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Cos - Postaeolian Train Robbery CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.19 | 133 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars COS was one of Belgium's most unique progressive rock bands having formed out of the prior works of a previous band named Classroom which was founded by guitarist / flautist Daniel Schellekens or Daniel Schell for short. Having been raised in Brussels in artistic circles, the young musician took an interest in the fertile possibilities that took traditional French chanson and other cultural ethnic music and adapted it to the psychedelic and progressive rock forms that were emerging from the European scenes at the turn of the decade from the 60s to the 70s. The band known as Classroom that existed from 1968 to 1974 sowed the seeds of what would become COS (rhymes with "dose"), a name that was meant to represent a word in many languages but most importantly included three letters that were in the name Classroom.

While still Classroom, the band developed the sound that would eventually be heard on the first COS album POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY which took a lot of influences from the zeuhl scene like Magma but especially Zao with whom the band played with numerous times. The band went through many lineup changes as Classroom and as COS but the main lineup of Schell on guitars and flute and vocalist Pascale De Trazegnies who would become better known as Pascale Son as well as Schell's wife and bassist Alain Goutier. For this debut album the band also included Charles Loos on keyboards and piano, Robert Dartsch on drums and a second percussionist with Steve Leduc. Many guest musicians were included to record many of the Classroom tracks later on that would be included as bonus tracks on later issues of this album.

There are actually two versions of POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY (the name refers to a post-version of the musical scale). The first was released in 1974 and sports the rather flashy yellow and red striped album cover. This version consisted of seven tracks including the funk rock based "Karbok" that only appeared on the first vinyl release. The album saw no reissues until Musea Records re-released the album on CD in 1990. This newer version nixed "Karbok" and instead added four bonus tracks from the band when they were still Classroom and this is the album i personally own and recommend since the tracks from Classroom are every bit as interesting as those from the COS lineup. Really the only difference is the fact that as COS, Pascale scats nonsensical meaningless vocal utterances where her voice acts as extra instrument and as Classroom, the French language is used.

POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY gets off to a festive start with a cheery piano roll and Alan Stoop introducing the band members like a circus barker and after all introductions are completed the music turns darker and starts to generate a Canterbury tinged zeuhl rhythmic drive. COS was unique in that the band created an idiosyncratic fusion of the Zao inspired female vocal led zeuhl styles along with touches of avant-prog a la the Belgian scene and touches of jazzy rock right out of the Canterbury Scene courtesy of bands like Caravan, Gilgamesh and Hatfield & The North although those sounds would take on a more significant role on the band's sophomore release "Viva Boma." On POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY the tracks mostly exist in a rhythmic world of zeuhl with jazz-rock and progressive rock filling in the cracks. Each track is skillfully composed and technically charged with excellent musicianship cranking out highly complex progressive chops however most engaging of all are the phenomenal vocal talents of Pascale Son whose playful vocal styles are magnetic. She also contributes oboe.

Apart from the original track "Karbok" which sounds out of sync with the other tracks and rightfully removed on future releases, the seven tracks that appear on the newer releases are all phenomenal in their own way. POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY comes off somewhat as a jamming session only constructed with extremely complex passages that allow progressive jazzy chord progressions to whiz up and down the scales which allows Pascale Son to hit some seriously high notes. She is on full diva mode on this one. The other star of the show is keyboardist Charles Loos who brings the Canterbury sounds to the mix and delivers the finesse and technical wizardry on par with the greats of the day like Mike Ratledge, Dave Sinclair or Supersister's Robert Jan Stips. Add the sensual flute sounds, a chilled out percussive drive and a mesmerizing bass groove and you basically get the gist of what POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY has to offer.

COS was one of Belgium's more eccentric bands having released five albums from 1974-84 and each sounding completely different. While all the aforementioned ingredients appeared on many of the albums, the recipes were quite different. While most of POSTAELOLIAN TRAIN ROBBERY is dedicated to swanky vocal led jazz-rock numbers that take license to create some serious jamming improvisation, the finale "Coloc," the longest of the album just shy of 10 minutes is the true progressive behemoth of the bunch with highly complex piano workouts, mood enhancing organ antics and hairpin turns of angularity and interesting progressive workouts. COS' debut is a real gem of 70s Belgian prog which displays one of the rare examples of a band outside of England having been influenced by the Canterbury Scene (others include France's Moving Gelatine Plates, the Dutch band Supersister and Italy's Picchio dal Pozzo). This debut is interesting in that sometimes it eschews the Canterbury sounds and focuses on jazz-rock and zeuhl but the final track provides a glimpse into the next phase heard on "Viva Boma." Geez, even the older tracks from Classroom are excellent on this one! Highly recommended.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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