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5 stars Miriodor are a stellar band who make fresh, inspired prog rock that would appeal to anyone who loves music which combines melody/accessibility with experiementalism/adventure.

They are classified as RIO/Avant, but I really don't think it is an appropriate category for them. Yes, they are experimental and daring, but they are too melodic, too groovy, too flowing, too purposeful, too much in tune with traditional musical values to be considered RIO. In my view, their nearest relatives are Gentle Giant and Gryphon (Red Queen-era), and perhaps after that, Univers Zero (Uzed-era). I have noticed that Gentle Giant have recently been slotted into Eclectic Prog category on this site and that is perhaps where Miriodor also belongs. But in truth, as with the very best bands, their music transcends all categories and is ultimately unclassifiable.

The first thing that one notices is that Miriodor have that contrapuntal, fugue-like thing happening which Gentle Giant displayed in abundance in their more complex works. Often there are four or five instruments weaving their own separate melodies to form an intricate tapestry, often interacting with each other in a speedy, nimble call and response. The skill with which they do this can be dizzying at times. Sometimes it is hard to fathom what is going on, although never does the music descend into a chaotic mess, or degenerate into experimentalism for experimentalism's sake. The composing and the playing is always first-rate, always disciplined and interesting, always moving along with great purpose.

Nearly all of their music is of this style - grooving along in a fugue-like manner - and constantly changing into different themes, melodies, instrumental arrangements, textures, and atmospheres. Incorporated within this basic framework are all sorts of different genres - sometimes it sounds medieval (resembling Gryphon), sometimes Red-era King Crimson (dark, powerful passages), sometimes European folk, sometimes 20th century classical, sometimes jazz, sometimes contemplative minimalism, sometimes pure prog rock. What is amazing is that even though it is constantly transitioning from one disparate theme to another, the music never sounds forced or contrived. The band is able to incorporate all of these diverging styles of music into an integrated whole, such that their albums flow along seamlessly, never jarring, each passage a logical continuation of the previous one.

I think this band would appeal to those who love those mid-era Gentle Giant, particularly pieces like "Knots", "Experience", "On Reflection", "Proclamation", "So Sincere", etc. If you can imagine Gentle Giant, minus the vocals, concentrating purely on the cerebral side of their music, with some King Crimsonish freak-outs inserted into the proceedings every now and then, you would have something resembling Miriodor. I'm sure that Kerry Minnear would have greatly enjoyed being a part of this band.

This album, Parade, is consistently inspired from start to finish. There isn't a dud track on here, and definitely no filler. Every note is perfectly placed in their intricate, ever-evolving jigsaw. There are two discs - one studio and one live - and both are great. The live disk features tracks from their previous two albums, Mekano and Elastic Juggling. The playing is energetic and precise, and the crowd seems very appreciative. Both disks are perfectly mixed and produced.

This is mature, sophisticated, expertly-played, beautifully recorded prog rock. The band has an intimate understanding of the core principles of prog rock and have fashioned something fresh and unique out of it. The music is subtle and rich and gets better and better with each listening.. Even after numerous listens to their albums (I've still only heard "Elastic Juggling" and "Parade"), I'm still trying to work out what is going on in many of the passages, such is the skill of the composing. Miriodor is a band which delights me both on a cerebral and an emotional level. I'm very glad to have discovered them.

Report this review (#138497)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've never been disappointed with what this band has put out over the years. I have 5 of their 7 studio albums and rate them all highly. It's difficult to pick out a favourite because for me one doesn't really standout over the others, they're all amazing. This particular release came with a bonus live disc of their performance at Nearfest in 2002. As usual with this band we get lots of tracks which is fine it just makes it harder for reviewing but not for listenening which is the important thing. I should mention there are some guests including Sweden's own Lars Hollmer from SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA and also Lisa Millet who adds some bassoon.

"Pyramid" features these intricate sounds that come and go including violin before a minute. Sax before 2 minutes. Drums and piano lead later. This quirky tune is a great way to start. "Dung Beetle" settles with guitar early. Accordian after a minute with bass and drums. Guitar is back. The sound gets more powerful later on. Great tune. "Caramba!" is a short track with a catchy rhythm. "Uppsala" is of course a city in Sweden and the name of a killer band. Here it's really a reference to the fact that Lars recorded his contributions to this album at the Chickenhouse near Uppsala. It opens in a spacey manor before kicking in with keyboards, bass and sax. Love the way these sounds mesh together. A calm with bassoon around 3 1/2 minutes before it kicks back in a minute later. Great sound ! "Toast" is bouncey with keyboards,percussion and sax. Excellent tune. "Liquid Lands" opens with piano. It picks up before 2 1/2 minutes and gets fuller too. More powerful 3 minutes in. Nice.Then it settles some. A change before 4 minutes.

"Film Noir" is mid paced as violin joins in. It's dark. Vibes and bass take over then we get a calm before 4 minutes. It kicks in with power. Hell ya ! "Jack-In-The-Box" is catchy wth a good beat. So much going on here. "Checkpoint Charlie" features experimental sounds throughout. "Talrika" kicks in with some heaviness before a minute. Love how this sounds. Water sounds before 2 1/2 minutes as the sound changes then the tempo picks up. "Crosswords" opens with drums as deep bass and other sounds join in. Sax comes in too. "Skinny Dance" opens with bassoon and violin. Acoustic guitar also joins in with bass and drums. "Frosted Bonsai" is a track that flows beautifully. Lars plays accordian on this one and composed it I believe. Very laid back and enjoyable. The electric guitar after 3 minutes is a nice touch. "Garbage Can" opens with feedback before it turns dark and heavy with organ and a beat. Amazing. "Getting Ready" features sounds that beat,pulse and echo. The tempo picks up. "Deep Forest" is eventually led by drums and sax before a dark calm arrives.

A must for you adventerous music fans out there.

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Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I've been completely mesmerized by the RIO/Avant-prog genre for the last two years and Miriodor is a perfect example of this fascination. Even though the band have been in existence ever since the early '80s, they are almost completely anonymous to the average prog fan. The reasons for that are many but I guess that a combination of being an Avant-prog band from Canada with little exposure to the public outside of North America definitely has a lot to do with it.

Parade+Live At NEARFest just so happened to be my entry ticket into the adventurous world of Miriodor and what a beast of an album it is! A double album with over two hours of music was quite demanding for my untrained ears and mind to handle upon the first visit. Fortunately, I made the wise decision of splitting the material into four separate sittings and hence survived this roller coaster ride in one piece. It's not that the material is too Avant-garde to be digestible by a regular human being, like yours truly. Still, it does require the complete attention of its audience which is something that not many are willing to oblige in our day and age.

The studio portion of the album, called Parade, is an extraordinary collection of compositions raging from 1 to 6 minutes tracks in length. The performances are wild and adventurous but with a definite focus or idea at its base. This is why it might take quite some time for any listener to uncover what this music is trying to convey. Fortunately, the pay off is worth the investment, granted that you follow the active listening clause. The album opening Pyramide gives a clear indication of what this music will be all about by kicking things off rather sharply and things never lose this sense of constant alertness from here on.

The second portion of the album consists of a Live At NEARFest performance where Miriodor play a big portion of their material from the past. Since I'm still uncovering that part of the band's music, it's difficult for me to judge whether these performances are better or worth than their studio counterparts. Still, it's safe to say that the band keeps a pretty steady grip of this performance and that it must have been a great spectacle watching this performance!

This is an excellent double album that simply should not be missed by lovers of challenging music. Having said that, I would like to stress my advice of taking things slow with this huge release even if you're a fan of challenging music.

***** star songs: Pyramide (3:38) Uppsala (5:52) Tartine (1:34) Forêt Dense (6:21) Toutes Proportions Gardées (6:48) Le Sorcier (5:54) Boîte À Rebuts (2:00) Pas À Ce Que Le Sache, Sacha (6:31) Igor, l'ours À Moto (6:52)

**** star songs: Scarabée (3:25) Caramba! (0:50) Contrées Liquides (5:45) Polar (6:35) Boite À Surprises (4:08) Talrika (5:01) Le Cruciverbiste (5:29) Gavotte Chétive (1:58) Bonsaï Givré (6:48) Préparatifs De Vacances (1:20) La Célèbre Boucle (0:39) Le Règne Des Termites (4:08) Mine De Rien (3:45) Singularité (5:42) L'inévitable (5:43) Mangeur De Masters (3:53) Mme X (7:46) Le Fantôme De M.C. Escher (6:15) Le Roi Soldat (4:16)

*** star songs: Checkpoint Charlie (3:21)

Report this review (#336588)
Posted Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars A double-disc release that combined a long-awaited studio album and, thrown in as a bonus, their live Nearfest concert of 2002. If memory serves, Mekano was their previous album (dating from the previous century or so), where they were a quartet and by their Nearfest performance, they had integrated a duo of cute female musical buddies (Bélanger on violin and Leclair on sax), and that by the recording of the studio album three years later, they where still around but as guests-only (if I can believe the album's booklet). Still in the studio album, SMM's Holmer also contributed to three tracks, both playing and writing, and another cute (I presume, since they all are) Québecois woman Millet played the bassoon on five tracks.

Opening in GG mode, Pyramide is a typically quirky and jumpy Miriodor track that is also reminiscent of their Gypsy jazz roots. Sonically these first few tracks are generally fuller- sounding than their previous adventures, because of the extended line-up, thus increasing the possibilities of interplay and compositional complexity. Some tracks are also more symphonic or standard-prog than usual, sometimes even giving into passages that could feature on an Anglagard album (Cruciverbiste or Frozen Bonsai) or Crimson (Checkpoint Charlie), but on the whole, you're still well within the usual Miriodor boundaries. The last third of the album sees the afore-mentioned Holmer intervening, which means (unfortunately for me) accordion every second track or so (me no like), often accompanied by Millet's bassoon, including Tolrika, a tune that Lars wrote solo a few years back. Millet's bassoon on Danse Chétive gives a Univers Zero touch, more than a Samla feel. The energetic and demented Préparatifs De Vacances is somewhere close Crimson's madness crossed with some hardcore bombastic moods. The closing Deep Forest is a mammoth track to end the aural hostilities, thus forcing your mind to surrender unconditionally to Miriodor's musical kingdom, helped out y their feudal Swedish vassal Holmer.

As for the Nearfest performance, Miriodor opens the set on very weird electronic and percussions, but the Queen Of Termites reassures the public right away with its typical melodic complexity, and then get a bit sombre with Proportions Gardées, which is slightly reminiscent or UZ or Present. Most of the tracks are from Jongleries and Mekano, but you'll find a few from earlier times as well. As the concert goes on, Falaise's guitar seems to get hotter, but never hogs the spotlight. Actually just like in the studio Miriodor doesn't engage in lengthy solo heroics and histrionics, and everyone always remain at the service of the music.

Well, if I tend to like Jongleries and Avanti (their follow-up and latest, so far), the present Parade has the advantage of finding the group as a sextet, therefore giving them more freedom and sonic variety, although I wished they had developed their songwriting a bit more and dared something totally different than their usual (but improved) soundscapes. Somewhat of a missed opportunity! If you're looking for an introduction to Miriodor's musical realm, the present set might just do the trick, with their usual studio soundscapes slightly-enhanced and an excellent live performance, which will demonstrate that the group doesn't resort to studio trickery. Another impeccable Cuneiform release.

Report this review (#512637)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink

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