Yugen & Rock In Opposition

For as long as I have been a music listener, it has very often perplexed me that the music, and the artists, with which I listened to on an increasingly regular basis, and increasingly over the years and decades – artists such as Zappa, Beefheart, Henry Cow, Univers Zero, The Cardiacs, The Residents, etc. – never got radio play, or if they did, very little, and quite often outside the mainstream media of the time. So, it came as little surprise, at least to me, when a movement, Rock In Opposition, emerged in the late 70s promoting these elements:

  • That of musical excellence. This depending on our collective evaluation of same – a source of much fruitful discussion.
  • That of working actively outside the music business.
  • That of having ‘a social commitment to Rock’
    Groups who only record or only perform could qualify but they should have a permanent continuity of existence. The total number of members should remain small.

When I peruse through much of my music collection now, I find the influences of these artists and groups, this RIO, so to speak, threads the tapestry of my musical collection like a seminal thread.

I was no more reminded of this fact than when a package from Italy arrived in my mailbox the other day from AltrOck Productions. Inside was the CD Iridule, the latest release from Yugen – an italian RIO/Avant-Prog band/project.

Yugen is a Japanese word which means both the subtle and the profound at once. Yugen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art in Japan. It values the power to evoke, rather that the ability to state directly.

And Yugen‘s Iridule certainly does this, and in a big way. This album has chamber rock, chamber music, symphonic prog parts with quickly changing rhythms and unusual time signatures, operatic parts, quirky tracks which are free-form and more abstract, and some that are complete freak-outs. I lost count the numerous influences and musical ideas at work (and at play).

I’ve often pondered what sort of music Frank Zappa might have composed had he not succumbed to illness at such a young age. And perhaps, in some parallel universe, he did not, and continued to compose until a ripe old age. Yugen’s Iridule offers, perhaps a glimpse into that parallel universe:

The Scuttle Of The Past Out Of The Cupboards

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Serial(Ist) Killer

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Cloudscape

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The following clip features Yugen performing “Escher 2″ at AltrOck Fest on May 18th, 2007:

In the following two clips, Yugen performs Henry Cow’s “Industry” and “Corale Metallurgico” from “Labirinto d’acqua” at at Le Scimmie, Milan, Italy on January 30, 2010:

One Response to “Yugen & Rock In Opposition”

  1. Birdman! says:

    Very cool music, but…

    Naming your band “Yugen” is about the least yugen thing you can do.

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