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Minimum Vital, France

News: Not a whole lot to report since their latest release in 2015 (Pavanes). Minimum Vital continue to be musically active, and have also remixed their debut album. I own all their albums going back to the beginning (1985!), and will hopefully be updating this page in the near future.

Location: Bordeaux, Aquitaine

Overview: Minimum Vital were, and still are, a highly original progressive rock group coming out of France. The basic formula is take a medieval or traditional French folk melody and add jazz plus rock influences over the top. Digital keys, programmed primarily to the brass sounds, along with ferocious guitar soloing, are the trademarks of Minimum Vital's sound.

Reviews (click on album cover)


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Tusmorke, Norway

News: And yet another new album from Tusmorke! Quite prolific I'd say.

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Location: Oslo

Overview: Tusmørke started their career as a band very much influenced by Jethro Tull. Today they are far more native ,and recall some of the great 70s Norwegian bands like Host and Hades.

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Homunculus Res, Italy

News: New album out February 15th (was slightly delayed and is now available as of March 8). Title is Della Stessa Sostanza dei Sogna.

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Location: Palermo, Sicily

Overview: Homunculus Res are a tremendous new Canterbury styled band from Italy that have perfectly captured the spirit of another era. Brilliantly mixing melody and complexity, with a jazzy undertone.

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Ramp / ['ramp], Germany

News: We have news straight from Stephen Parsick (see comments). I will just paste it in here with embedded links. Thanks for kindly mentioning ['ramp]'s work here -- I'd like to point out, though, that ['ramp] celebrated the 20th anniversary of their very first live concert last year by releasing "synchronize or die" on CD "SoD" will be followed by a release on 2x12 in February 2018 (check Adasonia Records).['ramp]'s latest release "no sleep 'til wilmersdorf" is due for release in May 2018. Both albums are firmly rooted in Berlin School territory (or Bielefeld School, as I like to call it). (ed: LOL)

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Location: Bielefeld, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Overview: Ramp started out as pure play Berlin School electronic band, and one of the best at that. They later moved to a style they referred to as "doombient" (which apparently they have trademarked). I haven't heard these myself, but as you see in the comments,…

Happy Family, Japan


Happy Family - s/t. 1995 Cuneiform (USA)
Happy Family - Toscco. 1997 Cuneiform (USA); 1997 Arcangelo
Happy Family - Minimal Gods. 2014 Cuneiform (USA)


Perhaps no band arrived with such an in-your-face sound as Happy Family did in 1995. Their fabled live shows were popular amongst the tape trading crowd of the early 1990s. So there was quite a bit of buzz on what their first CD would sound like. The band insisted their albums come out on the preeminent Avant Prog label Cuneiform, and were willing to wait until that label had room on their release schedule. By 1995, anticipation was high, and Happy Family not only delivered, but exceeded, most everyone's expectation.

Consider the first track 'Rock & Young'. Hard to imagine anyone delivering such a strong overpowering opening punch as Happy Family did here. If this track doesn't move your heart rate up a few beats, you're probably dead already, and no one told you (did Aunt Sally for…

Kenso, Japan


No new updates from Kenso since 2015.

Kenso - s/t. 1980 Pam (LP); 1995 Arcangelo (CD)
Kenso - II. 1982 Pam (LP); 1993 King (CD); 2002 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - s/t (aka III). 1985 Nexus (LP; CD); 2011 King (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Sparta. 1989 Crime (CD); 2009 Pathograph as Sparta Naked (CD)
Kenso - Yume No Oka. 1991 King; 2011 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Esoptron. 1999 King (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)
Kenso - Ken-Son-Gu-Su. 2000 Pathograph (CD)
Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis. 2002 Nexus (CD); 2002 Vinyl Magic (Italy CD)
Kenso - Utsuroi Yuku Mono. 2006 King (CD)
Kenso - Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaikiseyo. 2014 King (CD)

There are many other live and archival releases from the band, though I only own Ken-Son-Gu-Su. All the other entries above represent their studio albums. There's also a 14 CD box set on King that contains all their studio albums through 2012, as well as a handful of live recordings.

For a band with so many recordings, an…

Oresund Space Collective, Denmark-Sweden

News: Oresund Space Collective will release their 23rd proper album Chatoyant Breath. Release date is set for May 10.

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Location: Copenhagen / Malmo

Overview: Oresund Space Collective are what I'd call a "professional space rock band". They are probably the most accomplished space rock band going today. They certainly are the most prolific, with nearly two dozen albums, and tons more downloadable material. If you're looking to follow a band with a lot of product, then Oresund Space Collective are your band!  One of the keys to OSC's success is the size of the group, which allows for many more ideas and possibilities. I also like that OSC is fond of editing and distilling long jams. While I can see a desire to release "whatever we record" (and they do just that for their downloads, which is an excellent compromise), I think it's best to focus on the parts that work. This is exactly what the 70s bands were forced to do in the LP er…

Radio Massacre International, England

News: According to the Wayside weekly flyer, we can expect a new proper Radio Massacre International album. No dates have been announced. It's been many years since RMI has released a regular album, they seemingly intent on releasing various in-the-moment type works. They've been absent for so long, they've actually fallen out of my A-list grouping. Hopefully this ushers in a new era of creativity for the band.

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Overview: England based Radio Massacre International has to be considered the premiere Berlin School electronic band from the modern era, going back to the mid 1990s. Over time, they incorporated more psychedelic and space rock to the mix, making them even more exciting. They have over 15 proper albums and if you consider CD-R's, downloads, uploads, DVD's, solo albums, Bandcamp releases, childhood cassette recordings, reel to reels, etc... then they have precisely a gazillion releases (yes, I counted). It appears Radio Massacre Internat…

Astrakan, England

News: In 2016, Astrakan released their 3rd album Hidden Agenda. I haven't heard it to date. Otherwise not much to report here.

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Location: London

Overview: Astrakan are a fine band operating between Canterbury and jazzier forms of rock. Comets and Monsters adds an avant prog edge.

UMR notes

Cuprum, Czech Republic


First published June 11, 2012 and moved forward to highlight their new album Brahma Višnu Šiva.

The band is still active as of the summer of 2016.

Cuprum - Musica Deposita. 2011 private (CD)
Cuprum - Brahma Višnu Šiva. 2014 private (CD)

----Musica Deposita

With Cuprum what you get is good old fashioned hard rock meets progressive with loads of fuzzy guitar, Hammond organ and a little flute. Sure, it's retro 1971 England or Germany, and a sound you've heard from other modern bands like Wicked Minds (Italy), Seid (Norway), Siena Root (Sweden), Blood Ceremony (Canada), Hypnos 69 (Belgium) and a few others. But the Czech Republic has no such tradition, and hearing this style performed with the Czech language is quite interesting indeed. About the only band from 1970's Czechoslovakia that even came close to this sound was Flamengo and maybe Modry Efekt - both groups only at their most hard rocking selves. The songs for the most part are quite co…

Arabs in Aspic, Norway


Arabs in Aspic - Progeria (EP). 2003 Borse Music
Arabs in Aspic - Far Out in Aradabia. 2004 Borse Music
Arabs in Aspic - Strange Frame of Mind. 2010 Pancromatic LP. 2011 Black Widow (Italy) CD
Arabs in Aspic - Pictures in a Dream. 2013 Black Widow (Italy) CD + LP

Robert Fripp has stated that "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" means: "Something precious which is stuck, but visible. Something precious which is encased in form."  So with that heady bit of insight, it's obvious to me that Arabs in Aspic means... yea, I have no idea either. [shrug]

But what is "in aspic" is the band's ability to recreate the sounds of the 1970s. Specifically the American FM sound of 1975 and '76. Despite being from Norway, Arabs in Aspic are yet another band that would fit well in my USA Midwest / Ontario Progressive Rock (1970's/early 80s) list. Sounds odd doesn't it? Well... it's not as strange as it may first appear.

In 1990, in my Euro…