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COSA BRAVA

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Cosa Brava biography
Cosa Brava is a RIO/Avant-prog band formed in Oakland, Califonia in 2008 by multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre Skeleton Crew) and features many prominent musicians from the world of avant-garde music, including: violinist Carl Kihlstedt (Sleepytime Gorilla Musem, Tin Hat, The Book of Knots, 2 Foot Yard, Minamo), harpist, pianist, and accordion player Zeena Parkins (No Safety, News From Babel, Skeleton Crew), drummer Matthias Bossi (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), and The Norman Conquest on sound manipulation.

The band was formed out of Frith?s love of rock music and desire to get back to that format, citing: Over the years I?ve done a lot of improvising, and composed a lot of music on paper. I?ve written for orchestras and string quartets, directed ensembles of improvisers of all descriptions, produced scores for dance and film. I even somehow became a Professor of Composition! But I really miss what you can do with a rock band. I miss developing material through the push and pull of cooperative rehearsals, I miss what happens when you move away from ?the parts? and start formulating things with a collective ear, I miss the single-minded commitment to a group identity. The musicians in Cosa Brava can improvise, read scores, AND rock the house. ? Like I say, if you pick the right players, chances are the music will take care of itself.?
The sound of Cosa Brava is somewhere in between prog rock, folk, chamber music, celtic and jazz. They create this unique sound by using found objects and pushing players into inventive situations where they are creatively challenged. This band is similar to bands like Tin Hat and Skeleton Crew and will appeal to fans of challenging rock music, jazz and folk.

=Bio by Evolutionary Sleeper=

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COSA BRAVA discography


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

4.29 | 7 ratings
Ragged Atlas
2010
4.72 | 12 ratings
The Letter
2012

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COSA BRAVA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Letter by COSA BRAVA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.72 | 12 ratings

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The Letter
Cosa Brava RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Wonderfully unstructured, unpredictable. But ... It's nice!

Commemorating the ProgRing (Progressive Gathering) at Apple Cafe, Jombang, September 19, 2014

The Context

This review would never happen without the important event held at Apple cafe in Jombang, East Java, Indonesia on the evening of September 19, 2014 (Friday). That was the first time I knew the name Cosa Brava from my prog mate Edi Santoso (usually I call him with "Mas Edi"). Well, actually mas Edi owns the cafe and he invited me to have a wonderful chat on progressive music PLUS. I say plus because we did not talk only about progressive music but also anything related to progressive life. So we agreed that PROG is not just the music but it's a PHILOSOPHY because it goes beyond music. Take a good example of Mas Edi. Yes, he is the die hard core fan of prog music especially in the area of RIO or he call it as "rock mbeling" (local words that mean: "naughty rock") which essentially depicts the description of what the RIO/Avant-garde music is all about. Of course he also loves things like Beardfish, The Flower Kings as well as Opeth and also legends like Genesis. In fact his Apple Cafe is a true prog cafe in a real sense: you can find many prog artwork like Genesis' Selling England By The Pound or King Crimson's In The Court repainted nicely at the walls of the cafe. Do not tak about copy act right ya ... But it's really prog nuances built inside the cafe. If you are real prog person, you would love the cafe - I guarantee ! So ..come to Indonesia mates! I will show you great prog places around ....

Mas Edi has taken prog spirit to the next level, applied in real life not as musician as both of us are not musicians and our friendship so far has been based on our shared taste of prog music plus prog spirit of course. What I mean here is that his decision to carry on his life by taking care his own mother who also live with him in that prog cafe. According to Islamic teaching, taking care of your own parents is number one priority after worshipping only ONE God - Allah subhanahu wa taala. So, he has taken life progressively from serving only his own family (wife and two sons) and now to include taking care of his own mother who is old and sometimes getting sick. So ...you can now imagine how deep our PROG discussion on that ProgRing event ....

The Music

I might send you big apology to describe the novel long context as part of this review because to me prog music is not just music ...it goes beyond music ... it's about friendship and long lasting relation with others. You can use the spirit of PROG in day to day life and you will find PROG with joy. Yes, initially I met people like mas Edi because of the need to form coalition of people who share similar taste in music. But after that we talk many things that go beyond the limits of musical taste.

I was very lucky meeting with him at that event where we discussed about prog at one corner of the cafe where the poster of Beardfish bassist was put on the wall. The first thing asked him was: "Who plays this music" when I heard the loudspeaker sounded the music that I never heard before, packed with violin sounds. He said it humbly : "Cosa Brava". And then I said "What? How do you spell it?". That indicates how new the name came into my mind, really! Yeah ...finally I got it right after he spelled it out for me: COSA BRAVA. What a great name!

You know ...what was the first impression about the music of Cosa Brava? Very unstructured ...and very unpredictable! When I listened to the violin of Haggard, I could sort of predict where the music would go. Or with Jean Luc Ponty or Didier Lockwood ...generally I can get an overall sense on where the music is going. But definitely not for Cosa Brava. But ...even though unstructered, I really enjoy how the music flew while Mas Edi talked with me. Of course, as senior prog head he has abundant knowledge about who's who in Cosa Brava as well as other RIO music. It was quite hard for me to understand the music as everything was unpredictable. But ... in enjoying music, do I need to understand? I thought about it quite sometime and posted that question to Mas Edi. His answer was really simple: "The composition must be excellent because the musicians are all talented persons ... The only thing is because we do not get used to it ...". WOW! What a wise prog words for me really .... I made a long pause from the discussion and I remember vividly I was hearing the sounds of mechanical typewriter we typically had in the past ....you know the Brother or IBM trade mark of typewriter. What really a great nuance created from the sound!

We continued the prog discussion while letting the stereo set played this album by Cosa Brava. In some segments I requested some pause for a while to discuss the subtleties of the particular segment. Then I noticed that the beauty of enjoying RIO (rock mbeling) music is by letting the music flow as it is and enjoy any segment the music gives to me; do not ever try to predict what is going to happen ... Do not expect nice melody that plays across all segments in longer duration. The melody is at every segment. It's kind like disjointed at first experience. But as time passes by it will definitely grow on you. At first I could only enjoy the section with drums on second track titled strangely as "The Eyjafjallajkull Tango" (6:48). The combined drums and violin work is really stunning!

In this kind of music, I think the most important thing to understand the music, if we want to, is putting ourselves as the musician. This music must have been created for a reason, possibly to support the acts of certain story plot. In this case, of course it revolves around The Letter. Honestly, in this particular album, I know nothing about the plot but it must be something to do with a series of acts that depicts certain life situation where Letter becomes one of the critical point of the story - and then you have other events like Drowning, The Wedding, Nobody Told Me as well as Common Sense. How can I find my joy listening to this album? Through a series of segments that in themselves provide provide a profound experience for me, personally. One thing that makes me happy with this album is its sound quality which I consider as top class! You can hear all subtleties of the music throughout the tracks presented in this album. All the detailed work of each musician can be enjoyed in its utmost clarity especially if you play it at the decent stereo set using at least B&W speakers, or other high end sound system.

Judging from musical composition point of view, I would opt to say that "For Lars Hollmer", "The Eyjafjallajkull Tango", "The Letter", and "Common Sense" are favorite tracks. But the problem is then the track cannot be played its own as it must be placed on sequential basis ... So this kind of album can only be enjoyed if I play it in its entirety from start to end. I can find the brilliance of the musicians creating this intelligently crafted music for us. High salute to all musicians involved in this album!

What do you expect from me with the above novel-long elaboration? It's a FULL five star rating! Keep on proggin' ...!

Thanks to Mas Edi who showed me the hill of finding this kind of music.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 The Letter by COSA BRAVA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.72 | 12 ratings

BUY
The Letter
Cosa Brava RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by frippism
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

5 stars Another review done on base during the weekend?? Yep!

Ok, after Cosa Brava's first masterful album, "Ragged Atlas", I really couldn't wait for what Fred Frith and Co. had coming up next. Pretty much a RIO supergroup consisting of Frith (Henry Cow and much more), along with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's violinist and drummer (and husband and wife), Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi, respectively, along with Zeena Parkins (News From Babel), Secret Chiefs 3 bassist Shazad Ismaily, and the Norman Conquest doing production and sound engineering, Cosa Brava line-up is one of the more interesting ones for any fan of RIO and experimental music in general. With "the Letter", Frith once again displays his songwriting skills after many years of mostly exploring the improvisational side of music, mostly as a solo artist. Now with a full band and fully composed songs- Frith manages to show that he is one of the more versatile musicians today and ever. Frankly, the man is a genius. And this is one of the best album's he has made and truly up there for best albums for 2012.

The band's sound could be described as folky, jazzy, breathy, and less angular, than much of Frith's other work. The songs are heavily composed, played with near-perfection, the virtuosity of the musicians clearly visible. The song structures at times are very complicated, but done with such subtlety that in the beginning you won't even notice it. It is from multiple listens that you fully understand how much hard work must have been put make this music work, as the pinpoint accuracy by the musicians sounds so fluid but the more you listen the more you realize (well, not surprisingly) how Frith's melodies and rhythms are unorthodox.

It is a good thing Frith got on board of this album some of the best musicians out today, because thanks to them "The Letter" manages successfully to take these songs up and over what anyone would expect. Carla Kihlstedt, who I regard as one of my favorite musicians of today, manages to make her violin speak the melodies better than most people could. Her lines run along the album, cryptic at times, mysterious, and at other times being at the front, leading the song along. She has yet to touch an album that isn't at least worth a listen. Her husband, Matthias Bossi, has always had a minimalistic drumming style- and it works fantastically with the fairly calm atmosphere the album has, little sputters that give a lot to the album. I'd say, though, that probably the strongest element this album has is its production. The Norman Conquest, as he calls himself, manages to give the album such an open, breathy sound. Like there is always another layer of sound beating right under the one you just discovered- and many times there is another layer, which just makes you understand how thought out "The Letter" is. It is a "looking back to the past and sighing" album at times, and a strangely disturbing album at other times, as other-wordly psychedelic thingamabobs (auto-correct actually didn't spell check that!) and Frith's often sneering guitar work. It is in songs like "Jitters", which I thought in the beginning was just the CD being scratched (you know when a sound repeats itself), that the weird experimentation side that we all know and love a little more up front. This also happens to be one of the best songs on the album, and one of the more upbeat ones. The melodic beauty is always present on this album, but in songs such as the pen-ultimate "Common Sense" that can drive a simpleton to tears (may I add that there's a live version of the song somewhere in Youtube along with another fantastic 30 minutes of music).

I can't say I'm surprised I enjoyed this album so much, but this album is something else. Frith's songwriting is fantastic and heart wrenching at times, the band sounds tight as hell, and the production is some of the best I've heard. "The Letter" is an absolute masterpiece of music. I ain't afraid to say it.

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