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Cos - 1982/2005 - "Pasiones"

(78 min, Musea)

TRACK LIST:                             
1.  Amigos 2:00
2.  En su Arena 2:03
3.  Trois Femmes 3:05
4.  Viva la Musica 2:09
5.  Einstein 3:56
6.  Frau y Mann 3:28
7.  Adios Belleza 2:30
8.  Zuviel Manner 3:30
9.  Pasiones 7:19
10. Ramon 0:24
11. Hali Halo 3:05
12. Paralytic Lovers 1:41
13. Rumba y Canones 2:37


Daniel Schell - tap-guitar; keyboards; vocals
Philippe Allaert - drums; trumpet; b/vocals
Pierre Van Dormael - natural guitars
Nicolas Fiszman - chemical guitars

Prolusion. The history of Belgian group COS is dated as far back as 1971, though as far as I know, they were active only during the '70s and in the first half of the '80s. Here is the CD reissue of their last studio album, "Pasiones", initially released in 1982. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I've learned that Cos is a French lettuce.

Analysis. This is my first acquaintance with Cos. The CD features 13 tracks from the "Pasiones" LP plus 10 tracks from the band's 1984 live performance in Toulouse, most of which just repeat their studio counterparts. In that way, I believe it's enough to describe the original studio stuff to enlighten the reader on whether the CD is worthy of purchase or not. The music avoids any fixed genre definitions in the majority of cases. It's rather a queer amalgam of progressive, avant-garde, jazz, pop and even operetta tendencies and tunes, with no established stylistic vector. Being a sucker for unusual musical manifestations, I gladly accept this many-sided music and perceive it very positively, unlike the lyrics, which are also polymorphous, but are often a strange set of phrases in Spanish, English, German, French and Dutch. (The men have forgotten the axiom: What is a blessing for abstract arts may be a disaster for concrete ones.) As everything on the album, the first three tracks: Amigos, En su Arena and Trois Femmes shine with originality, which, however, is their only significant virtue. So, they aren't very impressive, above all due to their rhythmic monotony and the absence of anything extraordinary in their chord structures. Furthermore, instead of vocals each features a recitation, which is hyperbolically emotional, a clownery married to buffoonery. A guest female singer, namely Ilona, joins the group in the finale of Trois Femmes to stay throughout the next track, Viva la Musica, which acquires some unusual coloration thanks to the dissonantly rendered guitar solos. Einstein is one of the highlights, the music being well matched with the song's title. This is what I see as a structured Avant-garde Rock, with versatile arrangements, interesting chord progression and unusual thematic development. The austere textures transform into the pictorial ones, the cohesive sounding fragments alternating with those charmingly angular. (Those searching for true musical freaks should look elsewhere:-) Then follows Frau y Mann, which turned out to be Euro-disco. Zuviel Manner is a reggae song, but it's filled with inventive arrangements and is very well executed. Adios Belleza and Paralytic Lovers both are exquisite and vigorous, with a lavish and forceful emotional component, combining an avant-garde minimalist approach in composition with the opera-like vocals. The orchestral arrangements in the finale of the latter song neatly fit Ilona's nearly academic singing. Brilliant. However, it's the title track, which is an absolute winner, finding the band (both as musicians and singers) at their most diverse and adventurous. Ramon is a short, yet, impressive guitar solo, adorned with some complex chops from the rhythm section. Hali Halo is notable for the expressive melodic line bringing a vivid sense of sorrow, the female vocals part achieving a truly dramatic intensity. Rumba y Canones closes the LP in a Latin-pop style, though there are some interesting dissonant maneuvers in the piece's second half, which later transforms into a very convincing finale with intricate rhythmic patterns.

Conclusion. You've been warned, dear readers, that "Pasiones" not everywhere follows carefully the progressive traditions. Nevertheless, I am fairly confident that curious Prog heads, particularly those eager for brave musical experiments, will find plenty to enjoy here.

VF: February 25, 2006

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