1983 is an impressive album of previously unavailable, professional live recordings (the sound is as good as a studio recording) of Von Zamla's 1983 spring tour, which the band regards as among some of their most successful performances. This is the first time any Von Zamla works have been released in the U.S., and it's an especially timely reissue given the increasing crossover between orchestral modern composition and rock (the Rachel's and Godspeed You Black Emperor! being the most then-recent examples; Frank Zappa being an earlier and, for Von Zamla, a clearly influential one). Von Zamla's instruments and compositions take them several steps further away from rock than, say, Soft Machine, yet they still manage to keep one foot in it through the treatment and mood of the pieces. In "Forgeetyde," they crank out an industrial electronic counterrhythm while rock guitar and bassoon weave a melody through. Just when the dissonance starts to get heavy, a light, airy tune appears and waltzes through with a Danny Elfman sort of carnival flair. The band turns dark on "Doppler" and builds a large, dramatic overture, then follows it with "Akarondo," a piece that opens with pygmy-influenced vocal rounds and handclaps. Fans of eclectic modern composition and dramatic prog bands along the King Crimson lines will certainly wish they had known of Von Zamla when the band was still around.
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AllMusic Review by Joslyn Layne