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RIO/Avant-Prog • Netherlands

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BLAST is a Dutch quartet which was formed in 1989. The current lineup consists of Dirk Bruinsma, Frank Crijns, Paed Conca, and Fabrizio Spera, only the first two of whom were members of the original band. During the intervening 18 years or so, the band has had many different incarnations. Their initial style was one of intricately composed "art-rock", a style which was self-described as "chamber music for rock instrumentation." However, the work which can be heard on their latest releases often evinces a much freer and more improvisational new music. The complexity of their musicianship, as displayed in both their more structured compositions and in their improvisational mode, has always been at the forefront of the band's work - regardless of the various creative approaches they have evolved over the years. The various members are constantly active collaborating with other musicians such as Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Pavel Fajt, Elliot Sharp, and Otomo Yoshide, to name just a few.*

Blast's music is dense with detail. It is intense and angular, powerful and elegant; galloping with unpredictable hair-pin changes. It displays the polyrhythmic complexity, the technical sophistication and precision of fine musicianship which are traditionally associated with progressive rock. Nonetheless, they exceed any traditional progressive classification as they venture along unexpected musical avenues regarding this genre. With many diverse creative leanings in tow, such as elements of improvisational counterpoint, their work moves into clearly avant territory, and can be more closely ascribed to avant-garde and free jazz influences.

Since 2000, they have been playing as a central fixed quartet [thus the current name, "Blast4tet,"] whose lineup is altered with various guest musicians depending on the requirements of the given musical project at hand. Currently they play as a quintet, a sextet, and in combination with a twelve piece chamber music ensemble next to the quartet version.

"With the quartet we work on music in which composition and improvisation are integrated as much as possible. To achieve this, we work on the development of new ways of notation and interplay. A way of playing in which time is used with an utmost flexibility and where the players are conductors at the same time. In the scores we make use of notation techniques such as graphical writing, polymetrics, free choice of parameters, etc. All that in order to reduce the harshne...
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It's in My BloodIt's in My Blood
Sst Records 1990
Audio CD$12.00
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BLAST discography

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

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

5.00 | 1 ratings
Purist Sirup
3.09 | 3 ratings
Wire Stitched Ears
3.09 | 6 ratings
Stringy Rugs
4.05 | 3 ratings
A Sophisticated Face
4.00 | 3 ratings
Altra Strata [by Blast4tet]
0.00 | 0 ratings
As Nowhere As Anywhere [by Blast6tet]
2.71 | 3 ratings

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

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BLAST Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Stringy Rugs by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.09 | 6 ratings

Stringy Rugs
Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Third or fourth album from the craziest Dutch musicians, a few steps ahead of Supersister's quartet of nutcases or even Van Leer's clown-esque musical fantasies. The line-up sees an important change as another nutcase the US-man Dave Kerman (this man escaped the loonies drum and left his footprint all over the Rio-Copacabana sand beaches) and has stolen the drum stool, thus forcing the older Meneses to bow out, cos he refused to play drums standing up. Cool move, Dave. Luvya, man! Actually I'm only kidding because Dave only squats on 7 of the ten tracks, and there are loads of guest, including many horns. As if not enough to convince you of the madness, check out the album title and its visual illustrations on the cover?Imagine that music is rather suited to those, and you've got an idea as to how whacky this might sound and the possible permanent damage to your sanity?

The least we can say is that Kerman's arrival did nothing to calm the other three's zaniness, quite the opposite as the opening Questo picks a few step further than the closing Wire album Or-Na-Ra-Tio track had left things of. The album is much crazier than WSE, but you can still hear Henry Cow and Debile Menthol, but you might have to add Wondeur Brass, Miriodor and Volapuk as aural reference points, but staying more accessible and melodic than Uz Jse Doma. IMHO, the album is at its most inventive in Comunifade, although it gets even more experimental further on, but not necessarily more successful. Sometimes truly mind-boggling, but never insufferable, even though I wouldn't use this album to try to get comfy and promiscuous with the missus. Don't say I didn't warn you about those atypical Dutch un-neo- prog guys.

 Wire Stitched Ears by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.09 | 3 ratings

Wire Stitched Ears
Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Well what do you know, even such classically-influenced prog rock country (Focus, Finch, Trace, Ekseption, etc?) like the Netherlands that became a neo-prog kingdom in the last two decades (90's & 00's), the 80's turned out to be quite inhabitual for the Dutch prog music scene as the country had their only RIO (yes, you read well) group, the crazy Henry-Cow influenced Blast. Created in the mid-80's, the Utrecht quartet's albums didn't see the light of day until the last part of the decade. This is their third album (if memory serves-and it was released on the awesome Cuneiform label with a more impressive innerfold artwork than the outer cover.

In this baby, the music is mostly instrumental, with both sung tracks intervening early on, which is Henry Cow-influenced, the singing being reminiscent of Dagmar Krause, either with the Cow or the Bears. By the fourth track, Welter, their music has morphed into a deranged, quirky and jumpy Klezmer/Manouche probably closer to the Swiss Debile Menthol group's works, or Quebec's Wondeur Brass music. The album steadily increases in difficulty and becomes a tad dissonant in its second half, but it's nothing a normal proghead can not endure. The album almost finds its place in the pantheon of insane asylum-ers with the Funiculaire being used to climb to such madness altitudes. One thing they do have right is that their Folksong is indeed not one, though, but for the rest, these guys are not from this planet, no matter how Dutch their passport is. The closing Or-Na-Ra-Tio is simply stunning and could cause your falling into the same warp-zone as theirs, but with no return ticket.

If you're usually a Dutch prog fan, stand warned that this band is indeed anything but typical lo- country album, and you might want to approach with extreme caution, and only after a couple of visits to the Bebile Cow & Bears psychiatrist's couch. Don't say I didn't warn you.

 Altra Strata [by Blast4tet] by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 3 ratings

Altra Strata [by Blast4tet]
Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is BLAST's fifth studio album released in 2003. Quite a change in direction from their earlier works. We still have that complex Avant-garde instrumental brand of music they play, but this is far less rigid with more improvs too. Much more enjoyable as far as i'm concerned. I remember the first album I heard from them called "Stringy Rugs", it was so difficult to digest, I mean it was over my head. If I hadn't purchased "A Sophisticated Face" at the same time that would have been the last I would have heard from the band. Fortunately "A Sophisticated Face" was easier on my brain but still a tough listen. Many have said "Altrastrata" is their best record which is why I decided to check it out. I agree by the way. Lots of electronics on here as well. Bob Drake helped to mix it.

"Walking Matters" has these outbursts of horns,drums and other sounds.Very cool sounding. Some dissonance as well. "H.O.I." opens with the sax making some noise. It's sparse as we get some loud bangs of percussion coming and going. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes then settles right down again as the mood continues to change. It's intense 8 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Tectonic Re-Birth" has such a great sound early on with the baritone sax coming and going with other sounds. It reminds me of THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE. Electronics after 2 minutes.The sound fades off into the distance 4 minutes in as it changes. Horns blast as drums and other sounds come and go.

"Multi-Salsa" opens with atmosphere as horns join in. Drums rumble in around a minute. It kicks in at 2 minutes then settles back after 4 minutes but there's still lots of tension. "Taliba Orgena" is dark and kind of haunting. It picks up before 2 minutes then settles right back. It's creepy before 4 1/2 minutes to end it. "Scape" is almost catchy. Well not quite. Dissonant horns 3 1/2 minutes in. "On Ice" opens with dissonant horns and drums. Head-banging time (okay not really). A change after 2 minutes then it picks up with horns 6 minutes in. "Agatesa" is dark with sparse sounds. It picks up before 2 minutes including some angular guitar. It settles late like the intro.

If you want to check this band out i'd start here. 4.5 stars.

 Sift by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.71 | 3 ratings

Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

2 stars Of course, that's what hell could look like. RIO can be understood in many ways. I suppose this one isn't exactly either my cup of tea, nor something I would recommend to others. Because it's easy, just listen to it. Oh right, not everything has to have a melody to be interesting, being harmonic also isn't required at all times. But this way is dead end for any signs of interesting music. Because when repeating something over and over again, at least make it interesting, not one single dual tone of sax and guitar. It's like: Hey, there has to be something good and interesting about it. But then I lean closer and there is nothing except organized music cacophony. Yep, there are rules and laws in this mess, but that doesn't make it worth.

2(+), as I'm aware some may actually like it.

EDIT: The fact this is probably not for me doesn't mean I can't rate this. I've tried to be honest and fair to this record, I wanted to find something good, I've failed. And I think some people will agree with me too. Common, reviewing is not just for fanboys.

 Sift by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.71 | 3 ratings

Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tmay102436

4 stars I have fastly become a Blast! fan. What a catalogue of changing styles, yet remaining the same. On this, their latest release "Sift" - this is a true combination of avant stylings born through improvisation creating the composition.

If you don't like avant guard, in it's truest form (Henry Cow's experimental side for instance) then this isn't the one for you. BUT! if you can listen - and I mean, sit and listen - this is beautifully crafted music. Without stepping on toe's here, this is REAL avant, not a prog band just letting loose, freeform meandering. No, this is composed through improvisation music at its highest form. The sectional playing (drums/bass) are phenomenal, and the melodic dissonance superb.

As some of you know, I have my own prog group, and even though I love the traditional progressive rock (of which my music is) - this is the other path - and one that needs to be taken more seriously - RIO at its finest.

As always, thanks for listening, and thanks for Prog Archives!

 A Sophisticated Face by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.05 | 3 ratings

A Sophisticated Face
Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars These guys are simply amazing musicians who combine complexity, incredible interplay, dissonance, intensity and creativity to a level that is way over my head. I admit that their "Stringy Rugs" album was too much for me to grasp, but thankfully this one is a little tamer, more towards the Chamber music side of things. It's the kind of music that isn't going to win any awards for being melodic, but what does impress me is just listening. Yes this is one of those albums that is awful to have playing in the background, you have to really listen to it. Lots of horns and percussion on this one.

"One Pair" opens with lots of percussion and horns coming and going. Guitar and marimba take over then the horns and percussion return. "Visceral Ooze" opens with piano and other sounds that come and go. It's kind of dark, in fact UNIVERS ZERO comes to mind. Some tension here. A calm with violin after 2 minutes. Back to the intricate sounds with horns and piano. Nice bass follows as the tempo picks up. A collage of sounds late and some electric guitar. That bass is deep though. "Metrolodic" opens with violin and bass then builds until after a minute when it settles down. Lots of percussion 3 minutes in as sounds pop and ping. Other sounds join in as it builds again. "Rind" is darker with horns, percussion, violin and marimba leading the way.

"Transversal" is the longest track at over 8 minutes. It opens with horns, violin, classical guitar, bass, percussion and other sounds that come and go. Some tension here and amazing interplay. It's eerie with violin before 4 minutes. A calm after 6 minutes before it picks back up late. "Solstice" is fairly slow moving with some dissonance to it. Cello and violin in this one. "Zoot" is more energetic and fun. Lots of horns and vibes bouncing around. Violin and electric guitar too. "OC" is a short tune with violin, cello and acoustic guitar. "Transmotude" is a sax led tune with some electric guitar. "Hogh" is heavier with those drums and bass sounds as horns blast over top. It settles after 2 minutes then kicks in again after 4 minutes. "Empty Neprac" is the 8 minute closer and my favourite. Kind of stripped down here with electric guitar, bass and sax. I like the angular guitar early and the deep bass sounds that follow all the while the sax plays over top. Very cool track.

If you want a challenge check out BLAST. I like this one.

 Stringy Rugs by BLAST album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.09 | 6 ratings

Stringy Rugs
Blast RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars BLAST is proof that there are a lot of crazy people in Holland. Haha. The reson I bought this cd was because Dave Kerman was part of the band at this point and I love his drumming. He doesn't disappoint either. Man this is an intense and over the top listen though. Difficult is the word. So angular and dissonant it's often hard to swallow let alone enjoy. It could take me 50 listens before I could fully understand and appreciate it. Or maybe that day would never come.

"E Se Di Questo Voi Dicere Piue" opens with drums, actually this track and the final one are the only songs where the drums aren't handled by Kerman as Rob Snuders guests behind the kit on these two. Horns and dissonance follow. Marimba and angular guitar come in too. It's heavy 31/2 minutes in. "Limbaire" features outbursts of sound that are contrasted with calmer sections. Nice bass before 2 minutes followed by dissonance. Kerman is excellent on this one. Sounds come and go late. "Outgrowth" has some vocals and lots of bottom end including the deep voice. It changes before 4 minutes to an experimental mode with guitar, spoken words and other strange sounds. It kicks back in before 5 1/2 minutes to that earlier soundscape with deep bass and vocals. "Litho 1" is a short tune with marimba sax and guitar.

"Communifade" has this epic intro with drums all over it as horns blast away. Kerman is amazing ! Check out the horns though, we get tuba, bugle, trumpet, sax and trombone in various sounds (bass, alto, baritone) ten in all. It settles 2 minutes in. Experimental sounds 5 minutes in. Drums return then horns bast. It settles 6 minutes in to a melancholic mood. "Bouncing" opens with deep bass and other sounds early. The drums become prominant then 2 1/2 minutes in, then we get no melody just sounds coming and going.The drums are back a minute later. Growly bass after 5 1/2 minutes. Weird sounds a minute later. "Ink" opens with angular guitar and horns. Spoken words before 2 minutes as marimba comes in. Lots of horns 5 1/2 minutes in to the end. "Litho 2" is another short tune like part 1 but with acoustic guitar, sax and marimba. "O.A.L.I." is quite powerful as Kerman pounds it out and we get lots of bass sounds in the soundscape. Guitar 2 1/2 minutes in before drums dominate then horns return. Crazy horns before it calms down. It kicks in one more time. "Tectonic Afterbirth" is very distracting for me. I just want to injure myself for some reason. Percussion, horns, miramba and guitar all come and go. I'm gone.

3 stars, although Rio / Avant fans will love this.

Thanks to listennow801 for the artist addition.

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