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Cos - Viva Boma CD (album) cover

VIVA BOMA

Cos

 

Canterbury Scene

4.19 | 139 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Cos were a Belgian band who were originally influenced by both the British Canterbury Scene as well as the French Zeuhl scene. They were a group I was interested in hearing and this is the first album I have heard from them. I don't know how this compares to their other albums, but this is one of the best Canterbury albums I have heard. The main member is Daniel Schell on guitar and flutes. Along with him is his wife Pascale Son who does the overwhelming majority of the vocals. Her vocal style is similar to that of Hatfield's Northettes but she sings strictly lead like Amanda Parsons in National Health. A lot of the time I have no idea if she is singing in French or just doing plain gibberish. Maybe both.

Pascale also plays some oboe. There are guest musicians who play percussion, cello and MiniMoog. Marc Hollander replaces the original keyboardist. I am more familiar with the group he formed after leaving Cos, Aksak Maboul, than with this group. As in AM he plays keyboards, sax and clarinet here. I don't know how strong his influence was on this album. I'm not sure if he does any of the synth work here (like he does in AM), but the synth sounds and playing on Viva Boma are excellent. Generally the music of Cos sounds similar to that of Hatfield & The North. In fact, most of the non-UK Canterbury groups, although originally influenced by Softs and Caravan, ended up sounding like Hatfield did at the same time.

There is also a Zeuhl and RIO/Avant edge to this music as well, although it is still pretty much a Canterbury affair. Viva Boma is actually far more consistent than either Hatfield album but if you put the best songs from those two on one album, then this wouldn't even compare. For such a strong Canterbury album it actually starts out fairly non-Canterbury. The instrumental opener "Perhaps Next Record" is nothing but overdubbed MiniMoog. This sounds like a cross between an 8-bit Nintendo game and a old western movie soundtrack. Some of the synth tones sound like a twangy guitar. I could see how some could view this as pointless filler but I love it.

Up next is the title track which is dominated with African style percussion. The lyrics (if that is what they are) get repeated and the bass really packs a punch here. After the first two songs we get more into tradional Canterbury territory with "Nog Verder." Mellow and jazzy with percussion that reminds me of Karl Jenkins-era Soft Machine. Some harmony vocals doing a type of 'chorus.' Gets darker and heavier later before getting very jazzy with some scat-like singing. "Boehme" starts off in a fuzzy/distorted heavy Canterbury vibe. Some nice minimal use of synth in this track before it switches to full-on funk mode, complete with wah-wahed electric piano and almost Magma-styled vocals. Ends on a fusion-y Canterbury note.

"Flamboya" begins in standard Hatfield/Health style with Rhodes piano mimicing the vocals. Then chorused guitar leads to atmospheric synths and a distorted bass solo. Some vocal improvisations in the middle. "In Lulu" opens with Pascale singing in a MidEastern/Indian style before she stops and the band goes into some great slow paced Canterbury. Love the overdubbed drum fills on top of the steady beat. "L'idiot Leon" is the longest song. Goes into some fantastic Dave Stewart style modified organ soloing for awhile. Great synth here playing classical style. Later a more upbeat part with vocals and wah-bass.

Great fuzz-bass solo in the middle followed by a jazzy guitar solo and some military style drumming. The tempo slows down and things calm down, then some reeds. I like how it goes almost polka with the reeds or other wind instruments. At the end the military drumming and the polka beat get mixed together (!?!). "Ixelles" features what I guess is cello (but I thought violin) and an acoustic guitar solo. The vocals here are the most French sounding. Absolutely love the synth tone near the beginning, what an awesome sound and so futuristic for 1976.

This album has great production and sounds timeless. It's one of those rare albums that just gets better every time I hear it. This is easily recommended to fans of Hatfield and National Health. I need to investigate this group's other albums, although it is doubtful that I would enjoy them as much as this; this is a one of a kind record. A masterpiece you may say. 5 stars.

zravkapt | 5/5 |

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