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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 ú1000 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 27/8/2014

Steve (HolyMoly) ... team leader
Luca (octopus-4)
Ori (frippism)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)

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

4.33 | 1164 ratings
HOT RATS
Zappa, Frank
4.67 | 34 ratings
H─XAN
Art Zoyd
4.31 | 646 ratings
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Zappa, Frank
4.31 | 665 ratings
THE GRAND WAZOO
Zappa, Frank
4.30 | 208 ratings
SING TO GOD
Cardiacs
4.27 | 293 ratings
CHOIRS OF THE EYE
Kayo Dot
4.28 | 225 ratings
UZED
Univers Zero
4.31 | 126 ratings
IN EXTREMIS
Thinking Plague
4.52 | 35 ratings
Гуси-Лебеди / GEESE AND SWANS
Vezhlivyj Otkaz
4.27 | 191 ratings
A LITTLE MAN AND A HOUSE AND THE WHOLE WORLD WINDOW
Cardiacs
4.42 | 52 ratings
ZABRANJENO PLAKATIRATI
Buldozer
4.25 | 207 ratings
M┼LTID
Samla Mammas Manna
4.35 | 70 ratings
JEAN LOUIS
Jean Louis
4.24 | 201 ratings
HERESIE
Univers Zero
4.48 | 36 ratings
SIRENS AND SILENCES/WORK RESUMED ON THE TOWER
News From Babel
4.38 | 51 ratings
BOOK M
Secret Chiefs 3
4.23 | 162 ratings
WESTERN CULTURE
Henry Cow
4.30 | 71 ratings
DUCK STAB / BUSTER & GLEN
Residents, The
4.55 | 25 ratings
LETTERS HOME
News From Babel
4.26 | 96 ratings
BARBARO (MA NON TROPPO)
Present

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

PLATYPUS
Sotos
LABIRINTO D'ACQUA
Yugen
AHVAK
Ahvak
MYRORNAS KRIG
Myrbein

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Latest RIO/Avant-Prog Music Reviews


 Hńxan  by ART ZOYD album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.67 | 34 ratings

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Hńxan
Art Zoyd RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Once again, Art Zoyd undertakes creating a soundtrack for a silent film. This time the film is about witchcraft and the way those that were suspected of being witch were tortured. The film itself is highly regarded, and Art Zoyd was commissioned to do the music this time instead of doing it on their own. So, in most cases, soundtracks don't stand alone very well. But, as we have seen before, Art Zoyd can make a soundtrack that easily stands on it's own. Does it happen this time? Absolutely.

This album stands as one of the best avant-prog albums out there. The music is absolutely amazing, dramatic, dynamic and deserves to be called modern classical music. This is some of the best music in this genre. Even though AZ was performing mostly electronic and keyboard generated music at this time, (except for some cello, percussion and some strange vocals from time to time) the music is so well orchestrated and produced, that it sounds far from being manufactured, or at least you forget the fact that it is electronic.

This album is simply amazing. The music can be challenging, but the music demands to be listened to. Yes you can use it for background music, but you will miss how amazing it is if you do that. And there is way too much going on in the music that if you put it on as background music, you will find yourself constantly being distracted by it's complexity and it's amazingness.

The album starts out with a 35 minute track, which is actually a 7 movement composition. This one is closer to actual orchestration as far as the feeling of the piece. It consists of a lot of tension building movements that really see no release, just a lot of building of tension with a variety of devices. The pay off comes in the last 8 minutes of the piece in a tension breaker that will leave you speechless if you are really listening. Yes it is demanding, but there are plenty of smaller pay offs throughout the rest of the piece. It sounds more like a traditional orchestra for the most part, or at least more adapted to that format then the rest of the album. But that last 8 minutes is just astounding.

After this, the music has more of a modern sound, but it still incorporates classical technique and ideals. You will hear an obvious difference in "Nuits" as more modern techniques are used with strange sounds and etc., but there is still plenty of exciting and interesting melodies throughout the music, and it never gets boring if you are paying attention. A lot of things will fly right past you if you aren't listening. There are even a few passages where the music suddenly slips into a modern beat with a bass line and all, and you think, where in the world did that come from. It is not out of place by any means, it all fits together. The next 3 tracks are different parts of "Haxan" named after greek symbols or letters. "Haxan Phi" is very exciting, dramatic and excellent, "Haxan Xi" is shorter and more subdued, and "Haxan Psi" is a more quiet and flowing without a lot of change. It can tend to take you away into a meditative state.

Suddenly, the 17 minute track "Epreuves d'Acier" kicks in and acts like one of those things that composers used to put into their music to startle listeners back into a wakeful state. Careful here, because you will be startled because your volume has been creeping up and if you are not ready for it, you will be taken by surprise. This is another very dynamic and fluctuating piece with plenty of moods and wonderful passages that will intrigue you. The last piece is short and called "Marche". It is a quiet yet dark piece that ends the album.

It is very hard to describe just how great this music is. You really have to experience it to grasp how awesome it is. There are always changing moods, dynamics and structures. There are plenty of surprises. Anyone who loves their music challenging and intelligent needs to hear this and pay full attention to it. It is a masterpiece of the highest order and actually earns 6 stars in my own rating system and there are not many albums that earn that extra star. It is reserved for the best of the best. That is what this album is. But I can only give it 5 stars here, so there you go. Amazing music that needs to be listened to.

 Health and Efficiency by THIS HEAT album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
3.96 | 12 ratings

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Health and Efficiency
This Heat RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Sandwiched between their two better known full albums which have only continued to gain respect and admiration over the ensuing decades, THIS HEAT released HEALTH AND EFFICIENCY as a two track EP. Sounding nothing like the two main albums, this little gem is well worth hearing as it is totally original and sounds like it paved the way for lots of indie rock and electronica to follow. The album is available as a stand alone release but is also included in the mega-boxed set 'Out Of Cold Storage' which also includes the two main albums, the archival 'Repeat' and 'Live 80/81.'

The title track which is stated in the liner notes as being dedicated to sunshine, starts out with some post-rock jangly guitars but has a rather old time rock' n roll feel to it with lyrics. The mix of the male vocals and female vocals remind me a lot of bands like Stereolab. This EP was clearly an inspiration for all those indie rock bands such as Sonic Youth that sprang up in the 90s to the present time. This sound abruptly changes gear when the clock strikes 2:11 into the track and becomes a monotonous industrial funky bass clap with strange atmospheric embellishments breaking the spell every few measures. This continues for a full 8:12 and keeps building more and more sounds, voices around the no wave type riff that is kind of funky, punky and drony simultaneously. Towards the last couple of minutes we get bombastic drumming and a highly distorted dissonant ending that fades into oblivion.

The second track 'Graphic / Varispeed' is an 11:22 long drone that buzzes on and on with pitch changes at random moments and doppler effect type atmospherics occurring from time to time. What should be a very hypnotic and uninteresting track surprisingly has enough subtle variations in the tones, pitches and tempo of a single sustained note to keep me entertained for its duration. While this originally was released on vinyl, this track was meant to be played at various speeds on a turntable. It was an invitation for the listener to experiment with 16, 33 1/3, 45 or 78 rpm. This track reminds me of some of what Coil would continue but also reminds a bit of some of the most out there ambient of 70s including Brian Eno. Definitely a recommended short but sweet album that matches the extremely bizarre album cover.

 Have I Offended Someone? by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
3.23 | 26 ratings

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Have I Offended Someone?
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If you like Frank Zappa's humor but you don't want to sift through his other great music to find it, then this is the collection for you. Yes, for the most part, these are remixes or different versions from what you might have heard previously, but they are not different enough to be disappointed for the lovers of his humor. For me, I would rather hear it in lesser concentrated amounts, because even though I find some of the humor funny, I would rather listen to the challenging music that he produces, so this album is a little too much of the same for me. But it does serve the purpose of gathering most of the funny music all in one place.

For those Zappaphiles that have to have everything, this collection might have some value because of the alternative versions that are one here. In some cases, like "Bobby Brown" and "We're Turning Again" the new versions are better than the originals (especially "we're Turning Again" because that annoying processed vocal has been replaced by a regular live vocal which is much better). In other cases, the changes are not better, but worse as in the case of "Disco Boy" which wasn't that great before but now have even worse vocals. "Goblin Girl" was bad enough before, but is another one that is even worse now with the stupid sound effects now put on reverb making them more annoying. By the way, did you know that song was originally written to sell to the Disney corporation?

There are some surprises here including "Yo Cats" which doesn't change much, and "Tinsel Town Rebellion" which are pleasant additions and lesser known of the tracks. The much better "Dumb all Over" is a much better live version compared to the original and is also extended to include a great guitar solo, but that is the only real guitar solo on the collection. This also contains no fusion or avant garde music, it's pretty much straightforward in order to appeal to those who are just looking for the humorous songs.

That's it, it's pretty much a novelty item with remixes and different versions. But some of the songs really don't sound much different while others are obviously different, some for the better and some for the worse. There is enough variation from the originals though to generate interest for Zappa collectors, including the addition of new lyrics in a few songs, but others are actually edits like "Titties and Beer". So just know that some changes are worth while where others are not or even non-existent. Decent enough with appeal for the masses, but nothing out of the ordinary is on this collection. 3 stars.

 Lavoro D'Amore by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.58 | 15 ratings

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Lavoro D'Amore
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by presdoug

4 stars It is always fun to discover something completely new, as is the Russian group ROZ VITALIS for me. I was approached recently to review their new album "Lavoro D'Amore", released in March of 2015. ROZ VITALIS was created by Composer/Keyboardist Ivan Rozmainsky in 2001, and there have been several lineup changes over the years. According to the PA bio on the band, they have a whole plethora of influences, from LE ORME and GENTLE GIANT, to KING CRIMSON, ELP, and TRIUMVIRAT, among others. I have broken down my review of Lavoro D'Amore into a track by track analysis.

The Acknowledgement Day-From this beginning composition, right away, I was impressed with the group's very lyrical approach to songwriting and playing, and the resultant broad and expansive approach with their instrumentation-there is power on this track, but the instruments playing are given "room to breathe", which makes things quite nice and accessible.

Lavoro D'Amore-This, the title track, starts with some quite lovely guitar work, and the same can be said for the keys and flute arriving on the scene. Again, this very lyrical playing is a real winning aspect of things, and this is definitely music that I feel I'd love to return to!

Unanticipated- Starting off with some eloquent keys, a chugging bass guitar and drums beat, and some quite effective, atmospheric trumpet sections, this is music that is going places, and immediately draws the listener into it's journey.A very interesting approach on this number; I've never heard anything quite like it, really. Quite refreshing in it's overall effect.

Il Vento Ritorna-An almost PFM like intro highlighted by some absolutely astounding flute playing, then interplay with organ, guitar, bass and drums; this is one of the most complex tracks on Lavoro D'Amore; things are somewhat scattered, instrumentally, but ROS VITALIS never lose track of the "musical thread". Impressive.

There Are The Workers Of Iniquity Fallen-This track kind of reminds me of early 70s Banco (Darwin!, specifically), and it transports the listener into a wonderful sound world, highlighted by the keys playing to great effect, with some chimes. When the drums and bass kick in, you know you are really going places!

Need For Someone Else-The beginning of this track is more modern sounding, and is definitely one of the album's most charging and driven areas. Instrumentally, things are all over the place, but, again, the band have a knack for "reigning things in" just a bit so as not to lose focus. Near the end, though, things slow down, sounding like the soundtrack to a movie of some sort, then fading away at the end.

Invisible Animals- Some great bass runs open things, and both bass and drums get quite adventuresome. Things are tempered, somewhat, by the atmospheric synths in the background. Then, the drums and bass disappear, and the sound becomes more intimate. This kind of brings to mind LE ORME at times.

Every Branch That Beareth Fruit-What a beautiful piano intro, this song is breathtaking in an almost TRIUMVIRAT sort of way! As things gently move on, this track kind of depicts, for me, childhood, and all it's wonder and innocence. Deeply moving.

Ascension Dream (Peak Version)-What a nice piano and flute interplay, at the beginning.Dreamlike, and then the drums, bass, and some trumpet kick in, making for some real "travelling music".

What Are You Thinking About?- Guitar and drums are pretty much to the fore at the beginning of things, building up like a crescendo, then things move on a more even plane with keys, bass and drums all making their presence felt. I think I would prefer a bit less guitar and the keys more up front, on this number. Still, though, quite engaging music.

Ending-Some tight drumming, and beautiful guitar and keys and also trumpet bidding us an instrumental "farewell". Kind of one of those songs you don't want to end, but you know it will.

I give this album a solid 4 stars.

 Have A Bad Day by RESIDENTS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.41 | 14 ratings

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Have A Bad Day
The Residents RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Long before the corporate product by the name of Bon Jovi suggested we "Have a Nice Day", the oddball eyeballs suggested we "Have a Bad Day. Other than having opposite titles, the two albums have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, they might just be exact opposites. As bad as Bon Jovi is though, it doesn't necessarily mean that this Residents album is good. On it's own, it is taken out of the total context, and to listen to it on it's own is a little tough, but with The Residents producing multi-media works during this time, that seems to be the case with the albums produced by the band at this time.

In this case, "Have a Bad Day" is a soundtrack from the CD-Rom game called "Bad Day at the Midway". Being produced by The Residents, you know right off the bat you are going to get some of the darkest humor out there. The Residents seem to take a fairly safe situation like a child's tale (The Gingerbread Man) or a happy occasion like going to the circus (Freakshow) and turn it into something scary and disturbing. Such is the case here. The game is actually and interactive story that has 5 outcomes which all end up in death. (I have not played the game, I'm just going off of reviews.) Apparently, the story was also going to be used for some kind of series (TV I think) under the production of Ron Howard. The Residents were only going to be used as consultants in the making of the series. This never happened.

As you can expect, the music definitely loses it's meaning without the media that it is attached to, and what you end up with is a bunch of mostly electronic music that sounds like a soundtrack. Most of the album is instrumental, but there are some lines from the story and some spoken word. This is very reminiscent of the previously mentioned albums put out in the same period, dark, odd and strangely disconnected when played without the companion media that it is tied to. So, you can expect weirdness without purpose when listening to this without the game. It might make more sense if you are familiar with the story in the game, or it might not. It is definitely interesting enough, and it is typical mediocre output from The Residents that was for the most part expected and probably intentional knowing The Residents.

It's always funny to me when someone mentions a band and say something like "These guys are really different." After becoming familiar with The Resident's music, I believe that it doesn't get any weirder. Sometimes it works very well as in "Demons Dance Alone", but in most cases, it is hard to listen to, dark and depressing and yet it's satirical. Someday I might find the game and maybe I'll get it, but on it's own, it is just like any typical soundtrack done with electronics and keyboards. Not a favorite of mine though there are a few highlights, but not enough to keep things interesting. Let's keep this one for the collectors and fans only. 2 stars.

 Bad Trip Simulator #1 by SATANIQUE SAMBA TRIO album cover Studio Album, 2011
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Bad Trip Simulator #1
Satanique Samba Trio RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by JackHustler

— First review of this album —
5 stars Although not widely regarded as such, Bad Trip Simulator #1 is a crucial moment on Brazilian music.This is the point where Satanique Samba Trio goes full bezerk on Brazilian music's clichÚs, a project a few researchers suspect they had been developing since day one. Here, in a flagrant intent of aesthetical deconstruction, they mock and twist a great number of commonplace artifices Samba Music is known for. Trained ears will probably understand the message as soon as the percussion intro on "Banzo Bonanza" (track number 1) hits the speakers: a traditional drum roll called "rufo-de-repinique", commonly used in the end of most samba-de-partido-alto songs goes head first into the CD. From then on, one can perceive cavaco riffs being stretched into oblivion, time signatures that weren't-supposed-to-be and the constant deformation of concepts indigenous to Samba Music and its variations (i.e. samba tradicional, samba de terreiro, samba de enredo, bossa-nova, etc). Their research on both mapping and deconstructing Brazilian music would become even more evident in their next album, Bad Trip Simulator #3, one of my favorites ever.
 Hammersmith Odeon by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 2010
4.28 | 47 ratings

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Hammersmith Odeon
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars There are some Zappa live albums that are just okay, some that are not so great, and then there are those that are excellent and highly recommended. This one falls in the latter category and should be one that every Zappa fan owns and one that the curious listeners that want to explore Zappa should get if they run across it.

This is a collection of highlights from a four or five night concert at the Hammersmith Odeon recorded during the last days of January 1978. The band line-up was one of the best and included Adrian Belew, Tommy Mars, Terry Bozzio, Patrick O'Hearn, Ed Mann, and Peter Wolf. This was probably one of the best rock band line-ups that toured with Frank. One of the big pluses for these live performances is Bozzio's amazing drum work which give each track so much more new life.

Most of the excellent album "Shiek Yerbouti" was recorded during these live performances, even though that album is considered more of a studio album because of the addition of so many overdubs on top of the live sessions, and for most of the songs on that album, the audience noise is very minimal. This album includes all of the crowd noise and uses different performances than what was used on Shiek Yerbouti, so you get the concert performances pretty much as they happened during this period of time.

This album also contains 3 discs of over 3 hours of music. Even though a lot of the tracks come from the album "Shiek Yerbouti", there are also other great tracks, some of them well known and oft used and others rare and seldom heard. The 1st disc has the usual "The Torture Never Stops" but with Bozzio's drums, the song takes on a life of it's own and it keeps moving quickly. Bozzio enhances Frank's improvisations like no one else and keeps them from dragging like they sometimes do. There is also a 20 minute version of "Pound for a Brown" which turns into a jazz fusion piece with plenty of keyboard soloing between Tommy and Peter.

The 2nd disc is more centered around Frank's lewd humor and there is a lot more audience participation here. The first 13 minutes is devoted to "I Have Been in You" which is lampooning Peter Framptons "I'm in You" and has a long explanation of the purpose of the song. Just like on "Shiek Yerbouti", this track follows into an excellent version of "Flakes" and then "Broken Hearts are for Assholes". We then get away from SY and get the hijinx of "Punky's Whips" and "Titties and Beer" and a lot of audience participation to show you just how crazy FZ's concerts could be. "Black Page #2" in this case is done with synthesizers and drums instead of the slightly better version which previous to this concert had been done with the jazz band lineup. Even though I like the jazz version better, this one is still good and you can hear why it's so difficult for a jazz band to play. "The Little House I Used to Live In" is another great fusion piece that ends this disc.

Finally, the 3rd disc has some great rare material like "Dong Work for Yuda", "Envelopes", and an original drum solo "Terry Firma". "Bobby Brown" comes with another explanation about the inspiration for that hilarious song, "Disco Boy" is an interesting very rock-ish version that gets extended treatment that goes into a very avant-garde percussion solo, "King Kong" turns into a guitar improv piece for FZ (Usually this is an extended jazz fusion piece, but FZ uses it to jam on the guitar this time). After the band blasts quickly through some kind of lame versions of "Dinah Moe Humm" and "Camarillo Brillo" (this is the weakest part of the album because they hurry through them so fast, but then add in some "eyebrows" to keep it interesting) they go directly into one of the best versions of "Muffin Man" ever. If this wasn't enough, the band comes back for a double encore with another amazing version of a classic, this time "Black Napkins" which is also one of the best versions of that, then a very rockabilly version of a fairly rare old track called "San Ber'dino".

This collection ranks up there with some of Frank's best recordings, especially live recordings. It was released posthumously by the Zappa Family Trust in 2010 and is a definite essential album since it is one of the best live albums in Zappa's discography and has some of the best sound on any of his live albums. At times, you swear you are listening to new studio versions, even in some case, improved versions of songs. This album also carries a lot of the excitement from the concert. This one should not be missed and is a great representation of that time in Zappa history. 5 stars.....essential for anyone wanting to explore Zappa or already loves Zappa.

 Misantropicalia by SATANIQUE SAMBA TRIO album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.45 | 4 ratings

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Misantropicalia
Satanique Samba Trio RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars SATANIQUE SAMBA TRIO is a very strange band from Brasilia, Brazil. Their name and imagery suggest a black metal band, but this is more of a parody of black metal because this is nothing even remotely close soundwise. The name is also a misnomer as this is neither Satanic nor a trio. The band throughout its history ranges from five to seven members. This music is actually a hybrid of the avant-prog of such greats as Henry Cow or Univers Zero mixed with traditional Brazilian pop and avant-garde samba jazz.

The instruments consist of guitar, bass, drums, trumpet and cavaquinho which is a small Portuguese guitar with four strings. This music is very avant-garde to say the least utilizing the most dissonant avant-prog and RIO leanings as heard in the strangest offerings of Henry Cow, Art Zoyd or Aqsak Maboul only presented with samba-jazz instrumentation. The weaving of traditional Brazilian sounds into the mix is what makes this truly unique. While the samba sound can be discerned at times, it is often obfuscated and twisted with extremely complex time sigs and electronic manipulations.

While the best of what this band has to offer from their future releases is here on the debut album MISANTROPICALIA, they also have a strange fascination with "The Snow EP" from Coil on a few ambient tracks with the vocals and melody almost identical to that release. If you are not familiar with Coil's music this could be an interesting addition outside the avant-samba offerings heard here but i find it a little irritating to hear it here interspersed between the regular tracks. It sounds like they just throw in the ambient vocal tracks for filler and it is basically too much of a Coil rip off for my comfort. This is a decent slice of avant-prog-jazz by SST but it is better displayed on the following albums "Sangrou" and "Bad Trip Simulators 2 & 1" where they shine in their fullest avant-garde samba jazz regalia.

 Lavoro D'Amore by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.58 | 15 ratings

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Lavoro D'Amore
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album is the first I have heard from this mostly instrumental band. They come from Russia and play an interesting style of music that seems to fall somewhere between stoner rock, fusion and sometimes avant-garde. Upon reading the description of the music on this album, I was interested in hearing what this music was all about seeing that it seemed to defy categorization.

What I hear is some very well composed music. The songs all seem to be written by people who know how to write great compositions and the musicians seem to be able to perform well enough. The place that seems to be sadly lacking here is in the production. There are places that sound really impressive from time to time, but the production for the most part sounds a bit amateurish and makes the flow of the music quite rough and uneven. This ruins the overall sound of music that would otherwise be quite amazing. I can hear a lot of inspiring sounds and there are times when the music starts to draw you in. But then you hear some unevenness in the sound or some rough transitions that take away from what would otherwise be amazing music.

I have to say there are times when I am reminded of some early Mike Oldfield when he was experimenting with actual instruments and not electronics, and that is a good thing. But the sound of the production almost sounds like it came from that era too at times. Specifically, I'm talking about the tracks "Unanticipated" and "Ascension Dream" with the combination of electric guitar, brass and keyboards, this reminds me of Oldfield's "Hergest Ridge". Then, in the track "There Are Workers of Iniquity Fallen" (which proves to me that the music was well written, just badly produced) where there are very strong leanings towards avant-garde dissonance and minimalism which builds to a very nice climax that brings the song to a close. "What Are You Thinking About" actually reminds me of early Porcupine Tree, and I mean really early, I'm talking about their self- produced material from "Tanquin's Seaweed Farm" or "The Nostalgia Factory", but then the track builds away from this with a nice plucked guitar and excellent bass line. After a while though, you get some cheesy sounding keyboards that make the music sound dated. Another instrument would have produced better results here. This track is a good example of the inconsistency of the production because at first it sounds very amateur but later sounds professional as it continues to the final theme. But there is still the overall hints of roughness, and not in a good way. There are occasions throughout the album also where a different instrument would have produced a more updated sound, but this is really not the main problem. The big issue has to do with the choppy production which really takes away from what is very well written music. This is really a shame because I think this would have been 5 star material if the production wasn't so bad, if mixing had been done better and if some of the instrumental sounds were updated.

As it is, I can only rate this as 3 stars and the reason why it is that high is because of the high quality of the composition. I'm very sorry to say that the production and the mixing really make this album suffer because I can hear genius in the structure of the music, if only it was presented in a better way.

 BrossaKlitt by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 37 ratings

BUY
BrossaKlitt
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm not normally a big fan of music that is very fast and starts and stops on a dime. This reminds me of some of those Japanese bands that play in this style, and while it's impressive it's not that enjoyable for me. POIL also features vocals and multi-vocals that also go a million miles an hour as we get these chanting and singing acrobatics. The thing is that this band not only impresses me with their abilities to do this but it is actually enjoyable for me for the most part. While these guys are French I do keep hearing English words at times that are vulgar and maybe this isn't surprising given the art work that looks like a picture of an orgy and I understand the title is in reference to a rather loose woman.

"Fionosphere" opens with strange sounds before we hear yelling and shouting as the music kicks in with drums leading the way. A calm before it starts to build 2 1/2 minutes in. Love the sound here at 3 minutes, so much going on. Deep Zeuhl-like vocals after 3 1/2 minutes join in before the complex instrumental workouts return. Contrasts continue. Insanity before 6 minutes and some crazy vocals before 8 minutes before those Zeuhl- like vocals return late. An intense ending to this one. "Introklitt" is a short piece with bizarre sounds and vocals. "Brossaklitt" has some nice guitar in the intro before these crazy vocals take over. Some powerful instrumental sections are contrasted with the vocal/drum passages. "Patachou" opens with the vocals and intruments starting and stopping on a dime. So impressive. It then settles into a powerful groove with so much going on. Vocals are back and to my ears there's a Japanese vibe going on. Zeuhlish vocal sections come and go as well. A powerful sound before 5 minutes then back to the insanity. After 8 1/2 minutes you'd think the apocalypse has begun. "MAO" is different from the rest as we get this dance-like beat and an 80's New Wave sound with manipulated vocals. Quite catchy and full of energy until a calm arrives before 2 1/2 minutes but it doesn't last long.

"Goddog" has this complex and avant-garde instrumental work to start and it is difficult to get into until the vocals arrive and it settles down. These contrasts will continue. Distortion galore to end it. "Dins O Klitt" is short and dark with weird sounds and samples. "Pikiwa" opens with electric piano-like sounds that come and go before these insane vocal arrangements join in. A calm 2 minutes in as deep Zeuhl-like vocals arrive almost humming like "Aummmmm" over and over. Love when the drums kick in before 3 1/2 minutes then electric piano and more as the vocals shout. Man this grooves 6 1/2 minutes in as the guitar screams, this continues until just before 11 minutes then it turns even more insane. "La Balade Des Minouchoux" ends this album and it sounds almost normal with electric piano and picked guitar but even this has some crazy time signatures. Drums join in as these intricate sounds seem to be randomly played. It's more powerful before 3 minutes. So impressive!

I have to give this 4.5 stars just for the imagination of this band and their lights-out playing. Sure they sound like they might belong in a mental hospital of sorts and were allowed out to record this but if your into complex avant-garde music played at a high tempo you need to hear this.

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