I prefer the term Chamber Music Rock in stead of "RIO-style" (a shortened term which means "Rock in Opposition") and some other names (Zeuhl,..) which refer all to a certain area & period, and to a group of people which were not only musically and within their musical opinion connected, (-a connection which lived around Chris Cutler's interests and secondly to Magma's philosophies-). These terms I think gives us a limited reference. Most of these music groups fitting into these references had in fact a style which can be also defined as "Chamber Music Rock", without the further restrictions of the temporaly area. In this so called style I listed several groups which I know, with sparse reviews (and playlists if possible).
More heavy minimalism or very structured prog music with certain restricted amount of instruments and with modern / new music composition can be listed here as well.
While in 'symphonic music', groups refer often to the "classical area" (classisism,barock) the Chamber Music Rock musicians more often refer to more modern composers (like Bartok,..). Realy experimental contemporary composers (like Ligeti,Stockhausen) will lead to even much more experimental approaches (like in Krautrock,experimental music,..). These items won''t be listed here.
The ensembles listed here are mostly all so called progressive music groups.
Two other "RIO" pages you can find at
List of some groups and items I personally have to give some ideas :
(* ok ** good *** very good **** extremely good,matter of taste ***** must have, classic, inevitable, in its kind there ain't no better item like this one. ° upgrade for some reasons)
Cuneiform Rec. Ahvak (IS,2004)***°
Israeli RIO band with David Kermann (5UU's,..) very much into Thinking Plague, U Totem, Art Univers Zero kind of music.
Akinetón Retard :
Lizard Akinetón Retard (Chili,2001)*** ; Mylodon Akinetón Retard : 21 Canapés (CHI,2003)****
First release was Chamber Music Rock on improvisational rhythm and with ska-punkflavour. Lastest release however showed an more advanced and complex college-RIO like style,
Alamaailman Vasarat :
Lakseuma RecordsAlamaailman Vasarat : Vasaraasia (FIN,2000)****
Wolfgang Rec. Alamaailman Vasarat : Käärmelautakunta (FIN,2003)****°
Powerful urban chamber music rock
Die Anarchistische Abundunterhaltung ! / DAAU :
Musickness Die Anarchistische Abundunterhaltung ! (B,1995) **
private DAAU : Tub Gurnard Goodness (B,2004)**°°
First release is folk-influenced chamber music rock with string instruments. Lately they refocused on their improvisational chamber music with pop-rock attitude.
Polygram Rec. Apocaliptica: Inquisition Symphony (FIN,1996)****°
Polygram Rec. Apocaliptica: plays Metallica by four cello's(FIN,1998)***°°
Mercury Rec. Apocaliptica: Cult(FIN,2000)***°
These Finnish guys play 4 cello's ilike electric guitars, even more heavy as ELO used to do on their first album.. They adapted a lot from the "unique" heavy bass-riffs from Metallica, but they play this with cello. 'Plays Mettalica' is the most accessible album, and it's completely acoustic. On their second album they sometimes play the instruments electrified. The third album has sparse added percussion, some incredible and energetic (but sometimes a bit too composed ?) compositions. Other moments it's almost a metal album. More and more the music becomes overloaded and somewhat pretentious over the years.
A french group influenced by Zeuhl. I still look for the album.
Art Bears :
More RIO than Chamber Music Rock they made avant-pop with pretty new music compositions.
With Chris Cutler, Fred Frith and Dagmar Krause. Very dark, poetic and unique. Dagmar's voice is a monument. The group came forth from Henry Cow, a group which made very classical inspired avant music too. Dagmar's pop group Slapp Happy had very composed moments too, with help of the same members.
ReRArt Bears : Winter Songs (1979), ***°° ReRArt Bears : The World as it is Today (1980) **°°
Some information (within Canterbury scene) at :
Art Zoyd :
French band with avant-garde chamber music approach. I like how they accompanied very old classic horror movies with a brooding atmosphere.
Atonal Rec.Art Zoyd : Nosferatu (F,1989)***°' Atonal Rec.Art Zoyd : Faust (F,1995)***' Atonal Rec.Art Zoyd : Häxan (F,1996)**°
Poseidon Rec. Ausia : Kasa Kasa (JAP,2003)****°
There's a strong compositional thing in Ausia's music which goes beyond any folk related genre, and an unbelievable virtuosity. In a sense they're Chamber Music related.
TzadikAyuo : Izutsu (JAP, 2000)***°° TzadikAyuo / Ohta Hiromi : Red Moon (JAP,2004)****°
This undefiniable chamber music has progressive elements, but no real rock elements, but I still want to mention his music here.
The Balanescu Quartet :
Kronos Quartet started to introduce pop music and other fields into the attention of the most traditional classical music lovers, but it was the Rumenian 'The Balanescu Quartet' which approach is much more into new and fresh composing. With their work "Posessed" they made musical aliterations from Kraftwerk songs into classical versions. They also participated with world fusion artists)
Stumm The Ballanescu Quartet : Posessed (1992) ***°° Look at sleeve.
Bar 8 :
This 8-man Belgian group came to the studio of radio Centraal and gave great performance. When they improvised instrumentally they sounded like a heavy but 'minimal' Univers Zero, but they also have some Tom Waits inspired songs. The UZ like part was inspired by Michael Nymann and made his sounds much more heavy. They only recorded some demo CD's. I sadly lost contact.
This Dutch group makes dadaistic collage with avant rythms. Not easy music.
Cuneiform Records Blast : A sophisticated Face (1999)*°
The Butchershop Quartet :
Galapagos 4The Butchershop Quartet : The Rite Of Spring (US,2004)***
New music group that reinterpreted Strawinski's music for a "new rock band".
Cauldblast Orchestra :
I never managed to trace their albums. I only have taped a few tracks from this folkrock-chamber rock group with tuba. I know they had albums on "Savage Dance" and "Dungas Feast", that's all.
A very good Japanese avant folk chamber progressive item. Not always with an "obvious" sound but it is quiet and beautiful music. It's different from most Japanese progressive. Together with the "Trembling Strain" they're amongst the most interesting Japanese acoustic groups. Very good.
PSF Cinorama : Garden, The Garden (199?)***
Cro Magnon :
(not the same group as the American tribal psychedelic group Cromagnon !) Cro Magnon possibly is Belgium's finest Chamber Music Rock group. Their first album "Zapp!", called "Urban Chamber music" heads still a bit into several different directions, their second is more constant. They recorded it with much care in their own studio. As a real Chamber Rock Orchestra this time, with very well worked out compositions, and played very spontaneously almost like heavy Rock. Very recommened. They called their music here "Rural Chamber music".Some members of them are also in the group Fukkeduk.
Carbon 7 Cro Magnon : Zapp! (1992) ***°' Lowlands Cro Magnon : Bull ? (1997) ****° private Cro Magnon & (Bub) : Brosella Suite (B,rec.2003;2004)***°
One man band of neo-symphonic RIO or so music, not my cup of tea.
Private Darling (Hal): D2R (US,2003)°
One of the better and best very fine structured records of chamber music rock, also through the use and choice of instruments, and through a strong rhythm section. Also the alternate tracks are very good.
Soleil Artr.Dün : Eros (F,1981)***°
private Eskalation : different music for bassoon,wind synth.and sampled percussion.(2000)***
German solo prpject from Stephan Köhr. Nice bassoon combined with mostly well balanced orchestrated synthesizer and programming. It gives an overall pleasant chamber music rock feel. Only a few tracks are more programmed electronically and are less in balance with the full range sound like. In general the sound is fresh and it's a good starter for those who think the rock part of Chamber Music Rock is mostly too aggressive but still like this new music classical music kind of rock structure.
Far Corner :
A group that holds the middle between Univers Zero, Apocalyptica and New Music chamber music with a 'rock' edge.
Flesh Quartet / Fläskkvartetten :
MVG Rec.Fläskkvartetten : Pärlor från svin (1995) ***°°
Music Netw.Rec. Fläskkvartetten : Pärlor Fran Svin 2 (S,2002)****
MNW Fläskkvartetten : Vita Droppar en samling 1987-1998 (S,2003)*° :Primal Music Fleshquartet : Love Go (S,2000)****
This band started as an accompanying pop band with chamber music instruments, but has in fact a very strong sound, partly electric with string fundament, with some electronica.
LowlandsFukkeduk : Ornithozozy (B,1994)***°
Much more jazzy than Cro Magnon and a very good release as well. Style is however less chamber music and more lively and direct. With some members of Cro Magnon.
Fiasko Rec.Gourmet : Glamour & decadence (FIN,2001)***°
Chamber Music Fusion with some jazz and folk influences.
UK prog rock group with many Chamber Music Rock fundaments. They evolved to a band that reinterpreted parts from the RIO tradition (Magma,Ruins) into psychedelic rock realms.
Pandemonium RecGuapo : Great Sage,equal of Heaven (UK,2000)***° Cuneiform Rec. Guapo : Five Suns (UK,2004)***°
Happy Family :
This is one of the harder edged groups of chamber music rock. I found their debut really mindblowing.
Cuneiform RecordsHappy Family (JAP,1995) **** Cuneiform RecordsHappy Family : Tosco (JAP,1997) *
Hamster Theatre :
This group has a very good release on the edge of avant garde, folk and all serious genres without being difficult, instead this is pleasant and interesting at the same time. With a Czech atmosphere.
Cuneiform Records Hamster Theatre : Carnival Detournement (US,2001)***
Henry Cow :
He has very interesting releases in RIO style. Those with Dagmar Krause I like the most. Unfortunately I didn't find those albums myself yet.
Incredible offshoot from Ruins, heavily inspired by Magma but pretty symphonic in a way too.
'(another great, more jazzy off-shout is called Daimonji)
Magaibutsu Ruins : Tzomvorgha (JAP,2002)***** God MountainKoenji Hyakkei : Hunderd Lights of Koenji (JAP, 1995?)***°° God MountainKoenjihyakkei : Koenjihyakkei (II)(viva Koenji !!), (JAP, rec.1996)****°
Cuneiform Rec.Krakatoa : We are the rowboats (US,2003)****
Post rock chamber music art-pop.
This is a mostly acoustic Japanese chamber music rock group. Their album bugbear is a really Interesting item. Don't mistake them for the Gothic group of the same name ! (a group that has mostly with black & white covers).
Magma & Christian Vander :
Magma's music often more is in a kind of Chamber Music Rock Opera style. The term "Zeuhl" is directly referring to Magma and to their language of their own invention. I think they were really ahead their times if you know their highlights were from the 70's. The combination of the rhythmical talent of the drummer and bass player are completely unique. The additions of choral madness might be weird at first hearing. Magma in general might take some more time or effort for some people, but once you can get a grip beyond the dark mysticism, the brooding composition might take you in and make you a fan for life. The "Live" album is certainly not the easiest access because it's too dark as a starter. "Üdü Wüdü" contains in the last track one of the most remarkable bass/drum lines in musical history. But a couple of other albums might still be my favourite. Urdah Ïtah (Tristan et Iseult) is as good as M.D.K. but a bit more balanced and easier than the powerfull M.D.K. while Köhntarkösz might be one of the most powerfull but also easiest of Magma's records I heard so far.
Seventh Rec.Magma : 1.001° Centigrades (F,1970) ****° Seventh Rec.Magma : Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh (F,1973) ***** Seventh Rec.Magma :Köhntarkösz (F,1974) ***** Seventh Rec.Magma : Üdü Wüdü (F,1976) ***°° Seventh Rec.Magma :Kompila (F,var) **** Seventh Rec.Magma :Les voix concert 1992 (F,1992)**° Seventh Rec.Christian Vander : Wurdah Itah (Tristan et Iseult) (F,1974) ***** Seventh Rec.Christian Vander : Les Signes et les Corbeaux (F,2002) *°°°°
To give an idea of their performances watch the following (recommended to watch) movie-clips :
MIO Rec. Mr.Toad : Trench Art (IS,2003)****
New chamber group with their own individual style with some jazz element and beyond.
The Muffins :
Cuneiform Rec.The Muffins : Bandwidth (US,1998-2001)***° Cuneiform Rec.The Muffins : Double Negative (US,2004)***°
Progressive rock band with brass, influenced by Canterbury but they direct more towards RIO than to jazz. From both listed albums I like the latest one best.
since 2001,march 27thupdated 2004,12-1-