Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by TheRimeOfIcarus, Oct 19, 2011.
Albums released on or after year 2000. Any suggestions?
A.C.T - The Last Epic. Melodic prog from Sweden. Awesome!
Check out my band Torgo! We just released our first full-length album and you can listen to it at the link above! We're definitely prog rock! Hope you enjoy it!
Mars Hollow from L.A., 2010.
I've been checking out a lot of new albums in my spare time recently and they seem to have a lot of compositions that are overly-technical and just sound like "instrument-masturbation." Could anyone recommend some newer straightforward, hard rock driven progressive albums?
I'm afraid the last good one like that I heard was Rush Moving Pictures.
Can the Decemberists' Hazards Of Love be called progressive rock? If not, avoid anything released since the mid 90s, except Porcupine Tree.
Steven Wilson's solo albums
OBVIOUSLY Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson's solo stuff, as has been said. Fear of A Blank Planet and Grace For Drowning are essential.
Pineapple Thief - Tightly Unwound
Gazpacho - Tick Tock
Karnataka and their 2003 album Delicate Flame of Desire...........essential listening for all fans of prog.
Here's the title track:
Xing Sa - Création de l'Univers
There have been so many great Prog releases over the past decade that it's almost impossible to make recommendations without knowing your particular tastes. I'd say the musical variety under the "Prog" umbrella is even greater now than it was during the 70s.
All of the above suggestions are great releases and you can't go wrong with any of them.
My advice would be to try a few different internet stations and see what you like. Progressive Ears is a very active message board specializing in the genre, and has introduced me to plenty of new artists. Prog Archives is another great resource; it features bios and disc reviews of nearly every artist who has contributed to the genre and is probably the single-best overall Prog information site.
Has anyone heard the new Arena or the new Glass Hammer?
If history is worth anything, those will be worth the addition to the good ol collection!
I do music reviews for Progression magazine. Here are some of my favorites that I've reviewed over the last couple of years, though not many are straight prog, which I really think is a wasteland of unoriginal retro sounds these days.
Circling From Above
2007 (CD, 42:24)
A former member of Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists, Jon Diaz has assembled a crackerjack set of New York-based musicians to create original music that harkens to the tones, melodies, and rhythms of North Africa and the Middle East. If you’re entranced by the music of Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt, you’ll find much to appreciate here. If not, this may be a good introduction, since much of the instrumentation is western. Diaz plays primarily acoustic guitar, along with fretless and “prepared” (i.e., he has inserted objects among the strings to create a buzzing sound) guitar. Aside from African percussion, the only exotic instruments are the Brazilian berimbau (also played by Diaz) and a bamboo flute. Violin, cello, and accordion are used sparingly but very effectively. Three tunes that are primarily solo guitar have more of a Windham Hill/Pierre Bensusan flavor. That’s not a bad thing, but it does tend to set them apart from the ensemble pieces that seem to emanate straight from some faraway village. A beautiful, hypnotic recording.
IRON KIM STYLE
Iron Kim Style
2010 (CD, 55:51); MOONJUNE RECORDS MJR031
There’s never been enough humor in prog, so it’s welcome to see song titles such as “Don Quixotic,” “Amber Waves of Migraine,” and “Slouchin’ at the Savoy.” But there’s nothing funny about how these guys play – or the fact that all the music on this cohesive and energetic recording, remarkably, is improvised. Lead guitarist Dennis Rea’s searing leads on the epic 10-minute opener, “The Mean Streets of Pyongyang,” are punctuated and supported by piercing lines from Bill Jones’ trumpet and guest bass clarinetist Izaak Mills. The rhythm section of drummer Jay Jaskot, 12-string player Thaddaeus Brophy, and bassist Ryan Berg, does not content itself with playing a support role; rather, they continually push the envelope, providing uniformly exciting contributions. Jones and Jaskot wreak havoc on “Gibberish Falter,” and Jones gets his Hubbard on in “Po’ Beef.” The CD peters out a bit at the end with three shorter tracks (although Rea shreds like mad on “Jack Out the Kims,” and the final cut is a nice trumpet/drum duet), but overall a very impressive recording.
2010 (CD, 40:32); DECLASSIFIED RECORDS DR-1001-P
Bangtower features ex-Brand X bass whiz Percy Jones, here playing fretless bass and keyboards; Neil Citron on guitars and keyboards; and Walter Garces on drums and percussion. I’d been wondering what Jones had been up to since Brand X. The answer, apparently, is kicking ***, because that’s exactly what this muscular, hint-of-metal music does. The first track is cryptically titled “BBA” but after hearing just a few bars, I’m guessing it stands for Beck Bogert Appice, because this power trio sounds very much like they’re paying homage to that one. Garces is a very powerful drummer in the Cozy Powell vein, and Citron plays piercing leads. Jones, of course, is no shrinking violet on bass, and he goes toe to toe with Citron on the latter’s solo in “Hair of the Dog.” The first four tunes are all strong in the prog-metal vein, then the album dips a little as the tempos slow and the intensity wanes. But they save the best for last with the Brand X-ish closer, “1%ters.”
BRUFORD LEVIN UPPER EXTREMITIES
2000 (2 CDs, 1:47:00); GONZO MEDIA GROUP HST021CD
Uncomfortable in the “double trio” format that the 1980s-era King Crimson had morphed into in the mid-1990s, drummer Bill Bruford and bassist/Stick god Tony Levin – who already had worked together on Al Di Meola’s Scenario (1983), David Torn’s Cloud About Mercury (1987), and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (1989) – decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. Having enjoyed their work on Torn’s album, which also featured Mark Isham on trumpet, they recruited the guitarist and added Chris Botti (who appeared on Door X, Torn’s follow-up to Cloud About Mercury) to replace Isham. B.L.U.E. Nights was recorded in 1998 on the spring and autumn tours supporting the quartet’s eponymous studio debut, and as such covers nearly the full album. However, as all Crimson fans know, the concert setting is the ideal way to experience music. Spread over two discs, the live set includes some new improvisations and an 11-minute reading of Cloud About Mercury’s “3 Minutes of Pure Entertainment” (think about that for a minute). A masterful recording and one of Bruford’s best outings.
SUDDEN COSMIC DISSOLUTION
Sudden Cosmic Dissolution
2010 (CD, 1:17:24); SONIC FLAME SOFL-10-01
I couldn’t describe Sudden Cosmic Dissolution any better than they do themselves: “avant garde improvisational triquetra oscillating between jazz, rock, and blues.” This multi-generational trio consists of guitarist Norm Howard (who looks 50-something), drummer Johannes Welsch (who looks 40-something), and bassist Ryan Mitchell-Boch (who looks 30-something). Regardless of what they look like, they really are something. The music I don’t think is 100% improvised as they’re simply too tight and too melodic to have left it all to chance. But they do jam with purpose and skill. All three are impressive musicians, and 77 minutes of balls-to-the-wall playing is a heavy workout for the listener. Yet it’s also deeply rewarding. The second track, “Sublime”, is simply that, an expertly rendered jazz-rock excursion, displaying influences from late-period Coltrane to Hendrix. “The Cave” is thrash improv, with Welsch going totally nutty while Howard coaxes torrents of processed sounds out of his guitar. I particularly enjoyed the nearly eight-minute “Space Jam”, which sounds like a mix of Lotus-era Santana and latter-day King Crimson.
Inspired By Humans
2010 (CD, 28:45); INDEPENDENT RELEASE
Though Kangaralien is an acoustic guitar duo of musicians who met in a Dream Theater tribute band, the music on this stellar release has little if anything do to with that group. Instead, to these ears more suitable points of reference would be the wonderful Windham Hill album by string virtuosos Mike Marshall and Darol Anger, Chiaroscuro, the exceptional acoustic guitar duet by Gentle Giant’s Gary Green and Ray Shulman on the live “Excerpts From Octopus”, and maybe even Jan Akkerman’s occasional lute pieces on his solo albums and earlier Focus releases. As Kangaralien, Steve Belleville and Eric Clemenzi play together with a real sense of empathy and generosity. There’s no battling for the good parts here, each player contributes essential and beautiful performances. Though a short album, all 10 tunes feature melodies that stay with you and arrangements that are inventive and complete. My favorite tune might be “ROYGBIV” (the initial letters of the colors of the rainbow), which varies extensively in tempo, dynamics, and styles without seeming in any way gimmicky or indulgent.
2010 (CD, 48:47); INDEPENDENT RELEASE
Though Tony Levin remains the best-known exponent of the Chapman Stick, more and more players are emerging (in fact, Levin’s newest project pairs him with another Stick player). This would seem to suggest that there are increasing avenues to explore with this unusual and unusually versatile instrument. Certainly Rob Martino thinks so. This exceptional musician has devoted his debut album to an exploration of the instrument’s broad range and capabilities. However, it is wrong to think that One Cloud is simply a travelogue of the Stick; rather, these are well-crafted compositions, quite melodic and many quite gentle (on his website, Martino expresses admiration for Ian Anderson’s acoustic Tull pieces, several of which he offers in Stick versions). If forced to suggest an analogue, then it would have to be one of the better Windham Hill releases, like Michael Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries. Martino’s approach is definitely different from Levin’s but then there is always a difference between an element pure and an element applied. Here, you can hear the Stick pure and it makes an undeniable impression.
2010 (CD, 50:40); INDEPENDENT RELEASE
There just aren’t enough nonets. Smaller than a big band, bigger than a combo, nonets (with the right material and sensitive and intelligent arrangements) can produce an expansive yet still intimate sound. 7th Kind is a perfect example of this. On their second album, Sea Monster, the group – which includes no fewer than three trumpeters and two sax players – shows impressive mastery of the capabilities inherent in their construction. On “Eternal Regrets of Non-Cowboy”, the horns play luscious unison parts (both legato and staccato) yet also play against each other to create an exciting tension that the “combo” keeps afloat with precision and feeling. Several of the songs feature vocals, but in most cases the words and the singing are just another musical element and tone color, rather than an interposition of poetry or narrative. With a couplet like “I’m undergoing chemotherapy/I know what you think you see”, the words are better kept in the background anyway. Which is not true of the music, which is uniformly exciting and exceptionally well performed.
Check out the Italian band Areknames. The vocals can be a bit iffy at times, but the compositions, atmospheres, and playing are top-notch
I do very much enjoy "Rites at dawn" by Swedish group WOBBLER
The Fiery Furnaces-- Blueberry Boat.
Most of the modern sympho stuff leaves me cold, IE, Glass Hammer, Magic Pie, Spock's Beard. It always makes me want to listen to Yes, Genesis or ELP instead.
That being said, I do like some of the Italian stuff such as just about any project that Fabio Zuffanti has been involved in (La Maschera Di Cera, Hostonaten and other names that escape me). I have the new White Willow and the new Arena, but I haven't played them yet.
Nice reviews. Love the Upper Extremities studio album, but never got around to picking up the live album...will have to do that soon.
I'd recommend some (but not all) of The Flower Kings output. The first Transatlantic album was quite good. There's another Steve Wilson side project, Blackfield, that I'd also recommend. Though I'd have to agree, there's too much looking back with current prog. The bands back in the day were always looking forward. That's the difference.
Two great bands on Rise Above, a label out of the UK: Astra and Diagonal. The former is very mystical, neo-Floyd-and-Genesis-type-stuff, very spooky and psychedelic and delightfully long without being too frilly or technical. Diagonal channels mid-period King Crimson, for all the pomp and circumstance (and jazz influence!) that suggests. GREAT.
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