Source: Bandcamp Daily.
While even the most conventional rock prides itself on being in “opposition” to—well, you name it—Rock in Opposition (RIO) built its entire ethos around the idea of non-conformity. The genre began in 1978, when English avant-gardists Henry Cow organized a music festival dubbed “Rock in Opposition”: a movement of like-minded European bands and artists who were frustrated by the strictures of rock, and by the unwillingness of the music industry to nurture their radicalism (see Henry Cow’s cancelled deal with Virgin Records one year prior). Some of the earliest bands in this movement—Henry Cow, Etron Fou Leloublan, Stormy Six—could be loosely characterized as progressive rock with a more anarchic and confrontational edge, while others—Univers Zero, Aksak Maboul—were all but unclassifiable, mixing everything from chamber music to noise and electronics to create a new, brain-melting sound.
In the years following the inaugural festival, RIO grew from a one-off gathering into a movement, an institutional umbrella for all the bands and artists who espoused the event’s titular motto. And while the increase in bands who self-apply the RIO label means it’s now become something of a bona fide subgenre in its own right, the genre also shares a kindred spirit with zeuhl music: a similarly alien branch of prog that originated with the French group Magma, who finally united the two camps once and for all at RIO Festival 2009 in Paris. The movement’s pursuit of the new, the challenging, the weird, and the thrilling is as vital today as it’s ever been, as this list of 10 of the best active, RIO-associated bands shows.