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ESKIMO

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Eskimo biography
Eskimo were a bizarre, inventive and, for want of a less irritating term, "zany" collective of musicians, fronted by singer/percussionist Dave Cooper (who later spearheaded another eccentric and short-lived but less musically adventurous group by the name of Dropsy).

Their influences are clearly the likes of Zappa, Beefheart & the Magic Band, the Residents and other quirky US bands/musicians, but they also draw on many other styles and genres (though often in the form of absurd musical pastiches). In terms of sounds, the core of their music is characterised by Cooper's cartoony marimba/vibes, jazzy trombone, resonant, often funky basslines and crisp guitars. The group played a unique style of funky avant-garde comedy jazz that, whilst being an acquired taste, should appeal fans of Zappa, the Residents and other such pioneers of twisted and ridiculous music.

The band started life when Cooper, along with guitarist John Shiurba and trombonist Greg Walker were students at U. C. Berkeley in the late 80's. After numerable demo tapes the band recorded their first album, Jack, in 1990. Their second release, The Further Adventures of Der Shimpkin was released five years later, and finally the group recorded the soundtrack for a film Some Prefer Cake in 1998. They disbanded shortly afterwards.

In 2001, a brief reunion took place, but it bore little in the way of musical fruit, alas. Highly recommended to all Prog fans with a taste for the playful and absurd.

: : : David Beris Edwards (aka Trouserpress), United Kingdom : : :

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ESKIMO discography


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

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

3.00 | 2 ratings
Jack
1990
3.97 | 8 ratings
The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin
1995
3.00 | 1 ratings
Some Prefer Cake
1998

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

ESKIMO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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ESKIMO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Jack by ESKIMO album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Jack
Eskimo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Sub-genre: RIO/Avant-Prog (Solid fit)
For Fans of: Captain Beefheart, Estradasphere, Fringe "Indie" releases
Vocal Style: Borderline Tom Waits or Captain Beefheart style psychosis with occasional wailing. Second vocalist has a cleaner melancholy, mid-tone. Guest fem-vox.
Guitar Style: Clean electric, usually thin treble tones.
Keyboard Style: None
Percussion Style: Classic rock set, often busy symbols and funky shuffles. Marimba and vibes included in percussive repertoire
Bass Style: Picked with frequent funky slaps and jazzy walks
Other Instruments: Trombone, Strings and Reeds

Summary: Eskimo is one of those bands that is quite surprising to find that anybody outside of myself and those in close geographic proximity have ever heard of. Very obvious RIO sounds emanate from this small venue ensemble that reminds the listener of a more conventional version of Captain Beefheart. There is a complete absence of any hammering low bass or distorted guitar sounds. The playing is tight with a cartoonish melancholy dissonance. Themes range from Canine Etiquette, covering strange women in peanut butter, and the unpleasant descent into insanity with No Place. The highlight in this reviewer's opinion is the instrumental, loungy Mothra in Pupa Stage. A close second is What's His Name with its spoken word verses with such profoundly ambiguous proclamations as, "What's his name went to Spain and never came back". The recording quality, despite the relatively modern (1990) technology, is acceptable but very indicative of the bands budget. The band, none the less, has their heart in the performance.

Final Score: A worthy effort for a band with quite a limited budget. Most RIO fans will love this. The recording is thin. Good, but not essential. 3 stars.

 The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin by ESKIMO album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.97 | 8 ratings

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The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin
Eskimo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Bj-1
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Ladies & gentlemen, a treat for your ears if you love wacky, funky and complex music!

Eskimo is a zany group from the US that plays a weird but somewhat catchy style of music. They released three rather wacky releases during the 90's with this one being the easiest to find these days, which isn't saying much unfortunately. It's complex but fun to listen to, with bizarre lyrics heavily in the Zappa vein. The music bursts of influences from bands such as Beefheart, Doctor Nerve and Zappa especially. Mainly because of the well-arranged way they combine the humor and music together to produce a rewarding, entertaining and completely weird listening experience. Musicianship is extremely tight - with a heavy use of horn and percussive instruments that adds a very eclectic touch to the music without spoiling the humoristic elements. This album is obviously very intelligently put together both lyrically and musically. It's very silly, but very refreshing, rewarding and sophisticated at the same time, something that few artists have managed to do completely sucessfully.

To sum this album up, think the funkyness of Mr Bungle, the dominating horns of Doctor Nerve, the humoristic approach of Zappa and the complex melodies alÓ Beefheart and there you have it - one of the must fun and cool albums to listen to of the 90's. There is 24 tracks featured here, all ranging from five minutes to ten seconds but it's all good to great. My only true complain here is that the shortest tracks are completely separated from the other tracks and that ruins the album's flow a bit. But I can assure you that this album will not disappoint if you like those bands I have mentioned in this review. 4.5/5

 The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin by ESKIMO album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.97 | 8 ratings

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The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin
Eskimo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This strange combo is a quintet with a rare lead trombone as well as xylophone (and associated percussion instruments) as second lead. Musically this zany group is obviously influenced by Zappa, Beefheart, The Residents and other almost-burlesque avant-prog like Miriodor, X-legged Sally and even Alamaailman Vasarat.

24 tracks never giving you a moment of rest, but the album goes all over the place like a Zappa or Resident album, giving you a wide range of moods and variety, but loosing a bit a sense and direction. I for one failed (for once) to fall under the charm of such a record, and if the lead trombone is rather a fresh idea, but I must say that by now (I discovered this album a decade after its release), albums like this one come out in a very demonic rate, and it is likely to get lost in the sheer mass of release. But Shrimpkin really hold a bit of an edge on the competition, as it is often very catchy and fun, rather than the obtuse nature of most of the other avant-prog albums. A very eclectic hectic album, which will either drive you insane or cure you from your insanity, the middle ground not being an option in this case.

Clearly if you are a Zappa fan this is the kind of album you'll love this album (and most likely other Eskimo releases), and although hardly essential it does stand out as one of the better albums in the genre. Hence the fourth star.

 The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin by ESKIMO album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.97 | 8 ratings

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The Further Adventures Of Der Shrimpkin
Eskimo RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by The Hemulen
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Well, I've been banging on about these chaps for months now and I've finally gotten round to adding them so I suppose a review is in order.

This album (to date the only one I've heard by the group) is just irresistable. Often complex, endlessly quirky and inventive yet accessible enough to play to just about anyone on one condition: That they possess a sense of humour. For, ladies and gents, I can think of few artists other than the great Zappa himself who are quite as relentlessly silly, whimsical and playful in their approach to music than Eskimo.

Right from the off you know you're in for a pretty crazy time of it as the first song "Bones of the Saints" leaps from style to style at least five times in just over two minutes. From its quirky avant-prog opening strains through metal to tribal beats and nonsensical a capella lyrics, it's a positively bewildering opener. And it doesn't get much more predictable through the rest of the album, either.

Really, there's little point me attempting to describe the myriad of sounds and styles showcased on this album, save to say that Eskimo still manage to build up an impressively distinct character by instrumentation alone - the dominant trombone and marimba call to mind the Magic Band (particularly around about the Shiny Beast era) and basically nobody else. As I mentioned in my the biography page, most of the stylistic changes are borderline-pastiche rather than a serious attempt to fuse countless genres. However, the album is none the worse for this playful attitude towards composition.

It's hard to pick favourite songs as most of their tracks are quite short and they simply allow the album to ebb and flow from one idea to the next. It's both a fragmented and deeply unified piece of work. However, if I'm forced to, I'd say the borderline jazz-hop/patriotic pomp of "Bughead", the out-and-out avant-funk of "Dado Peru" and the silly, mystical and at times even unsettling "Kill the Great Raven" are all stand-out tracks.

In conclusion, if you're anything like me then the terms I've used to describe Eskimo (such as quirky, complex, bewildering, playful) will have already got you salivating at the mere thought of this album. If those words do nothing for you, stay well clear. You'd simply be wasting everybody's time.

Thanks to Joren for the artist addition.

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