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Cos Viva Boma album cover
4.14 | 242 ratings | 12 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Perhaps Next Record (1:25)
2. Viva Boma (2:35)
3. Nog Verder (4:32)
4. Boehme (3:17)
5. Flamboya (7:33)
6. In Lulu (4:08)
7. L'idiot Léon (10:48)
8. Ixelles (5:02)

Total time 39:20

Bonus tracks on 1997 Musea CD release:
9. Mon Rebis (previously unreleased) (6:03)
10. Reine De La Vallée (previously unreleased) (4:17)
11. Nog Verder (demo version) (7:22)
12. Fanfan La Tulipe (vocal improvisation) (2:38)

Total Time: 60:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Pascale Son / vocals, oboe
- Daniel Schell / acoustic & electric guitars, alto flute, devices
- Marc Hollander / keyboards, bass clarinet, alto saxophone (9), devices
- Alain Goutier / bass
- Guy Lonneux / drums

- Marc Moulin / Mini-Moog (5,8), co-producer
- Denis Van Hecke / cello (8)
- Bob Dartsch / drums (6,8), percussion (2,3)
- Roger Wollaert / drums (10)
- Jack Mauer / drums & vocal improvisation (12)
- Willy Masy / drums & vocal improvisation (12)
- Pipou (Yves Lacomblez) / percussion (2)
- Jean-Louis Haesevoets / percussion (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Alain Goutier

LP IBC ‎- 4B062-23605 (1976, Belgium)

CD Musea ‎- FGBG-4159.AR (1997, France) With 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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COS Viva Boma ratings distribution

(242 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

COS Viva Boma reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars With this second album, Cos still has half of Belgium laughing because of the artwork depicting Flemish grandmas. Although Loos was gone by this time, he is replaced by Marc Hollander (future Aksak Maboul) and Lonneux (ex-Recreation) takes the drum stool, but Dartsch still participates to the album. Then feeling is even more Canterbury-esque and the progression from the debut album is awesome. Marc Moulin (from the then-defunct Placebo) is the producer of the album and also contributes some killer Fender Rhodes on two tracks.

Opening electronic pulses will startle you if you were familiar with other Cos works, but this is a very brief moment, but another surprise awaits you on the following title track with its African percussions. Further Still (Nog Verder ) is a splendid slow Fender Rhodes-based track soon picking pace to end-up like a Weather Report-like funk. Boehme just funks along with sometimes-weird KB sounds startling you. The first side closes with the lenghty Flamboya, with Pascale Son making sweet love to Moulin's moog and Hollander's Rhodes, and soon the fuzzy keys send you flying across the channel to the Kent County. Clearly the first side's highlight, this track holds some of the best Wyatt-like scatting I have heard outside himself.

Son's opening Arabic influenced-vocals are a startling wake-up-and-pay-attention call especially when Schell pulls in one of those mystical Santana-like guitar solo just after it. The lenghty Idiot Leon is the cornerstone of the album with its fuzzy organ (David Sinclair-like) and weird quacking noises and a blistering Schell solo and wind instruments interventions. Closer Ixelles is a slow ode to the city where I was born some 13 years sooner and is probably my fave from the vinyl, but I can only be partial.

The four bonus tracks are excellent and great interest, especially a very different (and better) Nog Verder than the album version with its obvious Stella Vander-like vocals and Zeuhl-esque keyboards. A real touch of class!! But the other three were tracks that did not make the cut when the album was released. I can imagine how some choices can be painful.

The only regret I have is that Son's lyrics (actually Schell's) are not printed on the Musea first issue. As this album got a re-released from Musea in early 2006, one can hope that this will be amended. Nevermind the details, we are again looking at a splendid album that typifies the 70's Belgian scene much better than the mediocre Machiavel. Owning this album is one of the requisite to being a happy proghead and only the ones who do not know this cannot understand.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars Thank God for liner notes. I couldn't figure out what certain instruments were that they were playing, especially when the list of instruments didn't show anything that sounded like a fuzz organ for example. Well there is a detailed story about this recording session thankfully that reveals that newcomer Marc Hollander's farfisa organ's sounds were treated by fuzz and wha wha devices and ended up in a Dynacord echo chamber that could reproduce them at a normal, slow or accellerated speed. Alain used the same effects on his Rickenbaker bass. Band leader Daniel Schell modified the sounds of his guitars through an EMS synthesiser which allowed him to double the melody. He also used several other effects like saturation, a wah wah filter etc. Both Marc and Daniel were fans of MAGMA, ZAO and HENRY COW which really comes through on this recording as the Zeuhl / Jazz flavour is quite strong. Female singer Pascale Son is incredible. She has a child-like sound to her vocals that remind me of a cross between the innocence of THINKING PLAGUE's singer and fragility of the PAATOS' singer. The word "Boma" in the album's title can mean grandmother in a Belgium dialect or refer to an African town along the river Congo.That is why the front cover has the hippos in the river Congo, and on the back we have a picture of the band and girlfriends with others, along with the grandmother, front and center. Very humerous. You can tell these guys like to have fun from the other pictures in the liner notes.

Things get started with "Perhaps Next Record" which is funny given that this short song sounds like it came off of a Krautrock record and sounds nothing like they usually do. Electronics, sitar?, perhaps the next record will sound like this. Funny. "Viva Boma" has lots of drums and percussion.The vocal melodies are fantastic as the piano comes in. Cool song. "Nog Verder" is a slow moving, mellow song with reserved vocals, light drums and keys. The tempo picks up after 2 minutes as the organ comes in. Zeuhl-like vocal melodies 3 1/2 minutes in as it turns jazzy.

"Boehme" is a tribute to a hermetist philosopher appreciated by Daniel. It is supported by a complex harmonic progression dedicated to his harmony teacher. This one is heavier with organ, drums and keys. Vocals before 2 minutes. Fuzz organ before 3 minutes to end song. "Flamboya" features delicate vocals and a heavy, slow paced organ? 2 minutes in. Nice. Guitar, bass and cool vocal melodies. A nice lazy guitar or organ solo late. It's processed so it's hard to tell. "In Lulu" has such an amazing sound to it. The guitar is beautiful. "L'Idiot Leon" is probably my favourite track. There are some great sounding passages throughout this song. The tempo and moods change throughout. There is a harmonization that includes the aboe, flute and bass clarinet. "Ixelles" features a low sounding cello throughout as long instrumental passages alternate with Pascale's gorgeous vocal sections.

A must have.

Review by Kazuhiro
5 stars The enhancement of the music character that Daniel Schell had created enchanted the listener enough with the idea. The element of the music character at which they tried to aim at the time of Classroom that existed as a band of the antecedent of this Cos and the absorbed music tried to be expressed indeed well as a sound of the band.

1st albums of them who had been announced in 1974 might already have had one established part as a field. The influence of the music that the element that they had been declaring included had an indeed variegated part.

The listener will be able to listen to various elements exactly for their music characters. The music character that gave musical an original interpretation though it centered on Zeuhl and Canterbury Scene and was created might have been exactly acknowledged as establishment of one by Cos.

Content of 1st albums of men who followed the flow and the idea from Classroom that was their antecedents was albums where individuality and the sense shone indeed. The music character to arrange the sound and the composition that there is diversity in POP and avant- garde's elements everywhere might have been conspicuous in the band from Belgium. However, the music character of the band that has been established has succeeded in the further construction of evolution, abundant ideas, and the refined music with this "Viva Boma" announced from 1st album after two years.

The idea that Daniel Schell creates evolves further and is reflected in this album. And, an acute angle song of Pascale Son might be considerably refined compared with 1st album and acquire certain advancement and power of expression. And, familiar, because of take an active part with Aksak Maboul deep Marc Hollander participates in this album. His activity might have decided the perfection of this album.

The music character that they were declaring and the part influenced increase originality further and are expressed by this album. Height of composition power of tune. And, the idea exactly calculated. And, it is continuous of the sound that the genre is not specified. Diversity of music done by original interpretation. They splendidly develop the element surely succeeded from 1st album. A little experimental element had gone out strongly for the music of men who had them listen in 1st album. A loose part in a good meaning might be excluded though POP and avant-garde's flows had already been established and the composition power of the overall advanced greatly by this album.

Point that idea of each tune has succeeded to some degree as impression of this album. And, ensemble is established. In addition, song of Pascale Son that increases elegant part. The composition of the album that took the element of sound in Canterbury and original POP from 1st album further and progressed might have received one the top by this work. Making the sound of the wind instrument and the keyboard might be refined further and increase variety. It is possible to listen to good development and the idea as the band from this album of Cos that exists as a band with a peculiar music character in the band in Belgium exactly.

"Perhaps Next Record" has the flow that adds the part of POP that they think about by multiusing an electronic rhythm. Shining rhythm and melody exactly show the start of this album. The refined sound is connected with the following at once.

As for "Viva Boma", the song of elegant Pascale Son twines round the rhythm with the element of ethnical. The refined performance might evolve greatly. The band constructs an original melody and the rhythm in union. The sound with extremely elegant twining of the guitar and sound of the keyboard is expressed. However, the originality of the band might be consistent. And, the flow causes the flow with diversity as an album while continued.

"Nog Verder" starts by a beautiful sound of the keyboard and the unison of the song. The tune progresses attended with a beautiful melody and a quiet rhythm while making the rhythm of three a base. The song might accompany the flow that you may surely evolve. The tune faces complex development rushing into an intense part. The element of Hatfields and National Health will be reminiscent as making the sound. However, the composition that develops one after another is splendidly expressed as original music. The flow that takes the rhythm of seven and keeps the dash feeling might be splendid.

"Boehme" might strongly exactly consider the sound in Canterbury. There might be an interpretation that takes elements of a few Zeuhl to the flow and absorbs it. The continuousness of the sound multiused to a steady rhythm is effective. The flow of the song and the melody that puts on the demiquaver and is developed has an original part. It might be a tune on which the element of various music exactly acts well. A lot of sounds added while developing Jazz Rock in the basis are variegated.

As for "Flamboya", the song with elegant, mysterious melody in the flow of the melody with the tension feature. The intermittent absorption frequently visited decides the impression of the tune. Making the atmosphere that progresses while mixing Zeuhl and the atmosphere of Canterbury everywhere might be splendid. The continuousness of the sound that incessantly flows to the composition with the anacatesthesia advances attended with the tension and originality. The music character succeeded from 1st album might have gripped the directionality that may be completely refined.

Solo of the guitar twines from the introduction of an enchantment song round "In Lulu". The element of an original avant-garde has been taken to the part of Zeuhl that was influenced them. It is likely to succeed in the addition of originality to the part influenced because activity and the sound of the keyboard are consistent. Progressing the tune that is reminiscent of the part and Gilgamesh of an effective percussion instrument splendidly constructs atmosphere.

"L'Idiot Leon" might be a very complete tune in the tune collected to this album. It is one highlight and a tune where all the music characters that Cos created and ideas were splendidly expressed. The keyboard and the guitar completely harmonize with the song of shining Pascale Son. It has development that is reminiscent of Hatfields and Gilgamesh as the impression. The tune increases the dash feeling attended with a beautiful piano sound in close relation to the keyboard with the distorted sound. The music of them refined might have a complete idea and the composition power. It has a variegated part of the sound and it has a good repeatedly flow. The usage and the development of Chord are exactly influenced by Canterbury. However, their originality is already consistent. The flow that freely manipulates the sound of a heavy guitar and the keyboard and is developed consists completely as their music. Usage and idea of wind instrument that appears in the latter half of tune. And, development and the melody of the tune to which the forecast doesn't adhere have been surely completed. The melody and the arrangement show an overwhelming technology.

As for "Ixelles", the melody made anxious is developed. It ..consistent.. is done and the sounds of musical instruments continue though it has development that is reminiscent of Magma and Zao. The flow that shifts to the part of the melody with expression of feelings will be a result of the approach on music exactly by the unique method before long. Solo of unique, acoustic Bass might be splendid from the theme that appears in the middle. The tune has completely decided the element of the album.

The album shifts here to bonus Track. As for "Mon Rebis", the elegant atmosphere that puts on the arpeggio of a beautiful guitar and Pascale Son sings has acted on the tune. The rhythm twines from the progress of an original melody and Chord and it advances. The sound of the song and Sax might take charge of the avant-garde part. And, the atmosphere of the tune that the band does will never lower the quality. An original sense shines.

An anacatesthesia and a transparent feeling of the tune have a certain perfection though "Reine De La Vallee" is bonus Track of this album. Progressing the unison and the melody of the guitar and the song might be splendid. The arrangement of the band has succeeded consistently. The sound of the part of the decoration of Bass and the shining keyboard has splendidly decided the atmosphere of the tune.

This "Nog Verder" is collected in an incomplete part compared with the original because it is collected as Demo Version. The atmosphere of the tune has a part different from the original. The impression that the tune is completed by the session might occur strongly though the part and the melody of the song are the same. Development with the dash feeling might be a little reminiscent of Return To Forever.

"Fanfan La Tulipe" is Improvisation by the song. The anacatesthesia of the scat and the keyboard might be proofs where the band consistently has individuality. The processing of the sound of the float in the space accompanies an experimental element. It might be an idea that contains the flow of the process gradually refined from the part of the avant-garde of 1st album.

They had them construct music that multiplied the polish by original music that was to listen in 1st album further and was refined with this album and express it. Music as Cos carried out a function completely in this album and received one the top. It is exactly a jewel of one sound that they made.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars A cool, laid back album that improves on their first endeavour.

Surprisingly 'Canterbury' in sound, considering they're Belgian. And even more surprising when you consider their links with the completely whacked out future reincarnation 'Aksaq Maboul'. There's some brilliant keyboards by Marc Hollander at work which are coupled with the pretty vocals of Pascale Son.

There's quite a lot of Zeul tendencies employed in a playful way that makes this a very unusual listen. I'll bet that if more people heard this, it would soar up the top 100. As it is, only 25 ratings have been applied. What a shame...

A diverse album with many facets, from the ahead of its time moments like 'Perhaps next record' to the 'Hatfield and the North' like soft jazz with 'Caravan' keyboards all mixed up together creating an unpredictable recording that is really very pleasant indeed, even if there's sometimes too many ideas going on at once.

The four bonus tracks are equally as good, replete with splodgy keyboards, acoustic guitar and the ever present silky vocals of Pascale Son . Just a bit too limp to be a five star, but an excellent recording nonetheless.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Another strong album from Cos, taking a gentle, laid back approach to the Canterbury style with the occasional outbreak of martial, Zeuhl-like rhythms. A little more experimental in its compositional approach than the previous album, there's points which remind me of early Henry Cow too, so RIO fans who like a bit of Canterbury could do a lot worse than checking this one out. Once again, the vocals of Pascale Son enhance the music appreciably, whilst band leader Daniel Schell's guitar work is particularly diverting at points. One to listen to if you want some Canterbury whimsy but at the same time are in the mood for something more tranquil and relaxing than most Canterbury bands.
Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars A new discovery that brings me great joy! I really like the more laid back Canterbury approach--of which I am happy to find on many albums from the subgenre--and I love the excellent contributions and mix of all instruments on this album--with the added bonus of some really fun, beautiful and excellent female vocals. I have to admit that the album's opener, "Perhaps the Next Record (7/10)--with its Kraftwerk-like computer percussion, synths and Jaco Pastorius-like bass toying around threw me off a bit. Not quite what I was expecting. But the next one, the album's title track (8/10), has some great hand percussion and world rhythms--not unlike the music of one of my all-time favorite albums: JONI MITCHELL's Don Juan's Reckless Daughter! (minus the Björk-like vocal.) Though the two versions of "Nog Verder" (9/10) are both awesome, there really is not a weak tune on this album! "Boehme" (8/10) starts with a great Zeuhl feel to it before getting a little RTF-like; the stripped down "Flamboya" (9/10) reminds me of the most accessible of a Bruford/Stewart/Annette Peacock collaboration (very cool keyboard & pitch experimentation!); "Lulu" (10/10) has the beautiful and awesome Santana guitar & supporting keyboard feel; "L'idiot Léon" (9/10) is totally awesome prog rock start to finish-- probably my favorite on the album. The original album's closer, "Ixelles" (7/10) is a little disjointed--an odd puzzle to try to piece together, but still interesting. (Odd mixing of the cello!) If this were the end of the album that I purchased, it would be enough--unquestionably a masterpiece of prog--Canterbury or no. But there are four bonus songs on my version--ones that couldn't fit into the old 40-minute time constraint of a 13-inch vinyl record (unless you were Todd Rundgren). "Mon Rebis" (6/10) starts out prettily enough with Mike Oldfield-like acoustic guitar playing, but then takes on an unpolished, unfinished feel to it once the other instruments are added into the mix. Same for "Reine de la vallée" (6/10). The demo version of "Nog Verder" is great--maybe even better than the 'polished' album version, and "Fanfan La Tulipe" (8/10) is actually quite charming and entertaining (in a Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin kind of way). If you've never heard this one, pick it up, add it to your collection. Yes, Margaret, there was still some great music being put out after 1975!
Review by progrules
4 stars In fact the bands description already states it: Cos actually isn't downright Canterbury at all just partly. And that's what struck me most listening to this album for the first time. Sure, there's a bunch of Canterbury moments on it such as best and longest track L'Idiot Léon which is even one of the best Canterbury examples I know in history. But actually it's the only straightforward Canterbury song on this release.

The rest is indeed a mixture of Latin, KC-like experimental music, several sorts of jazz and other eclectic stuff (avant prog, Zeuhl) which made me come to the conclusion eclectic prog is probably more the on par subgenre than Canterbury for Cos, at least where this album is concerned (don't know the others yet).

Ultimately, the other thing that strikes me is the very high average rating for this album. The strengths are composition and instrumental handling but the vocals are pretty weak I have to say. Pascale Son sings out of tune at least a dozen of times and I´m surprised she is even mentioned the strength of the band by some reviewers. So this will have to be at least one star diminution in the end. But Viva Boma is for sure one of the prog jewels in history and even a must for prog devotees. So checking it out is the least one should do. Four stars are well deserved.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After a good debut Cos had to face the departures of Robert Dartsch and Charles Loos, both were quite hard to be replaced.Drums were given to Willy Mazy, a friend of Schell, who gave up at the end of 75' to focus on his studies, replaced by Guy Lonneux.Initially keyboards were given to Dutch Tony Kleinklamer, who later was replaced by ex-Pazop Frank Wuyts for a short time.Finally a young Marc Hollander was responsible for the sax and keyboard section of the group.In between Cos never stopped playing live, touring Germany, France and Spain in an exhausting schedule.The second album of the group was recorded in July 76' at the Cathy's Studio in Brussels, released the same year again on IBC.The album was produced by Placebo's Marc Moulin.

Again what we have here is a Canterbury-styled Progressive/Jazz Rock, maybe a bit more experimental, with lot of twists and turns, special keyboard and electric piano manifestations, some throbbing bass added for good measure and of course Pascale Son's ethereal voice, spread in wordless vocal exrecises.Cos' sound continues to recall the British masters such as NATIONAL HEALTH, HATFIELD AND THE NORTH or BILL BRUFORD's early albums, still you can throw in a bit of a MAGMA-inspired Zeuhl influence in the most sinister moments.The delightful combinations between hypnotic grooves, jazzy interludes and varied keyboard themes, full of solos and atmospheric textures, are the album's highlights, even the shortest tune has something interesting to offer.On the other hand the monster sound of the aforementioned Canterbury legends seems really hard to be overcome, Cos' overall delivery sounds quite smooth compared to the British bands of the style, far of course from safe, but at moments there is a tendency through more poetic, lyrical and atmospheric music than well-crafted interplays.Finally, Hollander seems to be a great addition for the group, his electric piano specifically sounds really attractive.

Another strong album by Cos.The opening preludes and some instrumental ideas are of first class, but this is not actually in the same level as the pure Canterbury-based monumental releases.Warmly recommended if you like Zeuhl, Canterbury Prog, Jazz-Rock or Prog/Fusion.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The Belgium based COS (rhymes with "dose") was a late bloomer in the early prog scene but still managed to capture the attention of the public just as the first wave of prog was waning and ceding its power to the world of punk and disco however a few bands that defied categorization fell between the cracks and nevertheless captured the hearts of fans and critics alike. COS began its journey as the band Classroom which existed from 1968-74 and then just before the release of the band's debut album "Postaeolian Train Robbery" in 1975, the band switched to the three letter moniker that took three letters from the previous band name and created an ambiguous term that had some sort of meaning in just about every language, at least in terms of European tongues. The debut found a fertile crossroads point somewhere where the world of zeuhl, jazz and progressive Canterbury Scene rock all joined hands and had a night on the town. While mostly following in the footsteps of Zao with the attention getting vocal antics of Pascale Son, the musical experience evolved into something far more adventurous.

Building upon the styles of the debut album, COS returned the next year with the sophomore album VIVA BOMA which boldly displayed a bright orange album cover with three hippos yawning in the sun and much like a jungle safari this second offering by COS created an even more eclectic blend of the aforementioned genre bending antics although the band seemed to trade out many of the zeuhl aspects as the main focus and put the emphasis squarely on the Canterbury Scene jazz-rock styles as heard by bands like Hatfield & The North, Gilgamesh and Caravan. The band had also been streamlined down to a quintet from the six members of the debut. Percussionists Steve Leduc and Robert Dartsch had been replaced by the single drummer Guy Lonneux and VIVA BOMA also saw the arrival of keyboardist / clarinetist / saxophonist Marc Hollander who would stick around for a couple albums before starting Aksak Maboul. Generally speaking Hollander added more of the avant-prog approaches he would develop in the future especially in the keyboard department.

While "Postaeolian Train Robbery" was a fairly streamlined Canterbury infused stream of zeuhl consciousness, VIVA BOMA takes the opposite approach with zeuhl rhythms dominated by the extraordinary technical instrumental workouts provided by guitarist David Schell and the keyboards of Marc Hollander. Of course Pascal Son is still the star with her sensual femininity and ability to cover a wide range of musical scales. The album starts off rather strangely. "Perhaps Next Record" is a short little electronic experiment while the title track is a tribute to African ethnic music with a focus on energetic drumming ensembles but starting with "Nog Verder," the Canterbury sounds usurp control and never let go for the album's near 40 minute run of eight tracks on the original vinyl LP. The stylistic approach while steeped in Canterbury flavors also evokes the angularity of King Crimson guitar heft, a touch of Henry Cow abstractions and a healthy dose of 70s jazz-fusion.

While the personalities that made up the band often clashed, the magic was unleashed once the band started playing. Schell was the sole composer but Pascale Son (his wife) did an excellent job offering her own interpretations as her vocal style became more fluid as she could master the art of evoking a charming naivety to a fully fueled operatic diva in complete control of the musical flow. In many ways she reminds me of some of the female indie rock singers that emerged twenty years later and VIVA BOMA has also been heavily sampled in modern day dance music and hip hop as well. COS were one of the oddball bands that weren't English to adopt the very British sounds crafted by Soft Machine, Caravan and the original Canterbury pioneers which puts them in a very small club and like other bands of non-Anglo origins such as France's Moving Gelatine Plates, Italy's Picchio dal Pozzo or the Dutch based Supersister, COS also added its own national sensibilities to the mix and in the process creating something completely unique.

Personally i find "Postaeolian Train Robbery" to be the more satisfying album as it is more focused throughout its run but VIVA BOMA provides the more stellar technically infused jazz-rock workouts and isn't too far behind in terms of quality. While Pascale Son remains the focus as on the debut with her mostly nonsensical wordless lyrics that are used as an instrument, on VIVA BOMA the musicians also drift into many more jamming sessions that take the angularities of jazz-rock and avant-prog to greater extremes with pulsating electric bass fuzz and the every-changing chord progressions of the guitar and keyboard interplay whereas spaced out psychedelic atmospheric cloud covers provide mood enhancing emotional tugs. I'm not exactly what those hippos on the album cover are doing as they hang out in the mucky rivers of the African continent but every time i listen to VIVA BOMA and gaze into their mouths open wide i can only imagine them shouting out "BRAVO! You done good, team!" In the end i don't find VIVA BOMA to be perfect by any means but it does offer another intriguing stylistic mishmash of progressive rock genres that only COS could deliver. Even the bonus tracks on later releases are worth checking out.

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4 stars This was the first album of COS that I've ever heard, it was like four or five years ago and since then I think it's great but it could have been better. I enjoy it every time I listen to it, but I always feel like it needs something to get me into it, to make me feel that I'm listening to ... (read more)

Report this review (#2077744) | Posted by YourJefa | Thursday, November 22, 2018 | Review Permanlink

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