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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Miriodor

Live at NEARfest, 2002

Review by Roger Rossen

I had never really heard of this band before seeing them at NEARfest, and their Saturday afternoon performance snuck up on us all with the now expected NEARfest promise of progressive music bliss. I felt somewhat amiss though, as they've been around for over 20 years! I'm getting used to that feeling now, however, as the fest has become my yearly re-energizationary homage, and every year's event has perfectly fulfilled its purpose. This year, Miriodor became one of my latest "forces to be reckoned with".

The first thing that popped into my mind upon hearing Miriodor was "what kind of music is this, anyway?" Well, the answer to that, I think, is what gives this band their unmistakable charm and magnetic allure. Anyone who has ever played in a band (this writer included) can undoubtedly relate to the often vague and inept descriptions of the music created, so carefully and lovingly crafted, only to become minimized by the deaf ears and terminology of marketing 'specialists'. Miriodor truly succeeds at creating music that begs for an endless discussion of - "just what is musical form, thematic structure, and who says it's got to be this way, anyways?" And then most importantly, after the mind becomes exhausted with those eternal ponderings, a resolution is made to 'keep a sense of humor about it all'. This band really knows how to laugh at themselves - with honest to God real classical and jazz instrumental chops - this is to me, a sure sign of genius.

Stephen Ellis
 
Stephen Ellis
   
History says that Miriodor was formed in 1980 (in Quebec city). Inherently of French persuasion, I don't know if they understood a word I said when I spoke with them on Saturday night, but I'm pretty sure they understood that I dug their music. I was dying to get their own take on what they did that afternoon - however it was not to be. I did rush down after their show and bought all of their CDs. I'm still in the process of digesting it all; yet I do feel that their studio efforts do not do them total justice. The intensity of their music demands a live and captive audience such as NEARfest provides and the swirling cacophony of poly melodic and rhythmic dementia is best witnessed with the eyes also. Although I hate the term 'avant-garde', cause I could never figure out just exactly what it's supposed to mean, Miriodor, I've since discovered, seems to have found a leading voice within this 'experimental' journey. However, as they put it, "…once we play it, we're not experimenting anymore. Most Miriodor compositions are painstakingly assembled and taken apart numerous times before reaching their final version, but once this critical stage is achieved, they don't change much. So, what kind of music is this, anyway?" Well, just for fun I'd say - it's something like a cross between Gentle Giant on airplane glue riding an insane circus calliope, Zappa at his orchestrally thickest, and Philip Glass after he realizes that the term 'minimalism' makes no sense within the musical world. Does that work? What do I know, I just love 'tipographica-esque polymodal ostinatos' where everyone seems to be playing a different song all at the same time! - Charles Ives on acid. The closer you listen, the more your mind splits apart and leaves you wondering, "what just happened?" Of course, their excellent musicianship is what allows this to be pulled off even if you can't figure out just what's going on.

The visual aspects of their NEARfest performance I think are best likened to the music - driving, focused, intense, and at times - flying! While both Marie's (violin and saxophones) tended to front the show, all players were equal in virtuosity and skill. There was a tenor sax break at one point, as a song wound down, consisting of breathy, jazzed out mouthpiece noises, that was beyond hysterical - I don't know if this Anthony Braxtonesque bit of humor was appreciated by all but I was in pain trying not to laugh out loud, in an otherwise very quiet auditorium. When Zappa questioned, "does humor belong in music?" Miriodor was right there with the answer. The sound for the performance was also impeccable as each instrument's voice was clearly delineated within the mix. I don't think their music would work very well without expert sound engineering, although I tend to feel that way about all progressive music.


Stephen Ellis
 
Stephen Ellis
   
I really hope that Miriodor can make it down to the States more often (Chicago please!) and perhaps the renaissance of progressive music as of late will help that to occur. If instincts are correct, Miriodor is an ensemble that just loves to mess with the well-tuned progressive mindset and reveal yet another entire universe of endless musical possibility - please come mess with us more often.


Dan Robinson
 
Dan Robinson
   
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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