic instrumental runs on piano, fuzz organ and electric guitar. Also add some strolling bass, smoky Soft Machine trilling clarinet over rapid-fire tempo changes back and forth thanks to the focused drumming. The band really gets to unleash and challenge themselves on this one, and the piece is just as good as anything off the more well-known Canterbury albums. Closer `Ixelles' mixes in everything from loopy electronic experimentation, a thoughtful and downbeat cello passage, murky jazz tastefulness and a sultry vocal, where once again Cos almost come across as a blueprint for the debut album by modern band Paatos. I wonder if they've heard this one?

The four bonus tracks are a welcome treat as well. `Mon Rebis' is an acoustic piece with a very dark atmosphere, highlighted by some very emotional and restrained saxophone soloing, what a haunting and beautiful piece. The drifting `Reine de la Vallee' is overloaded with blissful electric piano bringing a nice tension, despite being lovely the piece always has a hint of edge and danger. The demo of `Nog Verder' is more spontaneous and reckless than the studio version, very jazz/fusion heavy with thick punchy bass, intimidating electric guitar snaps and smashing drumming. It also has warm duel male/female vocals in parts, I wonder what the album would have sounded like with more of that? Then there's a fragment of a brief vocal improvisation piece that is droning, mysterious and brimming with potential.

After initially struggling with the vocals and confusing direction changes, I've quickly come to love `Viva Boma' as a quirky, colourful and very pleasing release. It's unpredictable, often thrilling, and even sometimes a little frustrating and confusing! While Cos have plenty to associate with the Canterbury sound, `Viva Boma' really goes beyond that to offer so many new and exciting possibilities, and is truly a unique and distinctive work in a genre with so many outstanding releases.

A perfect kaleidoscope of musical colour for warm hazy summer days!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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