Cuneiform Records News

Rock In Opposition Festival 2009 France. Click For Infos.

a three-day festival of artistically uncompromised rock music devoted to the incendiary spirit of Rock in Opposition

Featuring some of the most provocative, innovative, and artistically progressive rock music created over the past 3 decades to the present day, Rock In Opposition 2009 transports the creative flames and anti-corporate-rock aesthetic of the original Rock In Opposition movement into the new millenium.

the line up:
Friday September 18
Guapo “meets” GMEA
Electric Epic

Saturday September 19
Guapo “meets” GMEA
Charles Hayward
Combat Astronomy
Koenji Hyakkei

Sunday September 20
Guapo “meets” GMEA
The Muffins
Univers Zero
Grand Finale: Univers Zero & Present


To read more information on Rock in Opposition and Cuneiform artists playing at the festival click on the topics below

2009 Festival Highlights
History of RIO
Origins of the Rock in Opposition Movement: the Festivals
Rock in Opposition as a Stylistic Term
2007 Rock in Opposition Festival
Cuneiform Artists Playing at RIO France 2009
Univers Zero
The Muffins

2009 festival highlights include:


Performances by Rock in Opposition founding members Univers Zero (one of the original 5 RIO bands) and by some of the movement’s earliest associates [Magma], as well as performances by new bands who carry the Rock In Opposition banner into the current day and new generations [Guapo, Koenji Hyakkei].

MAGMA’S 40th
40th Anniversary concert of the world-renowned band Magma!


An international musical extravaganza: performances by eleven bands hailing from six countries and three continents around the world: Yolk (France), Aranis (Belgium), The Muffins (USA), Charles Hayward (UK), Koenji Hyakkei (Japan), Present (Belgium-based band with international membership, including USA, France, Israel), Magma (France), Univers Zero (Belgium), Combat Astronomy (USA, UK), Electric Epic (France), Guapo (UK), and GMEA (France)


Guapo collaborates for the first time with sound design group GMEA (Groupe de Musique Electroacoustique d’Albi-Tarn),to present several performances of music & sound design during the 3-day festival. Formed in 1981 by Thierry Besche and Roland Ossart, GMEA is an organization devoted to encouraging the creation of experimental contemporary music (including improvisational and electroacoustic) that incorporates sound design, architecture/environment and various sonic and technological innovations (including the groundbreaking Le Mélisson synthesizer). Based in Albi, near the RIO Festival, GMEA is one of the five centers dedicated to innovative, experimental music established by the French government.


A first-ever joint performance by the Belgian bands Univers Zero (led by Daniel Denis) and Present (led by Roger Trigaux) for the Grand Finale of the 2009 Festival on Sept. 20th. Univers Zero was originally co-founded by Denis and Trigaux in 1974, and co-led by these master composers and musicians until Trigaux founded Present in 1979. The 2009 Festival will be the first reunion performance by Denis and Trigaux in more than a decade, in addition to the complete concerts by both Univers Zero and Present of their own music.



~ then and now:

the ROCK IN OPPOSITION continuum ~

In the late 1970s, an international consortium of artistically uncompromising musicians banded together to protest the music industry’s control and to lament the adverse impact of commercialism on rock’s aesthetics.

In the late 2000s, as the corporate music industry implodes from the dual impacts of technological change and economic downturn, international musicians band together to promote the future of creative music

~ the background ~

origins of the Rock in Opposition Movement: the Festivals

In the late 1970s, a mere generation after rock music’s fiery birth as a spontaneous, unbridled expression of youthful creativity, the riotous sounds and creative cacaphony that some once called “the devil’s music” were being tamed — or at least that’s how it sounded, if one only listened to music that the major labels released, as played on the radio airwaves that they dominated. The major labels – and the radio stations and music magazines that they collaborated with – had discovered that profits were easiest made by releasing music that appealed to the broadest popular tastes. A large number of rock musicians who insisted on remaining artistically uncompromised found themselves cast far outside the musical mainstream, vanquished to the wayside and thus invisible to mass audiences. Rock artists whose music challenged genre borders and other aesthetic ‘norms’ — an international creative musical underground — found themselves without a record or means of distribution, without a tour booker, and without press in mainstream music publications. Audiences bored with increasingly homogenized mainstream rock were unaware of the alternatives.

Desiring to gain greater exposure for the international musical underground and to imbue anti-corporate industry musicians with Do It Yourself (DIY) power, the English musician and writer Chris Cutler organized a festival of “The music the record companies don’t want you to hear”, featuring five artistically uncompromised bands from across Europe. Thus, the first-ever international Rock In Opposition Festival was held on March 12, 1978 in London and featured Cutler’s own band, Henry Cow (UK), as well as Univers Zero (Belgium), Stormy Six (Italy), Samla Mammas Manna (Sweden), and Etron Fou Leloublan (France). Said Cutler in a later interview: “We knew that important things were happening in our field that no one else knew about … It was to introduce some of this music to a wider public that we eventually organized the festival in London.” Cutler recalled: “I suppose our point was: that there was plenty of interesting music around and you couldn’t depend on the music press or the record companies to find it for you – time had come to start looking for yourself in not so obvious places.”

For more on the history of Rock in Opposition, see:

Wikipedia article on RIO
RIO France Event 2009 website
RIO France Event 2009 Myspace
Chris Cutler website
Chris Cutler interview by Valdir Montanari, “Twenty Years of Rock in Opposition”
Perfect Sound Forever article on Henry Cow

[click here to return to the main index]

~ Rock in Opposition as a stylistic term ~

Rock In Opposition was chartered into an organization and soon, more bands [Art Bears (UK), Art Zoyd (France), and Aksak Maboul (Belgium)] were welcomed into its fold. Numerous Rock in Oppostion Festivals were held across Europe in the late 1970s. While stylistically dissimilar, the bands featured at Rock in Opposition were unified in their musical excellence and abhorrence to creative compromise; devotion to *indie rock* aesthetic; and in some cases, social/political views. As Cutler increasingly devoted himeself to cultivating his own record label, ReR – which released many of the bands featured at the festivals – the RIO festivals gradually diminished and stopped in the 1980s. Subsequently, the term “Rock in Opposition” was adopted by the music press as a stylistic term, similar to “avant-progressivive”, to describe rock music that features certain aspects of some Rock in Opposition Festival bands, such as the influence of European and other folk musics, the untraditional use of classical and rock instruments, and intricate compositional structure, often featuring rapidly-changing movements or dissonance. Today, many of the bands released on such labels as ReR and Ad Hoc [UK+USA]; Cuneiform [USA]; Carbon 7 [Belgium] and AltrOck [Italy] are often described as being RIO in style.

Much of the best and most innovative post-rock music of the present day has its roots in the aesthetic freedom, uncompromising stance and genre-breaking innovations of the Rock in Opposition movement.

~ a revival of the Rock in Opposition movement in France:
the 2007 Rock in Opposition Festival ~


Creative, artistically uncompromising rock music continued burning underground, surviving into the 21st century, long after the ’70s RIO festivals supporting it were gone. Signed to indie labels, many of the original RIO bands continued to create uncompromising music, their example spurring the birth of new creative rock bands. Interestingly, as the corporate music industry began to implode in the early 21st century due to changes in technology and a worldwide economic downturn, the creative rock music underground continued to survive, with reduced economics, within its own “D.I.Y” system of music release, distribution and promotion. The rise of the internet helped to internationally promote this music. However, rock music that favored aesthetic concerns over commercial ones remained a minority, an underground movement. The most provocative, aesthetically challenging, and truly “progressive” rock music of the 20th and 21st century still remained outside mass awareness and audiences.

In the early 2000s, upset by the wide attention that “imposters of progressive rock…lacking in creativity and expertise” had gained in recent years while aesthetically progressive music remained marginalized, French music promoter Michel Besset, (founder of the 1974 association Transparence), and Belgian musican Roger Trigaux (leader of Present, co-founder of Univers Zero), banded together to revive the original, aesthetically revolutionary spirit of Rock in Opposition. The two decided to organize a new festival, to be held in France, devoted to Rock in Opposition music from the movement’s inception to the present day.

Besset and Trigaux’s first festival, Rock in Opposition France Event, was held in 2007 in southern France, at Cap Decouverte. The festival featured performances by nearly a dozen international artists, in addition to four music symposiums, DVD and movie showings, and music vendors. A resounding success, it attracted audiences from around the world (Europe, North America, Australia and Japan), and reviews from the European music press, including a cover feature in France’s Traverses Magazine (“Festival Rock In Opposition 2007: Histoire d’un retour de flamme” by Stephane Fougere). The festival introduced some of the RIO Movement’s founding artists (including Chris Cutler) to new, young audiences, and exposed long-time followers of the RIO movement to many new generation artists producing artistically challenging music. The organizers noted that: “This event illustrates how this association has always been a committed partner to the most uncompromising artists, against a commercial system that forces them to adapt their creativity to a demand created by the system itself and in opposition to a system that seems to be inescapable and self-consuming.” In Trigaux’s words:

“Rock is a struggle, a protest against injustice, a way of resisting everything that degrades the human being and his environment…
A way of building a world more like us, a world based on self- and mutual respect… With no constraints and no concessions…
More than ever, Rock has to innovate, provoke, confront… More than ever, Rock has to be in opposition…” – Roger Trigaux


The success of the 2007 festival led Besset and Trigaux to organize the 2009 Rock In Opposition France Event. Located at the same venue as the 2007 Festival, the 2009 France Event promises a larger number of performances and events than its predecessor. Besset and Trigaux (Rocktime) were helped in organizing this large event by several local arts organizations, including L’ADDA DU TARN (Délégation Départementale à la Musique et à la Danse), L’ATHANOR / Scène Nationale d’Albi, and Le GMEA (Groupe de Musique Electroacoustique d’Albi). The festival was sponsored by more than a dozen government agencies, including Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles Midi-Pyrénées), the music industry agencies SACEM and ADAMI, and various private and media sponsors.




“Cuneiform continues to astound us with these uncompromising releases.”
– Keyboard Magazin

Cuneiform Records
is proud to announce that several of our artists will perform at the 2009 RIO-France Event. To read what the press has said about their music and CD’s with Cuneiform, please click on their name



Press coverage on Univers Zero

“Robert Fripp once described his concept for King Crimson as Bartok with an electric guitar. Belgian’s Univers Zero drops the electric guitar and goes for a 21st century rendition of the early 20th century master” – Pulse

“Chamber music for the Apocalypse” – Keyboard

“UZ’s music was an antecedent for the kind of instrumental and stylistic interspersion considered normal today by groups including Bang on a Can and Alarm Will Sound. Henry Cow’s complex, abstruse writing meets Bartok, Stravinsky, Messiaen and Ligeti, but with a hint of early music, especially in UZ’s use of spinet and harmonium. …a new kind of chamber music that, in its inclusion of rock instrumentation and the occasional rock stance, would be a blueprint for classical music of the 21st century.”
– All About

“Today three decades later Denis continues to push the boundaries of music, crafting challenging and yet ultimately satisfying musical compositions.” – Ghostland

“If there’s a group on our planet who constantly roam dark territories, it must be Univers Zero. …They are a group which has transferred music from medieval times to our modern age, and also one of the few bands who can still amaze their admirers with each new effort.” – Exposé

Sunday September 20

For a comprehensive, hyperlinked synopsis (featuring bio info/history, videos, discography, sound samples, video links) of Univers Zero, click here to access:
Cuneiform Records’ Email News Blast on Univers Zero-Spring 2009

For additional bio/history, discography, concert dates, etc, see:
Band website


UZ @ Baja Prog Festival 2007

UZ Trio Performance

Official Video downloads

“The more you know about modern “classical” music, the more you will appreciate Univers Zero’s references: to Stravinsky, the French Impressionists, and the twelve-tonal or atonal music which dominated much of the twentieth century. Their rhythms, use of electric guitars and short pieces are definitely rock oriented, but they add in instruments characteristic of classical music which are rarely if ever used in rock: woodwinds, harpsichords, cello, marimba, glockenspiel. These are all played by an ever-changing roster of European instrumentalists…
….Their musical vision is unremittingly ironic, full of deliberately soure passages, black humor, industrial evocations, and surrealistic fantasies. They will combine a transformation of Renaissance dance music and the sound of factory cogwheels, or a funereal circus march with garage rock chords and sysnthesizer beats, or tinkling music-box bells with eerie drones. This is what Europeans can do: they can wrap the millennia of their grim history in the millenia of their musical heritage.”
– Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Univers Zero section on Cuneiform Records’ website: click here

All UZ albums are on Cuneiform. They include:

Relaps: Archives 1984-1986 Cuneiform 2009 [Rune 280]

“… This is a much more electric UZ. The dirty sound of the DX-7 and Genet’s electric bass add numerous textural elements to Denis’ tunes, and a much more powerful range of dynamics, without changing the overall sophistication and scope of either arranging or playing.
…..The contrasting keyboard sounds — from the harsh synthetic sounds of Plouvier to the more classical and vanguard jazz orientations of Kirk, add a dimensionality that changes the entire feeling of UZ’s attack. Delory [‘s]… interactions with the rhythm section…offer a much more sinister and menacing quality to the music. The transformation of “Emanations,” from the Uzed album, is simply shocking. ..For anyone who has been interested in this band, this set is simply indispensable. For anyone who has read the name or heard it being bandied about in the same breath as Art Zoyd, Magma, or even King Crimson, this volume is well worth investigating .” – All Music Guide

“It’s always amazing how dark, brooding, and often times heavy this ‘RIO/chamber rock’ institution can get, most of the time utilizing acoustic instruments…this is often times unsettling, chaotic, and ominous music, yet there lies a uncurrent of extreme beauty…one moment pummeling…with haunting crescendos, the next lulling…with a gentle, gorgeous passage. …
The dueling sax and cello outbursts on the extended “Presage” are mindblowing…This is complex, frighteningly dramatic stuff … foreboding and heavy, as the band hits you almost as a doom metal band would… …”Heatwave” here is one of the most startling slices of avant-prog you will ever let your ears feast on, jagged shards of guitar, booming bass, squawking sax, layers of keyboards, soaring violon, and bombastic drum patterns all fighting for supremacy yet the overall effect is grandiose and majestic.
This is amazing stuff, more proof of just how unique and powerful this Belgian band always was, and still is. ” -Sea of Tranquility

“RE-issue: Best OF THE WEEK: UNIVERS ZERO – Relaps: Archives 1984 – 1986′(Cuneiform) –
…there’s no moment of filler from Univers Zero.  A rich stew of beautiful classical instrumentation…with keyboards and rock bass and drums, each complex, driving composition is alive with dangerous energy and crackling tension from beginning to end.  They’re the seething antidote to the twee and complacent in rock/classical crossover, the Stravinsky- and Ligeti- influenced blast of reality that makes even King Crimson sound like Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Other avant-rock bands dabble in dark, 20th-century passages: Univers Zero dive right in, exploring danger and menace and foreboding in all possible nuances, extracting energy and hope and life from this but never, ever allowing complete release.
These recordings catch Univers Zero with powers at full-strength … at a terrible time to be making this music, trapped in the shallows of the early 80s…  There’s a palpable feel of sheer bloody-minded bravery in these performances, a cathartic glee in just being there, alive and playing these fantastic compositions…
…Univers Zero…play the Rock In Opposition festival in France this year.  They’re one of the great unsung rock bands of the last 30 years, and good enough to earn hesitant respect from the contemporary-classical world too. ” -Organ

“Even some 30 odd years after it first came into existence, Belgian band Univers Zero sounds as though it’s intent upon a soundtrack for the last days of the earth…’s clear that this is a band with a different aesthetic agenda…. The notion of dark fun might just about cover it, but even that does scant justice to such a singular band.” -All About Jazz

“… live performances by the angriest incarnations – the 1984 quintet and the 1985-86 septet – of Daniel Denis’ creature, one of the defining entities of Rock In Opposition… exciting renditions of classics such as “Présage” and “The Funeral Plain”…delivered with a mixture of high-level technical proficiency, exquisite classical sensitiveness and…scarcely repressed fury.. I feel older by the minute, yet the goosebumps that came up during some of these executions…are the same of a couple of decades ago. What a group. And they’re still here…” -Temporary Fault blogspot
Univers Zero [aka 1313] Cuneiform 2008 [Rune 1313]

“Released in 1977, [their debut] was astonishing then; today, it sounds like the hidden source for every one of today’s avant-garde rock bands…Univers Zero are a revelation…“ – Organ [UK]

“UZ’s music was an antecendent for the kind of instrumental and stylistic interspersion considered normal today by groups including Bang on a Can and Alarm Will Sound. Henry Cow’s complex, abstruse writing meets Bartok, Stravinsky, Messiaen and Ligeti, but with a hint of early music, especially in UZ’s use of spinet and harmonium. …This welcome reissue confirms, once again, that in 1977 a nearly unheard-of group was creating a new kind of chamber music that, in its inclusion of rock instrumentation and the occasional rock stance, would be a blueprint for classical music of the 21st century.” – All About

“…first time listeners will be stunned that this music is over 30 years old. …Highly recommended!”- Yahoo! Music

“It’s stunning how well Univers Zero’s 1977 debut holds up, musically and sonically, compared to…anything else happening in so-called new music…” – Keyboard
Cuneiform 2006 [Rune 220]

“Having seen this band live once myself, I can only say that the intense sounds captured in the studio take on new life on a concert stage. … If you didn’t know better, you would swear that this was a perfectly crafted studio album that took years to record. Nope. This is as good as it gets folks, a live album from six superb musicians, playing music that is so far removed from mainstream culture, yet so accessible and enjoyable to anyone willing to give their complex yet rich style a chance. Highly, highly recommended! … [5 stars]” -Sea Of Tranquility

“4 stars. While this is Univers Zero’s first live CD, they have done nine previous albums for Cuneiform.  How come I hadn’t heard of them before this?” – Audiophile Audition

“Apart from monster playing and arrangements, the recorded sound could not be better. It’s immediate and lush, detailed and unified, giving free reign to timbre without sacrificing the clarity of any formal or structural concerns.”- Dusted
Implosion Cuneiform 2004 [Rune 190]

“Out of Space 4”  “…they have opened up their sound and absorbed a vast array of new elements, while still retaining their signature style. The sixteen pieces on Implosion alternate between…more conventional sounding UZ compositions…and more experiemental vignettes…ambient and industrial elements… the band is not content to just repeat the past. …In all, another major step forward for Univers Zero.” – Exposé

“The ongoing musical adventures of Daniel Denis continue forward into new territory with Implosion… As always, the arrangements are stark, violent, and imagistic with an emphasis on conflicting themes…. …it’s a more accessible tour de force construct executed flawlessly… It’s easily one of the top ten recordings and performances of the year.” -Exposé

“…Univers Zero returns almost entirely to their acoustic roots…with a refined and tempered equivalent of the relentless, prolonged gloom of early releases such as 1313 and Heresie. Pieces are shorter ad more varied, with some taking the form of almost jaunty medieval dances…Overt but short gothic/industrial elements…serve as bridges between songs and maintain the haunting, sinister edge that initially established the group’s reputation. …Highly recommended for the adventurous listener. Rating: 4/5.” – All Music Guide

“…49 minutes of dark-side electrified chamber music. …Univers Zero exists as a celebration of all that’s unsettling and unnerving…a reaffirmation that everything is just an inch away from collapse (or implosion). …Belgian band Univers Zero has been producing dark-side chamber music for thirty years, and “Implosion” shows that they’ve not lost their focus or fire.” – Sonic Curiosity

“The band is…known for their monolithic, extraordinarily dark and moody brand of instrumental rock; but more and more they have been ditching the creepy horror-movie atmospheres in favor of a more dynamic electrified chamber music sound. The evolution is…evident in Implosion…surprisingly – and addictively – melodic. …Denis’ compositions have never been tighter… this is the most accessible UZ yet, and not at the expense of depth. …Univers Zero is still a juggernaut of a band.” -Ground and Sky

“This work may be their most accessible to date. The dark elements…sound lighter, subtly modernized…with tiny passages of experimental electro-acoustic ideas.” – Progressive Homeland
Cuneiform 2002 [Rune 165]

“Terres Noires”
“Rhythmix is of a piece with earlier Univers Zero recordings, with challenging rhythmic designs and dramatic structures that sound mediaeval and modern at the same time. …With electric bass its only real concession to modernity, Univers Zero weds the pluck of harpsichords and honk of bassoons, bass clarinets and oboes to compositions that seem to speak from another time, yet the whiplash rhtym shifts and expolosive melodic declaration mark this as a postmodern work of the first order.” -Pulse

“This sublime CD’s one of the primest exemplars of the fact that…progressive music’s long held hidden some of the finest neoclassical works available. Stunning in its hybrid reach, complex as a Piranesi drawing, sweeping in its perspective, gathering up rustic folk melodies and modern elements in a convoluted skein, Rhythmix weds Magma to Jasoun Martz while running pell mell through the Samlas, Conventum, and other exponents of ultra-sophisticated worldly prog, resulting in a thirteen-part cycle that, were there any justice in the world, would stand the stalwart Daniel Denis alongside Kancheli, Kurtag, Takemitsu, Oe, Nyman and others more prominently displayed. …Forget the Crimsony thunder of the past, this is a new page. …Daniel’s immersed in arcane apocalyptic beauty, crafting as elaborite a sonic theatre as has been attempted, stuffed with profound nuance and the sort of depth that’s pushing progressive music to new and different limits of virtuosity. With this work, UZ indisputably pushes effortlessly into the front ranks. …Denis was superb before, he’s unbelievable now. Ond of the decade’s matserworks, in any genre.” – Exposé

“…indications of Univers Zero’s demise were premature, because the group is back with a vengeance on this new recording. .. So, without ever entirely losing the brooding, obessive, slightly sinister, minor-key melancholia that has always represented Univers Zero at its best, Denis manages to stretch the formula in all sorts of ways on this recording – texturally, rhtymically, compositionally – making for a very sophisticated, statisfying and by no means anachronistic result.” – BBCi

“Rhythmix displays Daniel Denis’ further explorations into classical music. Ten musicians…accounts for the increasingly “orchestral” sound. …The album also features some of Denis’ boldest experiments, like the percussive nightmare opf Rouages, that weds Edgar Varese, Crash Worship and Mike Oldfield… Occasionally revolutionary, at times ahead of its time, always intriguing, rarely redundant, Denis’ music continues to surprise and entertain.” – The History of Rock Music/

“…the feel of a conceptual opus is achieved. …an excellent, rewarding album…” – Audion
The Hard Quest
Cuneiform 1999 [Rune 120]

“Civic Circus”
“Brilliant comeback album by an important avant-garde band.” – Crohinga Well

“…while ensembles like the Kronos and Brodsky quartets have filtered into the rock world by way of guest appearances or loosely adapting rock music, Univer Zero have been single-handedly bridging the two disparate worlds by integrating a frontline rhythm section into their dark scores. …their music has a mystery and a power that’s yet to be discovered…” – Focus

“…Univers Zero is back in a big way with a stunning new release, proving themselves to be one of the most important groups on the planet. The sound harkens back to their first album…The almost fragile construction, with its exquisite compositional structures and web-like texxtures are all here, but coupled with a more mature and sophisticated approach to sonority and color.” – Expose

“’The Hard Quest’ is as much classical music as rock… The overall sound is quite dark and ominous, the imagery gothic. Always atmospheric, the feeling is of a relaxed Enid meeting American minimalist John Adams… In the broad spectrum of what progressive music should be, this is cutting edge… Excellent.” – Wondrous Stories

“The Hard Quest…is an important event… Those stumbling into their gothiky universe for the first time may find their compositions… involve a studious unraveling of classical rock themes, where not a chink of improvised light is allowed into the group’s creative chamber. Once your ears become accustomed to the gloom, though, Univers Zero’s music can be blindingly illuminating.” -The Wire
Cuneiform 1987 [Rune 9]

“The line up is also one f the most electric from UZ, causing the music to sizzle and burn… For fans, Heatwave is a must; for the unitiated, it is a superb introduction to the music of Univers Zero.” – Ear Magazine

“Heatwave … is an intricate and monumental piece of work…Univers Zero play the most complex, rehearsal-intensive music since the heyday of progressive rock…The band remains as morbid as ever…. Univers Zero, without any overt politics, stick to an extreme program: mulling over the choice between survival (for whatever it’s worth) or destruction (that’s all, folks) as close as music can capture it.”” – Boston Phoenix

“Hard to say exactly what tradition this extraordinary LP arises out of. Some of the odd-meter riffs on electric guitar…are reminiscent of mid-’70s British progressive work by Gentle Giant and others, but the kaleidoscopic development of the phrses through meitculous orchestration is almost Stravinskian, the willingness to repeat simple material is a tip of the hat to minimalism, and some of the sounds throughout might have been borrwed from the Residnents. …A must for lovers of adventurous music.”
– Keyboard Magazine

“Univers Zero take the rock/chamber music foundation laid by Henry Cow in the early ‘70s and build upon it…the instrumentalists’ adherence to classical technique composition precludes categorization as fusion.…Challenging, but never difficult, aggressive, but never abrasive, Heatwave is a complex, densely textured, and electrifying work of art.” – Sound Choice

Cuneiform 1988
[Rune 15]

“UZED is a rare, intense, and magnanimous piece of work, and absolutely compulsory for everyone who’s had enough of the monotony of Laibach, who’s played their Magma records to shreds, and/or who would have wanted there to be a bit more elecvtirc bass and drums on Bartok’s string quartets.” – Puls [Norway]

“This is not polite chamber music…but an intense, often violent sound that writhes with sinister energy…. Not music for the faint of heart, which is probably as good a definition of rock’n’roll as any.” – Goldmine

“…an inventive quintet who never fail to impress with their jagged time lapsed piano, dramatic time signatures, bass, reeds, deep cello and busy drums. The music drives along moonless avenues, soundtracks to a world beyond tomorrow.”- Outlet (UK)

“Univers Zero is a showcase for the compositions of percussionist Daniel Denis. …One thing that separates these artists’ work from the work of more conventional composers is the absence of filler….we’re not sure where Cuneiform Records is finding this stuff, but we hope they reach some sort of audience with it.”- Keyboard

“…the band sounds much like a mating of Stravinsky, Bartok, the Art Bears, mid-period King Crimson, and Anthony Davis’ Episteme. Throughout their existence, Zero has played this highly uplifting material with an ear for stunning orchestration.”- Option

Crawling Wind
Cuneiform 1983 [Rune 155]

“Toujours plus a L’est”

“… Univers Zero are beside Magma and Faust [as] one of the most influential European continental groups of so called intellectual rock. Their influence can be heard from the numbers of newer European groups like Maximalist, Pako Alto and Cro Magnon to American Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic and Miriodor.” – Muska Magazine

“… Cerebral, complex and rewarding, this is a welcome reminder of the no-boundaries approach that informed the very best of the genuinely experimental bands that sprang up under the early-70s progressive rock banner.” – Record Collector

“The path of innovation and brilliance. It is a treacherous trail upon which precious few dare to tread…
Crawling Wind is testimony to the courage of this Belgian unit, and to the many reasons why its music is one of the most important luminaries of sheer artistic creativity in modern times.” – ProgFreaks

Ceux Du Dehors
Cuneiform 1981 [Rune 39]

“Triomphe des Mouches”
” …this is probably their most comprehensive catalog of horrors, from the ominous minimalist pedal points in “Combat” to the ghostly improvised droning of “La Musique d’Erich Zann”…to the grotesque bassoon/viola tradeoffs in “Bonjour Chez Vous.”” – Boston Rock

“If Stravinsky had a rock band, it would sound like this. Blazing, white hot, medieval.” – Advocate Newspapers

“…a dark record, utilyzing the triple-fusion approach of the Rock-in-Opposition sound (jazz, rock and calassical avante-garde), with the classical inlfuence being the most dominant. …The erratic well as the complex arrangement…give this otherwise medieval sound its twentieth century flavor.” – Alternative Press

Cuneiform 1991 [Rune 29]

“Jack the ripper”

“Chamber music for the Apocalypse. This talented quintet finds the right balance between post-Schoenberg and postmodernism. …a group of admirable, though dark, vision.” – Keyboard Magazine

“UNIVERS ZERO’s music is sometimes defined as “gothic Chamber rock”, …its ominously dark atmospheres with growling voices and creeping drones will hurl you way back to the dark ages when the inquisition reached its terrifying status. …absolutely not fit for children, young adults and musical lightweights.” – Background

“…a dark and menacing listening experience… the closest comparison I could come up with is “The Devil’s Triangle’ on King Crimson’s second album. Univers Zero are unsettling and uncompromising in their approach…the Gothic Governors. The instrumentation is used effectively in a sort of Armageddon chamber-music style, all topped off with some strange growled vocal effects. An intriguing and absorbing band…” – Ptolemaic Terrascope

“…Heresie” is a passionate, expressive, purposeful, and important album.” – Gibraltar


Press coverage on Present

“…Present is still in the forefront of the European progressive movement, carrying the RIO banner foreward into the twenty first century.” – Expose´

“Proof positive that progressive rock isn’t a stagnant form” – Atlanta Press

“Minimal jazz influences, not as ‘chamber/symphonic” as Henry Cow and certainly not as tight-assed as Crimson, Present is rockier (if you will?) and much nastier than all of them. Now, don’t go thinking Metallica/Sabbath/NIN! Present offers violently cerebral, no-nonsense, no-compromise music. …very atmospheric, laden with anxiety, dark and gloomy the way we like it… ” – Carbon 14

“…one of Europe’s most innovative bands” – Audion

“a blend between King Crimson and Univers Zero. Conclusion: splendid horror with incredible depth and power! Highly recommended!” – Background

“”The fervor is as hot as ever.” – Gibraltar

Sunday September 20

LIVE Reviews:

“Present took the stage… The room was packed… Right from the start Present enthralled the audience. …in the live setting, Present was an absolute monster. While they reminded me of King Crimson at their most extreme..they are a unique band. …Their music was like a video game, captivating you completely, demanding your total concentration as you followed the twists and turns they laid out. …This is the kind of music that would scare your basic Neo fan…” – Expose 1998

“No matter how great their record is, little could have prepared us for experiencing Belgium’s Present live. They churned our mind-numbingly complex songs at the Star Bar [Atlanta 1998] that went on for an average of at least 15 minutes apiece but always seemed to be driving toward some sort of awful denouement. …not a moment of wankery. While bloated dinosaurs like Pink Floyd are filling stadiums, groups as fantastic as Present are doing bars, If they ever come around again see them even if you have to kill to do it.” – Atlanta Press


Present at RIO 2007
Present at RIO 2007
For additional bio/history, discography, concert dates, etc, see:
Band website

“…in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the music of [UZ and Present] was strong stuff indeed… Both utilyzed macabre ghoulish imagery and combined King Crimson-ish, death-of-the-univeres prog rock with dissonant, jagged themes that owed more than a little to 20th century classical composers such as Stravinsky and Bartok. But while Univers Zero cultivated a chamber rock aura, utilyzing bassoon, oboe and various strings on its recordings, Present has always been a guitar band, relying on slashing, dissonant electric guitar leads and a certain relentless repetition that distinguishes Trigaux’s…compositions.” – All Music Guide

Present section on Cuneiform Records’ website: click here

Albums with Cuneiform:

A Great Inhumane Adventure
Cuneiform 2005 [Rune 207]


“Present’s dark vision is alive and well (so to speak) on this live disk, and the vision is perhaps even more congenial to the modern audience than it was at the time of its inception, back in 1981. …after touring in the U.S. to support … Certitudes, they Baltimore, Maryland and made the dynamic live recording…the touring had obviously honed the band’s sound to a keen edge. …the monumental “Promenade au Fond d’un Canal,”..was the featured piece on Triskaidekaphobie, Present’s inaugural 1981 recording. The two guitars entwine exquistely on the newer live version…Dave Kerman …is a congenial force on drums, and he combines basssts Pierre Chevalier and Keith Macksoud…for the thick, bottom-heavy sound associated with…Magma. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on this CD is Trigaux’s gravely, pitch-challenged singing..the vocals are never dominant enough to detract from the disquieting instrumental malevolence that has always been Present’s specialty.The result is music that is still uniquely Present, communicating a sound and vision that hold up nicely more than 20 years after the band’s inception.” – All Music Guide

“…Present really hit their stride in a live format…Present live are a totally different beast, mixing elements of avant-garde prog rock, jazz, classical, and hard rock into their bubbling cauldron of flowing musical adventure. …father and son team Roger and Reginald Trigaux…weave intricate patterns with the two guitars and keyboard over and over with a dizzying flair, then stomp into a heavy barrage of riffs and caustic rhythms that will surely send shivers up your spine. At no point is there ever an ounce of senseless noodling here, just plain old serious intensity and reckless abandon, with no speck of commericalism in sight.
A Great Inhuman Adventure is live, dark prog rock served up aon a silver platter, from a band that are as close to legendary stuts as thjere is in the business today. …4/5 stars.” -Sea of Tranquility

“The band’s action-packed framework is centralized upon odd-metered time signatures, scathing chord progressions and oscillating drums-bass-piano ostinatoes. In addition, Trigaux’s stark vocals and harrowing electric guitar lines cast an ominous edge, elciting notions of a cataclysmic chain of event. …the musicians’ thrusting attack is effectively captured here, as they drive it home with a blitzing, yet unequivvoally focused, force of energy. There’s nothing delicate or schmaltzy about this lot… Recommended.” -All About Jazz

“The band was a well oiled machine at this point…. “Promendade”…is the standout track with its bleak mood bordering on industrial music…the band’s intensity and composure is evident throughout.” – Exposé roundtable reviews

“…they played a powerful set night after night, and this disc is proof positive. …the tour came shortly after the release of Certitudes, and a rippin’ version of that album’s opener “Delusions” kicks of the proceedings here. …then closing with “Promendade…” the side-long opener of their debut Triskaidekaphobie, which left audiences breathless at every gig. …A must-have for every Exposé reader.” – Expose Roundtable reviews

“From the fan’s perspective, these were legendary shows… It was a grueling tour but the members were fully up to the task, feeding on the challenges and spitting out the refuse on stage each night, fine-tuning their performances until the tour’s climax at Orion studios in Baltimore. Now that very show is presented here in its vicious, soul burning glory. …those who didn’t attend can feel the heat from this simmering conflagration. Present listeners know the drill: ferociously churning compositions that burrow into your forehead and split-roast your brain until tender and well-baked.” – – Expose Roundtable reviews
Cuneiform 1998 [Rune 107]

“…here the intensity level seems much higher, more urgent, more fierce…proof positive that some bands don’t mellow with age. ‘Certitudes’ could easily be Present’s strongest studio release to date”. -Roundtable Reviews, Exposé

“unlike their past chamber-like classicism, Present is a ferocious, raucous beast, an intense intersection of jazz, rock and modern classical music. With compositions penned by Trigaux, Certitudes bristles between the stunning interplay and complex counterpoint te rhythm section, keyboards and two guiars. This is tightly taut, sohphisticated music that balances on precarious angles with tricky time signatures and yet just when it looks like it will crumble under its own brooding weigth, is pulled back by the cohesive and precise playing.” – Exclaim!

“It flows from long, intricate guitar solos to near-atmospherics to ripping vocals… a brains-to-the-wall album.” -Funhouse

“This is the closest any Present effort has come to reproducing their fiery, abrasive live atmosphere on studio recording. …excuse my sycophantic fawning over “Certitudes.” But … this is cause for…pulling out some hyperboles.” – Exposé

“This group…represents an enigmatic form of fusion where rock, jazz and gothic aesthetics ignite in a fiery union. …the music is quite powerful – at times like a soundtrack for a German expressionist film. …Present are a robust group of players who are tightly locked but capable of finding fluidity within their heavily syncopated songs. And what songs they are… epic tracks. Ultimately, Present don’t represent a catagory, for very few artists fashion similar music. …it’s great that an electro-acoustic band can stir up this much dark mahem and give it such character.” – New Age Voice

“This is…a collection of subtle, somber continental avant-garde rock that will undoubtedly please anyone into Faust, Magma, The Residents or Giant Eyes – music from the dark side of life.” – Crohinga Well

“Proof positive that progressive rock isn’t a stagnant form…Magma and Crimson comparisons are relevant, but the dark and edgy Present are an entity unto themselves”.-Atlanta Press
Cuneiform 1996 [Rune 87]

“Contre” [Real Audio] “Fans of Faust, Henry Cow, Magma and The Residents will love this one. A fantastic album that takes your mind to very dark places. The best Belgian release of ’96, that’s for sure.” – Crohinga Well

“The fervor is as hot as ever. A must.” – Gibraltar

“Darkly metallic with jazz and classical influences, Present’s sound is made up of dueling screech guitars, loglike percussion , haunting keyboards anmd sinuous bass. …Raging and dynamic.” – Those Annoying Post Brothers

“The dual affront of Trigaux’s (father and son) is all the more inspiring, guitars at the double-fire! The opening Luandry Blues feels to me like an amalgam of familiar Present structures cross-bred with Caspar Brötzmann and wilder King Crimson. …The masterpiece here, however, is the rdically different new arrangement of Promenade au Fond d’un Canal (from the 1980 debut Triskaidekaphobie), in which the piano parts are re-scored for guitar…it’s extraordinary for a studio work, so it’s even more amazing in how they remember all those moves in a live situation!” – Audion

“Triagux serves up a powerful chamber influenced rock, the closest analogy..being ’72-’74 period King Crimson but taken a couple more steps in the ‘Fracture’ direction. …All tracks are fascinating workouts mixing desolate passages with pounding interlocking twin guitar work over a churning rhythm section. There’s plenty to savor here, with repeated plays revealing further intricascies and interplay.” – Facelift
Triskaidekaphobie/Le Poison Qui Rend Fou
Cuneiform 1989 [Rune 17]

“Ersatz” [Real Audio] Le Poisson Qui Rend Fou:
“A masterwork in both form and content…The finest example of chamber rock you are likely to discover, ‘Le Poison…’ goes tamer on the from-the-tomb Lovekraftian nocturenes: but almost more intense, if you can believe it, on the structural intricacies of the instrumntal layout.” – Exposé

“The result is a perfect blend between KING CRIMSON and UNIVERS ZERO. Conclusion: splendid horro with incredible depth and power! Highly recommended!” – Background

“…Trigaux’s vision is distrubing on several; levels. Partly it’s the abrupt rhythms, non-triadic chords, and mutideminasionsl counterpoint; partly its the vigorous live ensemble work (with little or no electronic processing)…and partly it’s the stark absence of humor and lyricism. Cuneiform continues to astound us with these uncompromising releases.” – Keyboard

“Le Poison” is simply brilliant and is a must for anyone interested in strong musicianship.” – Unsound

“Dark Bartok-like arrangements driven by Gothic rock percussion from the tortured guitar of Roger Trigaux. This is classical rock with an industrial vengeance, from Belgium.” -DownBeat


“Trigaux plays with a Fripp-like intensity…the interplay between Trigaux, Rochette, Genet and Denis..creates the taut atmsophere… These songs [are] prime exapmples of tenseness and in tensity.” – Gibraltar
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Press coverage on the Muffins

“the finest progressive band America produced” – Fred Frith

“…The Muffins were one of the few US acts respected overseas. …the band preceded the whole John Zorn/Knitting Factory/Tzadik label validation for such outside instrumental fusion. ” –

“…famed American answer to Henry Cow: The Muffins.” – Audion

….a heady mixture of music that rocks one moment, swings the next, pushes you out into space, seduces you with haunting melodies and then rattles your brain with the most aggressive mixture of notes you’re ever going to hear.” –

“…they have come up with a fresh approach that is stylistically different from the music that they created over 20 years ago. …a tremendous success.” -Exposé

“…The Muffins were America’s best kept musical secret. They had chops, writing ability, and talent galore…” – Option

Sunday September 20

For additional bio/history, discography, concert dates, etc, see:
Band website


The Muffins at ProgDay
The Muffins section on Cuneiform Records’ website: click here

Albums with Cuneiform:

Double Negative
Cuneiform 2004 [Rune 199]

“Writing Blind” [Real Audio] “this new CD is fresh and genuinely exciting, with great writing by both Scott and Newhouse, more textural variety in the arrangements, and more conviction, swagger, and even passion in the playing… Invited guests on this new recording include two members of the Sun Ra Arkestra, veteran alto saxman Marshall Allen and baritone player Knoel Scott… too many highlights to mention, with a range of expression that moves back and forth between relatively straight-ahead jazz, jazz fusion, funk, moody and dissonant impressionism, and a handful of anthemic prog rock declarations. …This CD really has it all — breadth, depth, intelligence, and creativity. Rather than a mere reprise of past glories, it represents the Muffins’ bold thrust into the 21st century.” – All

“This is …a monster album of jazz-rock and progressive art rock. Instead of being a time machine to clever Canterbury cacophony, this is a tautly and cleanly executed post-rock opus that has a greater presence in the camp of ’60s forward-looking jazz groups like Art Ensemble of Chicago than it has in the RIO descendants of the National Health-Magma scene. (4.5/5)” – Outsight

“…Over the course of seventeen compositions, the Muffins… create a sound that draws from Henry Cow…skewed soul…Emerson, Lake and Palmer…and Van Der Graaf Generator…without being directly imitative.
… Double Negative lays waste to claims that progressive rock is inherently anachronistic. With a wealth of ideas executed with a large palette the Muffins show that it is not only alive, but moving forward.” -All About Jazz

“…Double Negative is big, sometimes brash, and always ambitious. There are many thrilling musical moments here, waiting to be heard. -Splendid

“…King Crimson and Zappa come to mind while… Camel fans would also enjoy the less intricate passages…. for those who love to look beyond the musical horizons, ‘Double Negative’ will be a pleasure to listen to.” -Classic Rock Society

“Wow, these guys get a big, fat, luscious sound….
…portions of the Muffins’ work borders on the avant-garde, as in “The Highlands,” a virtual suite with a free, squalling saxophone introduction… This segues directly into a minimalist piano passage leading to a heavy proggy riff, and concluding with a clarinet bit that… morphs into an avant- clarinet ensemble… a la Univers Zero, and that’s all in the first track!
….the Muffins throw in plenty of twists and turns, and healthy doses of dissonance to appeal to those who want an edge in their prog.” – Progression

“It would be hard to imagine that The Muffins could equal or better their outstanding release from 2002…but ….they have pretty much done the impossible. Double Negative is … much more symphonic, much more “big band jazz” sounding, much more “progressive rock”…
…their songwriting styles have gotten much more melodic, and the result is a breathtaking album filled with lush tapestries of sonic brilliance, at times quirky and complex, but always sweeping and instantly memorable. … Rousing big-band jazz is all the rage on “Exquisite Corpse”, Gentle Giant meets Frank Zappa on the complex “Cat’s Game”… but the band also hits home with many serene and atmospheric moments, like on “Dawning Star”… There’s even some funky fusion… as well as tasty & smooth contemporary jazz….
…there is so much to savor here on this new release from the Muffins, and plenty to whet the appetite of the prog, fusion, jazz, and avant crowds. Absolutely essential.” – Sea of Tranquility
Cuneiform 2002 [Rune 161]

“Walking” [Real Audio] “Quite simply, this is a masterpiece, possibly the best Muffins record of all time… it’s about time to recognize the Rockville band as one of the best groups to come out of the United States, “pound for pound”. … “Bandwidth” is a collection of milestones… likely to knock you out right away.” – Touching Extremes

“Two words-simply amazing! This new recording from classic progressive rock and fusion masters The Muffins after a twenty year hiatus is a breathtaking example of just how much fire is left in the genre. …The Muffins have returned with a vengeance – look out world!   Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5” –  Sea of Tranquility

“A criminally uncelebrated American progressive rock band, the Muffins…combine matured post-psychedelic textures with the focused jazz energy of early- and middle-period Sun Ra on this jazzy, well-honed creation… rating: 4”  – Outsight

“…Bandwidth is one hell of a comeback. …There is a de facto sense of general harmony and balance that keeps the record on solid ground, but it is actually the variety of themes and moods that makes Bandwidth so enjoyable in the long run… .Rating: 4.5/5”-

“The prog elements are few and faint now, but the group has retained its strength for welding disparate jazz elements onto its rock framework. The quartet freely roams from the dirty double reed and bass groove opener “Walking the Duck” (resembling, if anything, Morphine’s swampy sound) to lighter, more oxygen-filled pieces …a playful attention to melody gives the album an accessibility that makes the few “difficult” elements less off-putting.” – Exclaim!

“… one of the best jazz-rock albums of recent years.” – Audion

“ … With this effort, analogies of a cloistered writer composing his or her ensuing masterpiece might ring loud and clear: especially when we consider the twenty-year gap between studio productions. Feverishly recommended.” – All About Jazz

“The Best Releases of 2002! Well, the votes are in, and it’s no surprise that so many of the same albums came up on many readers favorites of the year lists. The Muffins won album of the year in the poll, so congrats to the boys from Maryland! Here are the results for the Top 10 of 2002: #1)The Muffins- Bandwidth” -Sea of Tranquility, 2002

“The Muffins may have started out sounding like Henry Cow’s first album but they’ve taken that original sound into places that the Cow would never have had the patience to explore. … The Muffins’ latest offering…is exploring some sonic areas that it wouldn’t have wanted to contemplate before…. there is also a soul searching quality to some real transcendent tracks like “Dear Mona” and “East of the Diamond”. Those two tracks display a band that is back from the proverbial dead and has something important to say. Welcome back.” – Beyond Coltrane
Cuneiform 1980 [55013]

“Muffins” [Real Audio] “America was never much of an enthusiastic territory for the serious (and often difficult) new music that post-prog European groupings, like Henry Cow, were exploring in the late ‘70s. It may be surprising then to discover that one of the era’s more innovative ensembles, The Muffins, was a Maryland-based quartet. 185…is generously filled with the band’s exhaustive change-of-pace directions and humorous improvisational forays…”- Jam Magazine

“Their jazzy, arty sound is heavily influenced by Zappa’s weirder musical moments…They recorded two albums with their pretty loony but brilliant avant-garde compositions and jammed with well-know musicians like Fred Frith, Peter Blegvad and John Greaves. Their second LP “185” (named after the number stamp that was put on classified literature in the Soviet Union) came out in 1981…Cuneiform Records… made a remixed CD version…and added several bonus tracks…Excellent and unusual music, very recommended to Zappa fans.” – Crohinga Well

“Stir together atonal classical music, a hint of Van Der Graaf Generator, a touch of Gentle Giant, and a heaping portion of Sun Ra’s Cosmic Arkestra saxophone freakouts, and you get some idea of what this quartet on woodwinds, saxes, percussion, and sundry other implements was about….Rock in Opposition (RIO) fans, especially of the Henry Cow ilk, should have a field day with the Muffins’ unique compositions… This is extremely well done….”- Progression

“…There’s a continuity to this album, amazingly, yet there’s always a surprise around the next corner, not every chord of rhythm change leads you where you’d expect. Dizzying! …a great album…” – Audion

“… It is quite unbelievable that material that was recorded almost 20 years ago still sounds this new, this contemporary. A fantastic bouncy, jazzy instrumental album that reminds me of X-Legged Sally and Zappa’s uncle meat years!! ” – Black Page

“Recorded… with Fred Frith in the producer’s chair…and released in 1981, this album sees the Muffins changing their approach. Instead of the long suites found on their previous lp…this features short tracks that also move slightly away from the prog rock idiom (Happy the Man meets Samlas Mammas Manna) and move closer into late-Henry Cow/ Etron Fou Le Loublan territory. … 185 remains a good album. For its CD reissue on Cuneiform, the group added remixes for seven of 11 original tracks. ”- All Music Guide
Open City
Cuneiform 1986 [55010]

“Queenside” [Real Audio] “This CD is bristling with great music of power, complexity and inventiveness which would put many more “well known” bands to shame. ….this CD is a must. If… you’ve not heard them before, let yourself in for a treat.” – Facelift

“Their music shows the influence of Henry Cow, Magma, the Canterbury groups and ‘60s free jazz (there are a few moments on this CD that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Art Ensemble of Chicago record)….The earlier pieces on Open City tend to sport lighter, jazz-laced textures, highlighted by nimble keyboard and reed lines. Later, the band adopted a rougher and more turbulent sound…Either way, their music is tremendously creative and colorful, as entertaining as it is cerebral.” -Goldmine

“There was an internationally renowned scene in Washington DC years before Minor Threat, and stylistically it couldn’t have been more different: America’s most accomplished answer to European progressive rock. .. The scene’s two best bands…[were Happy the Man and The Muffins] The Muffins had the instrumentation of a jazz ensemble: woodwinds, piano, bass and drums…They took as their models the jazz-rock hybrids of Soft Machine, Henry Cow, and Magma, as well as the pioneers who inspired them in turn, such as Eric Dolphy and Sun Ra. They were particularly interested in collective improvisation, and ultimately a group vocabulary evolved that not only gave them more range in their composition, but allowed them to sound cohesive even at their most free….Open City…presents the Muffins’ late quick-change chamber thrash, where their ideas were most densely concentrated, before the episodic suites and modal jams where these ideas were first exercised. “Queenside”…presents five distinct movements of almost Webernian intricacy. As breathtaking are the speedcore double saxophone passages of “Horsebones,” “Zoom Resume” and “Under Dali’s Wing,”…you could mistake it for the Art Ensemble of Chicago at John Zorn temp… The selling point of Open City will probably be the two pieces by Fred Frith… [in] ”Dancing in Sunrise, Switzerland” …he shapes the Muffins’ saxes, double-tracked, into a mutant Motown horn section, and tops it off with a blistering harmonized guitar solo. Altogether, this is one of the best records to ever come out of America.” – Boston Rock

“…this album proves without a doubt that The Muffins were America’s best kept musical secret. They had chops, writing ability, and talent galore… Considering there are no synthesizers or sequencers to imitate an extra set of hands, the live stuff – which is most of the record – is extremely impressive. The segues and sectional changes come off without a hitch or a dropped drumstick, and the array of musical ideas and moods iS mind-boggling…those interested in avant-rock or progressive or whatever you want to call this kind of thing should not miss Open City.” – Option

“This album is a real goodie! …
The Muffins music is a blend of Gong, Hatfield and the North, Henry Cow, Magma and Soft Machine. …the material is complex and all-instrumental. Often the songs are closer to Jazz then Rock…avante-garde free-form jazz that is really amazing.”
– Launch Groups: Prog-reviews / Prog-Reviews
Cuneiform 1993 [55007]

“Come What” [Real Audio] “…was this American rock-jazz group in contact with the British Canterbury scene? Their music certainly bears an astonishing resemblance to that of Hatfield and The North, in particular. All those tricky, fleet of foot tempo changes…” – The Wire

“The Muffins are often referred to as the seminal American progressive band. They capture the RIO style of Henry Cow with all the complexity, and make it much more listen able… At times sounding like National Health, Henry Cow, and Picchio dal Pozzo…if you’re into fusion in the least, go ahead and check them out…excellent.” -Panorama

“…the Muffins established a strong reputation for themselves as purveyors of warped fusion…Listeners who enjoy the music of Soft Machine or the subsequent Canterbury sound will enjoy this record immensely. It is also recommended for those who like soft fusion-jazz, but despise the “soft jazz” sound of commercial radio.” – Alternative Press

“The Muffins were a D.C. based progressive, new music rock band championed (and produced) by Fred Frith….Their musical style was not far from the so-called Canterbury school represented by the Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, National Health and…Henry Cow. Like those bands, the Muffins frequently went for contorted, piquant melodies, changing time signatures and clever, unexpected harmonic progressions. …Chronometers is a collection of home and studio demos…the musicianship and compositional strengths are undeniable… Playing somewhere between progressive rock and jazz, the Muffins display superb musical and technical chops, but their creative music was not simply a series of solos and flights of fancy.” – Option

“Ah, The Muffins, long lost souls of the Henry Cow-meets-National Health progressive axis… Those longing for the days of Canterbury-styled fusion wrapped in micro-layers of whirling instrumental complexities will no doubt leap in collective joy over the literally huge amount of music contained on