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RIO/Avant-Prog • Belgium

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Daniel Schell & Karo picture
Daniel Schell & Karo biography
After the demise of Belgian fusion/Canterbury group Cos, its leader Daniel Schell took a couple years to reform a new group but he changed direction wanted a more acoustic and third world sound. From his love of the early 80's KING CRIMSON 5this was quite obvious in the later Cos album such as Pasiones) he had learned to play the Chapman stick (which bassist Tony Levin was the first one to play to a wider audience). He had recorded a duo album with Brussels-based Dutch singer (but French-singing Dick Annegarn), but was determined to do something quite different than previously.

In 86, his album If Window They Have moved somewhere between JULVERNE's classical "prog" music and UNIVERS ZERO's more acoustic music and OREGON's unique folk-jazz fusion - although one can still detect a few Fripp-Levin influence, the music has nothing to do with KING CRIMSON anymore.

By 90 his second album The Secret Of Blwch, had been recorded - including a more permanent line-up (including buddy of mine Pierre Narcisse on tabla drums UNIVERS Zero's Dirk Descheemaeker on winds and ex-Magma Manderlier on keys) - and is one of the best example of the Belgian chamber prog scene. The third Gira Girasole is still in the same mode, but the mood is even more jumpy/happy but the synths are more present. Since the mid-90's no new recording from this line-up , but the first two albums are certainly the best kept musical secret from Belgium.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::

Why this artist must be listed in :
Daniel Schell was the leader of COS and Karo is a typical Belgian prog chamber group

- If Windows They Have - 1986
- The Secret of Blwch - 1990
- Gira Girasole - 1994

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Gira Girasole/Tourne TournesGira Girasole/Tourne Tournes
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Daniel Schell & Karo: If Windows They Have [CD]Daniel Schell & Karo: If Windows They Have [CD]
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DANIEL SCHELL & KARO discography

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DANIEL SCHELL & KARO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 3 ratings
If Windows They have
3.96 | 4 ratings
The Secret Of Blwch
3.09 | 3 ratings
Gira Girasole

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gira Girasole by SCHELL & KARO, DANIEL album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.09 | 3 ratings

Gira Girasole
Daniel Schell & Karo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Last album to date, Gira Girasole is yet another good album, but the tendency is to give the synths more and to reach ever wider in the cultural roots of European music, but the artistic approach is sometimes a bit hollow because it sounds rather forced. I must say that I would much rather like those ever-present synths to be replaced by acoustic instruments, mostly because that by 94, the sounds used were dating clearly from 80's synth sounds, which any progheads will agree was not the best generation. While there are some interesting tracks, such as the Spanish-sounding Francesca and the Eastern-inspired are more than interesting, but the whole thing seems to reach a certain level, but always content avoiding to surpass itself. And Schell's Chapman stick is hardly noticeable anymore.

If I can advise to start with any of the other two albums and delve into this one only if you are fully convinced by the others.

 The Secret Of Blwch by SCHELL & KARO, DANIEL album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.96 | 4 ratings

The Secret Of Blwch
Daniel Schell & Karo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This second album is well in the musical alignment of its predecessor (that means pompously that it sounds a bit like the one before it;-) although with a slight Tango twist (this means that you could dance with your grandma to this album) with some flabbergasting meanders towards more modern classics (this meaning that your jaw drops to the floor and your ears melt and your mind orgasms)

The album's centrepiece is clearly written for century to come is the 8 min+ Soit Ilot with Haut-Voltige choirs. Of course in such an Oeuvre (yessssss!!!!! With a capital if you please ;-), we are not listening to rock anymore, but never mind those details, every symphonic rock will simply love this stuff. A little weirder are the next two tracks with their Asian feels not successfully translated to synthesisers, but Le Voyageur clearly brings back the splendid atmospheres to fall on the other major work: the BLWCH mini-suite cut into four distinct movements - these guys take Univers Zero's music yet another step towards perfection. The last two tracks being strictly classical and rather downplaying the excitement built-up just before.

Relatively uneven, this is one of those albums that could give your musical adventures a real twist and not necessarily the way you would expect it.

 If Windows They have by SCHELL & KARO, DANIEL album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.91 | 3 ratings

If Windows They have
Daniel Schell & Karo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This debut album really sets the tone for the rest of the albums to come. Somehow picking up on the mode of music Oregon and Julverne, this amazing record was quite unique back then (even if by today's standards they sound somehow a bit common) and they were at the forefront of Continental Europe's experimental music (all acoustic except for Manderlier's synths) - listen to the weird Bijna Zomer En Ik Loop mixing continuous loop with classical music (layered by Chapman stick arpeggios) or the succeeding Listen To The Short Waves where didgeridoos accompany cellos and the clarinet. But to me, on this album, nothing surpasses 3 Moustiquaires (a pun on the Three Musqueteers) with Narcisse's superb percussions leading the way to repetitititititive heaven. The "Clou Du Spectacle" is definitely the 14 min+ Tapi La Nuit which take its time to develop and meander through your ears filling them with haunting melodies. The whole thing being ended with the superb final number Logs with some astounding cellos - synth drones underlined by some out of this world wooden blocks percussions, grandiose.

All the tracks being composed by leader Daniel Schell (except one co-written by Cos vocalist Pascale Son), this album is a thousand miles away from any Cos album, but somehow it is very much exactly what you would expect from him. Much more than a curiosity, this album is simply a delightful discovery of what Belgian prog chamber can bring you.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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