Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Canterbury Scene

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cos Babel album cover
3.66 | 55 ratings | 7 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

Buy COS Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Babel (4:22)
2. Good Wind (3:16)
3. Cha Cha Cha (4:00)
4. Mein Maschine Ist Schön (8:34)
5. Sors Ton Pétard, Johnny (4:30)
6. Oostend, Oostend (2:55)
7. Greeneldo (13:12)

Total Time 40:49

Bonus tracks on 2010 Musea remaster:
- Ballet Pro Arte Live at Elizabethzaal in Antwerpen ( March 3, 1979 ) -
8. Ouverture for Dance (3:27)
9. Considering a Movement (4:45)
10. Boehme (4:12)
11. Babel (4:12)
- Cos Trio Live at Pavillon, Hannover (1981) -
12. Amafam (5:24)
13. Nog Verder (2:12)
14. Nacht in Hannover (2:57)

Line-up / Musicians

- Pascale Son / vocals, oboe (9,10)
- Daniel Schell / guitar, Chapman Stick (12-14)
- Marc Hollander / organ, alto & soprano saxophones (4,7)
- Alain Goutier / bass
- Philippe Allaert / drums, percussion

- Nicolas Fiszman / guitar & bass (12-14)
- Charles Loos / organ & piano (1-3,5,8-11)
- François Cahen / piano (2)
- Marc Moulin / organ (6)
- Dick Bogaert / soprano flute, vocals
- Alain Pierre / sounds (6) - not confirmed

Releases information

Artwork: Marc Leonard (photo)

LP IBC ‎- 4B058-23794 (1978, Belgium)

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4550 (2010, France) Remastered by Oli Verschueren w/ 7 bonus Live tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy COS Babel Music

More places to buy COS music online

COS Babel ratings distribution

(55 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

COS Babel reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Third album from Cos and friends (which include Magma's François "Faton" Cahen, Charles Loos, Placebo's Marc Moulin, Pazop's Patrick Cogneaux and Dirk Bogaert from Waterloo & Pazop and others), and unfortunately a fairly rare album even if there is a reissue with Belle Antique. With the line-up remaining fairly constant, the album is also still sounding very much like the first two, even if Babel is driven by a funky bass, which can give a slight disco twist, but rest assured that this is only an impression, because the rhythms are still quite complex. The artwork is the group on Ostende's beachfront on the North Sea.

After a funky (a tad disco-ish) title track where Loos' piano reigns with Pascale Son's ever-marvellous scats, Good Wind is a much more reflective mood with Schell's guitars bouncing off Son's oboe on Cahen's keyboards. Obviously Cha Cha Cha is a dedicated track to the dance, but this is a very much an unusual almost cool-jazz version, which saves it (I am not a fan of the 20's music scenes) from complete disaster and the track gradually builds up to a very funky Caribbean end. This is almost the same Caribbean feel that dominates the start of Mein Maschine Is Schön (my machine is neat) where they manage to fuse Caribbean rhythms with the almost-grotesque Oktoberfest music from southern-Germany folklore. While interesting on a few listens, I must say that this track with its 8-min+ does overstay its welcome a bit.

The flipside starts with Sors Ton Petard (draw your gun or doobie) where Pascale Son's scatting over Goutier's funky bass are the features. Ostende is a short ambiance piece inspired by the city's beachfront with Placebo's Marc Moulin on organ, Schell's delicate guitar beddings and it ends gently on sea waves noises. The album ends on the lengthy Greeneldo, with Goutier's funky bass again leading, but Allearts' constant drum shifts and rolls make sure that the listeners stay alert (despite that disco-ish beat) and Son, Hollander and Schell are trading wind instrument licks over dreamy ethereal voices.

The Belle Antique label mini-Lp remaster comes with a bunch of bonus tracks, the first four coming from a '79 ballet recorded live in Antwerp where the group (same line-up as for Babel) provided some music that is quite Cos-esque and quite frankly fairly similar to Babel despite being a tad more experimental. Can't say that the recording is spotless, far from it (especially Pascale's ultra-high wailings), but the crescendoing Overture and the nearly RIO vocals of Considering A Movement are an exceptional addition to the original album, as are the very reedy Boehme and the great live version of the Babel album title track. The next three tracks come from a Cos Trio formula - with Schell and Allaerts and Fiszman on bass ? recorded live in 81 (so after the bad Chalet album's release), but if quite interesting (returning to a more experimental music), these are very different sounding (there is a Crimson edge to Viva Boma's Amafam and a Santana edge for Nog Verder live tracks) than the Babel album on which they sit on, thus it is harder to keep its new unity.

While Babel is still a very worthy album (despite the odd disco/funk beats), you can feel that the group is sort of freewheeling it, gliding effortlessly, surfing on their talents, just content to make good albums without over-reaching themselves. And good, Babel is certainly, but it doesn't present Viva Boma's greatness or bears the surprises that Postaeolian Train Robbery did. Still very worthy and now available with those bonus on the Belle Antique label.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Released in 1978 this is COS' third album. Some interesting guests including ZAO's Francois Cahen and PAZOP's Dick Bogaert among others. I like what Cesar Montesano had to say about this album. "Aptly titled, this album intercepts genres and melds them together cohesively with reckless abandon for the purpose of pure pleasure. What ends up being most prevelant in here is that many parts of the psyche are fed simultaneously". Pascale Son once again shines with her vocal prowess and those bands like MAGMA, CAN, HENRY COW, ZAO and SOFT MACHINE who inspired them can still be heard through their own unique style.

"Babel" opens with Pascale offering up some vocal expressions as male vocal melodies also come and go as the music builds. It kicks in at 1/2 minutes and we get some flute too. Love the guitar and vocal melodies together after 2 1/2 minutes. Piano then leads with some killer drum work. "Good Wind" is led by bass, guitar, flute and a beat early on then the guitar takes over. "Cha Cha Cha" has a light beat as sounds come and go including yelling.Vocal expressions from Pascale 1 1/2 minutes in including singing. Flute 2 1/2 minutes in then she's back. What a performance from Pascale as she even hits a double high F on here. "Mein Maschine Ist Schon" opens with light sounds and the mood is also light.Vocals join in at a minute. Farfisa organ takes the lead as the beat continues.Vocal melodies take over and lead. How good is this ! Sax before 7 minutes. "Sors Ton Petard Johnny (Get Your Gun Johnny)" is based on strong uneven rhythms. I like the piano and Pascale's vocals as she puts on a show. Catchy stuff and there is a Zeuhl flavour here.

"Oostend, Oostend" sounds amazing and I love the keyboards. Organ before 2 minutes followed by samples. Cool track. "Greeneldo" has a good beat as vocals join in. A toe tapper this one. Drums and organ to the fore after 3 minutes when the vocals stop.They're back 4 1/2 minutes in and they will come and go. Guitar 8 minutes in joins the relentless vocal melodies and drums. Keys then lead then sax is back before 10 1/2 minutes. Guitar too.Vocal melodies after 12 1/2 minutes as sax and drums continue.

While this may not be as good as their first two albums this is a very solid 4 stars record for me. I'm very proud to own this one.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Another fine album from Cos, again with the vocals of Pascale Son proving a particular treat. Once again, the album is firmly rooted in the Canterbury tradition, particularly in the use of voice as a musical instrument (reminiscent both of the work of Robert Wyatts and Hatfield and the North's Northettes). Driving, martial, almost zeuhlish rhythms creep in here and there and Daniel Schell's adept guitar work proves to be another highlight. There's not much to choose from between the first three Cos albums, to be honest - if you like one, you'll probably like the others just as much. A consistently entertaining listen.
Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Belgian act COS was formed in the early 70's, and for the just over 10 years they were active they released five full length productions that have secured them a place in the annals of European progressive rock. "Babel" from 1978 was the third of these productions and the last of what is generally considered as their best albums.

"Babel" is a CD that explores a style of music that is firmly based in jazz rock, at times liberally flavored with details most commonly found in disco music. But it's when the band depart from those shores and head into territories of a more challenging nature they appear to be most interesting just over 30 years later, when dramatic non-verbal lead vocals and occasional richly layered backing vocals combine on top of a tight fusion based instrumental backbone to result in a bright, optimistic variety of Zeuhl. First and foremost referencing the legendary French band Magma, but with a positive sheen and naive nature very much particular to Cos.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Positive reviews and good sales followed the release of ''Viva boma'' and in 1977 Daniel Schell begins to deep into diverse music styles such as Folk, Pop and Contemporary Classical Music.He had to face again though the departure of his drummer and keyboardist.Guy Lonneux was replaced by Phillipe Allaert, while Marc Hollander helped the band in just a couple of tracks for a third album, before skipping through the Avant-Rock scene, forming Aksak Maboul, while he also became a member of Art Bears.The album was finished with the help of Placebo's Marc Moulin on organ, François Faton Cahen and Julverne's/Abraxis' Charles Loos on piano with former Pazop and Abraxis Dirk Bogaert contributing on flutes and voices.The album ''Babel'' was recorded at Shiva Studios in Brussels during the summer of 1978 and released on IBC.

''Babel'' was the obvious choice for the album's title with Daniel Schell wanting to identify the band's new style, which contained different elements and flexible influences.The music is still very jazzy with a strong Canterbury tone, hence the band has added a few clever breaks with Classical, Pop and Folk tunes, producing dreamy and inventive jazzy Progressive Rock.To my ears Cos had reached their peak at this point.Pascale Son's voice is not only sensational, but his wordless lines have become something like an additional instrument, which is pretty exciting.The musicianship is challenging, ethereal, demanding and often very rich, while the band never abandoned the basic style presented in the previous works, but developed it even further with impressive keyboard parts and Classical interludes.The instrumental battles are usually great with marching rhythms based on jazzy/symphonic piano, sharp electric guitars and a flawless rhythm section, leading to Canterbury Fusion stylings with technical solos and complex drumming.Parts of the album contain even some funky beats, but these are also well absorbed within Cos' trully progressive music.''Greeneldo'' is one of the very good dreamy, instrumental Prog/Jazz Rock pieces of the time with Son's voice battling the sound of organ and piano and the music going from dramatic breaks to pleasant, jazzy grooves.

For me the starting point of Cos' discography.Canterbury-styled Prog Rock with passionate executions and solid compositions.One of the best of the era regarding the style, strongly recommended to say the least...3.5 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Quite a turn in stylistic choices for these Canterbury babies, a band that evolved with the times.

1. "Babel" (4:22) supreme COS playfulness over a disco beat. Intentionally making fun of the disco phenom or using it to gain listeners? Pianist Charles Loo and Pascale sure seem to be having a blast! (9.5/10)

2. "Good Wind" (3:16) starts out a little too slow and somnambulant for the listener to get excited about: you can't dance to it and you certainly can't jam to the guitar and piano solos. The bass player feels like he may fall asleep at any moment. (7.75/10)

3. "Cha Cha Cha" (4:00) again, Cos playing with a musical form: this time, cha cha. Was it adventure, boredom, or pure curiosity that drove them to do thus? Hopefully, they're having fun! (8/10)

4. "Mein Maschine Ist Schön" (8:34) close to a carnival/cabaret piece, Pascale sings in German in her inimitable way over the music. In the third minute all instruments but bass and percussion drop away while Pascale whisper sings. There follows an almost humorous guitar and organ duet over the bass and drums. Despite it's slow-build in volume and intensity over the second half, this song is, overall, a song of intimate subtlety and relaxed dexterity. Unfortunately, despite it's subtleties, it bears little draw for further study or review. (15/20)

5. "Sors Ton Pétard, Johnny" (4:30) another surprisingly sedate song, at least in its rhythmic foundation. There are some cool plays at odd tempos around the two minute mark and thereafter, and then the kazoos enter and take over. Ooops! those were two tracks of fuzzed up electric guitars! Interesting how the band has really become a piano-bass-drums-and-guitar combo (7.75/10)

6. "Oostend, Oostend" (2:55) very cool little chamber étude. (10/10)

7. "Greeneldo" (13:12) back to a disco beat for the rhythmic foundation, pleasant sustained organ chords provide the key support for Pascale to go off on one of her extended forays of vocal acrobatics. At the end of the fourth minute the reins get handed over to the percussionist and organist. In the fifth minute there is an unexpected choral bridge leading into a section of true Canterbury sound and more choral "hits." At 5:45 organ and Pascale team up again to explore, with more choral bridges. The first half of this is really awesome with a lot of STEELY DAN-ishness in it but an over-extended mid-section and tired and drawn out final two minutes make me feel as if the song should have been cut off after about seven minutes. (25.5/30)

Total Time: 40:49

Despite the strangeness of these compositions (the odd juxtapositions of musical styles upon and within each other), this is the best recorded and engineered of the Cos albums.

3.5 stars; a viable contribution to the lexicon of both Canterbury jazz fusion and progressive rock music but no masterpiece.

Latest members reviews

5 stars My favourtite COS album. Babel is the third album by COS, and I have to say this is their most experimental album as well. The bases for this album are completely Canterbury Scene, it has much similarities with some British bands from that sub-genre like Soft Machine, Soft Heap, Gilgamesh ... (read more)

Report this review (#2077746) | Posted by YourJefa | Thursday, November 22, 2018 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of COS "Babel"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.