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Canterbury Scene • Belgium

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Cos biography
Founded in Brussels, Belgium in 1974 - Disbanded in 1984

This band's career spans over five albums released between 1974 and 1984, but the band had its roots in Classroom, a group that was formed in the second half of the 60's.. Often referred to as the Belgian answer to ZAO, they offer a mixture of prog rock, jazz and Canterbury styles, drawing their influences mainly from MAGMA, KING CRIMSON, HATFIELD AND THE NORTH, and of course, ZAO. They are led by flautist/guitarist Daniel Schell and feature the unique vocals of his wife, Pascale Son, who uses nonsense syllables to suggest a semblance of language; she also plays the oboe. The rest of the regular cast included Robert Dartsch on drums, Alain Goutier on bass and Charles Loos on keyboards for their first album, released on the ultra-small Plus label with and red and yellow stripped artwork. The band went on to tour with Magma, Zao, Univers Zero and Placebo for the next year or so. In 76, they released their absolute masterpiece Viva Boma, which is a chef d'oeuvre of Canterbury-style of music.

Each of their following albums has its own sound: "Babel", emphasizes Pascale's vocals, but also features funk/disco beats; "Swiss Chalet" has a particular African feel, but develops a New Wave-ish sound as well; as for "Pasiones", it is a strange mixture of styles (Adrian Belew-era KING CRIMSON, Canterbury, operatic and Latin American). The band folded in the mid-80's after releasing the Hotel Atlantic EP

However, their strongest are their first two releases, "Postaeolian Train Robbery" (1974) and "Viva Boma" (1976) and until recently where the only ones available. They are a mixture of jazzy and surrealistic sounds with some off-beat, humorous twists.

If you like the idea of ZAO or MAGMA with a real goofy edge (in a different but similar slant then the Dutch group of SUPERSISTER), then these two albums are highly recommended.

: : : Lise (Hibou), CANADA and Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

See also: WiKi

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Musea 1978
Viva BomaViva Boma
Musea 1976
Swiss ChaletSwiss Chalet
Musea 1979
Postaeolian Train RobberyPostaeolian Train Robbery
Musea 1974
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Siccmade RitualsSiccmade Rituals
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Cos - Postaeolian Train Robbery - Wah Wah Records - LPS145, Wah Wah Records - LPS098Cos - Postaeolian Train Robbery - Wah Wah Records - LPS145, Wah Wah Records - LPS098
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COS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

COS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.24 | 103 ratings
Postaeolian Train Robbery
4.22 | 204 ratings
Viva Boma
3.73 | 50 ratings
2.48 | 18 ratings
Swiß Chalet
3.36 | 21 ratings

COS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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COS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

COS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Hotel Atlantic

COS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Swiß Chalet by COS album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.48 | 18 ratings

Swiß Chalet
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

3 stars Clearly not one of the best COS's albums. Well, this albun was released in the early eighties and they were obviously trying to get into the New Wave era, but this album has nothing to do with the first three albums.

The influence of bands of the New Wave era like Talking Heads, Joy Division, The Cure, The Clash, The Smiths or even Blondie is notorious, but there is nothing left of the classic Canterbury Scene sounds we can appretiate in "Babel".

Some sounds like Post Punk, Reggae at some moments, sometimes it reminds me even to some eighties pop groups like Huey Lewis and The News.

It has nothing to do with the first three albums by COS, but that does not suggest it is a bad album, it's just not in the Progressive Rock/Canterbury Scene line that someone would expect after listening to those albums.

Three stars

 Postaeolian Train Robbery by COS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 103 ratings

Postaeolian Train Robbery
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by Kingsnake

5 stars What a wonderful surprise. I never have heard of this band, nor did I realize there are Belgian progrockbands in the seventies. I absolutely adore this music. It has a jazzfusion, krautrock and a canterbury sound. The (wordless) vocals are perfect, and the instrumentation and production superb.

It is less sophisticated as Focus and Supersister but playful enough to keep me happy. The songs have great tempos and I cannot compare this music to anything I have heard before. Sometimes it has a kind of brazilian feel to it (maybe the vocals and flute).

Anyhow, great psychedelic canterburyesque progrock from Belgium that can please any fan of Focus, Supersister, Caravan and Kraan. Highly recommended!

 Babel by COS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.73 | 50 ratings

Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

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 or Matching Mole, but also it is very similar to some RIO and Zeuhl bands like Henry Cow, Magma or even Univers Zero. (I used this references in another COS review as well).

It is a very interesting experience, even there's a song that sounds like Disco Music, and still sounds proggy. Maybe this was their last Prog Rock album, because in the eighties they changed their sound a lot, so I guess this is a very fancy way to close their Prog discography.

If you like Canterbury Scene you will love this album, if you like RIO you will love this album and if you like Zeuhl you will love this album.

Five stars!

 Viva Boma by COS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.22 | 204 ratings

Viva Boma
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

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 an amazing masterpiece of Prog Rock.

If I compare "Viva boma" with "Postaeolian train robbery" and "Babel", this album is not that great like the other ones; even so, I do believe it's wonderful. The album gets interesting at some points but loses it at other moments, maybe a couple of songs more would have made it better.

Four stars.

 Postaeolian Train Robbery by COS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 103 ratings

Postaeolian Train Robbery
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by YourJefa

5 stars This is an extraordinary album! "Postaeolian train robbery" is one of the most interesting albums that I've ever heard. It goes from the Canterbury Scene classic sound to some weird fusion/acid Jazz and very strange and powerful riffs that make a very unique Prog Rock album. Pascale Son's voice is beautiful; reminds me to Gilli Smyth at some moments and Stella Vander in others.

I don't understand why is COS considered as a Canterbury Scene band: their sound is much more like the classic RIO/Avant-Prog music from bands like Samla Mammas Manna, Henry Cow or even Zeuhl bands like Magma or Zao. The drums and the bass are very disciplined in some moments but also it has very free lines. This album is a whole piece of art, amazing from the start until the end.

Complex album, but very enjoyable; this is one of those albums that make Prog Rock so interesting.

Five stars!!

 Postaeolian Train Robbery by COS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 103 ratings

Postaeolian Train Robbery
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars This superb debut album of COS can be called as one of important landmarks upon the Belgian Canterbury Scene. Pascale's colourful, delightful voices supported upon the sound grandeur created by other musicians of genius give us an invitation to an enjoyable madness party, and (not many reviewers can have a positive appreciation for their roots though) also the last four "old" songs exert energetic melody magnification. Very interesting their roots "The CLASSROOM" had already had definite fantasia, and the fantasia might have anticipated the new era named COS I imagine.

A reflective combination of Daniel's loud and pleasant flute vibes and Charles' quiet piano stardusts, following to an ill-matched introduction phrase, is obviously simple but remarkably powerful like Soft Machine, the vanguard in Canterbury Scene. And for me some acidity can be heard via the atmosphere under their freaky sound circumstance. Pascale sings as if she would read poetry, cry upon a curtain call, or chuckle like a cute kid ... actually her voices are not only theatrical but also charismatic. Jaunty and springy steps produced by the rhythm party (Robert, Steve, and Alain) should tighten and strengthen their quirky melody lines, which form the sound basis.

It's quite impressive and immersive they have created such an originality via intensive simplicity (a good example is Melanie's "Brand New Key" if I'm correct). So let me say one of my favourite tracks is the last "L'Admirable Amas Cellulaire Orange" almost only with Pascale's pretty voices and xylophone footsteps. Simple is great indeed.

 Babel by COS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.73 | 50 ratings

Cos Canterbury Scene

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.

 Viva Boma by COS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.22 | 204 ratings

Viva Boma
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator 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.

 Viva Boma by COS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.22 | 204 ratings

Viva Boma
Cos Canterbury Scene

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.

 Postaeolian Train Robbery by COS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.24 | 103 ratings

Postaeolian Train Robbery
Cos Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars AS I was completing my post for ATOMICRIMSONRUSH's "Best of Sub-genres" list I realized that I've been remiss in posting a review for this, my favorite Canterbury album of all-time. I do have to admit that I've only known of COS for the past year or so, and that the CD version I have of Postaeolian Train Robbery contains the four CLASSROOM songs that pre-date the official formation of COS, AND that those four songs definitely add to the power of PTR, IMO. Were I to rate this album based solely on the six songs that came on the original vinyl I might not be so keen to proclaim this the best or my favorite Canterbury album.

1. "Postaeolian Train Robbery" (4:14) is a perfect introduction of the band (though why Pascale's voice is mixed so far in the background I'm not sure). (9/10)

2. "Cocalnut" (7:20) showcases the amazing talents of keyboardist, Charles Loos, as well as the incredible voice of Pascale Son. Also, the fast pace allows the rhythm section to show off their tightness. (9/10)

3. "Amafam" ((8:24)) starts off showing off the talents of drummer Robert Dartsch. Then flutist Daniel Schell and Pascale share lead melody scats--which then amazingly transfer to that of Pascale mimicking/duelling with percussionist Steve Leduc. She is amazing! Reminds me of the Indian raga voice scats on SHAKTI's albums. Unfortunately, the drums and bass are relegated to a very repetitive two-note/two chord rhythm so that the others can solo-- including a rather long one by the electric keyboards. Poor bass player! The final minute allows the drummer to go out just as he came in: showing off. Amazing talent. Not the greatest song. (7/10)

4. "Populi" (3:31) begins with a bouncy clavinet (?) before the band and Pascale join in--this time with actual lyrics! (For a while!) Flutist Daniel Schell takes a turn on electric guitar as Pascal's amazing chicken-like scatting bridges solos from guitar, electric piano, and bass. (8/10)

5. "Halucal" (3:51) uses a flute's arpeggios to establish a kind of standard jazz chord progression! The band joins in with wonderful bass, keys, and drums throughout. Keyboard work reminds me of CHICK COREA. Bass player Alain Goutier is really allowed to strut his stuff on this one. (8/10)

6. "Coloc" (9:44) begins with a piano and a background laugh from Pascale. Then the piano takes over (with a little support from the drummer's cymbol play and, later, chorded bass play). Again I am reminded of CHICK COREA here--The Mad Hatter suite (which came later, in 1978). Then at 2:20 Pascale takes over. Wordless vocal acrobatics with one of the nimblest, jazziest voices I've ever heard. Her "instrument," in fact, is probably more expressive and versatile than 99% of the jazz instruments I've ever heard (including that of famed jazz vocalist BOBBY McFERRIN). Daniel Schell performs a few admirable somewhat JOHN McLAUGHLIN-like soli, though his mastery of both finger speed and the volume pedal is in the future. (8/10)

Again, were I rating this album on these first six songs alone, I would not put it so high. But, let's continue.

7. CLASSROOM's "La partie (d'Echecs)" (2:39) is breathtaking, stunning, stupefying. It defies all previous conceptions for possibilities of the human voice in song. Her precision with pronounciation is unbelievable. And this one has lyrics. Throughout! One of the most amazing songs I've ever heard. Ever. (10/10)

8. CLASSROOM's "Sur deux" (4:32) showcases a four piece instrumental jazz combo in which xylophone and guitar work with and off of one another and a very fast-moving bass gets a vast amount of show-time. No Pascale. A very good lounge jazz song with some very nice melodies. (9/10)

9. "Achille" (10:05) starts out displaying a tenderer side of the band--of Pascal. Long sustained notes replace the speed we're becoming used to. But as the one minute mark approaches the band kicks into a kind of BURT BACHARACH Latin-influenced rhythm and structure. Before the end of the second minute things slow down and most instrumental support drops out while Pascale stretches out a little. Then around 2:20 the band reintegrates into a fairly conssitent groove for over a minute while Pascale sings. At 3:40 everybody breaks but Pascale and the drummer. The two play, he with his toms and cymbols while Pascale plays with Achille's name and, a little later, a particular sentence, "Où est la fin de cette forêt?" The guitar solo in the ninth minute is the song's only weak spot--though it is not bad for a more traditional European jazz guitar solo. A very entertaining and yet surprisingly serious song. More like an exercise with time, form and structure. And a test to see if Pascale can keep up with . . . anybody! (9/10)

10. "L'admirable amas cellulaire orangé" (2:13) employs the same four-piece jazz combo to support another masterful performance by Pascale. She is a veritable wonder of musicality. (10/10)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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