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CUL DE SAC

Post Rock/Math rock • United States


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Cul De Sac biography
This Boston foursome offers a free-wheeling, neo-psychedelic sound that sits somewhere between PORCUPINE TREE and the experimental music of old avant-garde acts such as FAUST and FIFTY FOOT HOSE. A swirling miasma of novel ideas, electronic tweed lings and propulsive grooves, their music is delivered with unbridled urgency. It also has a very jagged feel and is not easily accessible. You could call it a combination of Krautrock, Middle-Eastern trance and folk, post-rock psychedelia and avant-garde. Their albums are basically all-instrumental and use the traditional keyboards, synths, guitars, violin, bass and drums, as well as some samplers and an assortment homemade contraptions, plus some weird noise makers such as a toy piano, a frog clicker, hisses, etc.

In addition to five studio albums, they have released a compilation of rehearsal jams ("I Don't Want to Go to Bed"), a live cd ("Immortality Lessons") and a soundtrack ("The Strangler's Wife"). Their most innovative work to date, and possibly their masterpiece, is the more fluent and elegant "China Gate" (1996). Its strong doses of jazz and world music induce both a convoluted and a hypnotic state of mind - the music really grows on you as you keep listening to it. However, this band is capable of just about any eccentricity, so your caution is advised when approaching any of their material. And that includes the sophisticated "China Gate".

Recommended strictly for the adventurous fan who likes highly experimental music. Fans of CAN, and to a lesser extent OZRIC TENTACLES, may want to check them out.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

Cul De Sac official website

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EcimEcim
Koch Entertainment D 1996
Audio CD$12.98
$1.75 (used)
I Don't Want to Go to BedI Don't Want to Go to Bed
Thirsty Ear 1997
Audio CD$21.66
$6.48 (used)
Crashes to Light, Minutes to Its FallCrashes to Light, Minutes to Its Fall
Thirsty Ear 1999
Audio CD$7.01
$1.31 (used)
Immortality LessonsImmortality Lessons
Strange Attractors 2002
Audio CD$7.94
$3.98 (used)
China GateChina Gate
Thirsty Ear 1996
Audio CD$9.80
$4.75 (used)
EcimEcim
Strange Attractors 2006
Audio CD$8.12
$3.70 (used)
AbhayamudraAbhayamudra
Strange Attractors 2004
Audio CD$12.69
$5.56 (used)
Strangler's WifeStrangler's Wife
Strange Attractors 2003
Audio CD$7.02
$2.47 (used)
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CUL DE SAC discography


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

CUL DE SAC top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.63 | 9 ratings
Ecim
1991
3.17 | 6 ratings
I Don't Want to Go to Bed
1995
3.08 | 6 ratings
China Gate
1996
3.04 | 4 ratings
The Epiphany of Glenn Jones (with John Fahey)
1997
4.20 | 5 ratings
Crashes to Light, Minutes to Its Fall
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Strangler's Wife
2003
3.04 | 5 ratings
Death of the Sun
2003
3.04 | 5 ratings
Abhayamudra (with Damo Suzuki)
2004

CUL DE SAC Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Immortality Lessons
2002

CUL DE SAC Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

CUL DE SAC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ecim by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.63 | 9 ratings

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Ecim
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

3 stars Going against the grain

I've often come across folks who adore the alluring stuttering trades of Can - searching high and low for something close - something illustrious and new in the same ballpark, and while Can always were unique and without any real successor, you'l certainly find a lot to like on this debut album by Cul de Sac, if you enjoy motorik laden grooves and small swirling guitar patterns that continue to colour those small spaces between the beats.

Cul de Sac are a Boston based act that disregarded all matters of fashionable trends set by the raggedy grunge hordes coming out of Seattle at the time. We're talking 1991 and bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nirvana and a truckload of others were enjoying their day in the sun. Literally sweeping across the world like a wildfire, grunge had taken a hold on teenagers - the way they dressed, acted and attended gigs - gigs that now entailed kids on top of each other or ecstatically bouncing into one another with brute primal force. Cul de Sac drew their inspiration from the same place as grunge actually, but whereas the latter focused on the easy digestible ear-candy of a guitar riff, the lads out of Boston looked overseas to the lands of mushy convoluted experiments - preferably coming out of Germany. The ritualistic dance music of Krautrock.

Today the music scene has nearly dissolved - blown up into a million fragmented pieces. Download culture and the everything goes attitude now prevails leading big business music labels to change their ways or lay down die and whither away, -and just like in fashion where designers now have opened up the floodgates to every style and trend from the preceding century, music now seems similarly shattered into tiny fragmented societies for then to be glued together like some sort of sonic Frankenstein. Sadly though this change has also turned everybody into a dedicated fan that 'likes' his/her stuff on Facebook and Twitters all over the place like some mental stork advertising post prog rock pop metal funk in higher altitudes and beyond. Luckily so this does also mean that styles and genres now are blending at a furious rate, and we need not look any further than here on our beloved site, where black metal bands have crept in the back door. Back in the 90s, this musical gang bang was only in it's pyjamas, and it was bands like Cul de Sac that pioneered these changes within the music scene.

The music here is a powerful blend of late 60s psychedelia and a German styled stuttering rhythm section that tjuh tjuhs it's way all down the line like a reliable steam engine. Sure the obvious nod to a band like Can is inevitable, but I hear just as much LA Düsseldorf in the rhythm section and the meaty incessant drive of things. A trade that a lot of the more 'skilled' punk bands sucked into their sound, and practically claimed as their own during a couple of tumultuous years, where it was okay to be experimental - as long as you didn't flaunt your skills or played a solo.

There are heaps upon heaps of underground bands today that owe their existence and sound to a band like Cul de Sac. The marriage of danceable snuffling beats and those psychedelic sways of surfer guitar is a quick way of satisfying even the most hardcore music critic, and indeed: there is something here for almost everyone into rock music. As this band continued to evolve, and even got to play with one of their biggest heroes in Damo Suzuki, their sound progressed naturally and brought with it a sense of maturity and a way of opening up to all the different ideas they had floating around in their young and naive heads anno 1991. As it is Ecim is still a very cool album that unassumingly leads you on your way into the colourful, stuttering and industrial psychedelia of Cul de Sac. 3.5 stars and highly recommended to fans of modern prog rock that doesn't necessarily sound like it.

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 Ecim by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.63 | 9 ratings

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Ecim
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Really interesting debut album of Bostonian band. Music is quite eclectic and not very usual for American band: mix of neo-psychedelic experimental rock, Krautrock rhythms,electronic loops and aesthetics and post-rock ambient sound and some characteristic guitars.

Songs all are very various and in separate compositions you can hear more Can-like influences, or freaky psychedelic vocals, acoustic guitars and post punk atmospheres. Besides of some aural post-rock external attributes, music by its nature is heavily psychedelic, usually down or mid tempo, with accent not on complexity or musicianship technique,but on hypnotic rhythms and krautish aesthetics.

There are too many fillers to name this album really great release, but in many moments its music really attracts by its freshness and some great post-punk atmosphere of late 70-s.

Really interesting debut of not very known band, could attract psychedelic prog and krautrock fans, hardly the release for post-rock lovers though.

My rating is 3+.

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 The Epiphany of Glenn Jones (with John Fahey) by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.04 | 4 ratings

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The Epiphany of Glenn Jones (with John Fahey)
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars Fisrt a note: Michael Bloom is not on this album. He dis not join the band until the next album. And yes, it is that Michael Bloom. Accomplished music writer (I have a great Trouser Press edition where he sat down with Frank Zappa), and called by Robert Fripp "clueless and slightly slack" in one of the King Crimson boxed set booklets (Bloom says that's a badge of honor).

Anyway. This is not a bad album. Not a great album either, but it's a pleasant listen. With John Fahey on board, this set sways back and forth between bluesy swamp folk acoustic guitar with ominous backing instruments and sounds, and all-out sonic experimentation. My favorite is the latter. As I said, it's not bad to listen to, but I wouldn't make this an everyday experience.

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 Ecim by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.63 | 9 ratings

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Ecim
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by chamberry
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars 4 stars for CAN fans.

Cul De Sac are a band with a clear influence from Krautrock specially the band Can. Right from the start of the album, "Death Kit Train", you know the band has its toes dipped in Can goodness. The influence can at times be a little too much, but really, it isn't a problem unless you know Can and do not enjoy them. For fans of Can this would be like their reincarnation in the 90's, but a tiny bit more varied.

Even though the band is in the post-rock genre, there aren't any characteristics from the genre that can be spotted. One of the reasons is that it's still 1992 which means that the whole post-rock boom didn't quite exploded yet and that they first started as a Krautrock inspired band and then, as time passed, they grew out of it and went into a more post-rock sounding band (this is solely biased on the two albums I own from them, "Ecim" and "Crashes to Light...").

Their sound is playful and energetic with repetitive pounding drums and bass lines. The guitar and keyboard add their playful and varied themes in their sound. In one song you're in the middle of the ocean and in the next you're listening to a theme song for ancient Egypt, so it has a good variety of themes. One of the songs that particularly stood out for me was "Song to the Siren" which is the only song that has vocals (yes, the album is instrumental although they sometimes babble, mumble, chant and other non-lyrical stuff), and what lovely vocals they are! It's quite emotional, but still staying away from being serious. We can't leave out their psychedelic sound. The keyboard player often makes trippy effects adding a nice touch to their sound and making the album more exciting, enjoyable and fun to listen to specially for fans of krautrock and psychedelic rock which is what this review is more directed at.

For Can fans this is definitely a worthy listen and you won't be disappointed with this album, the same goes for psychedelic fans.

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 China Gate by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.08 | 6 ratings

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China Gate
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!!

I am still looking for a CDS album to really reach a fourth star rating , and I had placed high hopes on this one based on recommendations. But alas , this is yet a very worthy album but it does not set my passions ablaze as all of what I have heard from them so far (5 albums) are interesting but nothing has come to punch my guts out and knock my breath away.

While there are some magnificent moments on this album (maybe some of the best CDS tracks ) , the album is rather uneven. What a difference between the cold and somber but impeccably presented climates of Sakhalin and the rough, disorderly and sloppy 11 min+ Fourth Eye. It Is a good thing that this "monster" track is wrapped around to much finer tracks as Hemispheric and Colomber. with the usual Can influences.

I will probably stop my endeavours/adventures at this album (that is all that is available at the local library) but can direct you at Immortality Lessons for the best introduction possible, although I dare say if you are a Krautrock fan, and love Can in particular , I think that you cannot go wrong on any CDS album , especially in their earlier discography.

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 Abhayamudra (with Damo Suzuki) by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.04 | 5 ratings

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Abhayamudra (with Damo Suzuki)
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars This must've been the absolute top dream for CDS members as they got to tour with some real Can member. As evident from the first album on , Can is THE influence on their music (Krautrock in general but Can is particular) and this must be their crowning achievement in their opinion.

But to the average proghead , this album is certainly interesting but by all means not a real must (start with the other live album Immortality Lessons) but a curiosity. Of all CDS album , this is the one that sounds the most Can-Cliché , (for obvious reasons since they tried to do little else than Can had done in honor of Mr. Suzuki) and the less CDS.

The six tracks on each disk are not given titles , as they were more jams or experiments that were chosen on tapes. So the tracks were given the names of the cities they played in and the number is probably the sequence number in the respective concert.

If you are a CAN , fan , this will either please you enormously or will put you in a complete unease since the mimetism they manage here with Damo is not only great but fearsome. I am a bit torn between those two extremes since I love Can but do not want to hear acetate Can even with Damo singing. But the results are impressive ....... See for yourselves!

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 Immortality Lessons by CUL DE SAC album cover Live, 2002
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Immortality Lessons
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
3 stars Almost a fourth star!!!!

This is a live album that was not supposed to be because CDS thought that everythinghad gone wrong, expected the results (tapes) to be real poor , but to their surprises , it turned out to be one of their best performances. You will not ear an audience either because only two friends showed up and this was done in an empty university hall foer during summertime.

As it turns out , I am also very charmed with this album for it happens to be my favorite album so far and their sound steers clear from their too evident Can influences present on albums so far: this went as far as touring with Damo Suzuki and releasing a double live album a bit embarrassingly tooooo Can-tainted called Abhayamudra. With this album , we are heading in much more ambiant mood somehow directed more towards postrock (GYBE! type) but still with that Can-CDS feel. Clearly a very striking and mysterious sound that the opening track , Dragonfly , Hagstrom and the beautyful closing track Blues In E (do not be fooled by the name!) are the highlights. The title track is yet unreleased in its studio form since they were nver happy with it. Only minor drwaback , the bizarre and out of place Liturgy with its arabic sounding mas's-like chants.

Although I have not heard every CDS album , this album is as good an introduction to them as you'll find, but it is more representative of their later works.

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 Ecim by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.63 | 9 ratings

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Ecim
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Ecim is Cul De Sac 's debut album and spells Mice backwards. As evident by listening to later albums CDS has been very influenced by Krautrock and more precisely Can. Right from the first track are those influences felt and they are not yet digested correctly since they are too evident and sometimes over-powering.

Highlights include Death Kit Train , Nico's Dream, Electar and Lauren's Blues with a slighly arabic sounding violin. Also worthy of note is Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren done very correctly (especially in the singing dept.) and more faithful to the original than Robert Plant's version (on his superb Dreamland album). On the downside of things Homononculus suffers from bad sound and there is horrible singing in Invisible Worm. Overall a good debut album holding many promise for the future.

Although I deeply respect Dieter's opinion , I can only advise him to listen to this album again because obviously something slipped by him and this album is much more worthy than his rating!

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 Death of the Sun by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.04 | 5 ratings

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Death of the Sun
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

This album is my first experience with CDS but if all albums are similar tothis one than this band should be classified under post rock! These guys hail from Boston, and develop a deep , very researched but sometimes lo-fi sound (on intent of course) and are similar in artistic goal as GYBE! but with much shorter tracks. This album is dedicated a.o. to Florian Fricke (Kraftwerk) and Michael Karoli (Can) and with every reason as there is definitely a lot of influence from both bands in the music , but very suggestively so.

To give an acurate description of the music is rather hard to do because all tracks have for base a non-musical recording heavily tampered with and accompanied with instruments. Apparently , this album was three years in the making (so they say) and they almost gave up many times. The more they distorted the basic recording with electronic effects , the more , they picked acoustic instruments to fill the tracks. The resulting tracks are actually quite enjoyable (so far as it has only been two weeks) but I wonder how they will stand the test of time both from this listeners but from the public point of view.

Bellevue Bridge is based on nature and traffic recording under a toll concrete and steel bridge but the pastoral mood is completed with superb ambiant instrumentation (violin and toy piano). Bamboo Rockets is taken after nature sounds in a Peruvian tropical forest and completed with a sitar..... and so on.

Certainly worth a spin if you are a post rock fan.

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 Ecim by CUL DE SAC album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.63 | 9 ratings

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Ecim
Cul De Sac Post Rock/Math rock

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

1 stars I was just curious to check out this band, because I never heard the name before. Okay now I know that it's absolutely not interesting for a prog-fan.I don't know how their other releases are, whether they have improved later on. But their debut is definitely boring. The same stupid grungy guitar riffing all over the whole record with some noisy electronic bits inbetween. Actually the music reminds me more to some post-punk or grunge type, one reference might be PIXIES, but even they did better stuff. As a summary if you're looking for interesting art rock, forget about this band.There are much better ones, like DJAM KARET for example. 1 star is really the maximum I can give!

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