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RIO/AVANT-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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RIO/Avant-Prog definition

Avant-Prog

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

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

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

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


Rock In Opposition

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

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

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

The five initial Rock in Opposition bands were:

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

Three additional bands were later officially elected to the movement:

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

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

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

Dates of the original RIO festivals

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

Useful links

Information on RIO from Chris Cutler's website

Additional historical information on Squidco

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

Current team members:
as at 20/05/2016

Raffaella (Raff)
Luca (octopus-4)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Ori (frippism)

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 | 1372 ratings
HOT RATS
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 807 ratings
THE GRAND WAZOO
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 784 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Zappa, Frank
4.59 | 39 ratings
TAIGA
OOIOO
4.33 | 152 ratings
IN EXTREMIS
Thinking Plague
4.30 | 250 ratings
SING TO GOD
Cardiacs
4.31 | 197 ratings
WESTERN CULTURE
Henry Cow
4.47 | 54 ratings
HÄXAN
Art Zoyd
4.28 | 283 ratings
UZED
Univers Zero
4.26 | 337 ratings
CHOIRS OF THE EYE
Kayo Dot
4.42 | 63 ratings
Nº 6
Present
4.41 | 64 ratings
BOOK M
Secret Chiefs 3
4.26 | 247 ratings
HERESIE
Univers Zero
4.25 | 244 ratings
MÅLTID
Samla Mammas Manna
4.36 | 68 ratings
DECEIT
This Heat
4.31 | 93 ratings
ON LAND AND IN THE SEA
Cardiacs
4.23 | 218 ratings
A LITTLE MAN AND A HOUSE AND THE WHOLE WORLD WINDOW
Cardiacs
4.27 | 116 ratings
BARBARO (MA NON TROPPO)
Present
4.36 | 59 ratings
ZABRANJENO PLAKATIRATI
Buldozer
4.50 | 33 ratings
LETTERS HOME
News From Babel

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

CRASHING ICONS
Absolute Zero
VOIX DE SURFACE
Nimal
SHINUTOKIWA BETSU
Wha-Ha-Ha
LACRYMOSA (AKA BUGBEAR)
Lacrymosa

Latest RIO/Avant-Prog Music Reviews


 Koutus by KUUSIJÄRVI KOUTUS, HARRI album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Koutus
Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars This "almost self-titled" album has been released in 2014 as Koutus' debut creation. Very curious how the rock sound combination with an accordion goes, and we have never got betrayed at all. Overall in this album Harri's accordion play has a role of exclamation ... sometimes gentle like a breath of air, sometimes tough like a metal, sometimes weird like a Pierrot, and always magnificent like a planet. Interesting his powerful accordion play makes the audience feel hugely "rock"-ish via their chamber soundscape. The first shot "Introduction" consists of their complete essence ... here are Harri rushing out, Veikki's electric guitar making another distorted dimension, and Tatu cooling the two fighters down with his sincere, precise footsteps.

All tracks are not so long but various colours we can touch and enjoy. "Reindeer Derby" has strong percussion irregularity and avantgarde melodious hotchpotch (one of my faves really). In "February Oblivion" or "Waltz From The Past" quiet, bluesy atmosphere is thrown out through the three instrumental actors. Via "Joik" we can hear psychedelic fantasia tinged with Krautrock eccentricity. "Fragile", like a plate of thin glass or a clean cool mirror, injects their kaleidoscopic vibes with post rock hints. And in their titled track their eclecticism flooded with heaviness leaning toward King Crimson gets exploded. Plenty of rock / pop / anti-pop elements are into this creation. Also an excessive mysterious sleeve is impressive. Keep rockin'!

 Strange Device by SALLE GAVEAU album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Strange Device
Salle Gaveau RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The follow-up to Alloy, Salle Gaveau's collection of Astor Piazzolla inspired original tangos, Strange Device somehow manages to not come across as a rehash of its predecessor's work. It would be easy to see how a certain amount of redundancy could be expected from a very defined rhythmic device as the tango. But these tangRIO masters have managed to produce an album that has a clear differentiation from their debut. A "Strange Device" indeed.

The first obvious difference between Alloy and Strange Device is Kido Natsuki's much heavier, almost exclusive reliance on electric guitars. Both in soloing/melodic patterns and rhythm structures. The recording quality also appears to be more expansive. It is hard to tell whether which aspect was driving the other or whether they were mutually exclusive components. But it makes for a more dynamic production. Having that increased depth to recording quality also allows the accordion to become a much more solid soloing mechanism. Additionally, the piano appears on Strange Device to be a wrapping that encapsulates the compositions in a warm embrace; again, facilitated by the broader expanse of the recording. The reliance on chromaticism is far and away decreased, giving the formula a more jazzy presentation. One might consider this a "safer" approach, but it does not distract from the underlying compositional complexity. It does, however, make this album fit the description of a far more accessible production.

Another fantastically enjoyable Salle Gaveau. I hate such arbitrary qualifiers as "classy". But what the hell? This is a classy album. Its one of those "sneak prog in on your family" albums that you can put on at dinner time and mom will be impressed with you. And if you actually learn to tango...oh my! 4 stars

 Alloy  by SALLE GAVEAU album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.53 | 11 ratings

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Alloy
Salle Gaveau RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Dance in Opposition

One of my favorite humans on planet Earth is Japanese guitarist Natsuki Kido. Best known for his work in the Japan Zeuhl/RIO scene with Bondage Fruit and Korekyojin, he is also a very active jazz performer, as well as half of the folksy acoustic duo Era with violinist Akihisa Tsuboy of Pochataike Malko. Kido's seemingly boundless eclecticism also pulls him in the direction of Argentine Tango. A love that has not only fostered live performances of the works of Astor Piazzolla, but also the fantastic project of Piazzolla-influenced originals, Salle Gaveau. Their debut album, Alloy, is a perfect example of a progressive music crossover project and answers the age old question: Can you dance to prog? The answer, as always, only if you are a good enough dancer. Can you tango?

Alloy features a 5 piece chamber style ensemble consisting of guitar, violin, contrabass, accordion, and piano. Kido is primarily using acoustic guitar, but occasional blasts in with a distorted electric lead, and throws in a beautifully textured Steve Howe-esque undistorted electric guitar arpeggio on the song Tempered Elan. The music is absurdly frantic tango with occasional breaks of mild interlude. Often the tango parts incorporate a large portion of RIO flavored dissonance, but do not stray from the tango feel and are typically well resolved. While no strictly percussion instruments are used, the players are quite adept at highly percussive utilization of their tools. Particularly on the parts that use a large amount of dissonance. There is an undeniable sultry passion to the compositions. One cannot help but move when taking an active listen to Alloy. And I suspect most will have a hearty laugh when they realize how enjoyable the accordion is on this project. I can't think of a time I've enjoyed it more.

It can be well imagined that Tango, in any manifestation, is an acquired taste. For that it would be hard to consider Alloy to be "essential". But it contains extraordinary musicianship and is some of the most accessible RIO out there. For any progger seeking to eclecticize his/her collection, Alloy is a highly recommended vehicle to facilitate that end. 4 stars.

 Book Of Horizons by SECRET CHIEFS 3 album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.01 | 76 ratings

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Book Of Horizons
Secret Chiefs 3 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars When it comes to Avantgarde, I only know three names so far: FRANK ZAPPA, OOIOO and SECRET CHIEFS 3.

FRANK needs no introduction, OOIOO has eloquently mastered the idea of "experimentation" with the great percussion-focused TAIGA madness, and SECRET CHIEFS 3 explores three frontiers on the album BOOK OF HORIZONS: Indian, electronic and technical (AND FURIOUS!) death metal. Be warned, though: this band isn't the type that brings up insanity and calls "music". There is mild experimentation, but nothing too much of a "paradigm shifter".

The electronic part is the most "avant-garde" of the three genres. It features uncommon sonorities and structures, usually you're unsure whether the song has begun or ended, if what you're listening to is a particular section of that track; suddenly the music stops and weird noises come in, and overall is the least interesting piece for people who aren't fan of experimentality (like me). I find it to be the weakest link.

The Indian part is good and the first track with this sonority - THE FOUR (GREAT ISHRAQI SUN) - is perhaps the best of the album (along EXTERMINATION ANGEL). In general, there is a good blending of Western music/metal/rock elements, and while there isn't something great (aside from THE FOUR) it's not nearly as uninteresting as the electronic pieces.

Let's tackle the last piece. With that being said, this is the part they masterfully nailed. The musicianship is amazing, the drums are simply spectacular and the aura of each song is just as horribly heavy as any extreme metal musician would seek to achieve. EXTERMINATION ANGEL, the fourth track and first of the genre, is my favorite by SECRET CHIEFS 3 and a jewelry of the genre. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who HATES usual death metal.

In the end, SECRET CHIEFS 3 does a good job in bringing a good record. The most memorable songs are THE FOUR, EXTERMINATION ANGEL, ANTHROPOMORPHOSIS: BOXLEITNER (an eerie track that features ALL of the three 'frontiers', albeit the death metal parts are much milder and blended with electronic) and BOOK T: EXODUS (in the veins of epic Western movies), while the others... well, I don't really remember them.

BOOK OF HORIZONS is a good album. Not terrific but not bad either. I'd definitively recommend for avantgarde fans, but not for those who aren't keen with the genre.

7/10

(1-2-3: 1 star/4-5: 2 star/6-7: 3 star/8: 4 star/9-10: 5 star)

 Music For A Family Picnic by KUUSIJÄRVI KOUTUS, HARRI album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Music For A Family Picnic
Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars A mosaic of sound, let me say.

A promising Finnish rock combo founded by an accordionist Harri KUUSIJÄRVI have launched the second album titled "Music For A Family Picnic" in February 2017. Harri says he (maybe) always changes the combo formation for creating soundscape different from previous ones ... his musical collective would be amorphous for realization of music-spherical diversity.

Kinda indescribable chamber soundscape filled with mysterious accordion-based cotton candy is flowing over the audience. Their (his) sound texture and melody lines are walking around between realism and ambience like a creature of fancy. On another side we can hear monotonous, inorganic cold grey turf. Quite interesting, impressive is such an excessive sound contrast and complete coexistence.

The titled track is a colourful one ... drenched in cynical identity against pop but simple melody threads wound upon a song spool, no difficulty, no shoulder pain. And as for progressive rock-oriented atmosphere, a track with a meaningful (and looong) appearance "I Was Driving 160 Miles Per Hour From Turku In The Midnight When I Felt The Time Was Slowing Down" has definitely heavy / metallic elements of King Crimson or psychic ones of Pink Floyd.

Harri's accordion play sometimes stands up at the very front and sometimes sits down behind the all instruments. He can be mentioned as the forward and as the goalkeeper ... namely the key player. Awesome really.

 Music For A Family Picnic by KUUSIJÄRVI KOUTUS, HARRI album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Music For A Family Picnic
Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Here's the latest Finnish artist addition. The eponymous 2014 release was a trio effort in which the accordeon player and composer Harri Kuusijärvi (b. 1986) was accompanied by electric guitarist Veikki Virkajärvi and drummer Tatu Rönkkö. That album featured rather steep dichotomy between avant-oriented angularity -- to some degree comparable to the music of the other Finnish alternative accordeon artist Kimmo Pohjonen -- and mellower pieces, and it was inspired by wild Lappish landscapes. I wasn't notably impressed by it, and although this second release will hardly become my favourite listening either, I do find this one more mature... and above all, warmer and less bipolarized in style, and thus more accessible to also those jazz/fusion-minded listeners who aren't much into avant prog.

The line-up is a little bigger this time, featuring the same guitarist and a new rhythm section plus Teho Majamäki on vibes and effects, on most tracks anyway. I only wish the vibes were more heard on the album, but already the addition of bass means an important improvement in the sound. The opener 'Naltio' (don't ask me what it means) centres on a hypnotic, circulating accordeon riff and slightly industrial or Post-Rock sounding playing from the others. The title track is a slow and relaxed jazz piece in which accordeon is used very melodically. 'La Route de Pokka' is an excellent, crisp and guitar-oriented fusion piece, a little marred by (most likely an artificial) bird-whistle. The vibes are more central on slow and moody 'UFO Bar'.

All nine tracks are enjoyable, not very avantish really, but nor without brave dynamics and sonic variety. As with Sanni Eskelinen & Stringpurée Band (Finnish kantele-led band, also to be found in PA), all in all this music would more naturally be categorized under jazz instead of rock. A librarian's point of view, you see. Warmly recommended to anyone appreciating the sound of accordeon.

 Apostrophe (') by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.03 | 577 ratings

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Apostrophe (')
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars I first listened to SERJ TAKIAN'S cover of DON'T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW, and upon researching, discovered this "Frank Zappa" was its original composer. So I listened to the original version and found it absolutely great (who doesn't? I think YELLOW SNOW is one of Zappa's classics), along NANUUK RUBS IT. I listened to the suite but wasn't really fond of St. Alphonzo's act.

And as time progresses, I discovered APOSTROPHE (') - Zappa's most commercially successful work - homes the awesome YELLOW SNOW suite, and after an underwhelming experience with HOT RATS - which everyone claimed to be a sparkling brilliant Zappa masterpiece; although it was very good, it was repetitive and not nearly as innovative as expected. I guess the hype killed it - I decided to give Zappa another shot because he HAD to be good.

He had to be good, right?

Well, is he good? Is he avant-garde-ish? Is he progressive?

Absolutely to all three cases.

REVIEW

If you're unfamiliar with ZAPPA or the AVANT-GARDE "genre" as a whole, know that there's no such thing as "labeling". In fact, avant-garde is many times used as an interchangeable term with "labelless" mostly because there are so many musical genres in different songs you can't simply just call it A or B. Normally, there's a horseload of experimental and uncommon elements to compose the songs, but ZAPPA here prefers to stay out of the experimentality and stick to labelless tracks. However, if you're desperate for something to grab and know what you're giving here, I would suppose that the common ground among all songs is a freestyle jazz influence. But that's it: influence.

ZAPPA put the first side of the album surrounding the slightly conceptual Nanuuk/St. Alphonzo Parish act, while the second are a bunch of unrelated songs. To prove the point of ZAPPA's genre mixture, the first two tracks about Nanuuk are jazzy and chilly, while the next two are energetic xylophone 'n keyboard frenzied pancake breakfast parish storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, one of ZAPPA's strongest point besides his musical creativity is his captivating lyrics and narrative. Often using comedic ways, his lyrics seldom doesn't please the listener. You can laugh with some lyrics, while others, such as NANUUK RUBS IT, you get immersed.

Another unique point about ZAPPA's storytelling is something his fans have always thrived upon while newcomers were clueless about: a thing cited - ironically - in STINK-FOOT by our friendly slippers-muncher poodle pal Fido, is the conceptual continuity. ZAPPA is one hell of a funny guy, and he likes to "connect" his albums and songs into some sort of Grand Scheme of things. A better "explanation" is found at Lumpy Gravy Pt. 2, where he talks about "THE BIG NOTE" in an allusion to the Big Bang and some other stuff. However, you shouldn't see this conceptual continuity as anything but... running gags.

1. "Here Fido" can be heard on NANUUK RUBS IT's "Circular Motion" solo, in reference to Fido from STINK-FOOT; 2. "The Grand Wazoo", a fellatio joke ("The price of meat has just gone up/An' yer ol' lady has just gone down . . . ") and the reference to the song CARAMILLO BRILLO from OVER-NITE SENSATION "(Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?)"; 3. "Arf! Arf! Arf" as spoken by Fido, and the piece "THE POODLE BY-EE-ITES/THE POODLE CHEWS IT", both in STINK-FOOT; Among others I'm too lazy to search for.

ZAPPA is known to be demanding of his musicians, expecting virtuosity and superb quality on each track. I believe this has been reached on this album, each musician truly seems to give his best. I can claim the keyboards, which are SO VARIED, the distorted and virtuoso guitar, and the appalingly nimble drums as the album's highlights. And for those fond of technical prowess, this album has lots of it. In fact, ZAPPA manages to make odd time signatures - such as DON'T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW's 7/4 or ST. ALPHONZO PANCAKE BREAKFAST's 9/8 - sound as natural as 4/4.

Regarding to creativity, ZAPPA is a fountain beyond endless. Even though the first songs are loosely connected they are still unique on their own manners, each with characteristics and compositions singular to themselves. Not to mention each individual song concept: an eskimo being told not to eat whatever the hell is an yellow snow; a fur trapper using a leadfilled snowshoe, an eskimo legend which orders you to trudge across the tundra mile after mile to a Parish, a mystery man doing offers way too great to believe.

This is even more flabbergasting when you put in perspective this is ZAPPA's fifteenieth album, and even after twelve years of career he has the mind to create such things. Besides, the whole idea of making your entire discography interconnected through jokes is genius, to say the least.

In the end, APOSTROPHE (') is a delicious, gay (on the lighthearted sense) and unpredictable masterpiece of this immemorial master that is FRANK ZAPPA. For those new to avant-garde, look no further - there's no introduction like the best introduction.

10/10

 Con le orecchie di Eros by ORCHESTRA NJERVUDAROV album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.03 | 9 ratings

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Con le orecchie di Eros
Orchestra Njervudarov RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars Once upon a time...a band called FROGS meets a singer-songwriter in Bologna (Italy), becomes its support band and the bassist Roberto COSTA becomes one of the most appreciated sound engineers in the area, working for all the Italian big popstars in the following years.

But in 1977 the band puts all its soul and musical influences in a one-shot album, totally different from the political ballads of Claudio LOLLI, the singer-songwriter. What they do is an instrumental album in the vein of contemporary bands like AREA and STORMY SIX, with a lot of jazz and experimentation on which the band members can show all their skills.

Unfortunately in 1977 Claudio Lolli left EMI so the album which was ready to be released under his sponsorhip is blocked. Only two years after Claudio Lolli was contacted by EMI and releasing his band's album was a condition for the new contract

I don't know why they changed the band name from FROGS to ORCHESTRA NJERVUDAROV. This name was used for this album only. A hidden gem just reprinted in CD after decades of oblivion.

The music is challenging, but less dark respect to other contemporary RIO bands. Some parts are even melodic and one of the album songs, the fourth track, "Tristessa" has been championed into a JAY-Z song...unbelievable. Also because the Zappaesque "Rapporto Njervudarov", parodistic of the 70s disco, with quotes of BEE GEES (You Should be Dancing) was probably easier to be included in a rap, also because most of the sung part is speeched.

The album is very short as it scores just a bit more of 30 minutes, but it deserves to be more known.

Both Carlo Costa and Bruno MARIANI are still active as session men. Other than a good album is also a collector item. Unfortunaltely I don't own a copy.

 Psalm 6 by ROZ VITALIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.37 | 13 ratings

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Psalm 6
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Last year I got a message here on PA asking for a review for this EP. I had some problems with my internet and it took several months before I could listen to this Roz Vitalis release. I must say I was not eager to do it, since RIO/avant guard is not really my cup of tea. I´m much more into melodic "traditional" part of prog, if there is such thing. But, out of curiosity, I decided to listen to this record since they were so nice to ask. And I was quite surprised. Their music was not what I expected. It was much more accessible than I thought. Sure enough, there are numerous weird landscapes and dissonance, but what really caught my attention was their flair for the nice melody too. So I decided to spin it for a few more times and that confirmed my first impression.

The only band I can think of to compare Roz Vitalis approach towards music is King Crimson. Ok, they do not sound like KC al all, but RV is the only band I know that balances RIO/Avant Guard with melodic themes in such powerful manner. Like KC, Roz Vitalis mix in equal doses weirdness and familiarity, complicated passages with simple ones, the dissonance and the melody. The result is one of the most interesting instrumental albums I have heard in a long time, full of surprises. Sometimes Psalm 6 sound like a soundtrack album from a thriller movie (The Prophet), in others there are jazzy brass passages followed by a wailing, melodic lead solo backed by acoustic guitars (the title track).And all is very well performed. I must say that even in their most freakish and non-melodic moments their music still sounds interesting and genuinely creative, they seem to be adept of the philosophy of "less is more". not an exercise on pointless weirdness, like I heard so many times. The excellent production also help matters much. the songwriting is high point in here, as well as their clever arrangements: All tracks are very good and varied. Listening to this CD is quite a ride.

In the end I was captivated by this group led by keyboardist Ivan Rozmainsky. I found Psalm 6 to be a very fine CD and I´m looking forward to listen to their other works too. Russia is definitely delivering some of the best prog music around nowadays. If you, like me, is not really into Avant Guard music but has an open mind for new sounds, you should try this one. On the other hand, if you are a RIO fan but does not mind for some nice, discernible melodies in prog music once in a while, this record is recommended too.

A nice surprise.

Rating: 4 strong stars.

 Grindstone by SHINING album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.09 | 55 ratings

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Grindstone
Shining RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Having started out playing an eccentric style of flute-focused jazz fusion, Shining had undergone a long evolution, and Grindstone represents the tipping point where the metal components of their music shifted from being occasional influences (as in the preceding In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster) to being a central plank of the group's sound. Though the group had yet to grab onto the industrial influences which would bring this formula to perfection on Blackjazz, this off-kilter mashup of black metal, prog rock, and eccentric fusion will appeal to anyone interested in weird genre mashups. If Mr Bungle's Disco Volante is your idea of a good time, this might well be your jam.
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RIO/Avant-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
1870 (MIL OCHOCIENTOS SETENTA) Mexico
3 MICE Multi-National
5UU'S United States
THE A BAND United Kingdom
A-MUSIK Japan
A.P.A.T.T. United Kingdom
ABSOLUTE ZERO United States
AFENGINN Denmark
AFTER DINNER Japan
AFUCHE United States
AHLEUCHATISTAS United States
AHVAK Israel
AKINETÓN RETARD Chile
AKSAK MABOUL Belgium
ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT Finland
ALBOTH! Switzerland
ALEX'S HAND United States
ALFIE RYNER France
ALTERED STATES Japan
AMOEBIC EMSEMBLE United States
ANATROFOBIA Italy
ANDREW MOORE'S CHAMBER WORKS United States
APPENDIX Slovakia
ARANIS Belgium
ARBETE OCH FRITID Sweden
THE ARCHESTRA Belarus
ARKTIS/AIR Austria
ARMON KUILU Finland
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
BABLICON United States
BANDA ELÁSTICA Mexico
ARRIGO BARNABÉ Brazil
BARNACLED United States
BARRICADE France
LES BATTERIES France
BBP UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA Czech Republic
BEGNAGRAD Yugoslavia
BOB BELL Canada
BEN LEVIN GROUP United States
BIG BLOCK 454 United Kingdom
BIG FARM United States
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
BONE Multi-National
THE BOOK OF KNOTS United States
BOREDOMS Japan
BOSNNIA Argentina
BOX Multi-National
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