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YUGEN

RIO/Avant-Prog • Italy


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Yugen biography
Yugen
This band/project originating from Italy features a very promising and international lineup in its debut cd. It was conceived in autumn 2004 by Francesco Zago (formerly of The Night Watch) and Marcello Marinone who wanted to create a band which will play combine RIO and chamber music. As influences they state the following: "Satie, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Cage, Reich, Zappa, Henry Cow, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Univers Zero".

The name chosen for this group is Yugen which is a Japanese word "which expresses the aesthetic canon of japanese art, as haiku in poetry or Noh in theatre".

Between December 2004 and January 2005 they record their first demo. Diego Donadio (former drummer of The Night Watch), is drummer in this recording. In February 2005 the lineup is reinforced in the shape of keyboard player Paolo Botta (French TV) and Swiss saxophone player Markus Stauss (Spaltklang, Ulterior Lux) when they have a jam session in Tradate. Another expansion is the joining in of bassist Stephan Brunner (Spaltklang), and reed player Peter Schmid (Evan Parker, Vinny Golia).

As Zago composes more music the band wants to fully express their potential by adding more musicians who will help create a final outcome befitting the aim. It is then that these people join in: percussionist Massimo Mazza, harpsichord player Giuseppe Olivini (OZ, Contrapplugged), the classical players Maurizio Fasoli (piano), Elia Mariani (violin) and Marco Sorge (clarinets). Finally arrive drummer Mattia Signò, Tommaso Leddi (Stormy Six) and U.S. drummer Dave Kerman (Thinking Plague, 5uu's, Present, Ahvak Blast).

In June 2005 they start recording their first album entitled Labirinto d'Acqua and the album is released in 2006. The album was mixed and mastered by Udi Koomran (Avhak, Present, Thinking Plague).

The record is instrumental, and while you can trace the chamber rock sound similar to Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, it has a fresh modern and rockier sound. Since there are several different backgrounds here in the lineup (Zago is symphonic oriented, Kerman and Leddi are RIO people and other players are classically trained) we get a mix of everything, and the result is compelling. You can hear some 5UU's, Thinking Plague and Ahvak similarities, dynamic chamber rock, chamber music, mellow and ponderous parts, some "symphonic prog" parts (there is a mellotron and minimoog), quickly changing rhythms and unusual time signatures, layers of instruments p...
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Death By WaterDeath By Water
Import
BELLE ANTIQUE 2016
Audio CD$19.99
Labirinto D'AcquaLabirinto D'Acqua
Import
Phantom Sound & Vision 2008
Audio CD$19.99
IriduleIridule
MARQUEE
Audio CD$19.99
Plays Leddi - Uova FataliPlays Leddi - Uova Fatali
Audio CD$19.99
$37.99 (used)
MIRRORSMIRRORS
MARQUEE
Audio CD$24.99
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YUGEN discography


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

3.86 | 55 ratings
Labirinto d'Acqua
2006
3.25 | 20 ratings
Yugen Plays Leddi - Uova Fatali
2008
3.96 | 108 ratings
Iridule
2010
3.97 | 90 ratings
Death By Water
2016

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

3.20 | 5 ratings
Mirrors
2012

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

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

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

YUGEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Death By Water by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 90 ratings

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Death By Water
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars After a six year long wait the avant-prog collective YUGEN led by the professor of complexity Francesco Zago, at long last release their anticipated followup to "Iridule" with all those avant-prog gymnastics that have become expected of them. Despite having formed all the way back in 2004 in Milan, Italy, they have been quite conservative and are now only on their fourth album. DEATH BY WATER does an excellent job at not only delivering all that complex progressive rock meets chamber rock yumminess but cements their position as one of the most celebrated outfits in the esoteric realms of what has become known as brutal prog, which is the type of progressive rock that is absolutely unapologetic and relentless in its pursuit to create the most convoluted and bizarre roads to the promised land. If Occam's razor is the principle of reaching a goal by the paths of least resistance, then YUGEN has stubbornly taken the road that bifurcates and twists and turns through unforeseen complications only to arrive at the same conclusion, but a more interesting journey indeed. While this sort of avant-prog can test even the most hardcore prog rock lovers, YUGEN is one of those rare acts that has found the perfect way to balance their intense and demanding musical visions with an underlying swing and avant-groove that keeps the whole thing from collapsing. Therefore this is not complexity for complexity's sake but rather controlled chaos with tension so thick that you could suffocate an entire urban center.

YUGEN waste no time cutting to the chase. Upon the very first millisecond of the opener "Cinically Correct" the sonic frenzy slaps you in the face with each instrument existing in their own universe and somehow coordinating their whereabouts in the musical spectrum as to arrive in bizarre syncopation so interspersed in frenetic time sigs that you will be going WHOAH! There's music where there should be silence and silence where there should be music! And all in strange time sigs that change at super challenging speeds in perfect unison. Pianos, guitars, woodwinds and brass all dance around as if a voodoo ritual that had been crashed by zombies with chainsaws and all the rules had suddenly collapsed in a heap of fight or flight response. My impressions are immediately that this indeed channels the spirit of Zappa but takes it further and enters Mr Bungle territory only in a more disciplined way. I hear all kinds of references to the avant-jazz snippets from the first Mr Bungle album where jazzy chaos swirls around like an imploding gas line and the guitar and glockenspiels reminds me a lot of "Platypus" from the Disco Volante album. Also reminding me of the very same album is the crazy scatted female vocals that pop in randomly when least expected. Perhaps it even reminds me a bit of the first Steve Vai album "Flexible" and YUGEN makes me think that this is what Vai would have sounded like had he continued his virtuosic development more into the realms of avant-prog a la Zappa rather than down the metal shredder path as the virtuosity is stunning.

While much of the album is instrumental and where the magic lies for the most part with one cartoonish musical frolicking session after another with a rotisserie of no less than 17 musicians leapfrogging over each other while playing Twister, there are a few vocal surprises on here as well. While the instrument parts range from chaotically frenetic ("Cinically Correct" being the most explosive), others have more of a spacey and post-rock type of feel such as the title track. The three vocal tracks starkly contrast with the frenetic instrumental pieces and are all quite different from one another. "As It Was" doesn't sound anything like the rest of the album as it takes on a more Maudlin Of The Well type of spacey post-rock and reminds me very much of Toby Driver's projects but not quite reaching his level of otherworldliness. "Der Schnee" is the best of the vocal tracks and delivers a very Nico meets Björk type of feel. Nico in the spacey surreal music department but sounds like an operatic version of Björk as the singer can venture into post-punk mode and then leap to high diva notes that could shatter glass. The final closer "A House" is a surprisingly uneventful folk song that only lasts over a minute but seems totally out of place.

Overall YUGEN have released yet another top notch assemblage of complex art rock that only THEY could unleash with the precision timed complexity that weaves the web of progressiveness that purple proggy dreams are made of! The instrumental pieces on this one are magnificent and vary greatly with some providing staccato attacks, some over the top metal leaning distortionfests and others simply using melancholy and atmospheric manipulation to create startling emotional contrasts. If not for the vocal tracks i would find this to be a masterpiece of extreme experimental music but unfortunately two of the vocal tracks just don't work for me. As stated "As It Was" brings Toby Driver's project too much to mind and the closer just sounds like a rather mediocre indie folk song with nothing much to add. I can understand the intent of adding these as i'm sure they are meant to pacify the riled listener after such brutal prog attacks on the senses and i'm not even against the idea of such. I simply find that YUGEN doesn't come close to pulling off these avant-ballads in an original way like they have with their choppier outstanding instrumental assaults. Still though, despite these quips, this is one of my absolute favorite prog releases of 2016. For the most part, uncompromising prog that still manages to keep an inner groove that keeps it all intact. Bravissimo!

4.5 rounded down

 Death By Water by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 90 ratings

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Death By Water
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by steelyhead

4 stars Magnificent! There, I wrote It. That's the only word that capture what is hidden inside one of the best recordings in 2016, and boy, this was a good year for prog. Whenever i hear RIO/Avant Prog I run because most of the time the music is just plain boring and repetitive but, here is just plain beautiful and original rich in sounds, textures and colour and the vocals are one of the fine points here. There is no filler material here, every single one of the songs just feel necessary so if I have to choose a favorite one It would be hard but, if You must know I find the haunting "Der Schnee" a masterpiece. One of the must to purchase this year.
 Death By Water by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 90 ratings

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Death By Water
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Yugen is an Italian R.I.O/Avant-garde chamber prog collective formed back in 2004 who cite Henry Cow, Univers Zero, Frank Zappa and Thinking Plague among others as initial influences, with a large ensemble of players present on their latest recording `Death by Water', arriving four years after their intense and defining live instrumental recording `Mirrors' in 2012. The current line-up boasts the participation of musicians and singers from a diverse range of (mostly experimental) Italian projects such as Nichelodeon, Not a Good Sign, Ske, Homunculus Res and Gran Turismo Veloce, even French group Loomings and Greek band Ciccada, and it not only contains all the maddening, splintering musical spasms that race about in endless directions of their past works, but a few welcome thoughtful and moody unhurried ruminations to break up the frantic energy.

From the opening seconds, Yugen founder, composer and guitarist Francesco Zago (a complete universe away from the I.Q/Genesis-modelled Night Watch band that he initially played in long ago, although the album is hardly guitar-dominated) and his musical friends tear into the schizophrenic `Clinically Correct', a grinding and playfully malevolent noisy f*ck-snap explosion that sounds like a bomb going off, but it's also deliciously and completely delirious! It's a storm of violent guitar splinters, pounding drums, manic vibraphone, unravelling synth spirals, Zeuhl-ish bass grumbles, creeping sax, twitching female vocal ticks and skittering programming, with every musician offering demented little fills throughout this addictive free- form mental disintegration! The nightmarish and gleefully wicked `As-Matter-Of-Death' somehow lurches into fleeting dirty grooves amongst deranged operatic trills, shadowy gothic piano doom, crashing percussion stabs, wild drum tantrums and a lengthy dark-ambient drone in the second half that all together sounds like the Devil's symphony, but the aggressive senses- shredding female vocal convulsions of `Der Schnee' are likely to engage and enrage in equal measure!

There's also several little interlude pieces that run from 1-2 minutes - `Undermurmur' is a breakdown of infernal tinkling piano, pumping horns and runaway synth ripples, the brief but snarling `Ten Years After' comes the closest to a heavy metal blast, `Studio #9' is loopy and psychedelic jazzy playfulness, sure enough `Drum N' Stick' is a Chapman stick and drum musing over droning soundscapes, and `A House' is a fragile reflective acoustic ballad to close the disc in a gently melancholic manner.

Yet for all the musical multiple-personalities leaping about, it's the pieces that are more focused and slowly build a careful atmosphere that deliver some of the most striking moments, such as `As It Was', a pristine piano and plaintive vocal reflection with a searing Mellotron rise. But perhaps best of all is the sumptuous title track, grand and deeply emotional with Post Rock echoes, a melancholic instrumental of tense acoustic chiming and reaching early Pink Floyd weeping guitar strains over haunting piano and subtle percussion that grows and falls back and forth with restrained power.

The musically discordant, impeccably-performed experimentation of `Death by Water' will ensure it's another divisive release as always for Yugen. If your preferred idea of Italian progressive music only extends to the melodic RPI groups that perform in a theatrical and symphonic manner such as Le Orme, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and P.F.M, then it might be wise to avoid this disc. But if your brain is wired in a way that responds to the challenging, genre-shattering music of groups from that country like Area, Stormy Six and the works of Claudio Milano, `Death by Water' is waiting to destroy and test your understanding of the term `progressive music', and it's an essential purchase for the R.I.O/Avant crowd and lovers of demanding and ambitious music.

Four stars.

 Death By Water by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 90 ratings

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Death By Water
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Nogbad_The_Bad
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

5 stars Yugen's return in 2016 is very welcome given the extended gap from their outstanding masterpiece Iridule from 2010. I had worries that Francesco Zago's baby was on permanent hiatus given the large number of side projects he has been working on over the intervening years, Zauss, Not A Good Sign, & Spaltklang. As with previous efforts this is not an album for the faint hearted. Some of the music is extremely angular & dissonant with turn on a dime acrobatics while focusing on instrument interplay rather than individual melodies. There are also many more relaxed serene tracks that more heavily rely on Paolo Botta's keyboards. The balance between this dark heavy angular music and the more traditional Italian keyboard lead beauty can be quit jarring but that is part of the dynamic energy of the album. Extremely good
 Death By Water by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 90 ratings

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Death By Water
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yugen assemble a small avant-prog army to unleash Death By Water, a journey that takes the listener through pulsating rhythms echoing from the borderlands of Zeuhl, unexpected moments of ambient placidity, and the occasional gentle folk guitar moment and visits yet further diverse territories in between. A particular treat is Der Schnee, on which Dalila Kayros' vocal performance puts the listener in mind of such voice-as-instrument works as can be found in the output of the Cocteau Twins or Bjork, and couples this with some of the most beautiful instrumental playing the album has to offer.

Avant-prog groups can sometimes get too caught up in the technicality and experimentalism of what they are doing, forgetting along the way to invest their compositions with emotional resonance. This isn't the case here, where Yugen offer an emotional journey just as intricate as their technical execution.

 Death By Water by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 90 ratings

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Death By Water
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars Francesco Zago's avant baby puts together another amazing collection of experimental/exploratory songs-- their first studio album since 2010's wonderful masterpiece, Iridule. Percussionists and a percussion-mindset seem to rule the day with YUGEN work, and Death by Water is no exception. The ubiquitous JACOPO COSTA (NOT A GOOD SIGN, THE LOOMINGS) and Giuseppe A. OLIVINI practically steal the show--though the wind section, piano of Marcus FASOLI (NICHELODEON, NOT A GOOD SIGN, EMPTY DAYS), and rhythm section of Stefano FERRIAN on 8-strings guitar & Chapman stick, Francesco Zago on electric & acoustic guitars, Alessandro CASSANI on electric bass and Matteo LORITO on double bass are the glue that hold it all together.

1. "Cinically Correct" (7:48) This song, from its opening notes, makes me laugh. It is pure Yugen as only Yugen does it. Each musician contributes their individual lines as if to a conversation, a heated debate, a street brawl. Even the 'heavier' stuff that begins at 1:13 serve to move the development of the song along quite nicely. A relatively calm and predictable electric piano based section of about 90 seconds occurs in the third and fourth minutes, but then Dalila KAYROS begins to spit out rapid fire some odd vocal ejaculations (in Japanese?) Wow! That was unexpected! At 5:04 Dalila and Paolo "Ske" BOTTA team up to create a freaky space melody using voice and synthesizer, respectively! Awesome. More! The 'alien' conversation that occurs soon after is so funny--coupled with Dalila's machine gun spray of Japanese-sounding syllables. This is amazing! So creative! I don't know how these guys could/would ever replicate this in concert--it's seems so free form and diverse! They throw every thing at you but the kitchen sink! The final minute or two fall under the sway of the heavier rhythm section while all of the incidentalists throw in their epithets over, under, and in between the flow of the rhythmists. (9/10)

2. "Undermurmur" (1:31) is a jazzy excursion in which playful piano, double bass and drum interact before horn hits and synth whizzes are added to the mix. Fun. A song that could be developed further. (9/10)

3. "Death by Water" (5:06) is an awesome jazz fusion exhibition--like a PAUL WERTICO-led PAT METHENY GROUP song. I don't which drummer is working this song, Michele Salgarello or Carmelo Miceli, but they do an incredible job with the cymbal play. (10/10)

4. "Ten Years After" (1:12) (8/10) is a brief foray into djenty-heavy metal territory that gradually fades into:

5. "As It Was" (4:58) one of the two showcase pieces for the always precious Fancesco ZAGO-Elaine Di FALCO collaborations. I do think, however, that Elaine's voice is mixed just a little too loudly into the mix on this song. Her sonorous meanderings are a little too dominant, making it sound as if she is above or separate from the band and music. I'd like to hear this song in which her vocal line is mixed in, embedded within, the beautiful, intricately rendered, musical weave. It's still a great song--with an odd vocal melody that stays with you for days. It just . . . could be better! (9/10)

6. "Studio 9" (2:36) is an odd little jazzy piece that sounds like a warmup exercise for a big band lineup from a 1960s jazz combo--or a Broadway pit orchestra warming up at the end of intermission. Fun and funny, loose and impromptu. (9/10)

7. "As a Matter of Breath" (9:27) uses the more familiar YUGEN style of experimental jazz "un-forms." Though the drummer keeps a fairly steady rock backbeat for the rest of the instrumental dancers to tip-toe and riff and play over, the song is never what you would call 'danceable' as in social club dancing. These are for professionals! Piano--both grand and toy--have a grand time playing with time and interjection as does synthesizer, while horns play some of the more straightforward riffs--repeatedly. After a choir 'hit' at 5:26, the song takes a turn into a more eerie ambient or soundtrack of the macabre section. At times feeling as if the A Trick of the Tail GENESIS lineup were ready to burst out into the finale of "Los Endos," this song plays out with tremendous pent-up energy, waiting to burst forth, but then, instead, peters out and fades. Weird. But brilliant! (9/10)

8. "Drum'n'stick" (2:12) is little drum and Chapman stick duet with all kinds of ghostly spacey sounds parading around in the wings. Really quite cool! (9/10)

9. "Der Schnee" (6:05) is the album's real oddity in that vocalist Dalila KAYROS intersperses the music with all kinds of abrasive and aggressive vocalizations much like a combination of BJÖRK, NINA HAGEN and fellow AltrOck stablemate FACTOR BURZACO's lead singer, Carolina RESTUCCIA. The song opens with an eerie space synth weave over which lower register brass play long notes. Dalila begins throwing her voice around in the second minute. The final 90 seconds are quite ambient, even peaceful--in a 2001: A Space Odyssey-kind of way. Interesting--to say the least! (8/10)

10. "A House" (1:25) opens with acoustic guitars being picked in folk song style as Elaine Di FALCO sings front and center and ethereal male and female vocalists whisp and willow in the wings. Quite beautiful! This is one I'd love to hear go on for five or six minutes: the vocal arrangements alone are beautiful and interesting in a Josquin des Pres kind of way. (10/10)

The most curious thing about Yugen productions, to me, is that they are truly the brain-child of visionary FRANCESCO ZAGO, and Francesco is primarily a guitarist, and yet we rarely get to see/hear the guitar showcased! Is that selflessness or is it more attributable to the reality that Francesco is truly more of a conductor than an instrumentalist? Still, there is no doubt that when Francesco and his Yugen-mates get together to create music, they are fearless. On Death by Water the listener is treated to artistic expression of the highest order: modern in that dissonant, discordant way, yes, but still highly engaging and interesting. I find it mesmerizing.

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

 Iridule by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.96 | 108 ratings

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Iridule
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Marimba? Check. Harp? Check. Mandolin, tubax, thermin, mellotron, glockenspiel, prepared piano, contrabass, clarinet, hammond, etc? Check. Oh yeah, there's guitars, bass, drums, and a bit of vocals in there too?I mean, Iridule is a rock album, right? Right? but it's a rock album very unlike most. Italy's Yugen definitely does not shy away from being at the cutting edge of progressive rock with their third album which maintains their signature avant-prog approach and RIO aesthetic. Complex meters with jolting time changes, frantic evolution of instrumentation, and an ultra deviant sense of melody and tonality, Iridule does just about everything it can to break the rock music norm, going far beyond where most "progressive" acts would even dare.

I do not hesitate to say that Yugen has perfected their craft with this third release. With little use of distorted guitars, Yugen brilliantly pulls off moments that are dark and heavy enough to more than satisfy the most extreme metal fan's crave for brutality. However, Iridule does not short-change the listener when it comes to beautifully crafted subdued passages; large portions of each song are dedicated to the fabulous weaving of uncanny textures that never allow you to just sit back and passively listen. At other times Iridule can be quite the psychotic mix of 20th century atonality violently blended with jazz fusion and funk.

What impresses me so much about this album is that somehow, in all of its avant-rock glory, Iridule comes off as a strangely approachable album. I attribute this to three key aspects of their music that ensures that the active listener sees the big picture, and thus does not drown in the more "experimental" elements: Iridule is an album laced with tangible texture, strong themes, and discovery. Their constant use of a/polytonal percussion by means of marimba, glockenspiel, prepared piano, and harpsichord creates a dense fabric of texture that transcends your auditory senses. Its effects are often dark, haunting, or dreamlike, as they transform, evolve, and flow in ultra smooth ways that make sense despite the absence of tonal clarity. There exists the sensation of touching this music as its sound waves seem to physically envelop you.

Yugen makes great use of recognizable motifs in most every song on this album. After a couple of listens you come to realize that Iridule has its conventions that make the listener a part of an intricate conversation between instruments, melodies, and rhythms. Yugen tends to take a melody or rhythm and play with it throughout the entire song; it may be a short sequence of note values or a chromatic run, but you will definitely hear it bouncing around and being twisted and torn apart by the plethora of instruments that each song presents. Finally, there is an exciting aspect of discovery in Yugen's music. Although it is initially a bit confusing, I was surprised by how quickly I found myself recognizing distinctive elements of their music. It is chaotic, yet somehow predictable once you begin to get in on their secrets. I often find myself playing the game of trying to seek out and recognize conventions and motifs in each song; Iridule has great replay value; it empowers the listener to discover new things about the music with each listen.

The lyrics for the album, taken from Vladimir Nabokov's postmodern novel Pale Fire, provide insight into the heart of the album. Nabokov's synesthesia somehow serves as an overlying structure for this work of art presented in a medium that is auditory by nature (music), but somehow appeals more to the sense of touch than anything else. Yugen's choice to use Nabokov's words, "We are most artistically caged," at the end of the first vocal interlude, carries a glaring sense of irony. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to this fine album that Yugen offers us. Iridule successfully manages to transcend genre boundaries; it is somehow a jazz album without being jazz, a metal album without being metal, a prog album without being prog, and even a 20th century classical album without being classical (or released in the 20th century, for that matter). Iridule, while being a hard album to place, is a fantastic musical journey and an essential album for all those who still enjoy sitting down and listening actively to music. Highly recommended!

 Labirinto d'Acqua by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.86 | 55 ratings

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Labirinto d'Acqua
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars From Milano, Italy, Yugen was an idea of former The Night Watch'es guitarist Francesco Zago and drummer Diego Donadio.After a first demo in 2005 Donadio would leave his place to Mattia Signo and a huge-line up was constructed for the band's official debut: Paolo ''Ske'' Bota, who had played also with French TV, on various keyboards, Markus Stauss on sax and Stephan Brunner on bass, both from Avant-Fusion act Spaltklang, Giuseppe Olivini on cemballo, percussion and theremin, Elia Mariani on violin, Tommaso Leddi, who had been a huge force in the 70's with Avant-Folk act Stormy Six, on mandolin and flute, Avant-Rock veteran Dave Kerman on drums, member of 5uu's, Ahvak and U Totem, Peter Schmid on bass clarinet/bass flute, Massimo Mazza on marimba, glockenspiel and vibraphone, Maurizio Fasoli on piano, bandmate of Zago in Nichelodeon, and Marco Sorge on clarinet.All arrangements of the debut ''Labirinto d'acqua'' were credited to Zago, an album recorded between June 2005 and January 2006, released in 2006 on AltRock Productions.

''Labirinto d'acqua'' is a fresh, extremely rich and deeply fascinating effort of combining R.I.O., Jazz and Classic Prog into an attractive amalgam, characterized by an exclusive, instrumental sound full of quirky moves, abstract orientations and tricky interplays.It's a bit like HOWEVER or FRENCH TV with emphasis on complex twists and turns, powerful breaks and inventive interactions between the musicians, trying to link the ground between chamber orchestrations, Fusion craziness, symphonic keyboards and loose Jazz.It is one of these albums that reveals such a musical depth so numerous listenings are required to pinpoint even its last detail.The music is often bombastic, schizophenic and powerful with tons of changing tempos, interrupted occasionally by cinematic soundscapes and orchestral textures.Lots of Classic and Italian Prog references are evident throughout the album, a bit of MAXOPHONE and GENTLE GIANT vibes can be traced in many pieces.The majority though follows a Progressive/Fusion style with retro R.I.O. stylings, updated to the modern era due to the heavy use of synthesizers and the measured appearances of harder, electric guitars and adapting Mellotrons and organs from the vintage times in a highly complex mood.The dense and crazy instrumental parts remind me also of Americans BIRDS AND BUILDINGS, challenging, intricate and furious stuff with complelling musicianship, while the sporadic clarinet and violin scratches unleash a nice, folky taste in separate occasions.

Great debut by an experience leader such as Francesco Zago, who developed himself over the years to a composer of extremely adventurous music.Strongly recommended to all fans of R.I.O., Avant Prog or ultra-complex Progressive Rock...3.5 stars.

 Iridule by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.96 | 108 ratings

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Iridule
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars I first became aware of this band when they helped out one of my fave Italian band PdP for their A_Live album of the same year, but the least I must say is that you shouldn't expect the same soundscapes, even if there are some passages that are somewhat sonically close. When I first heard this album I was quite impressed and even included it in the top 10 of 2010, as I did with Frogg Café's Bateless Edge. But the least I can sa y is that Irridule has sort of grown irritating after extensive listening, and that almost a year after, I'm now ready to put these albums away for a while. This feeling is reinforced especially after witnessing the band's RIO-fest concert, where their concert failed to impress me much. Indeed, just like on their album, the band tends to complicate their music for the sake of complexity, but it appears somewhat unjustified to these ears.

Indeed, tracks like Decchime, Scuttle (despite a melodic middle section), Ganascia or Serial Killer have been done dozens of time by previous groups (U Totem comes to mind, but they're not the only ones), and Yugen doesn't manage to bring anything new. Maybe I've grown tired of this kind of advanced and sometimes obtuse music, one which doesn't seem to care an iota for the listener. Don't get me wrong, if you've read me in different reviews elsewhere on this site, you'll know I'm generally a fan of this kind of music. So maybe it is related to the fact that this kind of album comes 35 years after Stormy Six, Area or Art Bears, but I don't see in which way Irridule irrigates the fertility of the musical grounds uncovered by their forerunners. Indeed, it's rather hard to make the difference or distinguish where the track begins and end, because the lack of structure. You're always looking at the display of your deck to know where you're standing on the album. Of course the album is balanced with more accessible tracks, like the excellent closing Cloudscape (do I detect a bit of PdP's influence?) or the second section of Overmurmur. Some ten years ago, I might have claimed Irridule as a minor masterpiece (had it been released back then), but nowadays, I find it almost expandable.

 Iridule by YUGEN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.96 | 108 ratings

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Iridule
Yugen RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Astryos

4 stars This is an album that proves that Yugen are focused, very confident and know excactly how they want to sound like. All these contribute to a high standard piece of work that stands proudly in the realms (firstly) of avant garde and (secondly) of progressive rock music. The production is excellent while the moments of tense and calmness as well as the atonal and more conventional parts follow each other in a magnificent way. It is also nice to hear musicians that do not "force" the flow of their music, although "Iridule" will sound really bizzare to someone who is not familiar with avant garde rock. Though it has a lot of soft passages, this is mainly an energetic and often frenzy -but never noisy- album. The instruments are wisely chosen and there are plenty of them! This is a fresh breeze of modern music. 4 stars as a progressive rock and 5 stars as a RIO, avant garde rock album.
Thanks to avestin for the artist addition.

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