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RIO/Avant-Prog • Latvia

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Olive Mess biography
In November 1998 Denis Arsenin (Bass), Edgar Kempish (drums) and Alexey Syomin (guitar) played their first joint rehearsal, leading to the formation of the Latvian band OLIVE MESS. The group named themselves in honour of the French 20th century composer Olivie Messian. For two years the band remained a three piece. Regularly performing at the music club called "Saxophone", where they would play covers of King Crimson along with many of their own compositions.

In March 2001 the group released their first recording "Live without Audience" which pretty much acted as a demo. With the track "1572 (part II)" we start to see the group's interest in Medieval French history. With the compositional basis formed around "St. Bartholomew's day Massacre" occurring on August 23, 1572.
Later in 2001, the remaining members joined the group; including Ilze Paegle (classical trained soprano singer), Lilija Voronova (keyboards) and Sergey Syomin (Archlute, Baroque guitar). Now a full band the group prepared to start recording for their album "Gramercy" under the French label Soleil Zeuhl. The album consists of 5 long compositions. OLIVE MESS encompasses many elements in to their music; shifting between traditional medieval folk music and passages of complex avant-garde which hint strongly towards their King Crimson and Univers Zero influences. The album consists of 5 long compositions with Lyrics mainly focus on historical events in medieval France.

Well worth the investigation for those looking for something adventurous and highly original.

===Written by BLACK VELVET (Adam)===

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Gramercy by Olive MessGramercy by Olive Mess
Soleil Zeuhl
Audio CD$46.98

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OLIVE MESS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

OLIVE MESS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 11 ratings
3.95 | 12 ratings

OLIVE MESS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live Without Audience

OLIVE MESS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OLIVE MESS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OLIVE MESS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cherdak by OLIVE MESS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.95 | 12 ratings

Olive Mess RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Second album of Olive Mess - avant band from my neighbour country of Latvia is very professional mix of chamber rock, some jazzy elements,folk motives (mostly Celtic) and zeuhl aesthetics.

Just four long (from 10 to 17 minutes) compositions, but albums itself looks very concentrated. Two very complex, sometimes dissonant guitars ( you can hear obvious Frippian influence between others), zeuhlish drumming, bagpipes and some vocals in times. Music is a pyramid of rhythm breaks and structures, nervous,sometimes dark, sometimes airy baroqueness. Vocals are mostly in English (with Latvian accent). Unusual combination of medieval music, chamber avant,jazz-rock and zeuhl.

Band is obscure even in their home country, all musicians has their main job outside of it. Just few concerts per year, album's recording once per some years. It's pity, band plays very professional and original music. Really recommended to everyone interested in complex modern avant rock with roots in baroque sound and zeuhl atmosphere.

 Cherdak by OLIVE MESS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.95 | 12 ratings

Olive Mess RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by progadicto

4 stars Latvian band Olive Mess has at least ten years making music, half way between avant garde, RIO and symph prog. "Cherdak" (Attic) is their second effort. Purchased in 2008 is a 4 long-epic suites album where the average listener could find some melodical avant garde influences, oriental and medieval sections mixed with complex rhythmical sections and some floating 70's symph prog passages "a la Yes".

Even when it's not a masterpiece the truth is that the 4 tracks sounds really good with all this textures and mixes of genres and styles, making sections in which prog, avant, RIO and others collide in almost perfect harmony.

My fav one is "Beowulf". Is the most proggy track of the album and definitively reminds me the work of Jean Paul Prat on tle album "Masal". From my POV, the best track of the album by far. The complex and experimental "Mane, Trechel, Phares" comes to second because all the rhythms and genres mixed in 17 minutes of a track that deserves a second look in order to discover every little detail in their scales and melodies. Can's leave out of this highlight the epical gran finale of "Ovum Mechanicus" with several minutes of a thrilling crescendo...

4*. No more nor less... You can't miss this one...

 Gramercy by OLIVE MESS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.57 | 11 ratings

Olive Mess RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars What a wonderful mess

Starting with a somewhat medieval sounding piece, it then morphs into a faster pace with the female singer Ilze with her stunning soprano - I am sure that this will take most if not all listener by surprise even if you know it's coming. Now when disregarding the vocals for a minute, I noticed that the music reminds me of a 70's prog rock French bands with their theatrical and somber approach (for some reason I thought of Arachnoid). Anyway, the complexity is there and after developing that main part long enough, they go on with their show, taking another musical route, evolving from only to come back in the end to the main theme, not before experimenting and "playing around" a bit. In this part Ilze half speaks, half sings (though not in a soprano). Her voice is stunning, full of power and emotion and when she sings in her "normal" voice it's haunting and I would guess that a duo of her and Diamanda Galas would be interesting to listen to.

Two characteristics that I find dominant throughout their music is a folk sound, brought about by the acoustic guitar; and the theatrical and avant-garde (not always together) with brushes of somberness which, as I said above, reminds me of 70's French prog bands, such as Arachnoid. This second aspect in their music is due to the arrangements of the songs and the way Ilze sings. Apart from that, I like the way they develop their songs, going about and not afraid to break out totally from the original route, only to come back to it later, all the while keeping things interesting whether it's by the complexity of the compositions or the instrumentation that is at play. At times it might sound, like I read in other reviews, too "messy" to listen to. That is probably because not enough attention and listens have been given to absorb this large-scope album, which has long songs with complex and winding structure. Naturally, first listens may cause confusion and thinking that the band is not focused or simply that the music is too chaotic to enjoy it. The "mess" will clear out as more attention and concentration is applied with subsequent listening.

What one needs to do with this album if he finds it too cumbersome, is to "split" it in his mind. Focus on one instrument or the vocals; follow them as the music goes on; see how they go about and what melody they play. Then on the next listen, pick a different instrument. This way you'll figure it out eventually (hopefully). This is actually a good way to listen to any album that gives you hard time to "solve" it structure.

Ilze's vocals - while some might be daunted, I actually think this is not only a plus side of this album it's also one of its highlights. She masters her voice, singing in either soprano or the more theatrical, half-spoken half-sung vocals.

Complexity/experimentation - a very good sense of adventure is what these musicians have. This is not at the expense of the melody, but as an addition to it. One only needs to understand the "context" in which it is composed and played. This is not a weird or too quirky sort of experimentation (relative to other bands in this "field"). All the while there is a good sense of direction of where they're leading us to, what musical idea is being developed and what sound is trying to be achieved. It might be that it is too large in scope to grasp, which is why repetitive listens need to take place. Don't dismiss this after just one listen. These are wonderfully thought-out musical pieces, both in terms of lyricism and composition. They do put a lot of effort into writing their lyrics which are as long as the tracks.

Fantastic pieces of music, well executed and inspiring; this album will appeal to those who like an adventure, something different and yet familiar in that it takes from styles and influences mentioned above and that are part of prog-rock's legacy.

4.5 stars in PA scale

 Gramercy by OLIVE MESS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.57 | 11 ratings

Olive Mess RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

3 stars ''Gramercy'' is definitely a good album, but there's always a spot to put my nail on. With their unique ''RENESSAINCE meets KING CRIMSON'' or ''OPUS AVANTRA jams with GRYPHON'' style they could be highly appreciated in Prog-Rock society, and I still wonder why there's so little attention to a FREE ALBUM legally available on Russian ''free!music'' site! Shortcomings of the record are few but biting: first of all, opera-like female vocals. I could possibly bear them, but I failed. Second, epics tend to be boring and directionless at times, showing band's lack of maturity. Fortunately, this is where all shortcomings end and you may easily enjoy this album. And if you like opera vocals and don't mind long jammy pieces, automatically add a star or two to my review! The best thing is that the band got rid of some past members, and prepared a second album "Cherdak" which is to be released this year! Male vocals (personal ''hooray!'' from me) and wonderful medieval atmosphere (a very special one - who else can recreate such mood in contemporary music?) - anyone interested? ;) As for ''Gramercy'' - recommended despite my own prejudices.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to avestin for the last updates

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