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    Posted: November 18 2007 at 13:25
RATIONAL DIET - Rational Diet
 
The following is taken from the press release about the band from their label AltrOck:
"Belarus group 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. 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 Alexei Kruchenykh.
Influences:
Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Webern, Ives, King Crimson, Henry Cow, Art Bears, Univers Zero, Present, Debile Menthol"
 
 
 
Reviews:
RATIONAL DIET — Rational Diet
Review by Syzygy (Chris Gleeson)
Special Collaborator Zeuhl/RIO Specialist

4%20stars 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.

Posted Tuesday, November 06, 2007, 18:46 EST
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RATIONAL DIET — Rational Diet
Review by Sean Trane (Hugues Chantraine)
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Specialist

4%20stars 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.

Posted Thursday, July 26, 2007, 04:00 EST
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RATIONAL DIET — Rational Diet
Review by avestin (Assaf Vestin)
Special Collaborator Zeuhl/RIO/Avant Team

4%20stars 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.

Posted Sunday, June 10, 2007, 10:11 EST
Review Permanent link | Submit a review for this album

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
To listen to the band:
http://vozdookh.narod.ru/rati_diet.html
 
 
 
 
 

1. From The Grey Notebook - Intro (0:23)
2. From The Grey Notebook - Part 1 (5:05)
3. Stop Kolpakoff! (9:57)
4. I Refrained From Closing My Ears (12:15)
5. An Order For Horses (8:52)
6. Don't Swing The Wheel (10:37)
7. From The Grey Notebook - Part 2 (13:48)

Total time: 60:57

Line-up/Musicians

- Vitaly Appow / bassoon, tenor sax, accordeon
- Maxim Velvetov / guitars
- Cyrill Christya / violin
- Dmitry Maslovsky / bass
- Eugeny Alexeyev / keyboards
- Nikolay Gumberg / drums

Guest musicians:
- Alta Pustchina / cello
- Cyrill Yelshow / vocals (7)
- Maria Lagodich / vocals (5, 6)
- Andrew Bodanow / voice (3, 4, 6)
- Oleg Gorbatiuk / voice (4)

Releases information

AltrOck, ALT 002

 
 
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 18 2007 at 18:14
Good stuff!
 
Really run the gamut of the avard-garde field, somtimes avant-rock, sometimes avant-chamber music/rock, sometimes just full out avanty goodness. Never boring either, each song brings something new to the forefront.
Dig me...But don't...Bury me
I'm running still, I shall until, one day, I hope that I'll arrive
Warning: Listening to jazz excessively can cause a laxative effect.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 18 2007 at 18:22
As my review indicates, I like this album a lot. Rational Diet 's music is deep and extremely rewarding; there's a lot going on in their compositions, and repeated listening reveals something new every time. I look forward to hearing more from them.
'Like so many of you
I've got my doubts about how much to contribute
to the already rich among us...'

Robert Wyatt, Gloria Gloom


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 20 2008 at 20:07

As part of the curiosity of my food poll, I was listening to the Rational Diet songs on their MySpace page.  They were quite good.  Very much like listening to a symphony.  On their MySpace Page, they mentioned a new album available and each of the songs listed the album as 2008 Stalin's Line.  This might be of interest to their fans on PA.  It appears to be released or that it will be released on AltRock records like the previous album.  They also have 3 songs for download on their website that were performed in 2007 Live in Beshenkovichi. 

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