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RIO/AVANT-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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RIO/Avant-Prog definition

Avant-Prog

Avant-prog is an umbrella term which refers to any progressive rock artist with a strong leaning towards avant-garde and highly experimental approaches to music. Therefore, it includes the sub-genres of Rock In Opposition (see below) and Zeuhl in addition to general avant-prog artists.

Avant-prog is generally considered to be more extreme and 'difficult' than other forms of progressive rock, though these terms are naturally subjective and open to interpretation. Common elements that may or may not be displayed by specific avant-prog artists include:

- Regular use of dissonance and atonality.
- Extremely complex and unpredictable song arrangements.
- Free or experimental improvisation.
- Fusion of disparate musical genres.
- Polyrhythms and highly complex time signatures.

Most avant-prog artists are highly unique and eclectic in sound and consequently tend to resist easy comparisons. However, Frank Zappa is often cited as a major influence on many avant-prog artists due to his early adoption of avant-garde and experimental attitudes within a predominantly rock/jazz context.


Rock In Opposition

Rock In Opposition (RIO for short) is the name of a short-lived movement that has gone on to define a sub-genre of progressive rock, and which is now sometimes applied to musicians whose careers hadn't even started by the time the movement had ceased to exist in any official capacity. It is not synonymous with the term avant-prog, for whilst bands associated with RIO are (generally speaking) avant-prog in nature, most avant-prog bands are not associated with RIO.

The roots of RIO can be traced to Henry Cow, a UK progressive rock band with a distinctly avant-garde sound and left wing political ideology. Henry Cow toured extensively in Europe throughout much of the 1970s and came into contact with a few similarly inclined bands, in an ideological sense as much, if not more, than a musical one. These groups did not always have much in common stylistically, apart from a basic leaning towards fusing avant-garde qualities with elements of rock. Most of these bands were working independently at the time and had no distribution or realistic opportunity of touring outside their native countries. The idea of Rock In Opposition was to create an independent network of like-minded performers that would not be dependent on the largesse of major record companies for their survival.

Henry Cow invited four of these bands to play alongside them at the first Rock in Opposition festival on 12th March 1978, at the New London Theatre, Drury Lane in London. The British Arts Council helped the funding of the festival with a £1000 grant. The Rock in Opposition slogan "The music the record companies don't want you to hear" was altered very slightly for the flyer advertising the first Rock in Opposition concert.

The five initial Rock in Opposition bands were:

Henry Cow (England)
Univers Zero (Belgium)
Etron Fou Leloublan (France)
Samla Mammas Manna (Sweden)
Stormy Six (Italy)

Three additional bands were later officially elected to the movement:

Art Zoyd (France)
Art Bears (England)
Aksak Maboul (Belgium)

The involved bands had many disagreements in a meeting at Sunrise Studios in Kirchberg, Switzerland in December 1978 about the purpose of the group, and its meaning. They eventually came up with a plan to continue their joint concerts. They organised three more festivals and co-operative record distributions but eventually the RIO group dissolved. It left behind a legacy that would initially be picked up by later projects from the many musicians involved with the original movement, and later on by artists inspired by the original RIO groups. Miriodor and Ensemble Nimbus are often said to be influenced by Samla Mammas Manna, for example, and are consequently sometimes referred to as RIO bands.

Since 2007, a contemporary RIO festival has been held most years in Carmaux, France. This festival has included artists closely associated with the original RIO movement alongside bands from the wider world of avant-prog and experimental music.

Dates of the original RIO festivals

12 March 1978 at New London Theatre, Drury Lane, London, England (set up by Henry Cow)
26 April 1979 to 1 May 1979 at Teatro dell'Elfo, Milano, Italia (set up by Stormy Six)
28/29 September 1979 in Uppsala, Sweden (set up by Samla Mammas Manna)
Bruxelles, Belgium (set up by Univers Zero)

Useful links

Information on RIO from Chris Cutler's website

Additional historical information on Squidco

Written/Compiled/Edited by past and present members of the RIO/Avant-Prog team

Current team members:
as at 26/10/2019

Luca (octopus-4)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)

RIO/Avant-Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 RIO/Avant-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.34 | 1663 ratings
HOT RATS
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 995 ratings
THE GRAND WAZOO
Zappa, Frank
4.30 | 996 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Zappa, Frank
4.39 | 86 ratings
HÄXAN
Art Zoyd
4.28 | 272 ratings
WESTERN CULTURE
Henry Cow
4.47 | 57 ratings
LETTERS HOME
News From Babel
4.37 | 98 ratings
DECEIT
This Heat
4.27 | 351 ratings
UZED
Univers Zero
4.36 | 95 ratings
BOOK M
Secret Chiefs 3
4.26 | 304 ratings
HERESIE
Univers Zero
4.42 | 61 ratings
SIRENS AND SILENCES / WORK RESUMED ON THE TOWER
News From Babel
4.26 | 265 ratings
A LITTLE MAN AND A HOUSE AND THE WHOLE WORLD WINDOW
Cardiacs
4.35 | 88 ratings
Nº 6
Present
4.30 | 131 ratings
ON LAND AND IN THE SEA
Cardiacs
4.24 | 318 ratings
SING TO GOD
Cardiacs
4.27 | 184 ratings
IN EXTREMIS
Thinking Plague
4.24 | 299 ratings
MÅLTID
Samla Mammas Manna
4.22 | 384 ratings
CHOIRS OF THE EYE
Kayo Dot
4.49 | 39 ratings
JACKSON
Korekyojinn
4.28 | 112 ratings
DUCK STAB / BUSTER & GLEN
Residents, The

RIO/Avant-Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the RIO/Avant-Prog experts team

DOOR FLOOR SOMETHING WINDOW: LOOPING HOME ORCHESTRA LIVE 92-93
Hollmer, Lars
THE LITANIES OF SATAN
Galás, Diamanda
PLAGUE MASS
Galás, Diamanda
VÈCI
Combo FH

Latest RIO/Avant-Prog Music Reviews


 Caress of Compassion by COMPASSIONIZER album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.32 | 16 ratings

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Caress of Compassion
Compassionizer RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by nick_h_nz

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

Compassion' sounds like a warm and fuzzy word. And yet, when you think about it, it is almost the opposite. Compassion is essentially the sympathetic consciousness of, and concern for, the suffering, distress and misfortunes of others. Its Latin roots translate it almost literally as "suffer with". Not so warm and fuzzy then? I mention this because it is something I hadn't thought about before listening to Compasionizer's debut album, Caress of Compassion. I was expecting something cosy and comfortable, warm and inviting, and what I heard did not always match those expectations. So, then a 'Caress of Suffering', an almost paradoxical combination of ugliness and beauty wrapped up in twelve exquisite and atmospheric tracks, at once subtle and grandiose.

The album pulls the listener in gently with the quite beautiful yet vaguely unsettling Whole. There's a quote about compassion that I've seen do the rounds on social media several times over the year. It wasn't too hard to find an example, and this is what it said: "I don't just listen to your words. I listen to your use of words, your tone, your body movements, your eyes, your subtle face expressions. I interpret your silences. I can hear everything you don't say." Whole seems to be as much about what isn't present, than is. So while it might declare itself to be 'Whole', it leaves me feeling that it isn't. "I'm fine", it declares in words, while all other cues suggest otherwise. It's an absolutely fabulous opening number.

At this point, I should point out that the files I received did not have complete names, so 'Whole' was indeed not at all whole, as it is actually The Whole Creation Travaileth in Pain Together. So I reviewed an album based upon what I was hearing, and inferring, and it seemed to match the titles of the tracks. Yet they were not the full titles. I wondered whether to start the review again with this new knowledge, but instead merely inserted this paragraph as explanation.

The blurb I received declared Caress of Compassion to be "Melodic Atmospheric World Avant Music", and one aspect that I love about this is the various textures and tones provided by using instruments from both the west and the east. As Whole progressed, it started to remind me of the recent album from 3,14 which fused the instruments and instrumentation of west and east in a musical representation of the various peoples and cultures spread along the length of the legendary Silk Road. And yet, the ghost of Roz Vitalis (from which Ivan Rozmainsky of Compassionizer will no doubt be better known) is ever present, giving Compassionizer an avant edge missing from that descriptive blurb.

Street feels like a somnambulant walk down familiar roads, which I am prone to doing on routes so well known I can walk them on autopilot. There's a sense of haze and daze, and the beat is almost hypnotic, disappearing at times, the way I can be conscious of my footsteps, then not, as I drift away in my thoughts while continuing to walk. It's over before I know it ? just like those walks down those familiar streets. I had to check if it were just an interlude, because it seemed to be only a minute or so long. But actually, it's almost three-and-a-half minutes long.

The intriguingly titled How Poems is beautifully minimal, and yet very much present. Unlike Street's sleepwalking quality, How Poems booms and resonates in a quiet fashion, that precludes passive listening. I love what I assume is a bass clarinet in this number. It's absolutely wonderful. But further delights are not at all far away! Caress #1 begins with a delicate, almost Disney-like melody. It's the most beautiful passage so far, not seeming to have an undercurrent of something not so beautiful. This doesn't last too long, though, as it becomes less assured. The chiming delicacy of this Caress is irresistible.

Beware begins in a suitably spooky and ominous manner. The beat that kicks in comes as a complete surprise (though not a jump scare), and it's almost like listening to psychedelic-era Porcupine Tree, mixed with soundtrack-era Ulver. It's a trick and a treat ? and it's a glorious and unexpected one. So much so, that when the darkness returns with Heart (heart of darkness?), I suddenly realise I have been as incautious as Red Riding Hood, and forgotten to heed my warning. Beware? I heard no wolves (unless you count the aforementioned Ulver). Heart sounds almost like an admonishment, nevertheless. It almost comes across as a conversation between two parties ? one of which is giving the other some truths. There's a back and forth movement to the piece, but one half of this is definitely in a stronger position than the other.

I'm only halfway through the album. I could go on, but I feel like this is something that, if you've read this far and are still interested, you're already caught in the Sinkhole. Compassion can be misguided, and I'm well aware that I'm quite possibly reading into the music ideas which come from my own personal circumstances. Caress of Compassion feels like an album that will make every person feel something different, but will also without doubt make the listener think. This is the compassion, I feel, as the listener is drawn to think about what the music is telling them (or, as I alluded to earlier on, not telling them). Caress of Compassion is not a passive listening experience. It is not always a comfortable listening experience. But it is always a beautiful listening experience, and part of that beauty is the empathy the listener has for the music. This might well be Ivan Rozmainsky's best work yet! Wow!

 The Man Whose Wings Were Cut Off by ROZ VITALIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.94 | 7 ratings

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The Man Whose Wings Were Cut Off
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Devolvator

5 stars Despite the fact that the recording of the new single of incomparable ROZ VITALIS took a long time, this work turned out to be very atmospheric and intense. It is pleasant to realize that the ensemble, having developed its own corporate style, in which it has been moving for the last 10 years, has not changed its trajectory. Roz Vitalis every year stride through the world of progressive music with increasingly dense and dark steps. The group not only did not exhaust own powers, but began to sound much more voluminous and multi-layered, which speaks of the great contribution of each musician as a whole. Music has become much less avant-garde (like the earliest albums of Roz Vitalis), much more influence of the classics of the genre has appeared, which is highly appreciated by the leader himself Ivan Rozmainsky. These over 6 minutes, I am sure of this, will give the listener a particle of an ocean of musical thought and saturated quiet energy. For newcomers, the style of the group may not be so simple. For a more comfortable understanding of music, the term "quiet power" should be used. When the music does not cover you with a flurry of energy but goes to the very center of your soul, where it opens like a rose.
 Albert Marcoeur by MARCOEUR, ALBERT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.04 | 27 ratings

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Albert Marcoeur
Albert Marcoeur RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Often considered the French version of Frank Zappa, that is for those few who have even heard of him, ALBERT MARCOEUR has gained that reputation not so much for emulating the great Mothers of Invention leader but rather for matching him in musical dexterity, unbridled humor and the ability to transcend musical genres that craft music that is so far outside of the box that some may even doubt that this is music at all but alas! MARCOEUR not only crafts melodies albeit buttressed with unconventionalities but displays a sense of wackiness woefully absent outside of the music scene from the 70s when experimental artists were getting all heady.

However despite all the differences from Zappa, MARCOEUR did exhibit some similarities which meant he was one of the few to engage in unhinged freewheeling idiosyncrasies that still almost 50 years later allow his music to sound utterly unique and unlike anything that i've ever heard. And much like Zappa, MARCOEUR was a professional perfectionist who studied his craft from every angle. His journey began at the Conservatoire National de Musique in his native Dijon, France where he studied clarinet and in the early 60s he played in several bands including The Lake's Men.

Beginning in 1970 MARCOEUR worked with the Kapak group as a resident musician in the Studio Frémontel where he met clients such as Jean-Luc Ponty as well as other notable musicians of the era and it was here that he gained an extensive knowledge in the multi-track recording process in the studio. After years of leaning his craft and developing his own warped sense of style, MARCOEUR recorded his own twisted sense of reality and released his eponymously titled debut album in 1974. Graced with cover art of a Frankenstein fusion of musical instruments, the artwork perfectly symbolizes the sounds contained within.

With playful yet manic and complex fueled by energetic quirkiness and avant-garde adventurism, MARCOEUR's debut album is a goldmine of experimental musicianship run amok. With an unorthodox roster of instruments involved, MARCOEUR displays his own eclectic mastery of not only his clarinet skills but also of exotic percussion, pipes, saxophones, piano, bird calls, horns and whistles but also includes a league of lineup musicians featuring trombone, bottles (alto and bass), recorders as well as a chorus of crazy choral singers only this may be considered vocal experimentation rather than singing.

The downside to this one for those who don't speak French is that all lyrics are in that language and play a vital role in the album's absurdity as it's laced in as much humor as it is freak fueled spastic outbursts of avant-prog angularities, however even non-Francophiles can appreciate this as the silliness and playful nature transcends language barriers. Basically this album is a bizarre musical journey unlike any other. It plays out like a Mr Bungle album where things change unexpectedly and the stylistic approach morphs through an ever-changing mix of timbres, textures, tones and time signatures which is all on display with the album's opening track "C'est Rate, C'est Rate" which features a bizarre oddly-timed funk groove with a dissonant guitar riff and freaky tape manipulations along with sporadic percussion and madman vocals en français.

Described as a cross between an unplugged punk band and a carnival barker, one indeed can hear the great Zappa's influence here although MARCOEUR does an excellent job finding his own musical vision. While the instrumentation and avant-prog wizardry are out of the Zappa playbook, the vocal style is much more akin to the schizoid deliveries of Captain Beefheart and the album crafts a nice mix between accessible moments and complete utter unhinged madness. Listening to this it's fair to say that this guy surely must have been on Mike Patton's playlist and has obviously been a major influence for some of the modern avant-prog bands from France particularly the equally jittery bands PoiL, PinioL, ni and Vazytouille.

If you're looking for something unique from 1970s France, don't forget to include ALBERT MARCOEUR on your list with Magma, Moving Gelatine Plates and Ange. This is indeed for fans of Zappa but will also please those who love Henry Cow, Samla Mammas Manna, Aqsak Maboul and Ma Banlieue Flasque. Love it or hate it, you cannot say you've heard any other album like this that crafts a dexterous mix of experimental rock, avant-prog and zolo. MARCOEUR has continued to release many albums over the years and has remained fairly obscure until the age of the internet has allowed his unique musical visions find a new audience. Personally i find this self-titled debut to be as worthy as any of Zappa's craziest moments and despite the all French lyrics, much of the album is dedicated to instrumental workouts that prognosticated the complexities of the world of avant-prog. Excellent!

 J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.05 | 13 ratings

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J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kurtrongey

4 stars A stretch of foreboding instrumental prog with a flood of sludgy, Lovecraftian grooves. If you like that dark-for-dark's- sake early Univers Zero feel, this will be a comfy bed to curl up in. Demonic bass lines, macabre counterpoint, wordless soprano in long note values, and the occasional arcane whisper. You get the idea. For the first half of the album I admittedly found myself a little jaded with some of the more predictable conventions of the style and a couple of repetitive riff stretches that didn't quite bear fruit. Then about half way through, deeper atmospheres settled in, with the interesting instrumental detail and crisp snare drum work in "Heresy Flank," the more subdued "Mare," and the emotive violin of "Crystal Night." Make no mistake thought - they're really good at this.
 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
4.06 | 19 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Devolvator

5 stars "Wind, sand and dancing with snakes."

Exactly so, associatively, I would call this magnificent live release from the delightful and refined ROZ VITALIS.

The recording is especially remembered for the increased influences of flute and guitar, which were virtually minimized in the early days of the band's career. Now, there is a feeling as if in the vastness of this disc the British Camel and the progressors Gong, from the period of the Shamal album, met in a single battle (the latter flaunts a graceful desert that evokes associations with the music of Roz Vitalis).

When listening to this live album, there is a feeling of a vast desert, but not something lifelessly dead, but on the contrary: infinitely warm, flowing, universal, timeless.

Melancholic and rather bluesy style of playing Vladimir Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky walks through huge landscapes, like a rider wrapped in a shroud. The characteristic "crystal" still life of keyboards by Ivan Rozmainsky is also actively present on the album. Well, the virtuoso drumming by Evgeny Trefilov is just

like in the spirit of the early Genesis, which speaks of the musicians' great love for the classics of the genre.

All tracks presented on the album, although diverse, are combined into one common musical canvas, capable of giving odds to many representatives of the genre, both old school and contemporaries. And the quality of the release itself does not raise any doubts, which speaks of the mastery of the highest standard, and of the group, as a single living organism, flowing from one phase to another, while remaining itself.

 Furvent by GRAND SBAM, LE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.34 | 4 ratings

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Furvent
Le Grand Sbam RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Harold Needle

5 stars I'm in love, I really am!

After the stellar debut just a year prior, Le Grand Sbam comes back with their second effort, Furvent. The ensemble has grew with two new members now, including additional female vocal, keyboards (Rhodes/Moog Little Phatty) and cimbalom, and the cimbalom is an especially prominent part of Furvent's sound, bringing tons of oriental flavour into the mix. The first time around The Grand Sbam felt to me like a cross between an avant- garde prog band with a travelling satiric theatre, whereas now it feels like a real, proper contemporary music ensemble. In any case, let me tell you: the Sbam is more Grand than it ever was!

"La trace" opens up with an endless cascade of syllabes, and that's exactly what I want! Just so... so many beautiful syllabes! Let me tell you right away: the usage of human voices on this album is out of this world. The piece starts off very dense and rapid, but you will quicly find there is quite a lot of room for quiet, atmospheric moments, which I really like. I can feel I'm in an another universe, it's so god damn immersive. Overall, the suite is very much melodic and graceful, with some neat instrumental surprises (like an up-tempo vocal jazzy run or electronic, moody, Gwyn Wurst-style part towards the end) and dramatic vocals. And the coda, oh man, the coda sends me to the moon. Fantastic, magical, hats off!

"Nephèsh" is definitely my favourite piece on the album. It's not as massive or dense as "La trace", as it features only piano and group vocals. However, it's been stuck real hard in my head ever since I've heard if for the first time. The vocals are so lush and beautiful, I love every single voice: from high, melodic and dancy females to low, rhythmic and sarcastic males. It actually brings tears to my eyes, believe it or not. And Antoine Arnera's piano playing here, MY GOD!!!!! He's been my favourite keyboard player for a while, but what he does here is absolutely outstanding! So fast, yet so full of grace and feeling. His style is truly unique and awe-inspiring, and "Nephèsh" is a 1000% piano killer. I literally can't overstate how much I love it. I'd actually go as far as to say that this is one of the most favourite pieces of music I've heard in my life. Stunning, ravishing, unexplainably magical. I love it, love it with all of my soul!

"Yi Yin" is the main soundgrinder of the album, divided into eight parts and taking over half of the album. The piece is... well, it's massive alright. Gargantuan even. Very experimental, written so densely, I can't fully comprehend. Packed with many different moods, from dark and gloomy creeping chamer-zeuhl combo ("Les morts vont vite" by Shub-Niggurath comes to mind) to fast, wicked avant-prog a'la U-Totem's self-titled debut. I'm especially stunned by the endless supply of ridiculously complicated rhythms - stuff you'd expect to hear on a modern/contemporary music release (which, in its own way, Furvent really is). The composition is simply outstanding, some of the most impressive rock music ever had to offer. I stare at it in awe. How can you even write this stuff?!

"Choon Choon", hahaha! After nearly an hour of musical terror the band says "farewell" to the listener with a short, simple, sweet and dancy song. Very unexpected indeed. I'm gonna be completely honest - I don't really care for the song all that much, though I see it as a sweet, little cherry on the top: a refreshing aftertaste, if you will. Lovely, lovely.

Thanks to the kind people at Dur et Doux I was actuallly able to listen to the album long before even my pre- order CD arrived, and let me tell you: I will probably remember my first listen for the end of my life, it was really special. Truly a spectacular, fresh new way of combining zeuhl, avant-prog, contemporary music and many more influences. I would like to thank the band for making this record become a part of my life. Let's hope by the next release they're gonna grow into a full-sized symphonic orchestra (or at least get a bassoon player, that would be neat)! Whatever future brings, I'm waiting furiously. Vive le Sbam!

 Furvent by GRAND SBAM, LE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.34 | 4 ratings

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Furvent
Le Grand Sbam RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars The world is confused with coronavirus pandemic, nationalism / populism, riot, terrorism, or so. People all over the world feel uncertain. But please listen to Le GRAND SBAM's second album "Furvent", and we can hear that their sound style should always be confirmed, decent and credible. Their latest creation "Furvent", like the debut one, features complicated rhythmic basis, Zeuhlish female voices / shouts, and stylish, unified, completely matured melodic avantgardism. This combination might be noisy or harsh for avantgarde haters but for us Zeuhlers it would sound like an angel whisper actually.

Broadly speaking, this album consists of four parts - the topnote and masterpiece "La Trace", a short one "Nephesh", a magnificent suite "Yi Yin I", and a tiny epilogue "Choon Choon". Wondering why the masterpiece can absorb us ... the first shot of "La Trace" is dominant. Improvisation-like sound bombs are obviously deliberate and matured, and all instruments including voices, piano, bass, or percussion strictly build their rhythmic turf up, without any dissection nor dissonance. Cadent, modulated melodic development is also sorta treasure. This colourful appearance should grab our mind. In "Nephesh" we can enjoy fascinating piano plays, that be more and more complex than of Kagel but smart and beautiful, mysteriously. "Yi Yin I" is one of the most improvisational, most experimental stuff. It's pretty of Krautrock that randomized pieces of sound are precisely constructed to a brilliant musical jigsaw puzzle. Upon a burning desert ground, deep and heavy keyboard works, serious percussive voices, complex but incredibly supportive percussion plays, and explosive but rigidly harmonized instrumental summaries, are kinda killer. We the listeners should be immersed and intimidated all around for over 30 minutes but could feel like it wrap us up and end at a moment. The last track "Choon Choon" is very charming one, like samba, zamba, or tango ... as if we would listen anytime anywhere.

In conclusion, sounds like they say "There are lots of sarcastic or unexpected issues, but who cares? It's great our soundscape should maintain as it be". Really the second Grand Slam.

 Caress of Compassion by COMPASSIONIZER album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.32 | 16 ratings

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Caress of Compassion
Compassionizer RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Vanamonde

5 stars With their new album (the first one within the Compassionizer project) Ivan Rozmainsky and his team continue to explore new realms of the musical reality. It is an exploration in the proper sense of the word because as typical for this artist even within one composition he rarely gets stuck in one motif even happily found but always boldly proceeds his way through the limitless space of musical associations and reflections. The Whole Creation Travaileth in Pain Together, one of the best works of the album, with its feel of disturbing suspense and oriental touches inventively created by the rubab and doira opens both the album and this twisted adventure as quite consistent with its title. May be my favorite of the whole collection is 1907 with its the noble and persistent ardor and beautiful baroqueness of the melody. The music of the whole album combines fluidity and precision in expressing the richness of human moods and emotions, and by the way it is why I can easily imagine many of these compositions as a great accompanying melody for an art-house movie. It is definitely a big success of Ivan and the team and a next important step in their musical evolution.
 Roxy: The Movie by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.55 | 26 ratings

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Roxy: The Movie
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I've had the vinyl double album of this performance in heavy rotation on my turntable since it came out in the 70s. I still consider it one of the best live LPs I've ever heard. I won't go too far into the music end of things because you can just read my glowing review of it for yourself. But recently I came across the film version on Amazon Prime and, impossible as it seems, made me even more appreciative of what Frank and his band accomplished that particular night. What the record wasn't able to convey was the pure joy the musicians were exuding while playing some of the most complex material imaginable purely from memory. You'd think they were playing something akin to "Gloria" by their casual mien when, in fact, it's obvious throughout the show they're having the time of their lives. If you are of the younger set and have often wondered what all the fuss is about Mr. Zappa I highly recommend you dial this movie up soon and get ready to pick your jaw up from the floor often. No fancy light show or special effects needed for this uber-talented bunch. In my estimation there's never been anything quite like it in the history of progressive music and I'm tickled pink that it's been preserved for all time to come.
 Dawn of the Cycads by BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2008
4.00 | 5 ratings

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Dawn of the Cycads
Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars This fabulous compilation was my first contact with the Birdsongs, and still remains my favourite. It's not only that each individual track contributes with its own value to the final score: besides, they were selected and sequenced conforming a fine album, and offering a superb listening experience, because the sound quality of the magnetic tape recordings included here was decisively improved, in order to match the rest of it.

The musical content is an instrumental venture into the evocation of sounds and voices of mesozoic life forms (whatever they might have sounded like, that's why tou need to be conducted by the musicians fantasy). You will find here classics from their almost unknown repertoire, including the emblematic "Ptoccata", as well as a tip to their early academic influences with "(Excerpts from) The Rite of Spring" of Igor Stravinsky.

I find the live batch less appealing, but, by the moment you get there, probably it won't matter to you.

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RIO/Avant-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
1870 (MIL OCHOCIENTOS SETENTA) Mexico
LA 1919 Italy
3 MICE Multi-National
5UU'S United States
THE A BAND United Kingdom
A-MUSIK Japan
A.P.A.T.T. United Kingdom
ABSOLUTE ZERO United States
AFENGINN Denmark
AFTER DINNER Japan
AFUCHE United States
AHLEUCHATISTAS United States
AHVAK Israel
AIR CANDA Russia
AKINETÓN RETARD Chile
AKSAK MABOUL Belgium
ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT Finland
ALBOTH! Switzerland
TOM ALDRICH Netherlands
ALEX'S HAND United States
ALFIE RYNER France
ALTERED STATES Japan
AMOEBIC ENSEMBLE United States
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THIS HEAT United Kingdom
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