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Old 12-05-2017, 01:26 AM
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Default Music Miscellany

I'm not sure why we don't already have a thrad like this, but the news that Neil Young is putting his whole catalogue online in high quality for free seems like the perfect time to start one. (Doesn't currently work on mobile, though.)

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Old 04-18-2018, 05:49 AM
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Default Re: Music Miscellany



What a country!
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Old 04-18-2018, 03:34 PM
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Default Re: Music Miscellany

Or maybe New Dirty Bastard.
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:35 PM
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: Music Miscellany

For some reason, I’d missed this when it came out, but it’s a pretty good read.

The Persistence of Prog Rock | The New Yorker

There are a couple points that the article misses. First of all, video game soundtracks are pretty much 99% descendants of progressive rock, even the ones that aren’t conscniously influenced by it. Probably the two most influential composers in video game history, Uematsu Nobuo (Final Fantasy) and Kondō Kōji (The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros.), were avowed, unabashed fans of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, and Uematsu is known to have hired composers at Square (e.g., Kikuta Hiroki) based on their shared love of progressive rock. It’s not a surprise when you think about it; progressive rock centred around electronic keyboard wizardry and what is video game music if not the culmination of electronic keyboard wizardry? ELP and others like them demonstrated that it was possible to compose popular music centring around synthesizers, and the synthesizer was the entire palette video game composers had to paint with for decades (the first video game soundtrack consisting entirely of live instruments is generally believed to be Kikuta’s Soukaigi, which is basically a progressive rock album). You’d have to be drawn to synthesizer music to want to compose it, so of course VGM composers were influenced by artists like ELP, Deep Purple, and Elton John.

The other thing is that, no matter how unhip the genre is, there will always continue to be an audience for it. Due to the complexity of its instrumentation and composition, it holds a strong appeal for musicians, and there will always be musicians. There have been some stand-up comics throughout the years who earned reputations as “comics’ comics” (Bill Hicks, Stewart Lee, Mitch Hedberg, etc.). In the same way, progressive rock is essentially musicians’ music. It’s not that you have to have a musical background to enjoy listening to it, but it helps. If you have classical training, you can spot all the classical quotes. If you have training in rhythm, you’ll have a better understanding of why Meshuggah’s disorienting time signature shenangians are so impressive. If you’ve written songs before, you’ll understand why composing a coherent twenty-minute opus that holds the listener’s attention throughout is so impressive. These things may never find mass audiences again the way they did in the ’70s, but there will be audiences for them all the same.

The article justifiably mentions acts in disparate genres like Meshuggah, Joanna Newsom, and, yes, Kanye West as examples of musicians who’ve created music that is clearly influenced by progressive rock, even if it isn’t often categorised as prog itself. I’d add a few other names: Sufjan Stevens, Janelle Monáe, dälek, Dir en grey, and Fleet Foxes. Some of these artists aren’t necessarily “prog” overall – no one’s going to use it as their first description of Janelle Monáe’s music, but you probably don’t create a multi-release suite of science-fiction-themed concept albums capped off by a nine-minute song (“BabopbyeYa”) at the conclusion of Suite III, and where a bunch of the songs transition so seamlessly into one another (“Dance or Die”→“Faster”→“Locked Inside” – or, for that matter, “Jane’s Dream”→“Screwed”→“Django Jane” on Dirty Computer, even though it’s not part of the Metropolis suite and is a bit less musically complex) that it’s difficult to know where one ends and the next ends, unless you have some prog rock influence.

And somehow the piece manages not to mention Porcupine Tree or the Mars Volta as examples of modern prog bands, which seems incomprehensible. (Though unfortunately, neither band is active at the moment).

The article mentions Radiohead as an example of a band that probably should be considered prog, even if the members themselves want nothing to do with the label. The article doesn’t really delve into this directly, but Radiohead is one of several examples where the boundaries between genres are so blurred that categorisation is difficult. They have elements of prog, elements of alternative rock, elements of electronic music on some of their albums, elements of post-rock even.

But to be honest, the boundaries have always been blurred – in some ways, they were more blurred in the ’70s than they are now. Black Sabbath aren’t generally thought of as a prog rock group, but they had Rick Wakeman play on their fifth album and by that point they were writing pretty complex pieces that often went through several musical transitions. For that matter, more than half of their first album consists of two 10+-minute compositions that are given several discrete movements – a prog rock tell if ever there were one. Similarly, Led Zeppelin aren’t a prog rock group, right? But then, what are songs like “The Rain Song” and, for that matter, “Stairway to Heaven”? If you look on Wikipedia, guess what genre shows up first in either song’s infobox?

Anyway, prog rock influence shows up even in places you wouldn’t expect. Pixies definitely aren’t a prog rock group, to be clear. But Black Francis has acknowledged that Emerson, Lake & Palmer were one of his first musical loves, and Pixies’ love of odd time signatures (“Velouria”, “No. 13 Baby”, “River Euphrates”, “Oh My Golly”, “There Goes My Gun”, “Brick Is Red”, “Alec Eiffel”, “Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons”, “Dig for Fire”, probably at least a dozen other songs) and use of unusual song structures (“No. 13 Baby” again, “The Happening”, “All Over the World”, etc.) may be attributable to their influence (along with Beefheart, the Beatles, and Hüsker Dü). The same can be said for other acts, such as Pavement, Hüsker Dü, and the Smashing Pumpkins (though the latter’s prog influence is more overt and thus more frequently noted).

And there are other bands who may not have been categorised as prog purely due to accidents of geographical location and/or time. Television, for instance, are usually categorised as a punk band, but while a few songs like “See No Evil” have some pretty punk-like riffs, the lengthy instrumental noodling in songs like “The Dream’s Dream”, “Little Johnny Jewel”, and “Marquee Moon” really seems more akin to prog to me, but they were a New York band from the late ’70s, so they got lumped in with punk. If they’d had a keyboard player there probably wouldn’t be any question of their prog credentials. (The prog influence didn’t go entirely unnoticed; a review of in Stylus Magazine said their first LP veered between prog and post-punk throughout.)

Similarly, Grateful Dead are generally written into rock history as a psychedelic jam band, and to be fair, they certainly were that, but they’re usually forgotten in histories of prog. But they wrote lengthy compositions with multiple discrete segments (“That’s It for the Other One” has four movements in its album version, and “Terrapin Station” has seven), used bizarre time signatures liberally even in their best known songs (“Truckin’” and “Uncle John’s Band” both have 7/4 segments, and as for less well-known ones, good luck keeping track of all the time signature changes in “Slipknot!”), and wrote instrumentally complex passages with copious influence from jazz (particularly during the Keith and Donna Godchaux era) and classical (bassist Phil Lesh cites Johann Sebastian Bach as one of his biggest influences). But they were from San Francisco in the ’60s, so they usually get forgotten in histories of prog too.

I could spend all day listing other artists that get unjustly neglected in histories of prog – Todd Rundgren (Initiation and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia are two of the great lost prog records of the ’70s), Frank Zappa (not that he’s forgotten overall, but it’s rarely noted that Absolutely Free is one of the first prog rock albums, and Läther is another great lost ’70s prog record, though it doesn’t help that it wasn’t released in Zappa’s intended configuration until 1996), Mahavishnu Orchestra (not completely forgotten, but usually thought of as a jazz fusion band before they’re thought of as a prog rock band), Tears for Fears (The Seeds of Love is one of the great prog records of the ’80s), and so on.

But you can’t cover all this stuff in an article of that length, and the article’s central theses are certainly accurate: in particular, trends in music are often cyclical rather than a linear progression – to a rather uncanny (and sometimes unsettling) extent, mirroring history itself. Obviously, my background in music is one reason prog speaks to me, but I think the article is correct that there’s something about the utopian spirit of late-’60s and early-’70s prog that appeals to me. The idea that music could contribute to saving the world – that art can contribute to saving the world – appeals to me. (Which is another thing Janelle Monáe shares with the 1970s prog bands, and probably part of the reason I’ve become so obsessed with her music lately.) I don’t know if it’s true, but I think I almost have to believe it’s at least possible. It’s certainly a much less harmful belief than a lot of the others out there.

I’d write more, but I’ve spent about an hour on this already, so I guess I’ll going to go throw on Wobbler’s From Silence to Somewhere, which isn’t actually a 1970s prog record, but certainly sounds like it could be one.
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Old 08-18-2018, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: Music Miscellany

I feel as though you could have divided that post into several movements. :wink:
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Old 08-28-2018, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: Music Miscellany

Weird Al Yankovic Asks People to Not Smash His Hollywood Star – Variety
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Old 08-30-2018, 10:45 AM
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Default Re: Music Miscellany

The new Juno Reactor album is available in full on YouTube. Here's a taste for those who prefer visuals with their tunes. Blade Runner fans should definitely check out the final album track.

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