Cos - "Pasiones"
(Musea Records 2005, FGBG 4552.AR)
From Aural Innovations #34 (August 2006)
Cos were a Belgian band active in the 70's-80's. Musea has already reissued 2 of their albums from 1974 & 1976, and this latest was their fourth album, originally released in 1983. Reading the promo sheet information I was eager to dive in. It's described as a mini-opera based on the story of 3 soldiers during the Spanish civil war, with vocals in Spanish, French, English, German and Dutch. There are 23 tracks on the CD totalling nearly a full 80 minutes of music. And in addition to the original album we get 35 minutes of bonus tracks, including a live concert from 1984, a rehearsal from 1981 and other goodies.
There's a distinct RIO feel to much of the music, with Etron Fou and Aksak Maboul certainly coming to mind, though Cos are more eccentric than avant-garde, and consequently more accessible, while still being varied, always interesting and often quite dazzling in their accomplished circus like execution. The 23 tracks are mostly short, but as you might expect from the mini-opera theme most of the album plays like a single non-stop performance. This is pretty ambitious stuff in terms of pure energy, spot on musicianship and offbeat good fun atmosphere. In addition to quirky progressive rock there's also oddball disco tracks, over-the-top theatrical operatics, cool grooving funky jazz and a whole lot more. I love Ilona Chale de Barcelona's vocals, which add a lovely Dagmar Krause styled sound to the music. The whole album is like a big zany avant-progressive rock carnival. And the live tracks indicate they pull it all off quite nicely in concert. Cos must have been a riot live.
For more information you can visit the Musea Records web site at: http://www.musearecords.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz