The History of Rock Music: 1995-2001

Drum'n'bass, trip-hop, glitch music
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(Copyright © 2009 Piero Scaruffi)


(These are excerpts from my book "A History of Rock and Dance Music")

The Louisville alumni 1995-97

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The Squirrel Bait and Rodan genealogies continued to dominate Kentucky's and Chicago's post-rock scene during the 1990s.

Half of Rodan, i.e. Tara Jane O'Neil (now on vocals and guitar) and Kevin Coultas, formed Sonora Pine with keyboardist and guitarist Sean Meadows, violinist Samara Lubelski and pianist Rachel Grimes. Their debut album, Sonora Pine (? 1995 - mar 1996), basically applied Rodan's aesthetics to the format of the folk lullaby.

Another member of Rodan, guitarist Jeff Mueller, formed June Of 44 (11), a sort of supergroup comprising Sonora Pine's guitarist Sean Meadows, Codeine's drummer and keyboardist Doug Scharin, and bassist and trumpet player Fred Erskine. Engine Takes To The Water (dec 1994 - jun 1995) signaled the evolution of "slo-core" towards a coldly neurotic form, which achieved a hypnotic and catatonic tone, besides a classic austerity, on the mini-album Tropics And Meridians (? ? - jun 1996). Sustained by abrasive and inconclusive guitar doodling, mutant rhythm and off-key counterpoint of violin and trumpet, Four Great Points (aug 1996/aug 1997 - jan 1998) metabolized dub, raga, jazz, pop in a theater of calculated gestures.

Post-rock was clearly more "instrumental" than "vocal", and Rachel's (2), formed by Rodan's fourth member, guitarist Jason Noble, merely formalized this fact with an all-instrumental format and a chamber ensemble built around Rachel Grimes' piano and Christian Frederickson's viola. Handwriting (spr 1991/oct 1994 - may 1995) augmented the rock trio with strings and keyboards, but, rather than aiming for an orchestral sound, it downplayed the multitude of "voices" in favor of an artful exploration of timbres, while the narrative languished somewhere between the Club Foot Orchestra's dark soundtracks (minus the expressionistic overtones) and the Penguin Cafè Orchestra's minimalist dances (minus the nostalgic and exotic factors). By the time of The Sea And The Bells (jul 1995/apr 1996 - oct 1996), this somber hybrid had evolved into hermetic and severe avantgarde music.

For Carnation (1), the new project of Slint's guitarist Brian McMahan, followed Gastr Del Sol's route to subtle dynamics and wasteland-evoking soundscapes on two EPs, Fight Songs (jul 1994/jan 1995 - mar 1995) and the superb Marshmallows (jun/oct 1995 - dec 1996). They refined the art of low-key, sparse but nonetheless complex compositions to the point that For Carnation (jul 1998/jul 1999 - apr 2000) betrayed virtually no emotions, just illusions of emotions.

Slint's guitarist Dave Pajo (11) contributed to dispel the notion that instrumental music had to be atmospheric with Aerial M (feb/mar 1997 - aug 1997), which delivered languid sub-ambient slo-core in which elements of lounge jazz, Ennio Morricone's soundtracks and Rachel's semi-classical scores were carefully defused. His minimalist and transcendental technique, equally inspired by Pat Metheny (jazz), Robert Fripp (rock) and John Fahey (folk), reached an existential zenith on Papa M's Live From A Shark Cage (? ? - oct 1999), a phantasmagoria of cubist de-composition, the instrumental equivalent of Tim Buckley's music.

Rodan's guitarists Jeff Mueller and Jason Noble reunited when they formed Shipping News (1) with drummer Kyle Crabtree, and recorded the oblique, undulating jams of Save Everything (mar/may 1997 - sep 1997). They refined their approach with the slow-forming filigrees of Very Soon, And In Pleasant Company (apr/may 2000 - jan 2001), impersonating not so much brainy improvisers as consummate storytellers spinning enigmatic tales, full of twists and surprises. Rodan's wreckage of classical harmony left behind flotsam of dub-like ecstasy and hard-rock fits.

The Chicago alumni, 1995-98

The Tortoise genealogy constituted the epicenter for Chicago's post-rock of the 1990s.

Shrimp Boat (1), featuring vocalist Sam Prekop, coined a jazz-soul-country fusion that sounded like a cross between Camper Van Beethoven and the Minutemen, particularly on their second album, Duende (sum 1990 - mar 1992). Prekop's next band Sea And Cake (1) almost wed post-rock and easy-listening. The drunk, sleepy delivery of the vocalist was matched on The Sea And Cake (sep 1993 -  oct 1994) by a gentle, low-key, Steely Dan-ian soundscape of jazz and soul phrases laid down by guitarist Archer Prewitt and Tortoise's multi-instrumentalist John McEntire. The idea led to the sumptuous keyboard arrangements of Nassau (? 1994 - mar 1995) and eventually the electronica of The Fawn (oct 1996 - mar 1997).

Jazz was a major factor in alienating the Chicago school from the traditional foundations of rock music. More and more units looked to jazz for inspiration: Isotope 217, the project of Tortoise's black guitarist Jeff Parker; Euphone, the brainchild of drummer Ryan Rapsys, whose The Calendar of Unlucky Days (dec 1998 - apr 1999) was devoted to improvised, instrumental jams mixing electronics, acoustic instruments and syncopated beats; Bill Ding, veterans of the jazz scene who performed chamber music for electronics, vibraphone, cello, trumpet and violin on Trust In God But Tie Up Your Camel (? ? - feb 1997); Brokeback, a collaboration between Tortoise's bassist Douglas McCombs and Chicago Underground Quartet's bassist Noel Kupersmith, which delivered the quiet, ethereal, sparse watercolors of Field Recordings From The Cook Country Water Table (dec 1998 - jul 1999) and Morse Code In The Modern Age (sep 1999/spr 2000 - jan 2001).

Duotron (1) played abstract pieces in a psychotic form that ran the gamut from progressive-rock to noise to absurdist vaudeville to no wave and free-jazz, particularly on We Modern! We Now! (? ? - ? 1995).

The instrumental group Town And Country (1) articulated an aesthetics of baroque trance that wed Harold Budd's hypnotic bliss and Bill Evans' romantic jazz. The lengthy pieces of Town And Country (dec 1997/jan 1998 - sep 1998) and It All Has To Do With It (apr 2000 - oct 2000), straddling the line between jazz improvisation and classical composition, led to the mature post-fusion synthesis of C'mon (fall 2001 - feb 2002), performed by Jim Dorling on harmonium and bass clarinet, Ben Vida on guitar and cornet, Liz Payne on guitar, Josh Abrams on bass and celeste.

The Scissor Girls (1), led by keyboardist Azita Youssefi and drummer Heather Melowicz, devoted We People Space With Phantoms (oct 1994 - apr 1996) to a schizoid (and largely improvised) form of punk, funk and electronic music.

Zeek Sheck (the brainchild of Roseanna Perkins Meyers) composed a Residents-like pentalogy on an imaginary race starting with I Love You (? 1997 - nov 1997), a chaotic assemblage of violin, flute, clarinet, harmonica, tuba, guitar, bass and electronics, including Cheer Accident's keyboardist Thymme Jones and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm.

Frontier ran the gamut from shoegazing to King Crimson to Can to Tortoise on Heater ( ? - jul 1997).

Dianogah, a trio of two basses and drums, betrayed the influence of Slint on the mostly-instrumental As Seen From Above (nov 1996 - jan 1997).

Boxhead Ensemble (4) was an impromptu project of the Chicago rock avantgarde that involved members of Tortoise, Jim O'Rourke and Ken Vandermark, assembled by composer Michael Krassner to score the soundtrack for a film, Dutch Harbor (jul/oct 1996 - mar 1997), a set of austere, erudite, low-key and gloomy improvisations, of high-caliber noir and chamber jazz. Another stellar cast (Krassner, bassist Ryan Hembrey, violinist Jessica Billey, drummer Glenn Kotche, Souled American's guitarist Scott Tuma, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm) improvised the smoky, sleepy chamber music of Two Brothers (feb 2001 - aug 2001), the seven transcendent Quartets (? ? - oct 2003) and the eight zen-like Nocturnes (? ? - aug 2006). The Lofty Pillars (10) recycled a few members of the Boxhead Ensemble to perform compositions by Krassner and keyboardist Will Hendricks. Like the Penguin Cafè Orchestra, Amsterdam (jan 2001 - sep 2001) was caught in a time warp, plotting a fusion of old-fashioned genres (Leonard Cohen-ian dirges, Dylan-ian odes, gospel and country hymns a` la Band) and modern aesthetic values, while delivering clockwork performances worthy of classical music.

Chicago's L'Altra (1) introduced a sublimely elegant fusion of pop, jazz and classical music with their EP L'Altra (? ? - jun 1999). The effect of Music Of A Sinking Occasion (jan/mar 2000 - jul 2000), ten madrigals for a small chamber ensemble played with a lazy renaissance grace, was to transpose atmospheric and intellectual pop music to another temporal dimension, in the vein pioneered in the 1970s by the Penguin Cafè Orchestra. In The Afternoon (? ? - apr 2002), featuring cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, crystallized their method: lush and oneiric soundscapes accompanying dual vocal harmonies.

The towering figure of this generation was cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, who played in and led a number of orchestras and ensembles, notably Pillow, a quartet with the Flying Luttenbachers' reed player Michael Colligan, and two members of Town And Country, bassist Liz Payne and guitarist Ben Vida, best documented on their second album Field On Water (? ? - may 2000), and Terminal 4 (feb 2001 - ? 2001), that offered rock music for a pseudo-jazz quartet of cello, guitar (Ben Vida), bass (Josh Abrams) and trombone (Jeb Bishop), the Terminal 4.

Chicago's trio (saxophone, bass and drums) Bablicon (1), featuring Neutral Milk Hotel's drummer Jeremy Barnes, was influenced by Soft Machine's progressive-rock, Slint's post-rock and Frank Zappa's irreverent musique concrete. The noisy, spastic, psychedelic jazz-rock of In A Different City (fall 1996/sum 1998 - aug 1999) and of the mini-album Orange Tappered Moon (? 1999 - jun 2000) led to A Flat Inside A Fog, The Cat That Was A Dog (sum/fall 2000 - jun 2001), a gloriously incoherent statement of piano-based ambient cacophony.

The golden age of post-rock, 1995-1997

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The most obvious link between post-rock of the 1990s and progressive-rock and German avant-rock of the 1970s was a band from Maryland, Trans Am (1), a trio led by guitarist/keyboardist Philip Manley. The keyboards-driven instrumental rock of The Surveillance (? ? - mar 1997) was unique in that it exhuded the rhythmic exuberance of dance music. The group moved towards a less distinctive but more accessible prog-pop sound that culminated with Red Line (? ? - may 2000), under a broad range of influences, from Devo's futuristic rock'n'roll to Frank Zappa's noise-jazz bacchanals.

Jackie-O Motherfucker (2), the project of New York-based multi-instrumentalist Tom Greenwood, relied heavily on free-jazz improvisation for Alchemy (nov/dec 1994 - ? 1995), Cross Pollinate (? ? - aug 1995) and especially Flat Fixed (? ? - ? 1998), featuring female guitarist Honey Owens, although his most intriguing works were probably the ones that moved away from those roots. Fig. 5 (? 1999 - ? 2000) piled up elements of acid-rock, folk, blues, noise-rock and soul; and the jazz elements all but disappeared on the double-disc The Magick Fire Music (? ? - ? 1999), an epic journey from noise collage to ambient melancholia.

The recordings of the No-Neck Blues Band (3), a loose New York-based collective of improvisers, were mainly devoted to long chaotic instrumental jams that drew inspiration from the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Captain Beefheart, Amon Duul II and Pink Floyd. Letters From The Earth (? 1996 - ? ?), recorded on a roof in 1996 and including the 38-minute jam Isopropyl Ocean, and Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Names Will Never Hurt Me ((jun 1999 - ? 2001) ran the gamut from an anthropological recapitulation of primal shamanic music to free-jazz improvisation. At their best, the jams were minimalist fanfares of sorts, combining a number of repetitive patterns into a tribal acid trip of loose guitar/mandolin threnodies, polymorph multi-instrumental beats, loose aggregates of free-jazz horns and languid trance-like droning instruments. Qvaris (mar 2005 - nov 2005) dressed that dadaistic vice into a more austere format, bordering on electroacoustic chamber music and musique concrete.

Boston's Karate were emblematic of post-rock's ambition to concoct loose and jazzy song structures, notably on In Place Of Real Insight (? ? - apr 1997).

In San Francisco, the iconoclastic tradition of the Residents and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 was continued by albums such as: Double U's Absurd Fjord (? ? - ? 1996), Ubzub (1)'s Alien Manna For Sleeping Monkeys (? ? - ? 1996). Deerhoof (1) was an avant-pop concept that balanced cacophony and melody, abstraction and organization, and evolved from the blissful Captain Beefheart-esque anarchy of The Man, The King, The Girl (? ? - oct 1997) to the prog-garage ingenuity of Reveille (? ? - jun 2002).

Instrumental post-rock 1995-99

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Instrumental rock music became more and more ambitious in the second half of the decade.

Chicago's 5ive Style (2), formed by guitarist Billy Dolan, Tortoise's drummer John Herndon, bassist LeRoy Bach and Lonesome Organist's keyboardist Jeremy Jacobsen, concocted first the angular funk and rhythm'n'blues of 5ive Style (? 1995 - sep 1995), which sounded like the Meters playing for Schoenberg, and then the nostalgic Caribbean nonsense of Miniature Portraits (? 1997 - aug 1999), replete with demonic picking and kitschy vibraphone.

Salaryman (1), the all-instrumental subsidiary of the Poster Children, toyed with a kaleidoscope of genre deconstructions on Salaryman (aug 1996 - feb 1997).

San Francisco's A Minor Forest indulged in the lengthy instrumental improvisations of Flemish Altruism (aug 1995/jun 1996 - oct 1996).

North Carolina's Tractor Hips glued together remnants of Soft Machine's jazz-rock, Can/Faust's kraut-rock and John Zorn's avant-jazz on Tractor Hips (jul/dec 1995 - ? 1996).

The Fucking Champs (1), hailing from San Francisco, leveraged the double-guitar attack of Josh Smith and Tim Green (ex-Nation Of Ulysses) on III (? 1993/early 1997 - ? 1997), released under the moniker C4AM95, one of the few works to bridge heavy-metal and post-rock since the pioneering work of Bitch Magnet.

Paul Newman were Don Caballero's disciples in Texas with albums such as Frames Per Second (spr/sum 1997 - feb 1998).

Minnesota's prog-rockers Gorge Trio (1) applied Don Caballero's art of counterpoint to Dead Chicken Fear No Knife (may 1997/jan 1998 - ? 1998) and For Loss Of (oct 1998 - jun 1999).

Dazzling Killmen's bassist Darin Gray and Cheer Accident's drummer Thymme Jones who had been the rhythm section for O'Rourke's projects Brise-Glace and Yona-Kit, formed You Fantastic with guitarist Tim Garrigan, whose Homesickness (? ? - nov 1998) contained brief experiments at the border between hardcore and free-jazz.

San Diego's Tristeza (1) seemed to wed new-age music and instrumental post-rock with the slow, gentle pieces of Spine And Sensory (nov 1998 - ? 1999).

Out of Worship was a collaboration between San Francisco-based guitarist/bassist Joe Goldring and Codeine/Rex/Him's drummer Doug Scharin, whose Sterilized (may 1997/aug 1998 - ? 1999) achieved a sophisticated and colorful fusion of jazz, raga, psychedelia and dub (thanks to Ill Media's turntables, Tony Maimone's bass, Julie Liu's violin and Adheesh Sathaye's tablas).

Turing Machine's A New Machine For Living (oct 1999 - jan 2000), the new project by Pitchblende's Justin Chearno, wed four generations of jamming (1960s' acid-rock, 1970s' kraut-rock, 1980s' noise-rock and 1990s' post-rock).

Industrial nightmares 1998-2000

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Laddio Bolocko (1), featuring Drew StIvany on guitar, Ben Armstrong on bass, Marcus DeGrazia on saxophone and ex-Dazzling Killmen's drummer Blake Fleming, mixed the neurotic introspection of post-rock and the psychotic attack of hardcore on Strange Warmings (? ? - ? 1997), whose jams also referenced free-jazz and acid-rock. As structures exploded and imploded, the listener was taken on a rollercoaster of stylistic mirages. The soundscape got blurred on the EPs In Real Time (? ? - ? 1998) and As If By Remote (? ? - ? 1999), that abandoned the frenzy of the debut album to concentrate on textural explorations. After the group split, bassist Ben Armstrong and guitarist Drew St.Ivany formed Psychic Paramount with a drummer and de facto continued the same mission of Laddio Bolocko on Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural (aug 2004 - jul 2005).

Phylr (1), the new project of Cop Shoot Cop's keyboardist Jim Coleman, indulged in Foetus-like gothic and industrial overtones on Contra La Puerta (? ? - sep 1997).

Minnesota's space-rockers Salamander (1) indulged in abstract soundpainting on Red Ampersand (? 1993/? 1995 - jan 1998) and turned the title-track of Red Mantra (? 1994/? 1998 - sep 1998) into an avantgarde concerto.

San Francisco's Burmese were a guitar-less trio or quartet (two basses and one or two drums) who, inspired by Whitehouse's horror free-form noise, by the more abstract forms of grindcore and occasionally by Earth's subsonic drones, crafted the dense, chaotic, frenzied and heavy 21 brief songs of Monkeys Tear Man To Shreds, Man Never Forgives Ape, Man Destroys Environment (aug 2000 - oct 2000).

San Diego-based Tarantula Hawk delivered post-industrial doom and psychedelic delirium on two self-titled albums, Tarantula Hawk (feb 1999 - ? 2000) and Tarantula Hawk (jun 2002 - ? 2002).

Ebbing and flowing 1995-2000

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As instrumental post-rock lost its hardcore component and shunned the trance-oriented approach of ambient music, it developed into a new form of music, both dynamic and atmospheric.

Rake's guitarist/keyboardist Bill Kellum and Pitchblende's guitarist Justin Chearno formed a keyboards-guitar-drums trio, Doldrums (12), that concocted an atmospheric blend of Main's ambient shoegazing, Tangerine Dream's cosmic music, Grateful Dead's Dark Star and Pink Floyd's A Saucerful Of Secrets. Secret Life Of Machines (? 1994/? 1995 - ? 1995) and Acupuncture (? 1994/? 1996 - feb 1997) contained multi-part suites that, under the apparent staticity, mutated continuously, each an amorphous plasma of sounds that went from exuberant to ecstatic, from chanting to droning, from tribal drumming to abstract doodling. Feng Shui (? 1995/? 1997 - apr 1998) was a more artificial work, the product of studio editing, but that technique was refined on Desk Trickery (? 1997/? 1999 - dec 1999), a multitude of carefully-crafted sonic events seeping through the shapeless jelly.

Scenic (2), the new project by Savage Republic's founding member Bruce Licher (now living in Arizona), interpreted desert music in an almost cosmic setting. If Incident At Cima (? 1992/? 1994 - feb 1995) was still impressionistic and sketchy, Acquatica (dec 1995 - aug 1996) and The Acid Gospel Experience (jul 1999/feb 2000 - may 2002) were ambitious frescoes of the musician's environment and, indirectly, of the musician's psyche.

Seattle's Hovercraft (2), the project of keyboardist/guitarist/samplist Ryan Campbell, created the musical equivalent of action painting performed by an epileptic acrobat on phantasmagoric albums such as Akathisia (dec 1995 - ? 1996) and Experiment Below (? 1998 - sep 1998). Their atonal mini-symphonies recalled alternatively Sonic Youth, Red Crayola and King Crimson, but also wove a supernatural suspense and inspired apocalyptic fear.

Their cousins Magnog (1) incorporated the aesthetics of post-rock into the plot-less synth-tinged instrumental tracks of Magnog (sep/oct 1995 - apr 1996), that offered a tuneless and mantra-oriented form of space-rock.

San Francisco's Tarentel (2) sculpted From Bone To Satellite (dec 1998/mar 1999 - ? 1999), a magnificent plateau of desolate, dilated, arpeggiated, minor-key, synth and guitar-driven scores a` la Godspeed You Black Emperor. A more humane feeling surfaced from the stark, carefree solemnity of The Order Of Things (aug 2000/mar 2001 - aug 2001). The four-volume series of Ghetto Beats On The Surface Of The Sun (sep 2004/apr 2005 - jun 2007) zeroed on skeletal rhythms piercing through a jelly of glitchy ambience. Their "ghetto" was a psycho-musical ghetto, a mythological "place" of the mind that manifested itself in a plethora of disorienting soundscapes.

Montage, 1996-99

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In New York, M'lumbo (1) bridged dissonant avantgarde, free-jazz and dance music with the free-form collages of Spinning Tourists In A City Of Ghosts (? 1996/? 1999 - oct 1999), that applied the collage technique to the most diverse sources.

Boston's Land Of The Loops (1), the project of Boston keyboardist Alan Sutherland, produced the cartoonish collages of samples, dance beats and ethereal vocals of Bundle Of Joy (? ? - ? 1996).

Bran Van 3000 (1), the project of Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist Jamie DiSalvio, assembled Glee (? ? - apr 1997), a surreal, dissonant, hyper-realistic collage of hip-hop, conversations, scratches, jazz improvisation, choirs, loops, orchestral instruments, that magically retained the traditional song format.

In Holland, Solex (12), the project of Dutch used-record specialist Elizabeth Esselink, updated the soul-jazz diva to the age of samplers and drum machines. The songs on Pick Up (? 1999 - sep 1999) and especially Low Kick And Hard Bop (? 2001 - sep 2001) were fragments of music glued together and propelled by disjointed beats. The difference between her compositions and the audio cut-up of the avantgarde was that her compositions were actually "songs", and even "melodic" ones. Her silky voice blended naturally with the frigid textures of her collages. Few composers could turn a cold, artificial art of puzzle recomposition into a warm, personal art of personality decomposition, as she proved on another painstaking, almost surgical, cut-and-paste tour de force, Laughing Stock Of Indie Rock (? ? - sep 2004).

The Australian ensemble Avalanches (1) coined a new form of sample-based dance music with their early singles and perfected it with the clockwork collages of Since I Left You (? 1999 - nov 2000).

German post-rock 1994-98

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Post-rock owed a huge debt to German rock of the 1970s. Thus, it was not surprising that Germany rapidly became one of the centers for post-rock.

Ronald Lippock's To Rococo Rot (1) basically unified the aesthetics of trip-hop and post-rock on Veiculo (oct 1996 - feb 1997), achieving on The Amateur View (jul 1997/jan 1999 - jun 1999) a gentle, subliminal blend of hypnosis and vitality. Lippock's side-project Tarwater (1) infused the robotic rhythms and alien noises of 11/6 12/10 (? ? - sep 1996) with romantic melodrama.

Laub (1), the duo of vocalist Antye Greie-Fuchs and keyboardist Juergen "Jotka" Kuehn, explored alien soundscapes on Kopflastig (? 1997 - jun 1997) and especially Unter Anderen Bedingungen Als Liebe (jan 1999 - jun 1999).

Markus Archer's Notwist (1), featuring Martin "Console" Gretschmann on samples, were fluent in the idioms of hardcore, noise-rock and post-rock, which they applied simultaneously to the pastiches of 12 ((mar 1995 - may 1995). By the time that they crafted the carefully orchestrated and absurdist ballads of Neon Golden (? 2000/? 2001 - jan 2002), instead, they were pioneering the digital folk-rock of the new decade. Their cousins Village of Savoonga (1) straddled the line between expressionist drama, psychedelic doom and stream of consciousness on Philipp Schatz (? 1992/jan 1996 - nov 1996) and on the mini-album Score (? 1996/? 1997 - may 1998). And their other cousins Tied & Tickled Trio (1) revived cool jazz for the digital generation on Tied & Tickled Trio (late 1996/early 1997 - ? 1997) and EA1 EA2 (? 1998/? 1999 - ? 1999), while horns-driven Observing Systems (aug 2002 - sep 2003) and the keyboards-driven Aelita (? 2007 - jun 2007) balanced the elegant flow of a jazz improvisation and the cold geometry of a classical composition.

Workshop were the main heirs to the "krautrock" tradition during the late 1990s, especially on Meiguiweisheng Xiang (? ? - mar 1997).

The "songs" built by Notwist's sampling engineer Console (born Martin Gretschmann) on albums such as Pan Or Ama (? ? - sep 1997) and Rocket In The Pocket (? ? - aug 1998). were tributes to studio technique, concentrates of electronic and computer trickery, complex hodgepodges of synthesizer melodies, spastic beats, samples, dissonances, reverbs, computerized voices.

Kreidler (1), featuring keyboardists Andreas Reihse and Detlef "DJ Sport" Weinrich, toyed with jazz, disco and glitch music on Weekend (apr/may 1996 - fall 1996) and with austere post-rock chamber music on the mini-album Eve Future (oct 2001 -may 2002).

Lali Puna, the project of Munich-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Valerie Trebeljahr, crafted minimal and alienated form of synth-pop on Tridecoder (jun/jul 1999 - sep 1999).

Austrian electroacoustic trio Radian (1) vivisected glitch electronica, post-rock and digital processing with surgical precision on the instrumental tour de force TG11 (? 1999 - mar 2000).

These German projects made up a formidable generation of experimental musicians, worthy of their predecessors Can, Neu and Faust.

British post-rock, 1995-99

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Piano Magic, the project of guitarist Glen Johnson, offered the fragile electronic tapestry of Popular Mechanics (sum 1996 - nov 1997), performed on cheap keyboards and reminiscent of Young Marble Giants and Brian Eno.

Scotland's Mogwai (1) anchored the blissful, impressionistic ambience of Young Team (jul 1997- oct 1997) to atmospheric guitar sounds, ranging from celestial drones to hellish walls of distortions. Removing the impetus of that work, Come On Die Young (? 1998 - mar 1999) revisited the desolate soundscapes of "slo-core", music that wandered, drifted, diluted itself into myriad variations of its own theme. The slowly-unfolding ballads of The Rock Action (? 2000 - apr 2001) and the carefully orchestrated, organic, rational sonatas of Happy Songs For Happy People (? ? - jun 2003) were practical applications of that theory.

Other notable albums of the second half of the decade included: Precious Falling (? 1997/? 1998 - aug 1998) by Quickspace, the new project of Faith Healers' guitarist Tom Cullinan; the trilogy of concept albums begun with Caledonian Gothic (? ? - nov 1997) by Fiend, the brainchild of Mogwai's drummer Brendon O'Hare; Slow Motion World (? ? - aug 1998) by Snowpony, the supergroup of Stereolab's keyboardist Katharine Gifford, My Bloody Valentine's bassist Deborah Googe and Rollerskate Skinny's drummer Max Corradi; Hammock Style (feb 1998 - jul 1998) by Ganger; Little Scratches (apr/jul 1997 - jun 1998) by Rob Ellis' Spleen; Fried For Blue Material (? ? - apr 1998) by Davey Henderson's Nectarine #9, inspired by the Pop Group and Captain Beefheart; and Volume One (? ? - mar 2000) by Richard Warren's Echoboy.

Fridge was the post-rock project of English multi-instrumentalist Kieran Hebden that reached maturity with the evocative melodies of Eph (fall 1998 - jun 1999) and Happiness (? 2000 - sep 2001). His alter-ego Four Tet (2) better revealed the composer's ambitions, starting with the encyclopedic 36-minute rhythmic vortex of the single Thirtysix Twentyfive (1998) and the electronic ethnic-jazz fusion of Dialogue (oct 1997/sep 1998 - may 1999). Pause (spr/sum 2000 - oct 2001) and Rounds (? ? - mar 2003) repeatedly crossed over into "jazztronica" and digital beat-based folk music. Four Tet's "digital folk" became an abstract exercise in layering contrasting patterns over unassuming melodies and disappearing rhythms. His art of minimalist repetition and multi-layered arrangements led to the elegant dance music of There Is Love In You (? 2009 - jan 2010) and especially to the serene trance of New Energy (? ? - sep 2017).

Appliance conceived Manual (apr 1999 - sep 1999) and especially Imperial Metric (aug/dec 2000 - jun 2001) at the confluence of post-rock and shoegazing, a notion that would become more and more popular in the coming decade.

Post-rock primitivism 1995-97

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Chicago's U.S. Maple (2), formed by Shorty's guitarist Mark Shippy and vocalist Al Johnson, were among the "primitivists" of post-rock. The post-modernist blues of Long Hair In Three Stages (? 1995 - oct 1995) used a confused vocabulary of spastic jamming, acid singing and crooked geometry, inspired by Red Crayola and Captain Beefheart. US Maple's surgical strike on tradition achieved an immaculate purity on Talker (early 1999 - jun 1999) and Acre Thrills (fall 2000 - apr 2001). Both impeccable in their execution of the science of musical flaws and faults, they represented a genuine confession of love for what the band hated.

Seattle's Old Time Relijun (2) were possibly the greatest disciples of Captain Beefheart in the 1990s, devoted to organizing musical structures out of sheer chaos. The psychotic jazz-rock of Songbook Vol 1 (nov/dec 1996 - ? 1997) evoked a meeting of the Contortions and Albert Ayler, but the more experimental Uterus And Fire (? 1998 - apr 1999), with Phil Elverum of the Microphones on drums, was reminiscent of Jon Spencer's deformed blues except that the focus was on DeDionyso's vocal histrionics, while atonal guitars and childish drums created a divine mayhem. The leader's saxophone solos and a demented rhythm section graced Witchcraft Rebellion (fall 2000 - apr 2001).

Chicago's Joan Of Arc (2), featuring multi-instrumentalist and singer Tim Kinsella and keyboardist Jeremy Boyle, inhabited a niche of sub-folk music with the likes of Nick Drake and Smog, but they focused on the disturbing process of a neurotic soul in the making. A Portable Model Of (dec 1996/mar 1997 - jun 1997) shunned the edgier, harshest overtones of post-rock and reached out to Will Oldham's anti-folk. That format was perfected with the rambling and sparse ballads of How Memory Works (oct 1997/feb 1998 - may 1998), a cybernaut's journey through the extreme periphery of German avant-rock and electronic music. After a calm and subdued Live In Chicago 1999 (? ? - may 1999), Kinsella's ensemble crafted a frail music of scant and tentative emotions with the unstable and unfocused structures of The Gap (oct 1999/jun 2000 - oct 2000).

Colossamite (1) was the Gorge Trio augmented with the unholy growl of Dazzling Killmen's vocalist Nick Sakes. All Lingo's Clamor (oct 1996 - mar 1997) and Economy Of Motion (mar 1998 - oct 1998) unleashed brief but terrifying firestorms of dissonant guitars, chaotic drumming and beastly screams.

Oregon's Rollerball (1), that featured Mae Starr (vocals, keyboards, accordion), Amanda Wiles (sax) and Shane DeLeon (trumpet), indulged in Pop Group-inspired, spastic, psychedelic, progressive and free rock that peaked with Trail Of The Butter Yeti (? 2000/? 2001 - jun 2001).

Post-post-rock 1996-99

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Lowercase (1), San Francisco's guitar-drums duo of Imaad Wasif and Brian Girgus, staged unstable, suicidal psychodramas via the slow, lengthy dirges of All Destructive Urges... Seem So Perfect (oct 1995 - nov 1996) and especially Kill The Lights (nov 1996 - jul 1997), which basically reenacted over and over again a descent into a personal hell.

Chris Leo conducted the textural experiments of Van Pelt's Sultans Of Sentiment (? 1996 - may 1997) and Lapse's Heaven Ain't Happenin' (? ? - apr 2000).

I Am Spoonbender, the trio of Pansy Division's drummer Dustin Donaldson, Cub's guitarist Robynn Iwata and keyboardist Brian Jackson, mined the border between Brian Eno's retro-pop and Can's austere avant-rock on Sender/ Receiver (? 1997 - ? 1998).

Indiana's Tombstone Valentine (1), fronted by vocalist Richelle Toombs, renewed the art of space-rock with Hidden World (? 1995/? 1997 - jan 1998), an album which blended the surreal element of Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, the percussive element of 1970s' German avant-rock, and the exotic element of the Third Ear Band.

New York's Oneida (1) carved an odd niche for themselves with the convoluted psychedelic and post-rock freak-outs of A Place Called El Shaddai's (? ? - ? 1997), a mixture of Blue Cheer, Sonic Youth, and Can that blossomed on the sophisticated and harrowing Each One Teach One (? 2000/late 2001 - may 2002).

Fantomas, a supergroup formed by Faith No More's vocalist Mike Patton, Melvin's bassist Buzz Osbourne on guitar, Mr Bungle's bassist Trevor Dunn and Slayer's drummer Dave Lombardo, debuted with an explosive blend of heavy metal and abstract sound-painting on Fantomas (? ? - apr 1999). Their third album Delerium Cordia (? 2003 - oct 2003) was instead a 74-minute chamber concerto for rock band, vocalist and electronics that sculpted an ambience inspired by progressive-rock, glitch electronica, post-rock and dark metal.

The core of the New York-based Animal Collective (3) was guitarist Avey Tare (real name David Portner) and drummer Panda Bear (real name Noah Lennox). The extraterrestrial android vaudeville of Spirit They're Gone Spirit They've Vanished (may/sep 1999 - aug 2000), credited to the duo, evoked Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev in their most anarchic moments, establishing an aesthetic of tenderly dissonant post-psychedelic electronica that was (deliberately) chaotic and unfocused. After the more abstract Danse Manatee (jan/mar 2001 - jul 2001), credited to "Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist", Here Comes The Indian (? ? - jun 2003), the first album credited to the Animal Collective, was even more erratic and amoebic. The Animal Collective now resided firmly on the soundsculpting side of the musical universe. Rhythms and melodies had been subjected to a process of purification and distillation resulting in a complete loss of identity. The Animal Collective tempered its quirkiness on Sung Tongs (sep 2003 - jun 2004), although regained some of its wild edge on Strawberry Jam (jan 2007 - aug 2007). Meanwhile, Panda Bear (1) performed a spectacular deconstruction of pop and folk music on his solo album Person Pitch (? 2005/? 2006 - mar 2007) with multi-part vocal harmonies, cheesy bubblegum melodies and trance-inducing tribal rhythms, weaving singalongs that rode layers of humble arrangements according to an ancestral logic of tribal repetition and jovial self-parody.

Georgia's San Augustin (David Daniell and Andrew Burnes on guitar, Bryan Fielden on drums) specialized in introspective slow-motion low-volume free improvisation, documented on the live Amokhali ((mar 1999 - apr 2000).

The Music Tapes (1), the brainchild of Neutral Milk Hotel's multi-instrumentalist Julian Koster, conceived First Imaginary Symphony For Nomad (spr 1995/ ? ? - jul 1999) as a gigantic, mad collage in the vein of the Fugs' Virgin Forest with notable parts for singing saw and bowed banjo. Another cartoonish survey of a whole musical century, Music Tapes For Clouds & Tornadoes (? 2000/ ? 2008 - aug 2008), turned sound quality into a co-protagonist by recording all the songs on vintage equipment of yore.

Noise-rock's epitaph 1995-97

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In the mid-1990s noise-rock picked up steam again. The new generation was led by creative outfits that reinvented rock music by embedding twisted melodies into atonal structures and, sometimes, irregular rhythms. Frequently, their songs were aural puzzles soaked in the history of rock music. Occasionally, their method straddled the line between trance and dissonance. Significant albums in this genre to come out of New York included: Poem Rocket's Felix Culpa (mar 1994/aug 1995 - nov 1995), Lynnfield Pioneers' Emerge (? 1997 - oct 1997) , Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon (? 1996 - mar 1997) by Skeleton Key (1), In An Expression Of The Inexpressible (feb 1998 - sep 1998) by Blonde Redhead (1).

Firewater (2) was a noise super-group formed by Cop Shoot Cop's vocalist Tod Ashley, Jesus Lizard's guitarist Duane Denison, Motherhead Bug's pianist/trombonist Dave Ouimet, Soul Coughing's percussionist Yuval Gabay and Laughing Hyenas' drummer Jim Kimball. Ashley's tormented soul dominates Get Off The Cross... We Need The Wood For The Fire (? ? - oct 1996) and The Ponzi Scheme (win 1997 - mar 1998), wandering in the paleo-gothic purgatory inhabited by the likes of Tom Waits and Nick Cave.

In Britain, 50 Tons Of Black Terror's Gutter Erotica (nov 1996 - sep 1997) was an album of brutal, convoluted, harsh music in the tradition of Jesus Lizard.

Mood music, 1998-99

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Calexico (12), which was Giant Sand's rhythm section of bassist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino, coined one of the most distinctive and traditional styles of the era. The languid, introspective and touching mood of The Black Light (jul/dec 1997 - may 1998) relied on humble but eccentric orchestration and an hallucinated, oneiric take on mariachi music and Ennio Morricone's soundtracks. Austere but friendly, they sounded like the equivalent of the Penguin Cafè Orchestra for the Arizona desert. With Hot Rail (jul/dec 1997 - may 2000), Calexico opted for a more intimate form of expression, for a stylish, somber, bleak ballad that is often drenched in psychedelic reverbs and accented by jazz instruments. Feast Of Wire (? 2002 - feb 2003) was, instead, an album of film-noir gloom.

Black Heart Procession (11), a collaboration between Three Mile Pilot's singer Pall Jenkins and keyboardist Tobias Nathaniel, switched to melancholy, funereal music, sparsely arranged with analog keyboards, guitars, xylophone and trumpet. The skeletal lullabies of 1 (nov/dec 1997 - ? 1998) led to the dark and creepy 2 (nov/dec 1998 - may 1999), which basically coined a new form of existential ballad, one that leveraged and transcended the abused stereotypes of Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. 3 (dec 1998/apr 2000 - sep 2000) wrapped the naked agony of that album into sophisticated arrangements, that, enhanced with Matt Resovich's violin, led to the post-psychedelic trance-y ballads of The Spell (? 2005 - feb 2006).

Maquiladora (3), a trio from San Diego (vocalist Phil Beaumont, drummer Eric Nielsen, guitarist Bruce McKenzie), filled Lost Works Of Eunice Phelps (? ? - ? 1998) with lunatic ballads baked by the hot sun of the desert that ran the gamut from the drugged folly of the Holy Modal Rounders to the calm poetry of Leonard Cohen, from Syd Barrett's mad folk to the eerie stupor of Cowboy Junkies. White Sands (? ? - ? 2000) refined the idea by adding several keyboards and string instruments to their arsenal, a move that somehow highlighted the similarities with Calexico's hallucinated country-rock. Far from being only an intellectual exercise, Maquiladora packed an impressive amount of poetry in the brief vignettes of Ritual Of The Hearts (? ? - jun 2002).

Colorado's Czars (1) progressed from the low-key bittersweet laments of Before... But Longer (sep 1998 - aug 2000) to the atmospheric The Ugly People Vs The Beautiful People (? 2000/feb 2001 - oct 2001), enhanced with the stately voice of John Grant.

Georgia's Japancakes achieved an almost transcendental fusion of post-rock, alt-country and atmospheric instrumental rock on their third album Waking Hours (? ? - sep 2004).

Italy 1996-2001

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At the turn of the century, Italy's post-rock scene had become one of the most vibrant in the world.

Ossatura indulged in a mixture of abstract electronic soundscaping, free-jazz improvisation, concrete collage and progressive-rock on Dentro (feb 1997 - ? 1998).

The Dining Rooms (Stefano Ghittoni and Cesare Malfatti) ventured into trip-hop with a cinematic twist on Subterranean Modern Volume Uno (sum 1998 - mar 1999).

Yuppie Flu's Days Before The Day (? ? - apr 2003) offered charming folk vignettes arranged with analog electronic keyboards.

Maisie (Alberto Scotti and Cinzia La Fauci) penned the dissonant and cartoonish divertissement The Incredible Strange Choir Of Paracuwaii (? 1995/? 1997 - jun 1998) under the aegis of Captain Beefheart and Dada.

Quintorigo's postmodern chamber workout Rospo (? ? - ? 1999) was Italy's best attempt at classic-jazz-rock fusion since the heydays of progressive-rock.

Minimal duo My Cat Is An Alien (1) delivered a post-rock version of Tim Buckley's sublime dejection on the totally improvised three-part jam Landscapes Of An Electric City (dec 1998/may 1999 - ? 1999). The (improvised) music on the triple-CD The Cosmological Eye Trilogy (oct 2000/? 2003 - ? 2005) attained an even higher form of nirvana: astral and subliminal soundscapes sculpted with an arsenal of sound-producing objects at the transcendental border where acid-rock meets post-rock and free-jazz.

A Short Apnea (former Afterhours' guitarist Xabier Iriondo, guitarist Paolo Cantu and vocalist Fabio Magistrali) blurred the borders between post-rock, free-jazz and electronic avantgarde in the three jams of their second album, Illu Ogod Ellat Rhagedia (? 1999 - jan 2000).

Bron Y Aur played a devastating kind of improvised post-rock on Bron Y Aur (? ? - ? 2000).

Giardini di Miro` (1) assembled an intriguing combination of hypnotic instrumental textures, deconstructed melodies, dilated psychedelic improvisation, and melodramatic soft-loud glacial/vibrant dynamics on Rise And Fall Of Academic Drifting (jul/oct 2000 - ? 2001).

Notable was also Yo Yo Mundi's instrumental post-rock puzzle Sciopero (? ? - oct 2001).

Zu (1) revived the school of jazzcore from the perspective of the post-rock generation with the brutal, free-form instrumental music of Igneo (dec 2001 - mar 2002).

Jennifer Gentle (1), perhaps the premier psychedelic band of Italy, penned the surreal folk-pop of Funny Creatures Lane (? ? - ? 2002) for rock quartet, strings, accordion and sitar.

To The Ansaphone's To The Ansaphone (nov 2002 - ? 2003) harked back to the angst-filled no wave of the late 1970s (Pop Group, Contortions, DNA).

Larsen were among the most creative groups to try and bridge the aesthetics of post-rock and glitch electronica with the austere, brooding, hypnotic atmospheres of Rever (? 2001 - ? 22002) and Play (? 2003/? 2004 - jan 2005).

Canada 1998-2000

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The most important school of instrumental post-rock to emerge at the end of the decade actually came from Canada.

Godspeed You Black Emperor (3), a large ensemble from Montreal, revolutionized (mostly) instrumental rock with the three slow-building compositions of f#a# Infinity (may 1997 - aug 1997): they were not melodic fantasies (too little melodic emphasis), they were not jams (too calculated), and they were not symphonies (too low-key and sparse), but they were something in between. Emotions were hard to find inside the shapeless jelly, dark textures and sudden mood swings. The four extended tracks of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (feb 2000 - oct 2000) were more lively, but no less enigmatic, alternating baroque adagios for chamber strings, majestic psychedelic crescendos, martial frenzy, noise collages and, for the first time, tender melodies. Yanqui UXO (fall 2001 - nov 2002) was a collection of glacial, colorless holograms with no dramatic content, massive black holes that emitted dense, buzzing radiations.

Three members of Godspeed You Black Emperor (guitarist Efrim Menuck, violinist Sophie Trudeau and bassist Thierry Amar) contributed to the two lengthy multi-part suites of He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms (nov 1999 - mar 2000), credited to A Silver Mt Zion (1), that presented a more humane face of Godspeed's music, bending the techniques of the baroque adagios and allegros to fit the spleen (if not the aesthetic) of post-rock. Two Godspeed members (drummer Aidan Girt and violinist Sophie Trudeau) also contributed to Set Fire To Flames' Sings Reign Rebuilder (oct 1999/jan 2001 - oct 2001), a much more noise-experimental work.

Fly Pan Am (1), the project of Montreal's guitarist Roger Tellier, followed the example of Godspeed You Black Emperor for the lengthy and stately instrumental suites of Fly Pan Am (spr 1999 - oct 1999).

The Shalabi Effect (2), organized in Montreal by Sam Shalabi, employed vintage electronics, ethnic percussions, manipulated instruments and found sounds to produce the propulsive and trancey scores of Shalabi Effect (? 1998 - ? 1998). The same orchestra of ethnic, western and electronic instruments performed The Trial Of St Orange (? 2001 - feb 2002), wedding Third Ear Band, Amon Duul II and Taj Mahal Travellers; while Sam Shalabi's solo On Hashish (? ? - nov 2001) was a more pretentious experiment with field recordings, free improvisation, droning and glitches. When he formed the orchestra Land of Kush (1), Shalabi invented his own post-Brechtian musical theater at the intersection of post-rock, jazz and Middle-eastern pop, notably on Monogamy (fall 2009/win 2010 - jun 2010).

Toronto's instrumental combo Do Make Say Think imbued Do Make Say Think (sep 1996/jul 1997 - sep 1998) and Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead (dec 1998/aug 1999 - mar 2000). with irregular flows of electronic, electric and acoustic sounds, yielding a fragile hybrid of free jazz, psychedelic dub, Canterbury-style spleen and progressive-rock. The sprawling Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn (jan/may 2003 - oct 2003), structured as a set of three-movement suites, achieved a quiet grandeur.

Scandinavian alienation 1999-2000

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Towards the end of the decade the marriage of the old post-rock aesthetic and the new digital aesthetic led to intriguing contrasts in the northern lands.

Norwegian duo Alog (1) composed Red Shift Swing (? ? - aug 1999), a set of chamber lieder for acoustic ensemble, homemade instruments, found sounds and electronics.

Iceland's Mum (2) offered a delicate mixture of glitch electronica, chamber instruments and atmospheric vocals on Yesterday Was Dramatic Today Is Ok (? ? - dec 1999) and Finally We Are No One (? ? - may 2002) applied the idea to a vast spectrum of music. The first album was a brainy disquisition. The second one was the object of that disquisition.

Finland's prolific Circle (1), a mostly instrumental combo fronted by bassist, vocalist and keyboardist Jussi Lehtisalo, adopted a stance that wed progressive-rock, metal riffs, repetitive patterns a` la Steve Reich's minimalist music, "motorik" rhythms a` la Neu, and mystical trance on Andexelt (jul 1998 - ? 1999) and Guillotine (jul 2003 - ? 2003), while Miljard (feb/aug 2006 - oct 2006) removed the "metal" element altogether indulging in quasi new-age atmospheres. Suites such as Puutiikeri, off Tulikoira (jun 2005 - ? 2005), and Steel Torment Warrior, off Tyrant (? ? - jul 2006), were more atmospheric than violent.

Norway's Salvatore, played instrumental hypnotic droning propulsive abstract rock a` la Circle on Jugend - A New Hedonism (mar 2000 - ? 2000).

Ayreon (1), the project of Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen, specialized in symphonic prog-rock operas that fused science fiction and medieval mythology, a saga started on The Final Experiment (? 1994/? 1995 - ? 1995) and continued on monolithic 100-minute double-disc tours de force like Into The Electric Castle (? ? - sep 1998) and Universal Migrator (? ? - jul 2000), performed by large groups of vocalists and instrumentalists. Lucassen's hybrid of folk, metal and electronic sounds was a compendium of musical ideas inherited from the Who, Jethro Tull, Alan Parsons, Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd and Dream Theater.

Progressive music 1995-99

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The Babel of music that did not abide by the linear conventions of pop music proliferated more than ever.

New York boasted talented and innovative combos that descended from the prog-rock bands of the 1980s. The veterans who ran Run On (11), drummer Rick Brown and bassist Sue Garner of Fish & Roses, plus guitarist Alan Licht of Love Child, and violin player Katie Gentile, showed how prog-rock could yield engaging songs and not only difficult constructs. Start Packing (? ? - feb 1996) was a festival of instrumental lunacy, brainy hypnosis, eccentric arrangements, and lightweight cacophony that mostly stuck to the format of the pop song. The oneiric folk-rock of No Way (oct 1996 - feb 1997), inconspicuously raised on acid-rock and Indian music, homaged the classics (Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Neil Young) while steering away from classic rock. Nothing in these albums was obvious. Every note was where it was because "that" was not where it should have been, if one were a traditional composer. Brown and Garner's vision of music was a place where we should (obviously) all have been but have never even dreamed of being. Still (? ? - dec 1999), credited to Garner and Brown, was, de facto, a late addition to the Run On canon.

One of the most eccentric musicians of his time, Dave Soldier (the violinist of the renowned Soldier String Quartet), organized the Thai Elephant Orchestra (jan 2000 - ? 2000), an ensemble of elephants playing large custom-made instruments and performing their own improvisations and some compositions by Soldier and others. He also organized the Aliens Took My Mom (jul 1999 - ? 2001), a vocal ensemble of schoolchildren performing free improvisation.

New York's Escapade (1) performed all-instrumental music straddling the line between kraut-rock, hyper-psychedelia and progressive-rock. The three lengthy acid jams of Searching For The Elusive Rainbow (may/jul 1996 - jan 1997) and the two epic-length excursions of Inner Translucence (aug 1996/jan 1997 - apr 1997) led to Citrus Cloud Cover (dec 1996/feb 1998 - ? 1998), containing the 30-minute The Sunlight, a tour de force within the tour de force, and the best formulation of their conflagration of free-jazz and avantgarde electronic music.

New York's Rasputina (1) were a trio of female cellists who played minor-key waltzes, sounding like the Penguin Cafè Orchestra fronted by Nico on Thanks For The Ether (? ? - aug 1996).

New York's quartet Gutbucket (bassist Eric Rockwin, saxophonist Ken Thompson, guitarist Ty Citerman, drummer Paul Chuffo) played music of a frenzied and caustic wit straddling the border between punk-rock and progressive-rock on InsomniacsDream (nov 2000 - nov 2001),

An erudite form of instrumental progressive-rock was coined in Boston by Cerberus Shoal (3). The neoclassical suites of And Farewell To Hightide (jul 1996 - sep 1996) and Elements Of Structure/Permanence (nov 1997 - ? 1998), particularly Permanence, sounded like Grateful Dead's Dark Star performed by a chamber ensemble. Deeper jazz and world-music undercurrents destabilized the two tours de force of Homb (win/spr 1998 - nov 1999), while the pieces on the transitional Crash My Moon Yacht (spr/fall 1999 - jul 2000) sounded like collages. Mr. Boy Dog (fall 1999/spr 2001 - mar 2002), both irreverently amusing and wildly creative in the tradition of Frank Zappa, offered sonic charades that mixed Albert Ayler, Nino Rota, Sonic Youth and Pink Floyd while deconstructing world-music, funk and free-jazz. The dense orchestration and inventive dynamics capitalized on three decades of progressive-rock.

Bright's Bright (fall 1995/win 1996 - aug 1996) in Boston bridged Cul De Sac and shoegazing.

The Amoebic Ensemble was a small chamber ensemble led by accordionist Alec Redfearn in Rhode Island that straddled the border between progressive-rock and cartoon music on Limbic Rage (aug 1994/mar 1995 - ? 1995). The Eyesores were a large chamber ensemble formed by Redfearn that evolved from the cabaret-influenced style of May You Dine On Weeds Made Bitter By The Piss Of Drunkards (? ? - ? 1999) to a more abstract, avantgarde, progressive style, peaking with the 23-minute fantasia Gutterhelmet Ascending, off The Smother Party (? ? - may 2006).

Rhode Island's Space Needle (2), featuring keyboardist Jud Ehrbar, were responsible for the titanic nonsense of Voyager (? 1995 - feb 1996), a deliberately amateurish work pushing the boundaries of progressive, psychedelic and cosmic music with mystical overtones. The no less cryptic hodgepodge of The Moray Eels Eat The Space Needle (? 1996 - jan 1997) indulged in instrumental prog-rock jamming, ambient ballads and shoegazing ecstasy.

Bent Leg Fatima (1) from Philadelphia played a more ethereal version of Soft Machine's progressive-rock on Bent Leg Fatima (? 1998 - ? ?). When they reformed under the new name Need New Body, their UFO (? 2002 - sep 2003) opted for a fragmented and demented format.

Florida's Big Swifty (1) crafted the austere compositions of Akroasis (sum 1996 - ? 11997) around drones a` la LaMonte Young, minimalist repetition a` la Terry Riley and microtonal techniques.

Also in Florida, Meringue mixed the verve and imagination of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and Gong on the monumental Music From The Mint Green Nest (? 1996 - ? 1997); while Obliterati's Havy Baubaus Inflience (? ? - may 1998) sounded like a meeting of the Art Bears and the Contortions.

Washington's El Guapo (1) added manic doses of electronics to its stew of Soft Machine, Contortions, Pop Group and the Fall on their third album Super/System (? ? - apr 2002).

Michigan's Larval, an open ensemble formed by Bill Brovold (a veteran of Rhys Chatam's groups), played progressive-rock tainted with avantgarde techniques on Larval (? 1996 - ? 1997), that featured a rock band, and on Larval 2 (early 1998 - oct 1998), a free-form freak-out that expanded the rock band to classical and jazz instruments.

Aloha (1), from Cleveland (Ohio), merged progressive rock, free jazz, minimalism and post-rock in the intricate pieces of That's Your Fire (jan 2000 - may 2000).

Secret Chiefs 3 (1), an instrumental offshoot of Mr Bungle led by Trey Spruance, mixed exotic folk, circus music, Ennio Morricone-esque spleen and dance beats on First Grand Constitution And Bylaws (? 1996 - ? 1998) and Second Grand Constitution And Bylaws (? ? - apr ).

Ohio's Witch Hazel (1), the project of multi-instrumentalist Kevin Coral, indulged in a poppy and baroque form of progressive-rock on Landlocked (? ? - sep 1995).

Inspired by Japanese noise-core, Chicago's TV Pow, a trio of electronic musicians (including Brent Gutzeit), compiled albums of atonal and chaotic electronic music such as Away Team (mar/may 1997 - ? 1998) and Television Power Electric (oct 1998 - ? 1999).

The Progressive West-Coast

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In San Francisco, the Tin Hat Trio (1) evoked the Penguin Cafè Orchestra and the Lounge Lizards on Memory Is An Elephant (? 1997 - ? 1999) with a mixture of tango, jazz, folk, avantgarde and world-music. Helium (? ? - ? 2000) was its cerebral counterpart, a kaleidoscope of quasi-dissonant jamming, pseudo-Balkan frenzy and atonal lounge melodies.

Spaceship Eyes, the new project by Melting Euphoria's keyboardist Don Falcone, pushed progressive-rock towards a sort of acid electronic ethnic ambient music on Kamarupa (nov 1995/dec 1996 - sep 1997).

San Francisco's Species Being (1) penned the 11-movement suite Yonilicious (feb/dec 1997 - jul 1998), an adventurous sonic odyssey through the musical genres.

Idiot Flesh were a Dada-inspired rock cabaret act and a colorful commune of dancers and noise-makers in San Francisco. Their shows, performed in outrageous costumes, would mix puppets, psychedelic lights, pyrotechnics, visuals and theatre. Their albums, from Tales Of Instant Knowledge And Sure Death (? 1989/? 1990 - ? 1992), featuring guitarist Gene Jun, bassist Dan Rathbun, drummer Chuck Squier, keyboardist Daniel Roth and multi-instrumentalist Nils Frykdahl, to Fancy (? ? - nov 1997), continued the tradition of eccentrics such as the Residents and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282.

Estradasphere, a Bay Area-based quintet (with saxophone and violin) that participated in the community of Mr Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3, concocted a frenzied Frank Zappa-esque carnival of styles (ambient, jazz, metal, country and classical music) on It's Understood (sum 1999 - ? 2000), notably the 20-minute Hunger Strike.

The Climax Golden Twins, the Seattle-based duo of Rob Millis and Jeffery Taylor, crafted surreal lo-fi collages of field recordings, electronic noise and sampled voices organized as madcap free-form pseudo-psychedelic jams on albums such as Imperial Household Orchestra (? ? - sep 1996), Locations (? ? - ? 1998) and Session 9 (? ? - ? 2001).

A progressive world, 1996-99

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Symphonic rock was pursued in England by Guapo (1). After toying with samplers and electronics on Hirohito (jun 1998 - oct 1998), they fell under the influence of the Ruins and crafted Great Sage, Equal Of Heaven  (? 2000 - sep 2001), including the 16-minute epic El Topo. A more comprehensive summation of their art was the five-part suite Five Suns (jul 2002/apr 2003 - jan 2004).

In France, Volapuk (1) continued the neoclassical school of Art Zoyd and Univers Zero with albums such as Slang! (? ? - sep 1997). Tear Of A Doll, featuring guitarist Francois L'Homer, fused progressive-rock, punk-rock, jazz, exotica and noise on Tear Of A Doll (? 1996 - ? 1997). Later Francois L'Homer relocated to Burma and started Naing Naing, a project devoted to "music without instruments", as demonstrated on Toothbrush Fever (? 2000/? 2004  - oct 2004) for natural sounds, computer and studio mixer.

The slow, thick and majestic compositions of Ulan Bator (2), a French ensemble led by guitarist Amaury Cambuzat, linked post-rock with French progressive-rock, especially on Vegetale (jul 1997 - oct 1997) and Ego: Echo (aug 1999 - ? 2000).

Canterbury's melodic jazz-rock survived in the music of the Forgas Band Phenomena (1), founded by veteran French composer and drummer Patrick Forgas. They debuted with the two lengthy suites of Roue Libre (mar 1997 - ? 1997) for a sextet with saxophone, vibraphone and keyboards. The 34-minute Coup De Theatre appeared on Soleil 12 (mar 2005 - sep 2005) and a "short" excerpt of Double-Sens appeared on L'Axe Du Fou (sum 2008 - jan 2009).

Aavikko, the project of Finnish drummer Tomi Leppanen, penned the frenzied electronic instrumentals of Derek! (? 1996 - ? 1997), full of syncopated beats, old-fashioned analog keyboards, lounge jazz atmospheres, garage-surf rave-ups, and catchy melodies. The way the whole was sequenced and layered evoked alien noir soundtracks.

Norwegian horns-based combo Jaga Jazzist (1), a collective of multi-instrumentalists founded by Lars Horntveth and including Jorgen Munkeby, straddled the border between the Canterbury (melodic jazz-rock) sound of Soft Machine and the Chicago (brainy post-rock) sound of Tortoise on A Livingroom Hush (spr 2000 - ? 2001). The electronic and "orchestral" The Stix (sum 2001/spr 2002 - aug 2002) veered towards atmospheric jazztronica for the masses.

Norwegian improvisers Supersilent (3), featuring Motorpsycho's keyboardist Helge "Deathprod" Sten, set a terrifying standard of violent and cacophonous jazz-rock on their triple-CD 1-3 (sum 1997 - jan 1998), an orgy of dissonant instruments, electronic noise and tribal drums, somewhere between free jazz and Japanese noise-core. All the extremes were painstakingly explored on the wildly improvised 5 (sep/nov 2000 - may 2001), while 6 (dec 2001 - jan 2003), instead, achieved an otherworldly balance of moods and sounds in six compositions (not only improvisations) of subtle counterpoint.

Koenjihyakkei, the Magma-inspired side-project of Ruins' mastermind Tatsuya Yoshida that debuted with Hundred Sights Of Koenji (apr/may 1994 - ? 1994), eventually achieved a baroque complexity on Angherr Shisspa (spr 2005 - ? 2005).

Vajra's dummer Toshiaki Ishizuka constructed ambient music for an "orchestra" of tonal percussion instruments on In The Night (? ? - ? 1999) and Drum Drama (? ? - jul 2006).

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