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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 Ł1000 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

4.33 | 1599 ratings
HOT RATS
Zappa, Frank
4.33 | 953 ratings
THE GRAND WAZOO
Zappa, Frank
4.31 | 945 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Zappa, Frank
4.30 | 337 ratings
UZED
Univers Zero
4.42 | 81 ratings
HÄXAN
Art Zoyd
4.30 | 263 ratings
WESTERN CULTURE
Henry Cow
4.39 | 92 ratings
DECEIT
This Heat
4.39 | 91 ratings
BOOK M
Secret Chiefs 3
4.31 | 183 ratings
IN EXTREMIS
Thinking Plague
4.42 | 66 ratings
TAIGA
OOIOO
4.26 | 299 ratings
HERESIE
Univers Zero
4.47 | 52 ratings
LETTERS HOME
News From Babel
4.25 | 305 ratings
SING TO GOD
Cardiacs
4.31 | 125 ratings
ON LAND AND IN THE SEA
Cardiacs
4.35 | 87 ratings
Nş 6
Present
4.24 | 384 ratings
CHOIRS OF THE EYE
Kayo Dot
4.25 | 289 ratings
MĹLTID
Samla Mammas Manna
4.41 | 59 ratings
SIRENS AND SILENCES / WORK RESUMED ON THE TOWER
News From Babel
4.28 | 139 ratings
RISK
Far Corner
4.53 | 37 ratings
JACKSON
Korekyojinn

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

PLAGUE MASS
Galás, Diamanda
SECONDE ERE
Xaal
KILLED BY CHARITY
X-Legged Sally
PLAYS STANDARDS
Ground Zero

Latest RIO/Avant-Prog Music Reviews


 Simulacrum by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.62 | 10 ratings

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Simulacrum
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars Trying to follow or understand John Zorn's discography can be quite confusing. The fact that his album history is quite extensive, which can be verified by looking up his name in the Archives, is one thing, but the fact that he often works with other established bands like "Secret Chiefs 3" or "Abraxas" or that he has assembled separate groups on his own such as "Moonchild Trio" (with Mike Patton) to meet standards to play certain compositions he has written makes it even more confusing. Add to that his many different album series like "Filmworks" and the "Masada Books", one can easily get confused. Each album is also a surprise as far as how it will sound as Zorn has pretty much touched on every genre out there, but he brings his own avant-prog style to everything he does, sometimes heavy on the improvisation and other times very structured.

"Simulacrum" is one of those bands that Zorn assembled in order to play some of his compositions. This band has released 7 albums under Zorn. The band consists of 3 musicians; John Medeski from "Medeski, Martin, and Wood" (organ), Matt Hollenberg from "Cleric" (guitar), and Kenny Grohowski from "Abraxas" (drums). This is the core band, however some of the albums they have recorded also have guest members such as Trey Spruance from Secret Chiefs 3. On the eponymous album however, only the core band is contributing. Zorn does not contribute any instrumentation, but instead, as in a lot of the albums listed in his discography, he is composer and producer.

The basic sound of this album seems to hover around the progressive metal style with some math rock and jazz fusion thrown in, but, if you notice, there is no bass. The organ tends to take on this role along with the fact that the organ also drives alot of the sound here, and that is what makes this whole thing unique. Hollenberg does take the lead on the guitar more often then not, but the mix with the organ is a sound in and of itself. Though the music is mostly from the metal realms, it isn't afraid to explore other territories.

From the beginning with the 12 minute "The Illusionist" we are thrown into an ever shifting kaleidoscope of styles, beginning with a chunky guitar laden sound with revolving meters to an almost psychedelic and atmospheric organ section that suddenly sees the organ and guitar working together to hold it all somewhere between chaotic feedback and guitar strangulation and jazzy, yet bluesy organ trying to hold it all down. Yet, it flows together seamlessly. And, of course, you can expect the unexpected with dissonant passages and enticing, unique harmonics, since, after all, this is John Zorn. We even slip into a uplifting "Deep Purple" style organ passage that ends up slipping right back out to a chaotic back and forth interplay with the guitar and organ while the drums try to fill in for the atmospherics, but soon gives up and just goes wild. It suddenly shifts at about the 8 minute mark and becomes peacefully flowing, but soon builds to a heavy rock sound again with a nice organ and screechy guitar chords behind it. The music continues to move from fairly standard heaviness to crazy over-the- top wildness without even taking a breath. Zorn is one of the best composers/musicians that can marry rock, metal, jazz and classical styles and he does it so easily while so many bands out there end up just stumbling around with the usual sounds that they have been trying to work with for decades. Zorn does it like a slap to their faces, and in the meantime, he goes mostly unrecognized and ignored by those that should praise his talents.

The next 4 tracks are shorter tracks lasting around 3 ? 5 minutes. All are instrumental, of course. "Mamarath" works off of a repeating guitar riff while other layers of guitar, organ and drums whirl around increasing and decreasing in intensity. The organ will suddenly run off the rails with everything, but after suddenly stopping, the guitar riff brings it all back to earth again. "Snakes and Ladders" is more atmospheric and mysterious sounding with the organ floating around, but then a sudden complex rhythm pattern brings in the guitar and things soon intensify again. The guitar and organ copy each other on a repetitive riff and then the guitar takes off again but is suddenly stopped by an abrasive organ. There's more "normal" jamming then sudden destruction with chaotic sections passing back and forth like its all natural. "Alterities" is like the melding of several short passages glued together and often interrupted by sudden pauses and crazy progressive phrasing, dissonant noise and such, at times becoming almost comical. "Paradigm Shift" starts with a droning organ, but is soon joined by a boiling guitar riff and crazy drum fills. As it goes on, the guitar and organ become more free to wander and provide sudden blasts of power.

The last track is the almost 13 minute "The Divine Comedy". The wild shifting of genres continues here, of course it is all over- seen by the metallic feel, but it amazingly slips from jazz to tech metal, sometimes even merging both, with hardly any effort at all. It's wild, it's chaotic and it's awesome. As I listen, my cat lays there looking at the speakers wondering, "How did that just happen?" If you are wondering if it is all just noise and chaos, you are wrong. The music still takes time to breathe, and even falls into a nice peaceful section in the middle that will make you think you suddenly got transported to church as the organ rolls along with minimal guitar. Suddenly the guitar and drums go on a tech rampage chewing all of this up and spitting it out. The most amazing thing about all of this is how it all just flows and fits together.

So, here we have another amazing collaboration with John Zorn and another group of talented musicians. There are to date six total studio albums with Simulacrum playing Zorn compositions and now a new live album released in January 2020, which should be pretty amazing if this album is any indication. It seems, however, that anyone can go into the Zorn discography and pull out something that will appeal to them. As far as Simulacrum, lovers of metal, fusion and avant rock will find something to easily love and be amazed at. The music is quite heavy and will appeal more to those that love the more complex sounds of post metal, progressive metal and dashes of classic prog and jazz fusion.

 Grand Opening And Closing by SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.72 | 106 ratings

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Grand Opening And Closing
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Atonality is a fickle mistress.

Once it used to be the darling of 20th century composers everywhere. To classical music, it was the culmination of 400 years of repression by the Christian Church during the Council of Trent essentially outlawing sequences and modes the church deemed barbaric or satanic. So in order to satisfy the masses, happy tonal music was forced, and for good reason: people like pleasant sounding music.

Of course, atonal passages add spice and life to music, but purely atonal music is too much. It was fine when Schoenburg and Webern did it in the 20's and then Babbit and Stockhausen in the 50's but by then classical music was confirmed dead (Russia never even had this problem thanks to Communism) so by the late 20th century composers were reverting and composing music with more tonal structures that still echoed sentiments of a modern era, especially in the 21st century.

So even progressive music today, while far from the boundaries of radio play, still atones to some standard musical properties, there are some bands that push it past to the point of absolute absurdity. Case in point, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and their debut album "Grand Opening and Closing".

Now I get it, I was a contemporary percussionist in college, I'm well familiar with John Cage and Steve Reich and how their works, although not really accessible to the larger crowds, are commendable in their own right, and I indeed commend SGM for creating music completely and utterly unique to themselves, but each song lacks something that keeps my interest. Sure I'm used to atonal music and progressions but I can only take so much.

Put it this way, atonality is like hot sauce. Add a little bit here and there, and it adds some excitement, dials up the flavor another notch. Too much and you're just adding it for the sake of adding it. Too much hot sauce and you get less flavor and more heat. Scientific studies show that people who love hot sauce and continually seek out the hottest and spiciest things are essentially participating in self torture.

Kind of like me when I decided to sit down and listen to this album all the way through.

From the droning repetition of "Sleep Is Wrong" to the slightly interesting but ultimately plotless instrumental buildup of "Ambugation", there's nothing that really captivates me. Yes, the musical abilities of this band are outstanding, but the way that the band deliberately plays like they're drunk or insane during half the songs just gives off the wrong impression. Perhaps that's the sound they're going for, but I still don't get it. Sure, "Ablutions" is a great song when to play when you're recreating a horror movie scene walking down a dark corridor of a haunted house right before the villain guts you with a machete, but it's just way too dark and creepy to withstand more than once, even live.

"1997" is basically industrial metal on bath salts, with its drunken rockabilly freakouts, but it's still brash and vulgar and disgusting in every way possible. "The Minature" is a pointless slightly tonal minute long ditty, "Powerless" is another drunken stupor, this time nine minutes long and "The Stain" is essentially an instrumental percussion ensemble taking a page or seventy from the King Crimson "VROOM" days.

"Sleepytime" is the lone highlight off this album. Here we actually get some structure over a prolonged buildup and while it eventually showcases the band's traditional atonality, there are some moments of respite that bookend the track in (semi) peaceful tonal passages. But then we go into "Sunflower" which again is a contemporary ensemble showcasing finger cymbals and what sounds like a clavichord. "More Time" is drunk again, and "Flinch" is just screaming bookended by ambient sounds.

To be honest, this is a band that, while phenomenal musicians, can only really be appreciated live. The instrumentation they use is astonishing, and some of the more ambient pieces I feel would be more appreciated when performed live. That's the only downside to music like this, it can only be at its most effective in a live setting, where the listener can see the band, see them perform. Listening to this album through headphones does absolutely nothing for me.

This band therefore can really be considered performance art, which it is. Yes, these guys have a rabid cult following, and I get it, but the fact is while the band's best tracks are still tough to digest at times, their worst songs are borderline unlistenable. It's a sound that, while very and truly unique, is so pigeonholed for a very specific audience that it's only really worth a shot if you're willing to dig into the deepest recesses of avant garde rock and introduce yourself to more contemporary classical pieces of music.

 Malkhut by SECRET CHIEFS 3 album cover Studio Album, 2019
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Malkhut
Secret Chiefs 3 RIO/Avant-Prog

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

5 stars Trey Spruance launched his then side project SECRET CHIEFS 3 all the way back in 1995 in the midst of the Mr Bungle years and has continued to steer this unique collective of musicians into exciting new arenas that have contributed to the evolution of this band's sound into a veritable smorgasbord effect that is so pure and refined that SC3 sounds as if it resonates from a long lost tradition that has found its way into the modern world at the time of some sort of spiritual awakening. Having long ago mastered the exquisite alchemy of disparate genres such as surf rock, Persian traditional, Arab folk music, Indian classical, death metal, electronica and spaghetti western styled soundtrack music, the SC3 culminated its sound on 2004's "Book of Horizons" before Spruance announced that the SC3 was actually seven satellite bands named Electromagnetic Azoth, UR, Ishraqiyun, Traditionalists, Holy Vehm, FORMS, and NT Fan.

Before SC3 jumped into the satellite band procession, the project joined ranks with none other than John Zorn as they performed compositions from Zorn's second Masada book, "The Book of Angels" with song titles representing characters from Jewish and Christian mythology and an introduction into a new genre into the world of SC3, that being klezmer. After what seemed like a one off, SC3 released three more albums under the guise of the satellite bands that ended with 2014's "Perichoresis" and then the band fell silent for several years with nothing to offer those who have become addictive to this unique band's sophisticated style of musical amalgamation of tones, timbres, tempos and magnificent genre blending mashups. While seemingly dropping off the face of the Earth, SC3 were in fact working hard on the next Zorn collaboration in the form of an entire album that appeared on the 11-album installation of Zorn's "Masada Book Three - The Book Beri'ah" which found the band in company with Sofia Rei & JC Maillard, Cleric, Spike Orchestra, Julian Lage / Gyan Riley, Abraxas, Klezmerson, Gnostic Trio, Zion80, Banquet of the Spirits, Craig Taborn and Vadim Neselovskyi.

The whopping 11-album set was released on 9 March 2018 as album #10 of the massive collaborative effort and although officially a part of the SC3 canon, was unavailable for any sort of listening pleasure outside of plopping down a small fortune to obtain the entire box set of music, which is probably not a bad thing have you, but i have not been willing to take the plunge so despite SC3 ranking high on my favorite bands list i just had to wait it out and see if someday perhaps they would release it as an individual album. Well 18 October 2019 was that day and THE BOOK OF BERI'AH VOL 10 - MALKHUT was finally released and as the album cover art of the sefirot which represents the concepts from the Jewish esoteric knowledge of the Kabbalah, SC3 emerge from its slumber only to add weave Jewish sounds to its already eclectic musical palette without sacrificing any of the sounds that came before except for perhaps the lesser sounds of the more extreme metal sounds found on earlier albums. As far as i am aware, SC3 is one of the few bands to successfully find a truce between Arabic folk music and Jewish traditional klezmer and make it sound as natural as an organic centuries long musical style.

For this album, SECRET CHIEFS 3 consists of Trey Spruance (guitars, clavinet, kinnor, analog synth pads, theater organ, extra percussion, nevel, glockenspiel, sound fx), Eyvind Kang (violin, viola), Ches Smith (congas, vibes, shakers, dumbek), Matt Lebofsky (piano, elec. piano, hammond and farfisa organ, moog), Kenny Grohowski (drums), Shanir Blumenkranz (bass), Jason Schimmel (guitar) and Ryan Parrish (kaval) who weave an intricate display of progressive fusion sounds that clearly reside in the SC3 universe and the band continues the ever growing complexities that have continued to evolve ever so slightly on every album since the debut "First Grand Constitution and Bylaws" all the way back in 1996. So in that respect, one can pretty much expect a continuation form 2014's "Ishaqiyun" only with the addition of klezmer and Jewish traditional sounds tucked into the mix albeit with a retro review of earlier SC3 albums.

As always, SC3 scores in finding the perfect balance between timeless intricate melodies and tight knit grooves with bursts of progressive angularities and heavy rock bombast but for the most part the band wends and winds through an intricate fusion of Arabic and Jewish traditional sounds although the surf rock, electronica and other sounds are still present although providing a subordinate role. There are plenty of those parallel riffs that harken to previous albums but teased out into new directions. The album is perhaps the most traditional sounding from the band's pre-satellite band days with those precise keyboard stabs punctuated by Middle Eastern grooves, tasty guitar workouts, electronic atmospheres all dressed up in an epic spaghetti western soundtrack grandiosity. For those who are true fans of the SC3 and have been with them since the beginning, this will be a nice overview of the band's entire existence without too much new thrown in save the scant progressive rock anomalies such as the Goblin sounding keyboards of "Chitzonuyut" and the heavier emphasis on Jewish themes and rhythms.

Once again the SECRET CHIEFS 3 project has generated a mesmerizing or should i say "klezmerizing" musical score that evokes an epic traditional musical style of some esoteric mystery school tribe that dropped out of the world and continued underground for millennia before finally bringing its unique musical mysteries to the world's consciousness. This album like almost every other is flawlessly designed and will delight SC3 fans for its attention to detail, addictive melodic and rhythmic flow and transcendental evocations. The band shows no sign of decline and musically speaking has never sounded better. Perhaps if i had any gripe about MALKHUT is that it is not daring enough in its explorative nature. It seems to simmer peacefully in a safe zone that never adds any startling detours such as the band's earlier explorations into death metal and more extreme musical styles but given this was designed to work as a part of a much larger musical whole, it probably needed to exist in harmony with the intent of Zorn's musical vision amongst friends who also contributed entire album's worth of material. I have to say, very rarely do i hear music this good and SC3's amazing consistency is exactly why they reside in my top 10 bands of all time.

4.5 but too good not to round up

 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
3.96 | 12 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Another non descript period of time, another request to review a Russian instrumental prog album, which is something I'm almost always glad to do, given the relatively consistent high quality I've found between them, this one especially. There's often a fairly common thread between these albums such as the Rozmainsky and Mikhalov Project, which I guess is only to be expected given the fact that many of these acts seem to be somewhat related in terms of common members between them. Out of all of these however, Daybreaking Live is almost certainly the album I find to be the most well realised of the bunch I've heard, with tight interplay combined with memorable melodies with a prominent worship of electric pianos and synths, keeping this core identity found throughout many of these Russian prog bands, while thorougly refining it and honing in on its strengths.

Once again, I find an extremely commendable aspect of the band to be just how well produced and mixed these albums are, given the fact that they're live performances, everything sounding crisp and distinct while having the appropriate amount of power that each instrument should have. Wides demonstrates the atmosphere this can create very effectively, the electric guitar providing some edge to the music, which works especially well when combined with the fairly intense drumming that's definitely one of the main focuses on this section, all before many elements of the track fade away, leaving a somewhat eerie bassline to perpetuate the tone of the track. The multifaceted nature of the band is then shown in full force as a graceful flute melody weaves its way into the fray seamlessly, eventually being backed up by the electric piano to create a steady, fun groove that becomes gradually more defined as each instrument comes back in, one by one. Daybreaking tones the intensity down through having far more focus on more subtle elements, interplay between the flute and guitar forming the basis for the majority of the track in order to create an extremely lush sound, further demonstrating the versatility of the band, with some moments sounding quite similar to some of the more eventful post rock bands such as Magyar Posse. Talking about Magyar Posse, Nepsis starts off in an incredible way, the frenetic electric piano and electric guitar creating a real intensity that sounds like you've been dropped right into the middle of a massive crescendo, where even after things have died down somewhat, there's still a certain chaotic nature to everything, none of the rhythmic components feeling quite right, leaving the listener slightly on edge. I love the switch up this song has near the end where it begins to centre around a singular rising riff while everything surrounding it gradually becomes more and more insane, and is overall one of my favourite moments on the album as a whole.

Fret Not Thyself Because of Evildoers is without a doubt what I consider to be the best song on this album, almost exclusively for the superb melodies featured throughout, and the structure of it, constantly returning to the same motifs but sounding more warped with each repetition, more distortion and off key aspects of the music appearing as the prominence of electric guitar continuously rises, once again demonstrating how Roz Vitalis con confidently make intense music, while also being able to have more beautiful, melodic cuts like Mother of All Rain. Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth contains melodies that definitely have baroque influence, but also highlight one complaint I do have with the album, that being that the electric piano can often sound a bit out of place in moments like this, almost having a chiptune aethetic to it, which starkly contrasts with the rest of the music, and not in a way I find particularly good either. That said, I find this an overall minor complaint given how it makes up a relatively small part of the album overall, especially of this track, although this comes with some other complaints regardless, that being that while the brisk pace is very welcome, giving everything some lovely energy, I still feel like there's some retreading that's done here, and it overall sounds a bit too similar to other tracks here. Psalm 6 fortunately brings the album to a close in a strong way, the heavy guitar work making way for the prettiest moments on the album, as the sound of an organ comes in and helps to create a moment of absolute serenity that gradually evolves over the course of the song into an amazingly evocative guitar solo that brings the album to a close in an excellent way.

As previously mentioned, I find this to be one of my favourite of the live Russian prog albums that I've listened to and reviewed, taking the melodic sensibilities that form the core of this sort of music and then having everything feel much less like a jam and more like tightly structured, multifaceted compositions. I love how this album is able to comfortably convey so many tones as it progresses while rarely feeling as if it's missed the mark, ranging from pastoral symphonic prog pieces, to eerie atmospheric experiments to even incorporating vague elements of post rock into the mix during a couple of songs, making for a largely engaging album. While occasionally forgettable, I cannot deny that this is a high quality album with a lot of depth to it.

Best tracks: Wides, Nepsis, Fret Not Thyself Because of Evildoers

Weakest tracks: Loro Con Dolcezza E Cortesia, Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth

Verdict: A very worthwhile album overall in my opinion, covering a wide array of tone and atmosphere as the album progresses, leading the listener through a collection of wonderful tracks that almost never fail to entertain. Definitely an album I recommend to those who enjoy some good, complex instrumental prog.

 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
3.96 | 12 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Roz Vitalis continues to expand their studio and live discography making their band widely known not just in their native land, but worldwide. Their brand of RIO/Avant Prog has become a sound that is recognizable as their own, a mix of instrumental fusion utilizing a improvisational, yet melodic sound that is at once pleasant to the ear and at other times dissonant with occasional use of microtonal harmonies.

Their 8th live album 'Daybreaking Live', released in January of 2020, is probably one of their tightest live performances yet. Most of the tracks on this outing were composed between 2018 and 2019. There is also the addition of 3 tracks that come from a few of their past albums done in the same setting. The show for the album was at Babooinumfest in St. Petersburg (November 4, 2019), which is a mostly annual, progressive rock festival. The line-up is the usual bunch of talented musicians, namely Ivan Rozmainsky on electric piano and synth, Vladimir Semenov-Tyan-Shansky on guitar, Ruslan Kirillov on bass, Vladislav Korotkikh on flute and Evgeny Trefilov on drums.

The album opens quite appropriately with a moderate tempo on the track 'Wides' (8:26) which soon opens up into a faster tempo which brings up the intensity and excitement levels, getting the listener moving and involved in the music. 'Daybreaking' (5:57) on the other hand, slows things down to a more pastoral level with a softer sound and a lot of interaction between the flute and other instruments. 'Nepsis' (7:26) drives the intensity up several levels with a hard, driving guitar bringing in the more dissonant sound to the music. This is soon contrasted with the playful keys which twinkle around as they tease anger out of the guitar, creating some interesting textures. The music turns even more progressive and unpredictable when the flute comes fluttering around, then dark when an organ brings the guitar back in. By now, you have been exposed to several styles in only 3 tracks, and this is probably the best example the band has made of their dynamic style on their live albums.

Next comes the short, almost baroque sounding 'Loro Con Dolcezza e Cortesia' (1:34), a simple piano and synth duet. This transforms into the next track 'Fret Not Thyself Because of Evildoers' (6:54), which comes from their last studio album 'The Hidden Man of the Heart'. This takes the simplicity established on the previous track and the rest of the band continues to come in, as they do so, the intensity quickly builds as the theme is established and embellished. Rozmainsky quickly moves from organ to synth smoothly, and the guitar responds to the textural changes in the different keyboards. The music moves from soft to heavy a few times, always generating a great amount of pulse-pounding intensity, with the keys and guitar moving from melodic passages to dissonant sounds smoothly.

'Mother of All Rain' (4:17) comes from the 'Patience of Hope' album. This is a nice and soft track with the flute taking over again, but this time not in a pastoral feel as much as a 'smoother' jazz feel, probably the most accessible track of the set. About halfway through, the signature guitar sound comes in giving the track a more sinister feel and again driving up intensity. 'Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth' (8:47) begins with a naivet' feel as a fugue style is brought in between the different keys and then interchanging with the guitar. This goes on for a while, then suddenly is interrupted by a sinister sounding guitar creeping in. Eventually the keys bring in the light theme again, but the guitar continues to generate the unsettling feeling underneath it all. The rest of the band comes and goes, bringing up the volume and then diminishing it again. At the 6 minute mark, the track changes direction as the drums become steadier and drive the song to a frantic new level and bringing in a variation on the main theme. The last track 'Psalm 6' ends the album. The track originally comes from 'The Hidden Man of the Heart' and is a concert favorite. It flows from a dramatic and progressive beginning to a quieter middle section and back again and can really ratchet up the excitement of the crowd.

This is definitely the bands best live album to date as the recording is top-notch and the bands transitions are tighter than ever. There is also a lot more variety on this album as the textures of each track are unique and variable. I definitely hear a lot of improvement in the bands sound on this album, at least in a live setting, as, at least for the most part, the sound is well balanced and the musicians are probably the tightest I have ever heard them. The band's time together has really made their sound much more cohesive and on point. There are a few times when this tends to slip, but for the most part, it is definitely one of their better live albums. Personally, I tend to have more issues with live albums and usually have a hard time giving them a perfect rating as I find it is always better to experience the live setting actually being there in the crowd. It's hard to bring that excitement to the recorded format. I'm not saying that it can't happen, because I have rated some live albums at the maximum rating before, but it is very rare. However, there is a marked improvement evident in this recording and, even though it is at 4 stars, it is in my opinion their best live album yet.

 Musical Aluminum by MOTOR HUMMING album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Musical Aluminum
Motor Humming RIO/Avant-Prog

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

— First review of this album —
4 stars Found another fantastic musical gem released 20 years before. MOTOR HUMMING have been founded as an experimental rock combo in Osaka, Japan in late 1990s. This debut (and currently only one) album "Musical Aluminum" was launched in 1999 via John ZOHN's private label named Tzadik Records. The frontman / guitarist Shinpei HIOKI says he had a telephone call from John (no sns nor internet needless to say) for releasing their creation 'without any notice' in those days. The time goes upon. Their lineup has changed again and again, and now there are Shimpei and his wife Setuko HIOKI (drums, percussion). I've attended their gig at an Osakan venue Namba Bears upon December 22, 2019, where they played faithfully their original material created over 20 years before, in collaboration with their mate Masaharu NAKAKITA (bass, ex-DJAMRA ... mysteriously Masaharu's unit DJAMRA have been in the same vein of MOTOR HUMMING around the same while). They upon stage told us the audience that their sound should not be listened to carefully nor sincerely but enjoyably and ecstatically, just like many other Osaka-based projects. "Musical Aluminum" was filled with such an atmospheric grandeur.

Basically their sound material features guitar, bass, and drums ... quite a simple formation. Based upon complicated, polyrhythmic rhythm section, Shimpei's guitar play has plenty of appearances. Could not digest 'music of aluminum' according to his words before the gig indeed, but makes sense after their performance. Aluminum is easy to process, and phantasmagoric. Their soundgarden should be felt like aluminum. Some unique, playful moments are here and there, while launching heavy complex earachy melodic rhythmic punches. The audience would get immersed in funky, crazy, repetitive phrases via their instruments ... "Holiday Accidents" is such an Osakan joke. Trust me, they only provide short music comfort, like a colourful short movie. Not innovative enough nor so-called progressive but exaggerated and pleasant. You can enjoy their musical essence flooded with delight and Osakan humour. Oh guess John (ZOHN) should have been absorbed with their madness.

 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
3.96 | 12 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Naida Regent

5 stars After listening to "Daybreaking Live" album I had discovered for myself new Roz Vitalis, although previously I listened to this band time and time again. At the present moment compositions are perceived as more mature and "grow" with musicians both physically and mentally. The sound became more heavy and dense. Due to more heavy guitar and more heavy rhythm-section "approach" of the band comes closer to progressive metal. But, at the same time, Roz Vitalis's style remains true to oneself and recognizable. Evidently, the group wants to take from prog a little bit of everything and, at the same time, to be distinctive and original. As before, there are baroque-and-medieval motives. In "Nepsis" and "Psalm 6" motives of dancing heaviness transform into tranquil transcendence. In each composition there are memorable and hit melodies. "Mother of All Rain" remains the most melodic one. The flute sounds remarkably, but I would like to hear more winds like in "The Hidden Man of the Heart" album. In general, in the future it would be better to increase quantity of wind instruments (clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French Horn). The same wishes concern use of string instruments (violin, cello, double bass, viola). The main recommendation is to move to symphonic style of music.
 Vaisseau Monde by GRAND SBAM, LE album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.04 | 4 ratings

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Vaisseau Monde
Le Grand Sbam RIO/Avant-Prog

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

4 stars Another grand slam (aka grand sbam) of the year 2019, and at the same time one of fantastic, fanatical debut opuses in avantgarde- progressive scene. Le GRAND SBAM's debut album "Vaisseau Monde", much-awaited by every avantgarde-progressive rock fan, has been launched in the last month of 2019, and surprisingly appreciated for only a month. No more expression needed because lots of Lyon-oriented avantgarde warriors like ni., PoiL, Chromb!, and so on. And of course, massive energetic, powerful sound connotation you can hear all through this creation.

Plenty of sound approaches and technical appearances come up to your ears. The first shot "Dins O Sbam" is a killer. Sarcastic, deeply heavy, incredibly complicated melodic / rhythmic movements with female voice / shout madness should absorb your brain and inner mind without breath. Oh God. Not only guitar heaviness nor dissected percussion / drumming salad, but also Japanese shakuhachi (amazing) or quirky synthesizer dances will invade deeply in. Quite enjoyable is a chase of female voices and heavy fuzzy guitar sounds in "Kouia" ... in such a melodic confusion, you would find something methodical and methodological. Weird really.

And imho my favourite is the fourth turf "Woubit" featuring hippy spacey ghostly Kraut-y psychedelia. Reminds me like Fille Qui Mousse meet Mahogany Brain. Always feel I would drive myself deeply beneath the sea of the track. In the last one "Vishnu Foutr'line" addictive combination of beautiful lines and adherent complexity can be received here and there. But hey as their sound compilation this track can be felt, methinks.

In conclusion, cannot call this creation as diverse nor colourful easily but for every avant-prog or Zeuhl fan this opus should be of much pleasure. And let me say thanks to Dur et Doux for recommending such a fine production.

 Sang Phat Editor by U.S. MAPLE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Sang Phat Editor
U.S. Maple RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mortte

— First review of this album —
3 stars After getting positive reviews from their first album U.S. Maple went into tour to Europe. In that tour they also recorded a session in the famous John Peel radio show. It was 1997 when they started to record their second album. The producer was again Jim O`Rourke, who is known by the Drag City-label and also as a member of Sonic Youth. To me it sounds both these two albums are recorded live in the studio as their "soulmates" Trumans Water has done their albums. This album sounds many ways the same as their first, but they have gone into even more experimental direction.

In "Coming Back To Dammit" song starts almost like a normal song, but soon drums stop and start again one time, after that the rest song is really freeform. "Songs That Have No Making Out" has at first very stucking beat, then it changes also really freeform. In the end there are just tickling guitars. "La Click" is one of my favourites with stucking beat and very Beefheart-like guitar chord. Al is almost singing (he still has that very lung sickness style in his vocals). "Mountain Top" is really free form piece and my least favourite. "Untitled" is very short, calm piece and gives a little rest to listener. "Missouri Twist" really haven´t got any twist, it´s again very freeform. After only guitars playing it has stucking beats and asthmatic vocals. "Through With Six Six Six" is the most chaotic piece in this very chaotic album. The last "Home It´s Ok" is also my favourites from this album, it has strong hits and also some Beefheart-style guitar chords & playing.

I think in this second album they really succeeed to deconstruct the rock. But that caused it really isn´t as catchy as their first album. This is really demanding album, maybe open to me more with more listenings. Anyway I am not suprised at all I didn´t find lot of earlier reviews from this album. I have understood they changed their musical direction in their next albums and I think that was the only way to them, it´s not possible go further this way and also make intresting music. Anyway I really like to recommend this album to those who says Beefheart ´s Trout Mask is unlistenable, this album is almost too much even for me! I think it´s just good thing this is short. I was thinking to give only two stars to this, but those two really great pieces rises this to three. Anyway this is quite extraordinary piece of music.

 Daybreaking Live by ROZ VITALIS album cover Live, 2020
3.96 | 12 ratings

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Daybreaking Live
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mortte

2 stars This is the first album I've heard about Roz Vitalis. Really haven`t got any knowledge about Russian prog, only heard Autograph that came to play to Finland in the eighties. The band says it's influences come for example from King Crimson & Gentle Giant and they're heard in this album. Maybe earlier albums have also some rio/avant-styles, but they're not represented in this. Composition style seems to be to put really different pieces into same composition, that I think has been common both in Gentle Giants music and also modern prog.

'Wides' starts in a very strong KC-atmosphere reminding 'the Devil's Triangles' some parts a bit. But in the middle it changes into beautiful, little bit mediocre and more rhythmic. In the end intensity rises and I really like psych sounding organ in it. Next 'Daybreaking' is beautiful in the beginning but changes into middle kind of gloomy funk and in the end back to the beaty. 'Nepsis' is my least favourite reminding KC:s eighties albums. 'Loro Con Dolcezza e Cortesia' is a short duet to piano and synth. The piano sound reminds me a 'Tetris'-game sound from the nineties. Anyway the most sympathetic piece in this album.

All the way album goes better direction in the end. Next 'Fret Not Thyself Because Evildoers' is my favourite and reminds a little bit Pekka Pohjola's music. It's also the most consistent piece. 'Mother Of All Rain' is a beautiful, but although lasting only four minutes there is not happening much. 'Strangers and Pilgrims On the Earth' has at least four parts. First two are not very interesting but I like the darker last ones. 'Psalm 6' is also one of the highlights in this album. It has most original of the compositions, but it is too long.

I think the main problem in this album like also many today's progalbums is that there isn't enough great material. Specially when it's instrumental music, it really needs good melodies and/or very interesting structures. Also more variation of the instruments might keep up the interest. Now this is same kind of package album, as the most today's albums sadly are. Sure it is heard there are great musicians, but really hope drumplayer Evgeny Trefilov got more passion into his playing, now he sounds like he plays all the time from the notes, sometimes others players intensity rises but not his. Also have to say this is not recorded well, overall sound is quite thin. The picture I got from this album I don't think I will ever get back into Roz Vitalis. But I believe those who want to listen fresh prog and are KC & Gentle Giant fans, will enjoy this album.

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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
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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
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ALBOTH! Switzerland
ALEX'S HAND United States
ALFIE RYNER France
ALTERED STATES Japan
AMOEBIC EMSEMBLE United States
DIE ANARCHISTISCHE ABENDUNTERHALTUNG Belgium
ANATROFOBIA Italy
ANDREW MOORE'S CHAMBER WORKS United States
ÁPOLÓK Hungary
APPENDIX Slovakia
ARANIS Belgium
ARBETE OCH FRITID Sweden
THE ARCHESTRA Belarus
ARKTIS / AIR Austria
ARMON KUILU Finland
ARS DE ER Belarus
ART BEARS United Kingdom
ART FLEURY Italy
ART MOULU France
ART ZOYD France
THE ARTAUD BEATS United Kingdom
ARTERIA Mexico
ATHANOR France
ATOMIC APE United States
AUKTYON Russia
BABLICON United States
BANDA ELÁSTICA Mexico
ARRIGO BARNABÉ Brazil
BARNACLED United States
BARRICADE France
GRECO BASTIÁN Mexico
LES BATTERIES France
BBP UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA Czech Republic
BEGNAGRAD Yugoslavia
BOB BELL Canada
BIG BLOCK 454 United Kingdom
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BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC United States
BISE DE BUSE France
IVA BITTOVÁ Czech Republic
BLACK ENGINE Italy
MICHEL BLANC France
BLAST Netherlands
BLITURI Canada
THE BLITZOIDS United States
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BOAT DARES United States
BONE Multi-National
THE BOOK OF KNOTS United States
BOREDOMS Japan
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BOX Multi-National
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MARKO BRECELJ Yugoslavia
BREZNEV FUN CLUB Italy
BRIAN! United States
BROKEN.HEART.COLLECTOR Austria
HASSE BRUNIUSSON Sweden
BUILD United States
BULDOZER Yugoslavia
BZ BZ UEU Italy
ÇA France
CALOMITO Italy
THE CAMBERWELL NOW United Kingdom
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CARDBOARD AMANDA Multi-National
CARDIACS United Kingdom
CARTEL CARNAGE France
CARTOON United States
CASSIBER Germany
CATERPILLARMEN Iceland
CAZUELA DE CÔNDOR Chile
THE CELLAR AND POINT United States
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CHEER-ACCIDENT United States
CHĘNE NOIR France
GUIGOU CHENEVIER France
CHOU PAHROT United Kingdom
CHROMB! France
CICALA-MVTA Japan
THE CLAUDIA QUINTET United States
A CLEAN KITCHEN IS A HAPPY KITCHEN Belgium
CLOUD BECOMES YOUR HAND United States
COBRA United States
JEAN COHEN-SOLAL France
COMBAT ASTRONOMY Multi-National
COMBO FH Czech Republic
COMMUNIO MUSICA Denmark
LINDSAY COOPER United Kingdom
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CREEDLE United States
CRO MAGNON Belgium
CTHULHU RISE Ukraine
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CULTO SIN NOMBRE Mexico
CURLEW United States
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CHRIS CUTLER United Kingdom
RUBEN D'HERS Venezuela
DAIMON ORCHESTRA Japan
PATRICIA DALLIO France
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DATE COURSE PENTAGON ROYAL GARDEN Japan
DEADBURGER Italy
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DECIBEL Mexico
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DANIEL DENIS Belgium
DETAILS AT ELEVEN United States
DETIETI Russia
DEUS NUVEM Brazil
DIRECTION SURVET France
DISCUS Indonesia
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BOB DRAKE United States
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THE DRX United States
PASCAL DUFFARD France
JONATAN PIŃA DULUC Dominican Republic
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DUNAJ Czech Republic
TREVOR DUNN United States
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DUREFORSOG Denmark
THE DUSTMAN DILEMMA France
EARDANCE United States
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L' EFFET DEFEE France
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ENCORE + GRANDE Multi-National
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ENSEMBLE NIMBUS Sweden
L' ENSEMBLE RAYÉ Switzerland
ENSEMBLE SUPERMUSIQUE Canada
EPN TRIO Argentina
EREHIA Mexico
ERTH Costa Rica
ESKALATION Germany
ESKIMO United States
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ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN France
EX-GIRL Japan
EX-P Italy
EXTRA LIFE United States
FACEMEAT Australia
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PAVEL FAJT Czech Republic
BERNARD FALAISE Canada
FAMILHA ARTÚS France
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FAT Canada
FERDINAND RICHARD France
UN FESTÍN SAGITAL Chile
FILTHY HABITS ENSEMBLE Spain
FINNEGANS WAKE Belgium
FIRE! Sweden
THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS United States
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FORTRANGT HUSHALLSARBETE Sweden
FOTE / THE TRUTH CLUB United Kingdom
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LES FRAGMENTS DE LA NUIT France
FREE SALAMANDER EXHIBIT United States
FRENCH TV United States
FRESH! Japan
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FRED FRITH United Kingdom
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FUKKEDUK Belgium
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GANNETS United Kingdom
GARAMOND Italy
GARGANTUA Poland
GATTO MARTE Italy
PATRICK GAUTHIER France
GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI Japan
GESTALT ET JIVE Multi-National
MICHAEL GILES MAD BAND United Kingdom
GOD OF SHAMISEN United States
GODZIK PINK United States
GOLDBUG United States
GOLDEN AVANT-GARDE Japan
THE GORDON GRDINA TRIO Canada
GORGE TRIO United States
GRAMIGNA Italy
LE GRAND SBAM France
GRAND ULENA United States
LA GRANDE FORMATION Belgium
LES GRANULES Canada
GRAVITSAPA Ukraine
THE GREAT TYRANT United States
GROUND ZERO Japan
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GUAPO United Kingdom
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GUNJOGACRAYON Japan
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LES HALMAS Switzerland
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HAPPY 55 Russia
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HELLEBORE France
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ZACH HILL United States
TIM HODGKINSON United Kingdom
LARS HOLLMER Sweden
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I AM ABOVE ON THE LEFT Russia
LES I France
ICSIS France
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LA INCREÍBLE FUGA DE TRIÁNGULOS Argentina
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JUSTINE Canada
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KOMBINAT M Austria
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DAGMAR KRAUSE Germany
KROKO Finland
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MMCIRCLE Canada
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MOMBU Italy
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MPXXIV Switzerland
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NI France
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NO SECRETS IN THE FAMILY Switzerland
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NORMAL LOVE United States
NOUVELLES ETHNOLOGIQUES DE L'OBSCUR MUSEUM France
NOW WE'VE GOT MEMBERS Norway
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THE (EC) NUDES Multi-National
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OHO United States
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OLIVE MESS Latvia
OOIOO Japan
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OPTICAL*8 Japan
OPUS AVANTRA Italy
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THE ORDINAIRES United States
LAS OREJAS Y LA LENGUA Argentina
ORQUESTA METAFÍSICA Argentina
THE ORTHOTONICS United States
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OTEME Italy
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OXOMAXOMA Mexico
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PAK United States
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MIKE PATTON United States
PEARLS OF SWINES France
PERFUME DE MUJER Cuba
PERHAPS CONTRAPTION United Kingdom
LA PERRA Mexico
PFS United States
EMME PHYZEMA United States
PIENZA ETHNORKESTRA France
PIG SOUL Brazil
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PINIOL France
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PITOM United States
PLASTIC DOGS Japan
THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE Czech Republic
PLOZ Canada
POCHAKAITE MALKO Japan
POCKET ORCHESTRA United States
KIMMO POHJONEN Finland
POIL France
POKERFACE Sweden
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LES POULES Canada
PRESCOTT United Kingdom
PRESENT Belgium
NICK PROL AND THE PROLETARIANS United States
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PSUDOKU Norway
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PUSH THE TRIANGLE France
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RABBINICAL SCHOOL DROPOUTS United States
RADIATION10 France
RALE Czech Republic
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THE RANCID YAK BUTTER TEA PARTY United States
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ALEC K. REDFEARN AND THE EYESORES United States
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REFLECTIONS IN COSMO Norway
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RĘVE GÉNÉRAL Multi-National
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SALMO France
SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA Sweden
SARLO AKROBATA Yugoslavia
SATANIQUE SAMBA TRIO Brazil
MASAHIKO SATOH AND THE SOUNDBREAKERS Japan
DIONYSIS SAVVOPOULOS Greece
DANIEL SCHELL & KARO Belgium
SCHNELLERTOLLERMEIER Switzerland
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