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Karen Cooper Complex - Shinjuku Birdwalk (1981)

KAREN COOPER COMPLEX were a remarkably short-lived experimental / improvised avantgarde progressive rock outfit around early 1980. Although they were based upon a fundamental rock / free jazz band (Big Napter) and an artistic legend blended with theatrical and musical representations (Titfield Thunderbolt), Karen COOPER, not only a female singer but an integral, impulsive instrument, could break their basic style away completely. Sometimes cynical and inorganic, sometimes funky and punk-y, and sometimes funny and heartwarming ... Karen can alter her various kinds of appearances frequently and appropriately, and the other instrumentalists can follow her potential, I always feel. It's said that basically almost all of their songs should be improvised on stage or in studio, and amazingly, are obviously refined sharply, even though loosely produced (sometimes a violently scattered structure can be exerted between a part and another, but the whole tune construction can be surprisingly united). Without any suspicion they all were much skilled and talented musicians, but let me say, Karen's bizarre personality and priority over the others might create their extraordinary motivation - related to their refinement. However, sad to say, such an aggressively oppositional music style could not be accepted in 1981. It's very natural. They can be suitable to be called as a progressive rock outfit currently. ---  DamoXt7942

- Karen Cooper / voices
- Frank Daniel / guitar
- Bill Altice / guitar
- Burt Blackburn / bass
- Les Smith / guitar
- Bo Jacob / drums, percussion
- Steve Bernard / bass
- Wm. Burke / electronics

The only album of NY avant rock band. It's quite difficult to qualify the musical genre - minimalistic mix of beatniks atmosphere, free jazz techniques (without being jazz at all!) and Zappa-like songs. Female vocal isn't wordless, but lyrics are too loose and freaky to be counted as real lyrics. Main musical component are scratching guitars, but again, more on a manner of punky Nels Cline. Music is free and often primitive. Some touches of vintage NY new wave could be found, but possibly under the children drum-like rhythm sound in combination with distorted guitars and primitive electronic effects there are more "no wave" aesthetics. This recording is more strange and interesting, than pleasant. Not the release for casual listener may be, but good find for searching on interesting sound on the avant vaults. --- snobb



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