_Romantic Warriors II: A Progressive Music Saga About Rock in Opposition
Review by: Rok Podgrajšek
Produced by: Adele Schmidt, Jose Zegarra Holder
Label: Zeitgeist Media
Henry Cow, Univers Zero, Stormy Six, Samla Mammas Mana, Etron Fou Leloublan, Art Zoyd, Art Bears, Aksak Maboul, Present, Tatsuya Yoshida, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Thinking Plague, Yugen, Aranis, Once Upon a Time in Belgium, Hamster Theatre, Miriodor and Guapo_
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_ Rock in opposition is perhaps one of the most obscure subgenres in progressive rock. It's actually so obscure it's not even a subgenre, but actually a movement, a philosophical statement against the policies of the big record labels. It is therefore quite surprising to see a documentary out there dedicated to this movement, which began in the late 1970s and only had a few years before it suddenly came to a halt (even though its tendrils extend even to this day and age with several newer bands).
The documentary starts off with Magma as being a big influence on the rock in opposition movement and several bands. Then we are transported to the first RIO festival in England and the latest editions, which were held in France. We get to find out how this movement came to be in the first place and what the goals were. It was basically about bands trying to help each other find gigs in other countries and selling records in other countries without the interference of major labels. The project was initiated by Henry Cow and the first RIO fest included, besides them, Univers Zero, Stormy Six, Samla Mammas Mana and Etron Fou Leloublan. So 5 bands from 5 different countries, all trying to help one another in any way possible. The next event also included Art Zoyd, Art Bears and Aksak Maboul. Soon after that, the movement broke up, but the connections and philosophy remain to this day, with record labels like Recommended Records, Cuneiform, AltrOck,…
The documentary does an excellent job in explaining the philosophy behind the movement, with various interviews from key actors. They also showed the different musical background these artists came from and the diversity of the movement. It was all about freedom of expression and total independence.
Jose Zegarra Holder and Adele Schmidt travelled all over Europe and America to give us a broad view of this movement and the impact it had on future generations. So besides the 8 major RIO bands and Magma, we also get a glimpse into the work of Present, Tatsuya Yoshida, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Thinking Plague, Yugen, Aranis (also Once Upon a Time in Belgium), Hamster Theatre, Miriodor and Guapo. A very eclectic collection of bands, all following the path the rock in opposition movement had laid out during its short duration.
For a relatively low-budget affair, this documentary has managed to capture basically the heart and soul of what RIO was all about. Of course, it couldn't deal with all the bands who were or are playing with the RIO philosophy in mind, but the major parties were all involved. There was only one small lapse, when they credited Paolo Botta's statement to someone else from Yugen.
This is a very well done documentary. I knew a lot about RIO beforehand, but I still managed to learn quite a bit watching this. Definitely a must see for any fan of innovative, forward-thinking and challenging music.
9 out of 10.