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Karen Cooper Complex biography
The roots of KAREN COOPER COMPLEX can be seen in two Richmond-based outfits, Big Napter and Titfield Thunderbolt. Big Napter were formed as a six-piece outfit in 1970, in that Frank DANIEL (guitar), Bill ALTICE (guitar), and Steve BERNARD (bass) attempted to play a mixture with elemental rock and free jazz. In Titfield Thunderbolt, starting their oddball legend in 1969, were Wm. BURKE (aka Key Ring Torch; electronics) and Bo JACOB (aka Bo Janne Valvoline; drums, percussion). Frank recruited Karen COOPER (voices), who worked in I Saw A Bulldozer, formed as a three- or four-piece female back chorus (in late 70s they played or recorded with Steve), to their coming project - named KAREN COOPER COMPLEX later.

Karen could introduce a Bitches Brew breath with her voices as a integral, impulsive instrument into their experimental / improvised style. This novel rock structure bore fruit as an un-heard gem album 'Shinjuku Birdwalk' recorded in 1981 ... after the first sessions, Burt BLACKBURN stepped in for Steve, and Bo was replaced by a drum machine. Finally KAREN COOPER COMPLEX were disbanded without standing on stage at all, because of Karen's pregnancy (she'd married to the guitarist Les SMITH).

Frank passed away of type I diabetes mellitus in 2004, and 'Shinjuku Birdwalk' was digitized by Bill and released in via a Richmond independent label Artifacts / yclept in 2010.

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3.00 | 3 ratings
Shinjuku Birdwalk

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shinjuku Birdwalk by KAREN COOPER COMPLEX album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.00 | 3 ratings

Shinjuku Birdwalk
Karen Cooper Complex RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The only album of NY avant rock band. It's quite difficult to qualify the musical genre - minimalistic mix of beatniks atmosphere, free jazz techniques (without being jazz at all!) and Zappa-like songs. Female vocal isn't wordless, but lyrics are too loose and freaky to be counted as real lyrics.

Main musical component are scratching guitars, but again, more on a manner of punky Nels Cline. Music is free and often primitive. Some touches of vintage NY new wave could be found, but possibly under the children drum-like rhythm sound in combination with distorted guitars and primitive electronic effects there are more "no wave" aesthetics.

This recording is more strange and interesting, than pleasant. Not the release for casual listener may be, but good find for searching on interesting sound on the avant vaults.

 Shinjuku Birdwalk by KAREN COOPER COMPLEX album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.00 | 3 ratings

Shinjuku Birdwalk
Karen Cooper Complex RIO/Avant-Prog

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

3 stars A bizarre music structure, coming up too early.

KAREN COOPER COMPLEX were a remarkably short-lived experimental / improvised avantgarde progressive rock outfit around early 1980. Although they were based upon a fundamental rock / free jazz band (Big Napter) and an artistic legend blended with theatrical and musical representations (Titfield Thunderbolt), Karen COOPER, not only a female singer but an integral, impulsive instrument, could break their basic style away completely. Sometimes cynical and inorganic, sometimes funky and punk-y, and sometimes funny and heartwarming ... Karen can alter her various kinds of appearances frequently and appropriately, and the other instrumentalists can follow her potential, I always feel. It's said that basically almost all of their songs should be improvised on stage or in studio, and amazingly, are obviously refined sharply, even though loosely produced (sometimes a violently scattered structure can be exerted between a part and another, but the whole tune construction can be surprisingly united). Without any suspicion they all were much skilled and talented musicians, but let me say, Karen's bizarre personality and priority over the others might create their extraordinary motivation - related to their refinement. However, sad to say, such an aggressively oppositional music style could not be accepted in 1981. It's very natural. They can be suitable to be called as a progressive rock outfit currently.

So glad their fascinating (and addictive) stuffs can be reborn in 2010 online. Thanks.

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition.

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