The Jester. What is it about this hapless, bumbling, socially maladroit buffoon that inspires progsters so? And if he's supposed to be a clown, why is he always crying? I for one am sick and tired of the self-pitying affectations of this insufferable pointy-booted pansy and I intend to expose him for the cunning opportunistic bastard that he historically was.
While his friends and relations were groveling in the dirt in search of slimy invertebrates to place on their family dinner tables, this crafty clown of exploitative cunning was often eating, drinking, and dressing like noblemen, just because his physical and/or mental deformities provided them with amusement. So what if he was a hideous looking creature with spindly bow-legs, a lice-infested scalp, a rotting nose that threatened to fall into his bark maggot bouillabaisse, and a brain that was capable of forgetting that feces comes from a bowel and not a bowl? Who wouldn't suffer that kind of fate in exchange for 3 solid squares a day?
And that isn't even the worst of it. Did you know that many jesters were imposters? This is where the opportunism comes in. Many jesters were normal people who happened to be good at acting dumb. They were normal peasants who should have been eating swill and paying taxes like the rest of us, and having various insundry limbs cut off for doing otherwise. Instead they occupied the courts of kings. Many even had carte blanche to openly mock their masters since they were assumed to be too stupid to have any true intellectual significance (though they were prone to being drawn and quartered if their timing was less than pleasing).
Well I've got something for your jester's tear and it ain't no script and it ain't no tissue. It's called a fist and it's gonna stuff that tear back in his eye where it belongs! It's high time proggers concentrated on a more deserving character for their treatments, and I submit we start with the "bully". The bully is a tough guy, like Progressive Rock is tough guy music. Progressive Rock is tired of bending over and taking it up the jaxie because we're represented by this pathetic petulant pussy, so watch out: From here on in, the bully will be the new poster child for prog and he's gonna kick your jester's ass!
For those who juggle with one ball.
<>Alphataurus was an Italian band named after the Alpha Taurus diamond
faceting machine, perhaps the finest faceting machine in its price range.
Its combination of ease of use, durability, and features like a precision
transfer block, a quick release mast height adjustment, and a 96 index gear
make it virtually untouchable in its class, and it will make those of you
who are familiar with the old Imperial faceting machine feel right at home.
A great inspiration for a great band! [I've actually heard some idiot
suggest that the name of the band might be a reference to Aldebaran, the
glowing eye of Taurus the bull, which is the alpha star in the taurus
constellation, and the 13th brightest star in the sky. LOL!
"Ange were undeniably a product of their culture, and were certainly influenced in many ways by the political situation in France in the late sixties. They made a distinctly French music - poignant, caustic, and often satirical - that was a huge influence to many bands including Atoll, Mona Lisa, Memoriance, Grime, Orion and others. Their poetic song style remains the forerunner for this type of music, certainly one that can seem quite alien to the mainstream influenced English-only ear. [They] released a total of six French language studio albums, two double live albums, and a compilation in the 1970s."
<>Armed only with funny French caps, runny Camembert cheese, a daily
baguette fund, and a 1965 Citroen 2CV, these French farceurs took the
country by storm (well, at least that's what the weatherman predicted. It was actually partly cloudy and fair with a northeasterly
breeze and a 50% chance of rain on the
northwestern coast). They produced "a string of essential albums, several of
them of classic status". Mike McLatchey gives les garcons de la prog
francaise a thorough once-over at:
(Originally published in Exposé #5, p. 6-9, Edited for Gnosis 2/18/01)
<>Area: International POPular Group<>
<>For those who missed this the first time around in Exposé issue 7, here it is again in its completed completeness, the completely comprehensive comprisement non compare of Italy's most celebrated graduates of L'Università d'Italia Scuola di Jesting.
1973 was a fertile time for music and musicians. There were many minds questioning the so-called conventions of music and the music industry. The time was ripe for experimentation and the combining of disparate sounds and styles. However, in the early 70's in Italy, artists did not automatically consign themselves to obscurity by doing so. Area was born of a strong political commitment, largely due to the polarized, fragmented political climate in Italy. Their political message was not hidden in comfortable and familiar pop-song structures; instead they challenged the listener with music as unsettling and difficult as their radical social ideas. Though excerpts of Area albums (and in some cases, entire albums) could be labeled as harsh and dissonant, the music was never mechanical nor was it cold. The warmth and charm that many of the Italian groups of that time period displayed was prevalent in Area's studio and live albums.
Formed in 1972, the original lineup consisted of Demetrio Stratos (vocals and organ), Patrizio Fariselli (keyboards and piano), Paolo Tofani (guitars), Victor Busnello (sax), Yan Patrick Djivas (bass) and Guilio Capiozzo (drums and percussion). Subtitled International POPular group (notice the emphasis on pop!), what one hears on their recordings goes far beyond the mercantilism that popular music was at that time and still remains. Although they combined elements of jazz, rock, avant-garde, Middle-Eastern folk musics and modern classical, Area is mostly known as an experimental jazz-rock outfit. Perhaps this label is most fitting (if we must label the band), as the contributions of Busnello, Fariselli and Capiozzo are distinctively jazz-influenced, and the compositions were often improvisational.
Arbeit Macht Frei, their debut, was released in 1973. The title is German and reads "Work will make you free," which had been written in Nazi concentration camps. The opening track, "Luglio, Agosto, Settembre" is representative of what Area was to become. It begins with spoken Arabic, which segues into singing (more like vocal-chord stretching) by Stratos. The song structure soon kicks in with a spiraling riff, the style of which is soon to become a trademark of the band. After a few bars it may seem that the typical verse-verse-chorus construct is going to be used, but instead there is no chorus. Where one would expect a solo, a chaotic mass of sound from sax, keyboards and guitar slowly builds into free-jazz, with Stratos' yodels and howls intertwined between the instruments. Then the riff begins again, and we have a reprise.
While there is no doubt that Area had a penchant for doing the unexpected, their most surprising element has to be the vocals of the Egyptian-born Greek, Demetrio Stratos. He elevated rock singing to new heights with his vocal gymnastics. With a range reputedly close to 7000 Hz (the theoretical limit of the human voice), he could not only hold notes for long periods of time, but he would modulate them vibrato-like, or leap and dive from low to high and back again, with pinpoint accuracy. His voice sounded out the lyrics as much as sung them, as it dropped to conspiratorial whispers, then sprung to shouts and laughs. And yes, he could sing. Without Stratos, Area still would have been a formidable outfit. Not many bands have ever been as much of a total package. Every member pulled their weight; even the rhythm section didn't fall back on repetitive cliches. While prodigiously talented, it was Stratos' sense of experimentation (as later was evident on his solo and collaborative works), his desire to go beyond the established norms of jazz and rock, that pushed Area over the edge into legendary status, and garnered them praise from luminaries such as John Cage.
<>Will Mike Borella fall back on repetitive cliches to finish his
vibrato-like conspiratorial gymnastics or will his formidable desire to go
beyond the established unexpected modulate him into luminary garnish from
the prodigious John Cage? Follow this accurate pinpoint to find out:
<>Manuel Gottsching/Ash Ra Tempel<>
"Germany. 1971. Underground. Those three terms evoke images of the Berlin Wall, intensity, angst, freedom. There was an exciting music culture happening all through Germany at this time with bands like Tangerine Dream, Amon Duul, Guru Guru and Embryo. All of them were turning their backs on the more well known commercialized style of their American and British counterparts to create something new - something uniquely German. And no band helped define this milieu in recorded music more than Ash Ra Tempel."
<>Let's face it folks: One look at Tom Hayes' picture at the Gnosis site
oughta give a fair indication that this guy knows what he's talking about
when it comes to music that was highly inspired by mass quantities of
psychedelic drugs . . .
Manuel Gottsching / Ash Ra Tempel / Ashra
"Truly, this is one of the finest albums of the label [Mellow Records], making it all the more a shame that the group disbanded soon after making it . . . one of the best Italian symphonic rock album of the 90's . . . one hopes that such a fantastic release will find its way into more CD players; this one is still in print and available, so find it while you can." <>JR says, "here, here!"
<>A must hear, present day band from San Francisco. The name apparently comes from the middle layer of a sheet of corrugated cardboard: the zigzagging azigza. Symbolically, this oft forgotten but crucial piece of thin paper fiber represents the push-pull inner struggle within us all that ultimately provides us with the strength to hold our lives together in compact, flattened out, linear sheets with 1001 uses. The band uses a variety of ethnic and western instruments and electronics, all made entirely out of cardboard!
Mike McLatchey interviewed these authors of one of the hottest discs of 2000 for Exposé issue 21. Here is an excerpt:
"OK, right off the bat, I am going to throw what for you all must be a difficult question. How would you describe this melting pot of influences you have absorbed that makes all seven members Azigza?
Kevin Evans (guitar/composition): Our music developed from both a conscious vision as well as an organic merging of the ideas of each member, all of whom came from widely varied backgrounds and influences. The result is a very dynamic collaborative process.
My original concept for the band was to create a unique form of music which reflects the richness, complexity, depth and contradiction of it all. A music which explores both consonance and dissonance, embraces music from many places and times, is primitive but modern, virtuoso yet always on the edge of derailing, and ultimately through this concoction is transcendent music. Into the mystery.
I had a specific instrumentation in mind in order to achieve this and in 1995 I began collaborating with Aryeh Frankfurter who has been key to realizing this original vision. He immediately had a feeling for what I was trying to do and brought his own diverse musical background to the mix. His experience in Baltic and Celtic music immediately began to influence our direction. So the lineup developed and the process developed. Each member brought their unique influences to the picture and the result is this thing called Azigza.
Aryeh Frankfurter (electric violin/multi-instrumentalist): The thing about Azigza is that while each member may have come into an already existing situation with perhaps a repertoire of already existing compositions (mostly originated by Kevin), each has been responsible for writing their own parts, and of course invited to contribute their own ideas and make changes.
Kevin and I had always envisioned vocals but it was really hard to find a singer who could both cover the rock elements and push over the wall of sound element of the music, and yet also be sensitive and sophisticated, enough to hit the right notes and scales - not just that bluesy, rock-n-roll stuff. Cy is one of those rare vocalists who could handle both aspects of our music, and so she helped fulfill the promise of the music. She wrote her own lyrics and although there were some melodic ideas already there, she also wrote her own melodic lines. The point is that she uniquely pushed the music in a direction that was not precisely predetermined by Kevin or I.
Pierce has been with the band the longest after Kevin and I and certainly has been key in defining the overall sound with his unique style. He is a mature player who prefers to "keep it simple" in that sophisticated sort of way - though he can be technically virtuoso when he needs/wants. He plays fretless bass which adds an appropriate texture to the Azigza sound. His own background includes a stint of German Punk rock but he also plays sitar, an instrument which will appear on our next album.
Kevin and I always envisioned an unusual, nontraditional, primal hand percussion for the rhythm section. For a long time we did not even consider trap set, although when Steph (Junca) joined we were convinced that trap could work and would be essential - so long as it was balanced by extensive hand percussion. We actually were not looking for tablas, but Raja - a student of Zakir Hussein - joined and he brought to us that timbre - again adding to the overall Azigza sound something that we were not necessarily looking for at the outset, but upon reflection has been a happy and serendipitous collaboration.
I am sorry to say that we have recently lost our djembe/dumbek player Peter Rivera who moved on to other things. Peter brought to us our central African/Middle eastern drum sound and he is a very talented, energetic and aggressive player and certainly helped to define our sound. We are now working with a new hand percussionist who is working out great and we are confident that he will fill Peter's place marvelously - and, of course, will eventually change the music with his own contributions and style.
I just wanted to bring out the point that it is impossible to describe Azigza's melting pot of influences without appreciating each individual member's contribution. Perhaps it can be said that the basic ideas and overarching musical visions are set forth by this or that member, but each member fulfills the vision given their own styles and background. If I were to sum up Azigza's melting pot sound I would say that it is this: Strange musical vision fulfilled in an organic, collaborative, serendipitous process. If you hear it in the music, you are probably tracking the mind set of one of the members, but not necessarily all of them."
<>Read the entire Azigza interview in Exposé issue 21, available at only the finest
automobile lube centers and in the Pakistani produce section of your neighborhood grocery store.
Or visit the web site at
"An unlikely name for a collective of progressive musicians from Louisville, Kentucky, French TV is essentially bassist/bandleader Mike Sary, and whoever he happens to be working with at any given point in time. From one album to the next, the high turnover rate in the lineup may, at first lead one to believe that French TV is more of a solo project - yet considering the time elapsed between recording of the band's four releases (nearly eight years in some cases), these are only snapshots of what has been a gradual change."
<>With his trademark straw hat, 3 day stubble, and a chewin' terbacky-stained
straw dangling from his mouth, Appalachian inbred Mike "Hambone" Sary is hardly the archetypical
prog virtuoso. So the crowd eyes with skepticism the fly-swatting, shirtless figure taking the
stage in his ragged bib overalls, caked with enough natural resources to bog down a 6.5
horsepower rototiller. Doubts are quickly cast aside when he loops a moonshine jug in each
finger and blows 1/128th notes as he does the Cotton Eyed Joe, stomping a bare foot firmly on
the stage and hand-slapping his knee on the backbeat. Read Peter Thelen's entire history
(compiled from Exposé issues 9 and 19) of this longtime American prog band
from its beginnings in the early eighties to 1999's The Violence of
Amateurs, "FTV's best studio effort to date".
<>Henry Cow is perhaps best known as the progenitor of their own subgenre of prog, coined with its own name at a 1978 London music festival and known abbreviatedly as RIO. It would be disingenuous however, to ignore the not-so-insignificant nods to Montovani and Welk in Henry Cow's lushly orchestrated brand of aurally transparent background music, ubiquitous in hospital corridors, elevator lobbies, and in the waiting rooms and rest rooms of consolidated rubber plants throughout Central America. The edge-free romance of their spirited waltzes, the smooth-as-polished-marble curtains of strings with saccharine-sweet harmonies, a public image with the wholesome goodness of fresh milk straight from Henry the Holstein's teat; all these are signatures of The Cow's Richly Indulgent Orchestra rock music.
"Hard to imagine now, but at one time iQ was a boon for the prog-starved fan in the early 1980s . . . It was during this period that I personally became involved with the progressive rock scene. I remember a review of Twelfth Night showing up in the metal magazine Kerrang claiming "Bring out the mini-moogs boys, the progressives are back!" . . . Of all of the bands from that era, iQ was quite possibly the most accomplished."
<>Like so many of their German counterparts of the day, Tangerine Dream was born of a hippy commune. Some of these communes were intensely political, some were intensely artistic, while still others lay somewhere in between. In Tangerine Dream's case, it was Das Commune von Jesters that bore this exotic musical fruit. These silly sausages of Deutschland would entertain throngs of 'Jestival' goers with their slapstick pantomime while a backdrop of electronically induced sound effects would punctuate the proceedings. One fateful day a roadie forgot their costumes and the group was forced to do a sound-only show. So with an inflated air self-importance, they played down their noses with an affectation that can only come from an artist who knows he's got to be the only one who 'gets it'. What was intended, however, to be an off the cuff farcical spoof of the stuffy avant-garde arts community, was assumed by the crowd to be a divine expression high art. Alan "The Jousting Jester" Mallery lends a fine overview of their entire career.
"Tammikuinen Tammela, the debut album by the Finnish band Uzva, is quite a revelation . . . a very promising band that delivered an excellent debut. Recommended!"
<>Christian Vander / Offering / Welcome<>
<>Christian Vander must certainly have one of the most ambitious minds in innovative music. Rather than limit himself to a concept album, he decided to create a concept band, and thus was born the musical adventure of Magma: Fearful of civilization's direction on earth, a group of intrepid earthlings set out to colonize a utopian paradise where they would live in spiritual peace and harmony with their brothers and sisters. Indeed, Copakobaia was a place where they would celebrate a samba carnival all year long without the fear of intrusions by the government or by the pigs. Lola never danced so free! Vander's solo career continued where Magma left off, flirting with Bosso Nova on To Love, and Lambada on the Offering discs.
Dan Casey was hospitalized for exhaustion for 7 days after writing this exhaustive Vanderian study for Exposé issue 8.
Christian Vander / Offering / Welcome
Is that a real jester's hat or is that a Sears jester's hat? Are those children laughing with you or at you? Do you *really* like to juggle or do you just like jugs? This section is for the two-balled jester.
"Their sound is full of power and grandeur, very symphonic, with affected vocals, shifting moods, and almost schizophrenic dynamic changes."
Read about this great band! Read how they " . . . evolved into one of the finest instrumental progressive space rock acts around"! Read how the one album that's been reissued on CD is the one that sucks!
<>Baba Jam Band<>
" . . . it amazes me how little fuss was made over such an amazing CD."
Baba Jam Band
"Fans of Soft Machine, Crimson, National Health, and Henry Cow will most certainly enjoy this one."
<>Buon Vecchio Charlie<>
VERY early Italian prog from 1971 . . . and a good one too!
Buon Vecchio Charlie
A construction equipment company that also dabbled in experimental jazz-rock.
<>Lulu Cortes y Ze Ramalho<>
Tom Hayes, our resident punching bag, will piss you off again as he describes yet another essential masterpiece that is entirely unavailable to the rest of the known world:
Lula Cortes e Ze Ramalho
There's a picture of a jester on the cover!!! Must be a neo-prog classic!!!
"In all, this is an excellent disc that defines the word 'progressive'
in the nineties and beyond. My highest recommendation." Peter Thelen from Expose issue 14.
Struggling with the internal dilemma of adapting your behavior to be
acceptable to your tribe but still get what you want? Perhaps your answer
lies with Gestalt!
"a refreshing mix of ethnic/world music and European folk . . . [with] a fresh, modern sound without sounding over-produced or plastic."
"a beautiful album which is divided into sparse, slightly otherworldly passages and fiery RIO-ish interplay in the best Etron Fou Leloublan tradition . . . Fantastic."
<>The Insect Trust<>
"This late-60s quintet from NYC epitomized the broad sense of musical experimentation of the era . . . It's great to finally have this obscure classic available on CD. Recommended!"
"A minor classic of the 70's German progressive scene."
The picture on the cover doesn't look like Neuschwanstein to me. Good thing the album's supposed to be good.
". . . Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Osanna in excelsis . . ." Could this have been the first Christian prog band?!
" . . . a rather imaginative amalgam of folk, ethnic influences, chamber music, and psychedelic rock/pop."
"If I did not know at this point they were Italian, I would have said that they were some obscure, spacey Krautrock band."
<>Picchio Dal Pozzo<>
"Do not be mistaken, the experience is not to be missed." You heard 'im folks.
Picchio Dal Pozzo
<>Jean Paul Praat<>
"Going through numerous short sections of three to five minutes each, each linked together seamlessly, the musicians paint a magnificent vision that is rarely equalled in the world of progressive rock."
<>Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno<>
Named after the Elvis Presley classic, "Returned To Sender", this Italian band of Elvis impersonators was one of the best of the Italian one-shots.
Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno
With an Italian prog band using his baby picture on their album cover, it was only inevitable that Sean McFee would one day become a Gnosis rater.
"Lux Aeterna is one of the few successful early examples of the fusion of rock music and orchestra . . . overall this is a remarkably unique project."
Sadly discarded after their smash hit, "Popeye The Sailor Man", there's more to this dated relic than the odd sea shanty.
We're juggling with three balls now! You're such a natural that there's probably a Swiss neo-prog band writing a concept album about you!
We've got some things in common: I too am a dinosaur *and* I like prog! I'm very interested in becoming a jester but I've met with a lot of resistance. Sometimes I won't fit in doorways because they're clearly made for humans without any thought whatsoever about providing access to dinosaurs. Or they say I'm too smelly, or I require too much food and heat, or I'm too intimidating and I might scare the children. It seems we large, prehistoric beasts are not readily accepted in this modern world. In fact, I'd say we are blatantly discriminated against and I wonder if there's a good lawyersaurus that you might recommend? Incidentally, I've been watching a lot of Godzilla movies lately and I'm getting very angry.
New York, NY
Dear Mr Trixie,
Keep in mind that Godzilla was just a movie; allowing himself to be cast as the losing villain set us all back I'm afraid. There's nothing wrong with a triumphant villain. I suggest your next approach should be accompanied by an empty stomach.
Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
I have an important speaking engagement coming up. It's for work and it's in front of a very large crowd that includes senior executives from my company. There will also be key people from some very lucrative, potential accounts. The trouble is, I get very nervous when speaking in public and I tend to stammer and lose my place. I know everyone will be hanging on my every mistake and I'm afraid I might lose my job if I don't speak well. Help!
Dear Mr Johnny Dope,
I suggest you deliver your speech naked. Trust me: everyone will be too busy looking at your genitals to be concerned with what you say or how you say it.
Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
Can you tell me where my country lies?
Dear Mr The Unifaun,
Third rock from the sun, on the outer portion of the continental crust.
Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
Are you having an affair with my wife? When I came home last night our bed was collapsed, the toilet was overflowing with a well-rounded mound of dinosaur waste, my wife was being suspiciously evasive, there was a large hole in the wall where our bedroom window used to be, and the earth quaked rhythmically as I clearly heard tinkling bells fading into the distance. What gives?
Lexus-Driving Starched Shirt With Italian Leather Briefcase
You Know Where
Dear Mr Lexus-Driving Starched Shirt With Italian Leather Briefcase, Don't blame me for your marital problems! Why do you spend all hours of the nights and weekends at work instead of spending them at home with your wife? Did she marry a paycheck or a man? When was the last time you bought her flowers or took her out to dinner? When was the last time you held her hand and told her that you love her? When was the last time you LISTENED to her?! I've got one thing to say to you Buster: Shape up or ship out, Bub!
Crossed eyes, rotting teeth, bad breath, rare skin diseases:
Mac "Pretty Boy" Beaulieu
Fixes nitro-fueled unicycle races; open boil on nose:
Mike "McLucky" McLatchio
Carries a loaded scepter in a violin case:
Peter "The Godfather" Thelen
Cotton cheeks and Ouzi juggling:
Dirk "Leave the cannoli, take the gun" Evans
Gnosis Writers Staff
Expose Writers Staff
Jestersaurus is a satirical newsletter published by The Gnosis Project. Jestersaurus uses invented names in some of its material. Exceptions include cases in which public figures and other individuals are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The content of this newsletter--graphics, text and other elements--is copyright (c) The Gnosis Project, and may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher. Jestersaurus is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.