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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 ú1000 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 | 1378 ratings
HOT RATS
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 811 ratings
THE GRAND WAZOO
Zappa, Frank
4.32 | 786 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 | 251 ratings
SING TO GOD
Cardiacs
4.31 | 197 ratings
WESTERN CULTURE
Henry Cow
4.28 | 283 ratings
UZED
Univers Zero
4.47 | 54 ratings
H─XAN
Art Zoyd
4.27 | 337 ratings
CHOIRS OF THE EYE
Kayo Dot
4.42 | 63 ratings
N║ 6
Present
4.41 | 64 ratings
BOOK M
Secret Chiefs 3
4.26 | 247 ratings
HERESIE
Univers Zero
4.25 | 246 ratings
M┼LTID
Samla Mammas Manna
4.32 | 93 ratings
ON LAND AND IN THE SEA
Cardiacs
4.36 | 68 ratings
DECEIT
This Heat
4.23 | 219 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

PLAGUE MASS
Galas, Diamanda
ZYPRESSEN
Zypressen
8.8
Silo, Le
PLATYPUS
Sotos

Latest RIO/Avant-Prog Music Reviews


 Hoping Against Hope by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.94 | 15 ratings

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Hoping Against Hope
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Fast forward to 2017, and Thinking Plague show no sign at all of compromising their ideals. Mike Johnson is the only person who has been there throughout, but he is steering this ship on a very clear path. The line-up now is Mike (guitar, samples, midi instruments), Mark Harris (soprano and alto saxes, B-flat standard and bass clarinets, flute), Dave Willey: (bass, drums, accordion), Elaine di Falco (voice, accordion, piano), Robin Chestnut (drums, percussion) and Bill Pohl (guitar). Now, I have come across Bill quite a few times previously, having reviewed his solo album 'Solid Earth' back in 1994, plus some other of his bands since then such as The Underground Railroad, so I was intrigued to see his involvement. He has always been a fine guitarist with a passion for music that can be somewhat different and difficult to listen to, and here is being allowed to give that full rein.

In many ways, this is a more melodic and easier album to listen to than some of their others, but that isn't to say that they have moved away from their core purpose of RIO, just that it has a slightly different flavour. There are times when the different woodwind instruments take the lead, repeating motifs, but this just allows the guitars to break in and out of the song with extremely quick runs. Elaine doesn't have the same natural other worldliness displayed by Susanne on the classic 'In This Life', but fits in perfectly with this adjusted style of music.

Thinking Plague may have changed somewhat in the intervening thirty years between these two albums, but hasn't everyone? But, they are still true to their roots and this could never be any other band. Exciting and enthralling, there really is no-one else quite like them. They will only ever appeal to a select few, but those few will be greatly enriched by hearing this.

 In This Life by THINKING PLAGUE album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.02 | 59 ratings

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In This Life
Thinking Plague RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars Reissued as a remastered edition in 2015, 'In This Life' is not merely a fascinating album of extraordinary rock-based songs. It is a landmark recording in the life of one of America's most distinctive bands and in the international spread of Rock in Opposition-style sophisticated post-rock. Recorded in 1988-89 by Denver-based Thinking Plague, one of the most esteemed and longstanding American avant-progressive ensembles, 'In This Life' marked Thinking Plague's stylistic coming-of-age. The band had recorded two earlier albums in the years since its 1982 co-founding by Mike Johnson and Bob Drake: those early works brought Thinking Plague national "underground" acclaim. But the line-up responsible for In This Life, with Mike Johnson handling composition and Susanne Lewis supplying lyrics and vocals, proved to be the early group's ideal creative brew. It was originally released on Recommended Records (ReR), the London-based label run by Chris Cutler, founder of the Rock in Opposition movement and member of renowned band Henry Cow. One track on the album featured a guest appearance by Fred Frith, the legendary Henry Cow/Art Bears guitarist. It became ReR's first-ever release on the then-radically-new format of CD - a format that simplified the disc's international distribution.

Even now, all these years on from when it was originally released, this is in many ways quite a frightening and disturbing album, almost as if Art Zoyd have gone to another level and have then brought in a female singer who is totally at odds with what else is going on musically behind her. This was never meant to be an album that was easy to listen to, and with its discordant melodies and other worldliness, is one that will repel far more people than would ever listen to it. It is off key, it is controlled, it is anarchic, yet for me is also deeply compelling. It isn't an album that I will ever play a great deal, but I find myself drawn back to it time and again. This isn't music for a large audience on a bright sunny day, but is to be enjoyed in the night, when nothing else will suffice. RIO doesn't get much more inventive and important as this.

 Book Of Souls - Folio A by SECRET CHIEFS 3 album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.44 | 17 ratings

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Book Of Souls - Folio A
Secret Chiefs 3 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Secret Chiefs 3's albums are generally rather consistent, Trey Spruance keeping things fresh by shifting quickly between styles (each of the component "satellite bands" representing a different genre). As such, Book of Souls is more or less more of the same, with some warped muzak for imaginary TV stations and corporations woven through the proceedings.

The big news here, mind, is that Mike Patton joins on vocals on one song, marking the first time Mike and Trey have reunited in the studio since the end of Mr Bungle. This is for La Chanson de Jacky, a piece originally by the great Jacques Brel and reinterpreted in an English-language version by Scott Walker. Both Walker and Brel's versions of the song are blended together here and fed through a Secret Chiefs 3 filter - specifically, through the style of the satellite band Traditionalists, who play Goblin-esque material suitable for Italian B-movie soundtracks.

Pairing Patton with the Traditionalists is an inspired move - not only does he have the vocal chops to do Brel and Walker justice, but also his own musical interests and that of the Traditionalists clearly converge, seeing how the Fantomas project has revealed Patton's own fondness for movie soundtracks. Will we see more Patton with the Secret Chiefs? Probably not much - were he to do a full album with Trey they might as well bite the bullet and make it a Mr Bungle reunion, after all - but hopefully we'll see more guest spots from him in the future, particularly where the Traditionalists are concerned.

 Ishraqiyun: Perichoresis by SECRET CHIEFS 3 album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Ishraqiyun: Perichoresis
Secret Chiefs 3 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As has been revealed since 2004's Book of Horizons, Secret Chiefs 3 is actually a collective of several different bands, all playing in different styles, with Trey Spruance as the common link between them all. After the Traditionalists (Goblin-esque Italian horror prog) got to do their own solo album, it was only a matter of time before other acts in the collective got to do their own pieces as well, and that's what this is.

Ishraqiyun is therefore a band which on the one hand is likely new to you, but which if you've listened to Secret Chiefs 3's earlier work you've probably encountered: they're the subunit who does that really intricate Middle Eastern folk music that's been sent through the electronic wringer a few times. The big question, of course, is whether an entire album of such material can stand up - and by and larch, Perichoresis does, offering a technically complex ride through a unique sonic landscape.

 Fun With Music by A.P.A.T.T. album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.85 | 4 ratings

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Fun With Music
a.P.A.t.T. RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

5 stars "Fun with music" is a very fitting title for this album, because the band apparently had a lot of fun here, as will the listener. The album sees the band playing around with various different styles and building blocks from the big reservoir of popular music along with bringing in some of their own elements to put together a quite unique and idiosyncratic mixture.

The dominating mood is lively and circus-/funfair-like with some nice folk elements and instrumentation (violins, glockenspiel etc.; also they like a 3/4 funfair organ grinder rhythm). There are melodies aplenty but mostly you won't get too much time to appreciate them because the listener is usually very quickly guided to the next attraction before getting too settled on any single one, although there is the occasional song that plays out its atmosphere over the whole time without being interrupted by sharp contrasts (as happens elsewhere on the album). One example for more consistent songwriting is the melancholic Did You See The Sea,. Ploth Kep starts off like a North Sea Radio Orchestra chamber folk instrumental and sticks to its motifs while building up quite some intensity toward the end, like a carousel taking on speed - but at least it remains the same carousel that had started the song off slowly. Matter of Fact is a pretty straight but pleasant and dynamic instrumental; oh well, I just listen to it again and it's straight compared with other a.P.A.t.T music, which doesn't mean "straight" by less relative standards at all.

Some other tracks are short "style studies"; Regards is a melodic choir piece, The Easiness of Today's Kinder Egg Toys is 1980s trash electronic, Take The Bait gives us a more modern techno dance rhythm, although the band apparently found this too annoying on its own, so it added in some diabolical left field elements of their own to make it develop into its very own joyful nightmare. Generally, despite apparently loving accessible melodies, they also have the odd go at atonal outbursts, and they certainly don't resist the idea of putting both of these elements (and some others) together in the same song. On Give My Regards To Bold St, they surprise us with some sleek sharp complex music that could almost qualify as innovative prog to be taken seriously.

The whole album is full of nice little ideas to spice up their offerings such as the crazy and addictive double beat that is scattered into You Treat Me (Like Peter Shit) to make the whole thing stutter and shake your head and body up.

I haven't mentioned a number of songs but it's not that these are unremarkable, rather they throw together the already listed ingredients and some more and I just don't know how I do them justice not being as versatile as a writer as they are as band.

Obvious associations are Frank Zappa's music (one of the male voices also sounds pretty Zappa-ish, although I like the female singers on the album more; you are treated to quite a range of voices here) and Cardiacs and their spin-offs without the punk guitars. Another element not mentioned yet is some end-70s/early 80s artsy fun New Wave as can be heard from Devo or the Sparks. The first Mr Bungle album also comes to mind. Altogether this is a stunningly complex and bewildering mix.

I'm now struggling whether this is four or five stars. What's there to criticise? Well, I guess the frequent contrasts and style changes may feel to some listeners (and even me at times) a bit strenuous and forced. But if I make the effort to really get into it, I'm just amazed by the richness of this album. So overall I now have convinced myself to rate it five. It achieves brilliantly what it sets out to do, fun and madness, energy and even some beauty (and some very inventive arrangements and good playing), and if I crave for something more consistent it won't eat all my other music, I guess, so it doesn't do any harm that this isn't music for all occasions.

 Psalm 6 by ROZ VITALIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.45 | 15 ratings

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Psalm 6
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars This is so completely different from 'Overcoming-Up' that one would expect this to be by a totally different line-up, but although there have been some changes Ivan is still very much at the helm on grand Bluthner piano, electric keyboards and metallophone, while Vladislav still provides flute and Vladimir has moved to guitars from bass. They now have a drummer in Philip "Phill" Semenov, a new bassist in Ruslan Kirillov, a second guitarist in Vladimir Efimov with Alexey Gorshkov on trumpets and acoustic guitar, plus some guests providing percussion and bass clarinet. Apparently this thirty-three minutes long EP is about spiritual quest and the emotional upheaval of a human being in a situation of strong stress. Mind you, given that this totally instrumental as with all their work, it's a little hard to get all that without any lyrics.

I think this is the third or fourth release I've heard from this Russian outfit, and this is easily the most varied. There are times when I think I'm listening to Mike Oldfield, at others there are hints of early Barclay James Harvest and at others King Crimson. All this from a band that are supposed to be RIO/Avant. Ivan is always at the heart of everything that is going on, as would be expected, but this is very much a band as opposed to a project. His piano doesn't seem to be as far to the fore as in other releases, and certainly the guitarists and trumpets start the album off with such a bang that I wasn't even sure I was playing the right album! With hints of jazz, loads of melody, and a stronger move to the mainstream progressive field than many might expect, this is an album that will certainly intrigue many listeners who may not have wanted to listen to Roz Vitalis in the past. There is still plenty of space and tone within their music, and given that this is on Bandcamp why not wander over and give it a try?

 Overcoming-Up by ROZ VITALIS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.59 | 13 ratings

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Overcoming-Up
Roz Vitalis RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars This release is something of a strange one, as it was recorded and mixed between April 2007 and September 2008 and had been completed long before the 'Revelator' and 'Patience of Hope' albums from 2011 and 2012 respectively, yet was only released in 2014. To add to my confusion Ivan Rozmainsky (keyboards, percussion, samples, tenor recorder) sent it to me at the beginning of this year to review, although to be fair he did try to send it to me back in 2014 and I said I was too busy back then. The line-up of this instrumental outfit is completed by Vladimir 'Energoslon' Semenov-Tyan-Shansky (bass), Sydius (aka Igor Pokatilov) (guitar, samples) and Vladislav Korotkikh (flute), Yes, here is a band that has no use for drums.

Listed on PA as RIO/Avant, that is definitely the right sub-genre for them to be included in, yet this music is surprisingly melodic and incredibly easy to follow. It all makes musical sense, with the different instruments and sounds melding together in a fashion that has far more in common with modern classical, yet with an emptiness and bleakness that is incredibly powerful. Not everyone needs to be playing at the same time, and there is no need for anyone to show off their skills, this is all about playing the right notes, in the right manner, at the right time. Ivan has a wonderful touch on piano, and this combined with the flute along are the driving force of the band. They have even the temerity to include a song that is more than twenty minutes long, which works incredibly well. Their music is peaceful and restrained for the most part, but the introduction of "Thorns of Forgiving" could almost be from a different band altogether, as it is strident and more mainstream progressive, and the repeated melody on an organ provides a far warmer feel. I don't know why it took so long to release this album, but I'm happy it has finally seen the light of day as it is yet another strong album from these guys.

 Ten Ten Ten by HIKASHU album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Ten Ten Ten
Hikashu RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Today I am sharing a selection that I was steered to by the only review that was submitted to Progarchives.com for any of the 14 albums by Hikashu listed on the site. That review is easily identifiable as 1 thing: very enthusiastic about the Hikashu album Kawatteru: Changing like Myxomycetes, clearly dubbing it a masterpiece. This obviously did not go unnoticed on my part. A handful of samples are available on that giant internet video service, and they were rather entertaining and/or intriguing. Thus my quest began and it is bound to be one with many trials and tribulations. It would appear that Hikashu albums are not readily available outside of Japan for prices that will potentially lead to divorce if the purchases are not somehow laundered or otherwise hidden through some other means of subterfuge. And so it is, the one reasonably attainable album at the time of this review is this 2009 release, Tententen, a release produced some 30 years after the ensemble's debut and 13 years after Kawatteru: Changing like Myxomycetes, the so vehemently endorsed selection previously mentioned.

Obviously this was not going to be a household name type listen that was going to happen without a little background research. My familiarity with Japanese progressive rock is more in the Zeuhl and less experimental side RIO/avant (yes, there is apparently such a thing). Hikashu, in respect to Tententen, lean way over into the experimental side. From what I have been able to gather, its roots were more in theater than music. The Wikipedia article on the ensemble labels vocalist Koichi Makigami's style as "pseudo-Kabuki". Which, since I don't have any real understanding of Kabuki, I should be fine since that isn't really what it is...or something. But what is readily understandable is Makigami has a very diverse, transcendent voice. From a very soft spoken-word, to Tom Waites- esque rasp, to cartoony characterizations, to chantic quavers, each phrase conveys that there is something very profound being communicated; even to those who do not understand the words.

The instruments are very broad in spectrum, from varying keyboard sounds, guitar, bass, bells, to juice harp; though in reading the site's lineup info, it appears many of these may be samples. It is clear that there are other samples within the recording. My second listen was on a short forrest hike, at the present time birds and other woodland critters are not that active, so I was pulling the headphones away to make sure what I was hearing was inside or outside the headphones. And with that revelation, so it is that particular environment is ideal for listening to Tententen. This is not "party music". A rhythmic groove is rare. Not to say absent, but rare. But despite that, this is a work that promotes presence. It promotes attention and does not seem to meander aimlessly. It is consciously constructive sound design. A unique quality in music so categorically experimental, most obviously in the vein of John Zorn.

I found enough interesting going on with Tententen that I am hooked and wish to explore further. Hopefully there will be a time in the future when more of there works are licensed in the West and they become more attainable. I would call this album essential for highly experimental RIO/Avant fans, particularly fans of the likes of Art Zoyd and John Zorn. And, of course, if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, probably avoid it. Of course, there is always that potential gateway album to that side of the music world. And Tententen is likely as good as any other in that regard. 4 stars.

 Synchromysticism by YOWIE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Synchromysticism
Yowie RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'Synchromysticism' - Yowie (83/100)

Say you meet a pretty girl on the promenade. The two of you establish a pleasant rapport. Maybe you go for drinks and dinner; you order the burger with extra cheese. She orders the salad.

After seeing a critically acclaimed film at the Cineplex and a moderately overpriced cab ride, you arrive back at your place. You open a bottle of wine and turn to your music collection. Fumbling over your records you accidentally put on an album by Yowie. You snuggle up on the couch together and listen to your advance promo copy of Synchromysticism. If she doesn't get up or vomit during the album, you may want to consider a relationship. If she says she likes it, you can arrange a wedding ceremony and skip the prenup. Yowie is one of the most extreme listens I've ever heard in the span of rock music. For the right people, they can create some of the most eldritch grooves imaginable. To the unintiated, this is probably the ugliest [%*!#]ing thing since moldy bread.

I have loved Yowie's work at least since Damning with Faint Praise dropped in 2012. The album hinted at a math rock Hell to which harmony was an alien concept. The debut Cryptooology from 8 years prior showed much of the same dissonantly playful chaos. While I'm glad that I had the precursive context of Yowie as a cushion going into Synchromysticism, I don't think it could ever make listening to this band a wholesome, comfortable experience. By their very nature, Yowie aim to lurk from the shadows. I'm sure even the greatest normie among us could recognize the talent in their controlled rhythms and technique, but it takes something more than that to appreciate the end result.

To naked ears, every Yowie album is ugly. Their work is comprised of semi-clean guitars clashing against Frippian bass and free jazz drum kinetics. I couldn't describe their debut much differently than this latest album. It just so happens that Synchromysticism does it better than either the albums that preceded it. Damning with Faint Praise may have nailed the production compared to the debut but Yowie's third finally sounds like they have pinpointed their most promising aspects, namely the chaotic band interplay and dissonant grooves. The most rose-tinted harmonist wouldn't be able to peek a single melody here; if you're in the right mood for it you won't care. Yowie blast away with all the rupture and confidence of a masterclass free jazz band. Although they're fairly clean-sounding (at least from a tonal perspective) Yowie's share at least a partial kinship with dissonant, chaotic powerhouses in the extreme metal scene, namely Deathspell Omega and Jute Gyte. Even if the metal elements aren't necessarily shared (at least on the surface) the extremity is matched in full, byte for byte.

In the years since Damning with Faint Praise, I wouldn't say Yowie have changed up their style sufficiently to note upon. The musicianship was always incredible, and it's not like they had harmonies left to shed on the last album. Even so, there's a significant sense of progress Yowie have churned out on Synchromysticism. The production and musicianship are both noticeably more fluent. While it's hard to discuss their work in more conventional terms of structure and songwriting, Synchromysticism taps into thicker grooves and more vibrant dynamics. When a band like this has such a compelling, unique approach to begin with, sometimes all they need is a subtle tune-up to keep it feeling fresh. Synchromysticism sounds every bit as cutting-edge and relevant as Yowie were when they started out. I don't see any reason why that will stop any time soon; maybe until the rest of the world catches up with their madness.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.

 Koutus by KUUSIJ─RVI KOUTUS, HARRI album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Koutus
Harri Kuusijńrvi Koutus RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & 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'!

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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
AKINETËN 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 EL┴STICA Mexico
ARRIGO BARNAB╔ 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 BITTOV┴ Czech Republic
BLACK ENGINE Italy
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