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RATIONAL DIET

RIO/Avant-Prog • Belarus


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Rational Diet biography
The following is taken from the press release about the band from their label AltrOck:
" Rational Diet, the group existing since the late 90-s in Belarus proposes an unusual mix of styles and sounds: Chamber music, rock, theatre and improvisation, supported by the amazingly instrumental abilities of their components. It's difficult to define the mood of such music, which goes from dark atmosphere to grotesque, powerful or oniric, sometimes even humoristic. Violin, cello, bassoon, saxes and accordion - besides the traditional rock instruments - chase each other along the dizzy instrumental plots, or sustain the dazed texts by the Russian avant-garde poets Daniil Charms and Alexander Vvedensky
Influences:
Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Part, Ives, Henry Cow, Univers Zero, Present, Debile Menthol"





Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
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Discography:
Rational Diet, studio album (2007)
The Shameless, studio album (2004)

Rational Diet official website

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Buy RATIONAL DIET Music


Rational DietRational Diet
Import
Phantom Sound & Vision 2008
Audio CD$19.99 (used)
At WorkAt Work
AltRock
Audio CD$21.95
$108.34 (used)
On Phenomena And ExistencesOn Phenomena And Existences
AltRock
Audio CD$21.95
$42.62 (used)


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RATIONAL DIET discography


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

5.00 | 1 ratings
From The Grey Notebok
2000
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Shameless
2003
4.00 | 31 ratings
Rational Diet
2007
4.09 | 24 ratings
At Work
2008
3.92 | 37 ratings
On Phenomena and Existences
2010

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

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

RATIONAL DIET Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 On Phenomena and Existences by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.92 | 37 ratings

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On Phenomena and Existences
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by justaguy

3 stars One of the greatest music discoveries, Rational Diet will blow your mind. Of course, if you are into this kind of music ? RIO, Rock In Opposition. To understand, what they are playing, think of Univers Zero, Henry Cow, Aranis, Bella Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and may be just a little bit of Art Bears and King Crimson. This kind of musical intensity you don't find very often. For me, the overall experience of their last record "On Phenomena and Existences" is like if I listened to "Red" of King Crimson for the first time. Amazing, how sharp, dense and intelligent this music is composed.

From the very first note, the album grabs your attention and don't let it go until the last sound is blown. It breathes unstrained composing geniality, mathematical preciseness of performing and tons of rehearsing sweat.

The sound of RD is more a classical chamber ensemble than an electric band. Even electric guitar sounds basic, played without devices. Strings, reeds and piano are dominating. This probably makes RD sound out of any time reference point. This music could be made in the beginning of 20th century or somewhere in 23rd. In other words, it is ageless. However, it is unmistakably a rock music!

Rational Diet is based in Minsk, Byelorussia. The band was formed in 1996. The first album dates from 1999 - "From the grey notebook". The group collaborates a lot with modern artists, participates in theatre performances. It is a pity for us, listeners in the West, that it is so hard for a musician to get abroad of the last European dictatorship. Luckily, they were discovered by Italian label Altrock somewhere in 2007. In that year, Altrock reissued "The Shameless", recorded earlier in 2004. After that, RD managed to perform a few shows in Poland, Germany and Italy. They took part in Altrock fest in Milano, Italy in 2008 and in Rock In Opposition Fest'2010 in Carmaux, France. Unlucky for me, I missed all these events. I am definitely going not to repeat this mistake again!

Besides the fabulous "On Phenomena and Existences", I ordered their previous album, "At Work" from 2008, also available at Altrock.it. And I enjoyed every bit of it too! It sounds a little different, but not less fantastic. By the way, have you already discovered other bands available at Altrock.it? If everything there is on the same level as Rational Diet, Yugen and Aranis, than it is a very good place to be, for a lover of alternative rock music!

Without doubts, 4 out of 5, absolutely recommended for funs of experimental classic or rock music.

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 Rational Diet by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 31 ratings

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Rational Diet
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tmay102436

4 stars My what a wonderful surprise! I haven't heard of this group before, but thanks to Synphonic Music, I found it - and they're from Belarus, making this quite unique music in area of birth.

The previous reviews pretty much tell the tale. I would agree that there are a lot of RIO groups that do tend to (it's the nature of the style a bit) to be a bit vulgar and maybe over the top (although I like that stuff too!) This on the other hand is a beautiful combination of RIO, but the Samala Mamas influence, it makes the outcome quite unique and their own voice. Speaking of voice, this is unusual also, as there is a different style of singing between the songs (do to the fact that this represents a couple of albums I think,) but is still totally cohesive and fitting. I wish I understood the language though, as it's sung with passion and clarity.

Overall, this is a must have to me, as it comes from yet another angle in the challenging and yet "can't get enough of" music of avant guard/rock.

Thanks to those that continue to support the music industry that really produces music out of love of life and art - we couldn't hear this wonderful dreams into reality without them! And now, I must have Rational Diet's other albums! (my wife just doesn't understand:)

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 On Phenomena and Existences by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.92 | 37 ratings

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On Phenomena and Existences
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars ProgArchives and the prog world never fails to amazes me. New amazing bands pops up all the time.

Rational Diet from Belorussia is not a new band. They have been around for a long time. But I have not been aware of them until recently and through the interview I did with them. On Phenomena and Existences is their fifth album and the first one I have heard from this band.

Rational Diet does an acoustic chamber orchestra type of avant-garde/RIO. The nearest reference for a novice like myself is Aranis. Afenginn is also another reference point. But Rational Diet plays a lot darker music on this album than you will find on any Aranis album. They are pretty close to Present and Univers Zero at times. Not to mention the Zeuhl genre when female vocals is applied to this music. Though I would not say this album is a totally dark album. It also has it's light sides too. But is it leaning more towards Richard Wagner than Johan Sebastian Bach, let me put it this way. It also have a lot of speed and fluency too. Very much fluency, I would say. It also draws in jazz and fusion elements in some melodies too.

The quality of the material is great throughout. Most of all; the music is fascinating with a lot of layers. This album is like peeling an onion (without the tears, that is). You think you have got it and then there is another layer below it. That is all the hallmarks of a quality product, in my view. Hence my sprinkling of stars over this album.

4 stars

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 On Phenomena and Existences by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.92 | 37 ratings

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On Phenomena and Existences
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A rational and well-balanced diet

Not many bands manage to astonish me with how they progress and evolve from album to album; little opportunity do I get to hear bands that while keeping their core sound and style, are able to bring something new into their palate, produce an updated aural image of themselves.

Rational Diet is one such group.

I've read that this band's music poses a challenge to some listeners, a barrier of disharmonic noise and orchestral chaos. I for one hear magical harmony, mysterious and eerie ambiance and highly calculated and intricate composition, arrangements and stellar musicianship. The production is also of high quality and brings forth all the small details and intricacies that can easily get lost in such a rich and layered album.

Rational Diet's music has a diverse range of sounds. From ominous and disharmonic sounding sections to more rock-oriented segments, from slow and relatively calm to a chaotic-like frenzy-driven rhythmic bit. Their music is such that it's eerie, sharp and in-your-face one minute and then it gradually morphs into a softer-edged sound with a more harmonic nature. This album presents a variety of these sounds, much like a diverse and well-balanced diet. Each of the 14 compositions on the album presents varied and distinct pace, mood and approach, all unified by the band's sound and playing. This array of templates is at times applied in one song (Sleep Is A Teasing Man, and Passcaglia In Beautiful And Furious Worlds are two examples).

Moreover, the instruments themselves are wisely used to achieve this effect, as the violin is usually the lead "offensive" and abrasive sounding instrument while the piano and organ serve the opposite end and the rest serve both "camps" as needed. This group does a wonderful job of composing modern classical music and presenting it in a rock-like setup.

Some of the pieces on the album, poems of sorts, show an interesting development for the band; A Man Went To Sleep, Sleep Is Teasing A Man and In Five Steps are such songs. These have a more intimate and exposed feeling to them in the sung parts, though they also contain the instrumental frenzy that characterizes the group. The other tracks are prime example of this group's playing prowess and arrangements skills. Take for instance Bet On A Marked Card. Rational Diet takes a theme, layer it with all their instrumental lineup, add a second thematic section to which the melody shifts, play it fast and furious and the result is a bombastic musical punch to the face. What I find most admirable here is the writing for each instrument and adding it all up to fit together and achieving harmony between them and one effective sounding musical short piece. Another feat I appreciate is that they write mostly short and succinct pieces and don't linger on unnecessarily. I would however, like to hear how they would tackle a longer composition, how would they construct and arrange it (they had longer pieces in earlier albums but I'd like to hear what they would write now).

A feature I find wonderful in their music and in this album in particular is the interplay between the instruments. Take for instance, track 10, Private Secrets of Machine; hear how the violin and piano interact, pose each other a phrase and the other answers or counteracts it. All the while, the drums provide a propulsive beat, maintaining suspense and tension, aided by the bassoon and guitar. Some would probably say that at some point, the violin and piano lines become just random babblings, aimless meanderings; however, I hear carefully composed opposing streaks of melodies. These may sound disjointed at first, but upon repeated listening will reveal their "intention" and projected melodic paths unveiling their magic.

I must say a good word about the production, which provides a clear and crisp sound in which I'm able to hear all the instruments, even those whose volume is such that they tend to be at the back of the mix and both low and high ends are heard well in this recording.

On Phenomena And Existences is a dense, odd and intense listening experience. This is an album that requires full attention to grasp all of its richness as well as small intricacies. I find it to be a wonderful step forward in the band's output, a great follow-up to their previous release, At Work.

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 At Work by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.09 | 24 ratings

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At Work
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In 2007 this Belarusian ensemble released their s/t album through Altr0ck and it was one of my favourites of that year and a great album overall. Their quirky style, inspired by classical composers such as Stravinsky and Ives to experimental and progressive rock groups such as Univers Zero has won me over and I was highly anticipating their next effort. Little did I know that it would turn out to be such a brilliant album, which shows a progression from their previous output, going into new direction, trying and experimenting with new routes and possibilities.

The lineup consists of a basic rock unit of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums along with a classical lineup of saxophone, bassoon, cello, violin and piano, giving them a range of opportunities to create a wide musical "palate" of sounds. There are also female vocals on some tracks.

9 tracks and songs are in here, mostly short, or not too long, with a charming atmosphere, beautiful melodies which are surprisingly catchy and at times sound like Stravinsky gone electric. The music is always changing, there is constant experimentation, but not for experimentation's sake, but to find more ways for the music to advance and achieve another effect, another point in its route of progression, another beautiful peak. The music, while at times can seem chaotic, is always under control, always meticulously performed and orchestrated. The brilliant parts, such as in Pukhow, where the piano seems at times to go berserk, are beautifully in line with the music, gorgeously arranged to lead the music onward, brilliantly composed to sound both out of line and in line with the rest of the band. A track like Dear Kontrabandist evokes the intensity and accuracy of Univers Zero with the madness and oddness of Le Silo. The zany saxophone goes wild while the rest of the lineup is punctually playing allowing its rogue member to express himself. The piano is the basis for this song, giving excellent bouncy and catchy rhythm. The vocals which might evoke a Magma-ian chant fit perfectly with the music. Even the very short tracks like Wet Moss have more meat and power to them than a lot of epic length tracks on other progressive rock albums. Those could and probably should have been longer as they contain great ideas that could be expanded. But if you take Wet Moss together with The Mourners, which is another short track, you might get that exactly. On Closed Case, there is a Miriodor-ian feel, as the saxophone paves the way forcefully with a highly dynamic rhythm section backing it. Then they make way for a calmer yet eerie section where the bassoon, whose sound I love, makes abrupt appearances with the strong section along with the piano creating the spooky and quirky feeling that dominates this part. The alternation between aggressive and passive is another appealing feature in this piece. Ariel's Last Dream is a violin lead track, more peaceful in nature, but still full of dynamics and passion and fabulous musicianship (as the entire album is). Horse Enemy is yet another gem here, with more Univers Zero and Present influence (at times a Univers Zero and Present on amphetamines), but not only these bands. Also, by now giving those references seems to not do justice to Rational Diet as this is their own sound. Condemned, the centerpiece of this release, is the longest on the album (almost 11 minutes) and is dominated by the "classical" side of the band, with great rhythm provided by the drums, which fit flawlessly with the whole sound and aided by the angry guitar riff as well. There are segments here where the music becomes furious and seems to overflow the speakers and then scatter all over and you hear the various instruments playing chaotically, as if looking there way back to the original path. It is very well orchestrated and so well played that I could think there's no score here at all and they're just randomly playing (they might be, who knows?). They then proceed to assemble all the pieces back together and carry on in their original path and the music gets more and more energetic, becomes more and more forceful and insistent and moves forward in a very "cubic" structured manner to the crescendo-like ending. The ending track On Tuesdays is a more peaceful song, with a nice keyboards playing pattern. It goes on cyclically and maintains the same level to the end and it is probably the only track here which remains constant and doesn't evolve (aside from the sax joining in for a few blurred fuzzy improve-like lines towards the end).

Their music splendidly combines the intensity of rock with the beauty and appealing nature of a classical lineup. The mix of the two as Rational Diet does it is simply astounding. The words Chamber Rock are probably the best description for this music, since they do exactly that. The music they create is diverse, taking from many influences, and will appeal to fans of the aforementioned bands above and fans of this style of music overall. The musicianship is spectacular as is the development of each track and the beauty of each theme presented on all the pieces on the album. The album also presents their manner of being succinct and to the point and not to overdo and prolong segments or whole tracks that do not need it. They do not fall into the needless trap of creating long pieces that tire the listener and for no reason. Knowing how to create an appealing piece of music is an art, and knowing how to not ruin it (by over-doing it) is the other side of this coin. Rational Diet seem to know this "secret". This album, to me, puts the band on the top of today's active bands in this scene. This album is one of the best I've heard this year and is quickly becoming an all-time favourite. Get it!

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 Rational Diet by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 31 ratings

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Rational Diet
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Syzygy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Another splendid offering from Altrock in Italy (who released Yugen's excellent debut album), Rational Diet is the first internationally released CD from a RIO band from Belarus who have been around for several years; three of the tracks included here were recorded in 1999, the remainder date from 2004, and all were included on the band's earlier releases.

The album is bookended by 3 pieces from The Grey Notebook, all composed by guitarist Maxim Velvetov, while the filling in the sandwich comes from The Shameless and the pieces were composed by reeds player Vitaly Appow and violinist Cyrill Christya. There's quite a marked contrast between the pieces from the two different sessions. On the Grey Notebook pieces the core trio of composers work as a sextet with keyboards, bass and drums and the music is largely instrumental, recalling Univers Zero and Henry Cow. The pieces from The Shameless see the band working as an entirely acoustic quartet (cellist Alla Pustchina augmenting the core trio) plus guest vocalists, and here the music is closer to the chamber rock of Art Zoyd's first three albums. Although there are clear influences from several key RIO bands, Rational Diet have a definite identity of their own. A lot of the music draws as much on their Slavonic heritage as it does on contemporary avant rock, with elements of Shostakovitch and Bartok clearly audible. The Slavonic feel is reinforced on the acoustic tracks by guest vocalists reciting the work of avant garde poets over the music, a bold move which works remarkably although it could have gone badly wrong in less capable hands. The closing track, a 14 minute piece from The Grey Notebook, is something of a RIO masterpiece with a powerful, near-zeuhl vocal from guest Cyrill Yelshow. Maxim Velvetov's guitar work is particularly impressive on the electric tracks, while Vitally Appow's contributions on bassoon, sax and accordion add a distinctive edge to the imaginative arrangements throughout.

Despite being compiled from 2 different and quite distinct releases, Rational Diet works very well as an album in its own right. There's a high standard of composition and performance throughout, and the contrast between the acoustic tracks and those with a full band is highly effective. The three main composer/performers all bring something of their own to the RIO sound, and hopefully there is more to come from this intriguing Belarussian outfit. Recommended to anybody with a taste for chamber rock, in particular fans of Art Zoyd, Univers Zero and Henry Cow.

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 Rational Diet by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 31 ratings

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Rational Diet
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This eponymous album id Rational Diet's third since the start of the millennium, and their expanded line-up (now a sextet) play a seldom-developed Zeuhlian-laced RIO (along with a few guest musicians) that comes between Univers Zero and Art Zoyd and can be easily fitted in the chamber rock mould. This album is a compilation of their previous two releases.

In no small part, their RIO-sound is very much due to Appow's bassoon (mixed unusually loud), but Putschina's cello is also very present (perfectly complementary of Christya's violin), their music is entirely acoustic and apart from three centre tracks, mainly instrumental, the vocals including some "texts by the Russian Avant-garde poets Daniil Charms and Alexei Kruchemykh", but those vocals are sufficiently weird to give an original slant to their music. Particularly impressive in the second half of Order From Horses, where the group pulls quite a tight performance, grooving insanely to an indecently complex rhythm pattern. The two-part From The Grey Notebook, book-ending the album, is another biggie, especially in its closing section, as those weird vocals give the listener the envy to replay the album. While I have difficulty finding all of the influences they boldly state (see the opening page on this site), I can definitely hear Shostakovich, Ives, Univers Zero, Present, Debile Menthol and the unmentioned early-Art Zoyd.

While I wouldn't call Rational Diet a vulgar clone band (like all too often the case in other areas of prog rock), it is clear that they wear their influences a bit to openly to be truly taken at face value. But RD does manage to bring their own sensibilities to their brand of RIO, so they might just be considered as still quite creative while having a retro-sound, a bit like Anglagard in Symphonic prog and Volaré in Canterbury prog in the 90's. In spite of those all-too-obvious influences, RD's third albums is much worth a listen, partly due to its quaint Russians-sung vocals, bringing in a special flavour that allows it to stand on its own.

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 Rational Diet by RATIONAL DIET album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 31 ratings

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Rational Diet
Rational Diet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Introduction:

This is the second release in the catalogue of AltrOck Records after the excellent Yugen's Labirinto D'acqua album released in 2006. It seems the label is hunting for those left-field bands/musicians, and with these two they have done a very good job. Both have an independent sound (sure it has influences, but I don't think they're copy- cat bands in anyway) and much talent.

Rational Diet is a Belarus sextet (in this album) along with five guest musiciams playing music incorporating and influenced by modern classic composers and avant-rock. The press note that came with the promotional CD says that: "Rational Diet proposes an unusual mix of styles and sounds: Chamber music, rock, theatre and improvisation, supported by the amazingly instrumental abilities of their components. It's difficult to define the mood of such music, which goes from dark atmosphere to grotesque, powerful or oniric, sometimes even humoristic." They state their influences to be: "Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Webern, Ives, King Crimson, Henry Cow, Art Bears, Univers Zero, Present, Debile Menthol". While I don't necessarily hear all those in the music, I can hear some of them (Henry Cow, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and Stravinsky) and the overall interchanging sound of Rational Diet certainly fits the "musical module" that these musicians and composers create. To give you an idea of the musical palate of the band, the instrumentation consists of rock/modern instruments alongside classic instruments; guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, tenor sax, accordion, violin, cello and bassoon.

This review was hard for me to write as the music is not easy to define and I fear I may have done a disservice with my lame attempt at a review and if you get any bad impression from this review, please attribute it to me and not the music or the band.

A short discussion of particular tracks:

I won't go over all the tracks, but I'll give some thoughts and descriptions of some of them. If you wish you can skip to the end of the review where I wrote a general summary about the album.

From The Grey Notebook - Intro and Part 1:

Starting with a disjointed duo of bassoon and sax in the intro (fitting an Henry Cow album) the music flows then to Part 1 with the keyboards, guitar and drums playing a repetitive dynamic and dark passage. It is a track in which there is a roaming between a disjointed, nervous and restless rhythm to a more flowing one. The music is somewhat dark and brooding with some keyboards that evoke a chapel organ sound. There are elements or traces if you will of UZ, Present (in the flowing parts) and Henry Cow (in the disjointed parts). They switch between parts in which the rock instrumentation dominates (but they are not playing exclusively, they are accompanied by the rest of the group) to parts in which the "modern rock" sound gives way for the classical part to come through.

Stop, Kolpakoff!:

More of a Chamber music track with some quirky passages, going wild and noisy. The bassoon's sound evokes a classic feeling that clashes with the modern, weird and avant- garde patterns of the music and ultimately its role fits in well with the rest of the music.The violin here has a slightly "demented" sound, if you understand what I mean, going not really off-key, but slightly dis-harmonic (which fits the music). There are spoken vocals, which are said to be "texts by the Russian Avant-garde poets Daniil Charms and Alexei Kruchemykh" and they add to the general quirkiness of this particular piece. This track culminates with the violin playing ascending squeaky notes, as the accordion keeps with its constant supporting role with the rest of the instruments. In this seemingly chaotic affair, there's directionality to the music, and while some may be improvised it remains impressively under control.

I Refrained From Closing My Eyes:

At some point, especially towards the end, there are so many things going on simultaneously and it becomes very demanding to keep track of everything. This is a case that demands repeated listening until you get the full picture of all the different instrumental lines and the structure of the music. This may sound like chaos, but it is controlled chaos, as everything blends in together very well, and this is a main attribute about this band I admire. They compose complex music, with many layers, if you will, and still everything is in place, "goes along well with the others" and fits in. The end result is fascinating to listen to, asking you to try and decipher the semi-hidden melodies (to "conventional ears"). It is also not disharmonic as this description may infer. With their music, there's no real discomfort to sensitive ears, only the requisition for opening your mind (and neurons) for this challenging and unconventional music. Their craftsmanship of making this type of music is to be commended. This is not senseless throwing away of unrelated notes, disjointed passages of music with no rhythm. There is thought, emotion and passion behind (actually it's in the forefront) of this music.

From The Grey Notebook - Part 2:

This is probably the most melodic and flowing song in the album. The piano here gives a driving force that was not present in the other tracks. But that is not to say that the usual oddities are not here as well. It might be a good intro to the band's style as this is the most accessible piece.

Summary of the album:

The music derives its influences from past avant-rock, RIO and chamber music bands (Henry Cow, Univers Zero et al.) and the composers that influenced those bands as well. The music alternates between certain moods, feelings and styles. At times weird and quirky and in others chaos seems to dominate the music (but as I said, it's only seemingly so). In other parts, you have a dark atmosphere ruling over the sound, and in other, it gets a bit more light-hearted and theatrical in parts. The overall feelings I get from the music are that it's complex, dense unconventional and eerie, which I like very much. The musicians here do not try to show how much they know how to play their instruments (and they probably know it well) but to show how their instruments can be at the service of music, how they can create sounds and melodies (yes, melodies!) that are different and unconventional but appealing nonetheless.

Compared to AltrOck previous album by Italian band Yugen, this is even more daring. The music is less melodic, weirder, more abstract and free-form. This is not an album you will listen to each day, but when you do, your full and undivided attention needs to be given to it, otherwise a great proportion of the many details in it get lost and you miss the strange and eerie atmosphere this release has.

This will not appeal to people looking for nice and friendly harmonies, melodies (except from the last track), and accessible music. If you like any of the influences the band states of having, then you should look into it. This is for those who want to experiment, experience and be challenged. I enjoyed the challenge and I will take it again.

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Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to toroddfuglesteg & Rational Diet for the last updates

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