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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 | 1433 ratings
HOT RATS
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 831 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 851 ratings
THE GRAND WAZOO
Zappa, Frank
4.34 | 164 ratings
IN EXTREMIS
Thinking Plague
4.53 | 48 ratings
TAIGA
OOIOO
4.47 | 60 ratings
HÄXAN
Art Zoyd
4.30 | 209 ratings
WESTERN CULTURE
Henry Cow
4.29 | 269 ratings
SING TO GOD
Cardiacs
4.28 | 298 ratings
UZED
Univers Zero
4.41 | 71 ratings
Nº 6
Present
4.25 | 354 ratings
CHOIRS OF THE EYE
Kayo Dot
4.26 | 261 ratings
HERESIE
Univers Zero
4.38 | 72 ratings
BOOK M
Secret Chiefs 3
4.25 | 261 ratings
MÅLTID
Samla Mammas Manna
4.36 | 74 ratings
DECEIT
This Heat
4.31 | 103 ratings
ON LAND AND IN THE SEA
Cardiacs
4.24 | 232 ratings
A LITTLE MAN AND A HOUSE AND THE WHOLE WORLD WINDOW
Cardiacs
4.61 | 29 ratings
JACKSON
Korekyojin
4.49 | 38 ratings
LETTERS HOME
News From Babel
4.27 | 122 ratings
BARBARO (MA NON TROPPO)
Present
4.42 | 47 ratings
SIRENS AND SILENCES / WORK RESUMED ON THE TOWER
News From Babel
4.35 | 62 ratings
ZABRANJENO PLAKATIRATI
Buldozer
4.27 | 96 ratings
DUCK STAB / BUSTER & GLEN
Residents, The
4.35 | 55 ratings
Гуси-Лебеди / GEESE AND SWANS
Vezhlivyj Otkaz
4.23 | 140 ratings
HUONO PARTURI
Höyry-Kone
4.25 | 102 ratings
TRISKAÏDÉKAPHOBIE
Present
4.19 | 213 ratings
UNIVERS ZERO [AKA: 1313]
Univers Zero
4.55 | 26 ratings
ERROR
Orejas Y La Lengua, Las
4.25 | 83 ratings
U TOTEM
U Totem
4.36 | 44 ratings
VISION CREATION NEWSUN
Boredoms
4.21 | 99 ratings
AVANTI !
Miriodor
4.20 | 101 ratings
FAMILJESPRICKOR (FAMILY CRACKS)
Zamla Mammaz Manna
4.12 | 602 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: WE'RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY
Zappa, Frank
4.29 | 54 ratings
RENCONTRES
Miriodor
4.12 | 464 ratings
JOE'S GARAGE, ACT I
Zappa, Frank
4.53 | 24 ratings
SOL CENTRAL
Ledesma, Jose Luis Fernandez
4.19 | 106 ratings
SHINY BEAST (BAT CHAIN PULLER)
Captain Beefheart
4.22 | 79 ratings
JEAN LOUIS
Jean Louis
4.13 | 218 ratings
THE HENRY COW LEGEND [AKA: LEGEND OR LEG END]
Henry Cow
4.18 | 103 ratings
LE POISON QUI REND FOU
Present
4.12 | 221 ratings
OF NATURAL HISTORY
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
4.48 | 24 ratings
CLARA CROCODILO
Barnabé, Arrigo
4.19 | 82 ratings
THE VIOLENCE OF AMATEURS
French TV
4.22 | 61 ratings
BERLIN
Art Zoyd
4.59 | 18 ratings
PLAYS STANDARDS
Ground Zero
4.41 | 27 ratings
CARTOON
Cartoon
4.33 | 34 ratings
CERTAIN UNDISCOVERIES
Taylor's Universe
4.32 | 35 ratings
SCAMBOT 1
Keneally, Mike
4.07 | 477 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: ABSOLUTELY FREE
Zappa, Frank
4.41 | 26 ratings
STARS & HANK
Residents, The
4.17 | 80 ratings
EVIDENCE
Taylor's Universe
4.76 | 13 ratings
INTERZONE
Zorn, John
4.07 | 469 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: UNCLE MEAT
Zappa, Frank
4.21 | 55 ratings
BROSSAKLITT
PoiL
4.20 | 60 ratings
JONGLERIES ÉLASTIQUES
Miriodor
4.23 | 48 ratings
POLYGLÖT
Volapük
4.12 | 113 ratings
LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY
Captain Beefheart
4.21 | 52 ratings
PERILS
Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses
4.13 | 96 ratings
THE THIRD REICH 'N ROLL
Residents, The
4.19 | 58 ratings
SYMPHONIE POUR LE JOUR OÙ BRÛLERONT LES CITÉS
Art Zoyd
4.26 | 40 ratings
PLJUNI ISTINI U OCI
Buldozer
4.15 | 76 ratings
A HISTORY OF MADNESS
Thinking Plague
4.17 | 62 ratings
PARADE
Miriodor
4.40 | 24 ratings
FACTOR BURZACO
Factor Burzaco
4.12 | 93 ratings
PALACE OF MIRRORS
Estradasphere
4.33 | 29 ratings
THE UNIVERSE WILL PROVIDE
Keneally, Mike
4.58 | 16 ratings
THE LETTER
Cosa Brava
4.21 | 46 ratings
VORTEX
Vortex
4.48 | 19 ratings
DOMESTIC STORIES (WITH LUTZ GLANDIEN)
Cutler, Chris
4.16 | 64 ratings
HUNGER'S TEETH
5uu's
4.12 | 88 ratings
DOC AT THE RADAR STATION
Captain Beefheart
4.13 | 83 ratings
GREGORY ALLAN FITZPATRICK'S SNORUNGARNAS SYMFONI
Samla Mammas Manna
4.45 | 20 ratings
TUBARÕES VOADORES
Barnabé, Arrigo
4.25 | 37 ratings
GARMONBOZIA
Ensemble Nimbus
4.51 | 17 ratings
THE CIRCLE MAKER
Masada String Trio / Bar Kokhba
4.72 | 12 ratings
CUATRO VISIONES
Arteria
4.02 | 605 ratings
APOSTROPHE (')
Zappa, Frank
4.46 | 19 ratings
BOOK OF SOULS - FOLIO A
Secret Chiefs 3
4.24 | 36 ratings
GRAND GUIGNOL
Naked City
4.07 | 134 ratings
KLOSSA KNAPITATET
Samla Mammas Manna
4.26 | 33 ratings
8.8
Silo, Le
4.13 | 63 ratings
NOVA EXPRESS
NeBeLNeST
4.02 | 552 ratings
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: OVER-NITE SENSATION
Zappa, Frank
4.04 | 181 ratings
CALIFORNIA
Mr. Bungle
4.07 | 104 ratings
NAKED CITY
Naked City
4.48 | 17 ratings
AN A-BOMB TO WAKE UP
I Am Above On The Left
4.07 | 110 ratings
SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA
Samla Mammas Manna
4.03 | 194 ratings
CLIVAGES
Univers Zero
4.04 | 124 ratings
FIVE SUNS
Guapo
4.47 | 16 ratings
FLOATING OPERA
Tipographica
4.25 | 29 ratings
DEMONS DANCE ALONE
Residents, The
4.05 | 104 ratings
IMPLOSION
Univers Zero
4.14 | 47 ratings
ENDANGERED
Far Corner
4.30 | 24 ratings
ELÄINTEN FANFAARI
Kauhukakara
4.11 | 56 ratings
LES CYCLES DE THANATOS
Vortex
4.04 | 127 ratings
HEATWAVE
Univers Zero
4.27 | 26 ratings
CARNIVAL DETOURNEMENT
Hamster Theatre
4.10 | 59 ratings
GRINDSTONE
Shining
4.72 | 10 ratings
SANGROU
Satanique Samba Trio
4.11 | 53 ratings
... TOT LICHT
Discus

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

VÈCI
Combo FH
ZYPRESSEN
Zypressen
DOOR FLOOR SOMETHING WINDOW: LOOPING HOME ORCHESTRA LIVE 92-93
Hollmer, Lars
SHINUTOKIWA BETSU
Wha-Ha-Ha

Latest RIO/Avant-Prog Music Reviews


 Sons Optiques by BREANT, FRANÇOIS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.19 | 12 ratings

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Sons Optiques
François Breant RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Francois Breant was very active in the French music scene in the seventies with various bands and projects, but having a break in the late seventies allowed him to create two studio albums. He's mostly listed under Electronics based on the second album but this his debut is more in the Rio/ Avant style overall but there's more to this than that. Really cool to see Didier Lockwood on violin here having enjoyed his work with MAGMA and ZAO especially. Albert Marcouer adds cymbals and timbales and then there's bassist Guy De Lacroix who had a couple of stints with MAGMA and played on the "Attahk" album. We also get alto and tenor sax while Breant plays a variety of keyboards here.

"Les Journeaux Annoncent La Guerre Generique" got me going the first time I heard it as we get a strong UNIVERS ZERO vibe. Dramatic outbursts of drums, synths and more before a haunting calm arrives but then it kicks in again as contrasts continue. How beautiful is this just before a minute and then it kicks in again. So good! An almost silent calm arrives after 2 1/2 minutes before those dramatic outbursts return. Oh and check out the bass 3 minutes in.

"Vacances A Concarneau" has plenty of intricate sounds with some piano outbursts as the synths come in over top. It's all quite restrained. Some brief guitar just before a minute. The violin comes in ripping it up after 1 1/2 minutes. Themes are repeated then more violin around 2 1/2 minutes that's really impressive.

"De Retour A Paris" has some beautiful piano melodies as the sax joins in. The tempo picks up before 2 minutes as we get piano and sax leading. A calm takes over quickly though that is quite gorgeous with those vocal melodies helping out. It picks up again like before to that Symphonic sound that brings Oldfield to mind.

"Scenes De Foule Et De Pour Suite Pendant Le Carnaval" opens with outbursts of different sounds that will come and go then it settles into a piano, synths and timbales led groove. So much going on here though, bass too. Some vocal melodies come and go sounding like mellotron choirs before it turns avant before 2 1/2 minutes.

"Dilemma De Jeanne Au Restaurant Chinois" has these slowly pulsing synths to start as some sparse piano joins in. Some outbursts of sound and atmosphere follow. It picks up before 2 minutes with Marcouer doing his thing then it calms right down again with atmosphere and sparse piano coming and going. "Survol De Rio" is piano, synths, percussion, violin and more. A pleasant sound here. Sax before 1 1/2 minutes.

"Scenes De Mobili Sation Et Retrouvallies Avec Bruno" along with the opener are my favourites. This is the longest track at close to 10 minutes. Sounds like mellotron choirs again but it's real. Synths and atmosphere before a minute as the mood changes. Marcouer helps out here along with Lockwood. It seems to start over at 2 1/2 minutes with piano outbursts and atmosphere as we get some space too. Drums and violin a minute later as the music starts to come alive with energy. Atmosphere and violin melodies after 4 1/2 minutes as it changes again. Some interesting sounds here. Kind of haunting as well then it starts to build with plenty of synths and more.

"Briser Au Crepuscule Et Fin" ends it and we get piano, synths and violin coming and going. A GENESIS vibe with those synths before a minute surprisingly that will come and go. A change before 2 1/2 minutes as sounds pulse then sax and much more take over. It settles with piano and violin after 3 minutes.

The album cover with Breant pulling the film out gives us a hint at his idea for a sound and visual recording. Of course hanging out with a bunch of Zeuhl musicians over many years has to have an influence as well. A really solid album that Avant fans should appreciate.

 Hoping Against Hope by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.08 | 67 ratings

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Hoping Against Hope
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

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

5 stars Oh my gawd! This is the kind of stuff that gives me progasms! Colorado's coolest mutilators of pop melodies have once again delivered six intriguing tracks freshly collected from the meat grinder and shipped off to market. THINKING PLAGUE has been the nightmares of bubblegum pop addicts for over three decades now and continues to ratchet up the tension and complexity levels on every "whenever they get around to it" release. HOPING AGAINST HOPE is only the seventh studio album released since their debut which came out all the way back in 1984 when Madonna and Michael Jackson were ruling the world on the pop charts. Fast forward to 2017 and the sound that was established on the debut "A Thinking Plague" has kept the same formula of putting the extra helping of avant in the Rock In Opposition styled prog that takes what predecessors like Henry Cow and Art Bears began and put it all on steroids. HOPING AGAINST HOPE is one of the densest and most angular releases of the year and is guaranteed never to be played at wedding ceremonies or birthday parties for moppets.

At this point in the band's career, Mike Johnson is not only the founder but the only member to have been constant since album number one and what makes THINKING PLAGUE rise above the ranks of the ever growing list of avant-proggers out there is his unique classical and electronic music studies that have afforded him the luxury of crafting out an exquisite and decorative compositional style that actually pans out to be bona fide alternative arrangements rather than just striving to be weird for weird's sake and on HOPING FOR HOPE these talents have only grown into some of the most sophisticated and complex with a new sense of bravado. One of the sources for the more complex sounds emanating from my speakers is the addition of a second guitarist in the form of Bill Pohl which allows more colorful expressions of tangled counterpoints that take systems borrowed from the most convoluted jazz sounds and somehow sift them into a gnarled imbroglio of competing anti-melodies that avoid collision like a clever colony of ants. Phrasings, time signatures, tempos and timbres compete for dominance but ultimately cooperate to demonstrate the most alien of soundscapes possible.

Once again Elaine Di Falco joins the team on vocals with her avant-prog standard type of delivery which keeps the leash on the boys who seem like their chomping at the bit to fully blast off from the Dagmar Krause antecedents that allow some sort of logical placement of this intellectually challenging musical puzzle. The atmospheres are thick and intense like Holst's "Mars" segment on "The Planets" which warns of impending warfare of the world as the sax, clarinet, oboe and flute conspire to weave a web of startling counterpoints that inspire as much awe as a faux missile attack threat appearing on your cell phone text. Another factor that seems to have developed is a more sophisticated King Crimson sort of heavy guitar bantering which adds a major sense of heft to the established unnerving anti-melodies that ratchet up the tension and then successful bombard the ear canals with a sense of bombast on top of the sense of impending dread and apocalyptica that always hints at but never quite attains a logical resolution.

Stylistically HOPING AGAINST HOPE is very similar to previous THINKING PLAGUE works with four shorter tracks swimming amidst two bloated behemoths that extend over the ten minute mark. Also the tracks straddle around in the predictable unpredictable manner with only Di Falco's vocal trails providing some sort of thread that ties all the disparate counterpoints together, however the compositions have taken on a new sense of urgency like a village that has taken root next to a volcano about to erupt and the anxiety beckons a more vehement response. While placidity isn't unknown on HOPING AGAINST HOPE, it's the violent aftermath that sets this release apart from earlier albums and the compositions have taken on unthinkable complexities making the peregrination to a top ranking of a 10 on my personal progometer scale of complexity. While most prog bands well into their fourth decade show signs of wear and fatigue or at least complacency in their craft, Johnson and his THINKING PLAGUE seem re-energized and ready to float off to the next world without one little iota of compromise. If anything, a determination of creating the most mangled melodic complexities seems to be of a most exigent priority.

Once again THINKING PLAGUE creates another successful soundtrack for an alternative universe with cleverly crafted precision that leaves me gasping for air after the multiple series of prograsm inducing exaltation. While it's never a sure bet that Johnson and friends will ever deliver a new album filled with the usual suspects of highly-developed and subtle musical configurations, one thing is a given at this point and that is the fact that when they finally do arise from the PLAGUE cave under the cover of surreptitiousness, they are guaranteed to leave jaws gaping as they perform the avant-prog equivalent of Cirque du Soleil styled performances that always lead me to wonder how far the whole avant-prog thing can go. Apparently it's in no danger of running out of steam. This has probably reached the ranks of "In Extremis" in my book with its sheer audacity to unapologetically develop and drift in any direction seen fit. Stunning and utterly unique THINKING PLAGUE continues to dazzle as they effectively build upon what they've done before yet with the paradox of doing so in both logical and illogical manners. The only problem is that this is exhausting music but well worth the workout.

 Taiga by OOIOO album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.53 | 48 ratings

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Taiga
OOIOO RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars OOIOO are a collective of Japanese women with one mission in mind: to create some of the most intensely experimental avant-rock music out there. Boredoms drummer and co-founder Yoshimi P-We leads the gang in a percussion-focused psych-prog-world music mashup that sounds like little else on Earth. If you took Talking Heads at their most experimental and got them into a jam session with Magma, then pumped hallucinogenic gas into the studio, maybe something broadly similar would come out of the other end. I doubt it, though, because there's a certain pulsating intensity to this work which suggests a much more organised mind behind it than my analogy would allow for.
 BrossaKlitt by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.21 | 55 ratings

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BrossaKlitt
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

5 stars Consider artistic, musical innovation should be in fun and surprise. The audience should get amazed at what happens on stage 'beyond expectation', even if it's sorta funny, funky appearance / expression, rapid melodic development, or incredibly technical manner. For example a Japanese jazz rock combo Djamra always play with such a strong intention as above mentioned, and so do POIL, a French avantgarde / experimental rock trio, who have gigged with Djamra in Frankfurt a couple of years before. 'Dins O Cuol' their previous creation made me laugh out loudly and feel comfortable via their original vibes. This album 'Brossaklitt' released in 2014, notifies they've got more power, both experimentally and musically.

At first the third titled track is more than creative, via crazy complicated rhythm and melody lines plus meaningless, freakout lyrics gradation. Guess the audience cannot help laughing and enjoying purely like children by this performance on stage. Undoubtedly this is kinda innovation in the rock scene. The following 'Patachou' full of ethnic electronika and mysterious synthesizer-oriented sound brilliance (this is my fave too). Suppose we could dance to the tune regardless of its melodic, rhythmic complexity (wow). Also the next 'MAO' reminds us of the similar vein toward a techno pop sound era (like Yellow Magic Orchestra) some decades ago, but let me say again this electro spreader has their attitude for 'fun' obviously.

As though they would have hailed from another dimension, their creation is filled with electronic fantasy, complicated rhythm / melody lines, and amaze / fun for the audience without any suspicion (even in the shortest one 'Dins O Klitt'). 'Pikiwa' should be called as the compilation of their cynical historical musical database. Can I say here that I would like to attend their fantastic gig in near future?

 A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.24 | 232 ratings

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A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by mlkpad14

5 stars Cardiacs' album A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window is their most popular release to date. Cardiacs' style - part art rock, part punk, part prog, and extremely experimental - makes them one of the more interesting bands out there. The band is also very technical - they blow traditional time meter and structure out of proportion; they understand a lot about music, but are creative enough that they can break the rules and play around. In order to get a feel for Cardiacs' sound, one must truly immerse themselves in the music; A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window is not only a brilliant record, but it's also a great introduction to their huge discography.

The first song of the album, "A Little Man And A House", is classic Cardiacs: eccentric, theatrical, complex, varied, and intense. The song uses repetition and vocal delivery in order to build up overtime - we are but just into the album, and Tim Smith's unique vocals are already shining. Now, that is something!

Next, "In A City Lining" first showcases Dominic Luckman's intricate drumming. The song's message is controversial in that it makes fun of everyday life and progress. It really is not too bad, though. After all, black comedy exists in other forms far worse; and, Tim Smith gives off a very light and merry air as always.

"Is This The Life?" is Cardiacs' best known single, and it attained brief chart success, peaking at #80. It is well placed as the fourth song in the album. Tim Smith's guitar soloing and William D. Drake's grand keyboards - listen closely - make for a much heavier sound. Since side one is a little easier on the listener, this song helps to even things out. Afterwards, there is a short interlude.

"Dive" is fast-paced, dynamic, and has a fun outro: "Life's a part and it lies on top of me. Life is constantly on my mind." - and perhaps it's songs like these that lead so many people to compare Cardiacs to R.E.S., but in my opinion, the bands have nothing to do with each other.

A little over twenty minutes into the album, "The Icing on The World" kicks off side two of the album. Here, the album dips because Cardiacs were obviously trying to be heavy, at the expense of their distinct style. Perhaps if it was less orchestrated or the drums did not ring so loudly the song would work better.

With "The Breakfast Line'' the album quickly avenges itself. It introduces with people speaking in low tones; yet, it moves forward, and it has it all: tempo changes and a range of sounds as diverse and precise as the color palette are what define this song. Elaine Herman has some beautiful violin playing throughout, and it fits in extremely well.

"Victory Egg" is even better. The song is strictly vocal, with backing instruments that help to create a crescendo effect. The backing instrumentals help to add space to the music as well, just like in classical music and modern post-rock.

Nevertheless, "R.E.S." is, again, even better; actually, "R.E.S." is my favorite off of the album. That is because the keyboards sound like they belong in the chiptune genre; that is because "That's the way we all go" is slurred so beautifully, and the song is syncopated in all sorts of different time divisions. The guitar solo makes its grand entry about halfway through, and instrumentals are continually built on top - each a spark of an idea that lasts for maybe ten seconds. This song also draws comparisons to "Dog Like Sparky", off of Cardiacs' Sing to God; "R.E.S." and "Dog Like Sparky" are two of the most complicated "happy songs" that I know.

Now, Cardiacs have managed to create a world so unique and mesmerizing, and they have to end it off somehow. "The Whole World Window" is like "Impressioni di settembre" by Premiata Forneria Marconi and "Ad Gloriam" by Le Orme, but the bite of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds seems to interfere. "The Whole World Window" is your traditional ballad, but it so much more. The album ends with so much power - pure power. There happens to be another version of A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window with the added songs "Goosegash", "Loosefish Scapegrace", "I'm Eating In Bed", "There's Too Many Irons In The Fire", and "All Spectacular"; forty-five minutes is enough time for Cardiacs to make a statement - that is why the original is so much better.

 Un Peu De L'Âme Des Bandits by AKSAK MABOUL album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.77 | 82 ratings

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Un Peu De L'Âme Des Bandits
Aksak Maboul RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

4 stars "Un Peu De L'âme Des Bandits" released in 1980 can be thought as an iconic album by a Belgian RIO legend AKSAK MABOUL. Consider this production can be quite appropriate for opposition either to pop / rock 'on the golden road' or progressive rock. Wondering what we feel if we listen to this material for the first time without any knowledge. We can hear sound variations via the creation - mysterious Latino vibes with continental tango hints, weird electronic movements, Catherine's quirky voices along with heavy, dull, and hollow percussion, complicated drumming not harmonized with saxophone sounds, squeezed atmospheric ambiance - almost all of 'hard to accept' experiments can be felt as Krautrock. Such an eccentric impression should come upon to the audience even only through the first track "A Modern Lesson". Like an expensive wine flooded with luxurious complex aftertaste, this album might be created enthusiastically and cynically enough with strong intention of the creators, I guess. Sounds like authentic avantgarde progressive rock but the fact should make the creation more and more interesting and innovative.
 Shrine by PSYCHOYOGI album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.08 | 6 ratings

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Shrine
Psychoyogi RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Very nice music!

Last year I got to know Psychoyogi's music due to the facebook contact with their axe-man Chris Ramsing, and i have to say I am lucky to be introduced to these low-profile prog bands because they always have something interesting to share. This is a trio of talented musicians whose music cannot be catalogued as classic progressive rock, instead, you will find here the jazzy side of prog with evident Zappa-esque textures. The band has released so far four albums, being Shrine their newest, released back in 2016. It is a short 34- minute album divided in 9 tracks that will make you have a good time.

As you can imagine, the songs range from 3 to 5 minutes. The title track "Shrine" is a pretty cool introduction to their music. Jazz prog with inherent humor (you can tell by the vocals) but with a sound that is really easy to dig, I mean, normally bands under the RIO or avant-prog label might be difficult to digest, but this is not the case. "Optimistic Dream" has a soft sound that turns delicious in their instrumental passages; it also brings a kind of gypsy sound made by the winds. The short guitar solos are also very pleasant. "Trust" is another nice piece with those gypsy nuances, nicely complemented by soft vocals and a pretty nice rhythmic base.

"Happy Family" is a piece I like a lot. Its instrumental passages are delicious. The guitar work is exquisite as well as those soft bass notes. "Lucy" is the shortest track, but its 3 minutes bring comfortably and peaceful moments that pass so fast like a blink of an eye. Its first minute is like an introduction, then some kind of funeral drums appear along with trumpets and create a very enjoyable passage. With "Far Away Places" I somehow remember Gentle Giant, maybe due to the rhythm, but at the same time, the voice has a certain Claypool sound, but softer. It also adds a nice mid-eastern sound as background. Wonderful track!

The gypsy essence returns with "How to Break the Fall". What I like a lot about this band is that their sound is not the common one, I mean, if you read "gypsy" as description you might imagine fast, bombastic and loud rhythms, but Psychoyogi's sound is actually very delicate, and it is nicely balanced by the moments with vocals. "Methods" has a wonderful jazzy passage at half the song, and thought it is short, it is one of my favorite of the whole album. The last song is "Supermarket Man" which has a chaotic piano in the first seconds, later acoustic guitar appears and later vocals. Despite it is so short, they managed to bring different sounds and passages on it. Very nice!

It is a nice album, I enjoy their music, however, I think their soft and friendly sound could be both, a pro and a con, because it's a not so common sound that brings a different experience, but it may lack of those explosive moments that make you fall in love with the music.

Enjoy it!

 Saal Hardali by SAAL HARDALI album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Saal Hardali
Saal Hardali RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars Wondering what the oil-painting-like portrait upon the sleeve means ... it's my pleasure too. An Israeli experimental rock quintet SAAL HARDALI have come to the front of us suddenly, with their promising, innovative self-titled creation. What do those three mystic persons in the portrait come up to the audience?

Very impressive in a sense is their sound creating method they might have ignored almost all of the musical / melodic / compositional theories constructed previously. We feel so also via their mysterious existence and aggressive play style mixture, due to very few information (except in Israeli). Every single track gets started all of a sudden, ended like a vanishing smoke, and followed by the next track without any notice. The whole content can be mentioned as a 40 minute battle by the five skillful musicians ... their complicated, violent sound explosion should be perfectly unified. Their energetic sound evolution can be quite appreciated by every experimental rock fan, regardless of the language or the information.

Anyway, we can clearly say as follows: they play apparently in a wrong manner. Don't copy nor follow, serious children! (lol)

 Three Compositions Of No Jazz by MICROKINGDOM album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Three Compositions Of No Jazz
Microkingdom RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars MICROKINGDOM have been founded as an experimental / avantgarde / improvised jazz / electronic trio hailing from Baltimore. This album "Three Compositions Of No Jazz" released in 2011 is their debut full-length creation filled with their innovative characteristics to stimulate our inner minds directly. The album was produced as an homage to a US free jazz composer / multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, with their obvious intention and attitude to play 'jazz'. The second track "Aire Metal", one of my favourite songs, is sorta authentic jazz featuring electronic percussion and hard-edged saxophone sounds. Payment even only for this track can be made, let me say.

The first shot "Peppermint Crab" is, contrary to following one, electro-drenched quirky free / avantgarde jazz one to stir my brain. In the middole of this album "Gamut Runner", freely ambient sound / noise jack-in-the-box reminds me of Horde Catalytique Pour La Fin, free jazz unit. Another ambience river flow "The Myth Of The Rainy Night" is comfortable like smoothie.The last noisy, freaky weirdness "Surgery Ghosts" sounds just like what the title says.

This debut album is pretty promising for avantgarde-progressive rock scene, even if their soundscape should be flooded with electronic procedure like Jean Guérin. A stuff that let us feel of various possibility.

 Return To The Valley Of The Jeep Beats by MICROKINGDOM album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Return To The Valley Of The Jeep Beats
Microkingdom RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars MICROKINGDOM have come back with shifting their musical style into much more electronic one. Their debut creation 'Three Compositions Of No Jazz' is my favourite one as an authentic electro-jazz, followed by 'Return To The Valley Of The Jeep Beats' released in autumn of 2017, that sounds more electronic and less jazzy, and more and more weirder and queerer. At least for me they play as naturally in this creation as previously, and sounds like they would have produced this specialty in a manner of composure. Guess we may approve it as if a great wine flavoured more flowery, more deeply matured upon getting warmer.

From the first track 'Hot Echoes' we can be drenched in their quirky percussive electronika, featuring dissonant electric guitar noises and freaky jazzy saxophone sounds. Quite ambient but impressive for electronic fans (a tad tough for authentic jazz fans though). Also 'Moon Driver' has such a flowery flavour like the previous one, that notifies the audience of their pleasure really. On the contrary, 'Public Bass House' is flooded with perfect ambient therapy and ghostly terrorvision. 'Space Jog' or 'Disgusting Sunset' digs non-jazzy electroambient madness out, which cannot remind us of their debut, but who cares?

As a result, I suppose they would have molted into their adult ... err ... basic soundstyle. This is my favourite too!

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