Archive for the ‘Prog’ Category

My thoughts on Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I just returned from a vacation which had me out of the country for two weeks, but while I was gone, my review of Magma’s new record appeared in the print edition of the Washington City Paper, and also online. Short version: it’s no K.A (which might actually be my favorite Magma album ever), but it’s good, and an obviously worthwhile purchase for any Magma fan, despite the steep price tag.

Initial thought on the new Present

Friday, November 13th, 2009

The last three minutes of “Vertiges” are really, really fucking awesome.

More thoughts later but after a few listens, this whole record seems pretty great even if there’s only less than half an hour of actual new compositions on it. Haven’t peeped the DVD yet.

Shub Niggurath - Introduction

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Been inactive here, sorry. Have not been inactive in general. The latest thing I did was a review of Shub Niggurath’s Introduction over at the Washington City Paper (it’s in this week’s print edition as well). To go along with that review, I also did a Q&A with Udi Koomran, who is responsible for remastering the original tape, and who also got me a copy of his early remaster so that I could review it for this site a few years ago. The review here is geared towards someone familiar with the RIO/avant-prog axis; the review at the City Paper is more for laypeople.

Readers of this site will be interested in the question I ask Udi, towards the end of the Q&A, about what he’s been working on lately. Bands like Present, Guapo and Eskaton are involved.

Also in that same question, be sure to check out the link to Udi’s contribution to the Radio Village Nomade soundscape project - a lot like Chris Cutler’s Twice Around the Earth project. Very cool stuff.

Rediscovering an old favorite: Höyry-kone

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Huono Parturi: holy shit!

I love going back and listening to great albums I haven’t touched in years. “Laahustaja” makes me bang my head as much as any metal album has in recent memory. Alamaailman Vasarat has some great cello lines, but the one in “Laahustaja” is pretty much untouchable.

I still remember the performance that Höyry-kone put on at ProgDay 2000; definitely one of the best live sets I’ve ever seen. I have an image in my head of a bunch of solemn dudes in black suits onstage, except the cellist looked like he could have been in a punk band, and the singer had this huge beard and a tophat and sounded like he should have been fronting an opera. That image could be completely fabricated, but I like it.

Yelling out “Freebird” is never funny

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Cheer-Accident 7

Except that it actually was, during Avant Fairfax last Saturday (my brief writeup and photos are at the City Paper). This is literally the only time I have ever laughed at someone yelling “Freebird” at a concert. Every other time I want to hunt down the culprit and do something violent to him or her.

Towards the beginning of Cheer Accident’s headlining set, someone yelled out “More cowbell!” Thymme Jones (above, singing) made some disparaging remark in his general direction, something like, “Next thing you’re going to be yelling ‘Freebird’.” I appreciated the takedown. Thymme rambled on a bit more, some more music was played (they were pretty great btw, if a little disjointed), and then the Avant Fairfax organizers gave C-A the bad news: they would have to cut their set short because it was 2am, long past the time the show was supposed to have been over. They were given ten more minutes to finish up.

Thymme hemmed and hawed and asked no one in partiuclar, “what can we do in ten minutes?”

Someone in the audience yelled, “Freebird!”

Hey, Yes is touring with Asia this summer

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Yawn.

“The elves have finally come home to Rivendell”

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Damon Fox of Bigelf on getting added to the Progressive Nation Europe tour:

When I first met Mike Portnoy, I felt like we were cut from the same cloth, a brother from another mother. We could talk rock & roll for eons (we probably will on tour, hell yeah!). Being added to the PROGRESSIVE NATION tour feels like the planets have aligned for us and the elves have finally come home to Rivendell.

Haha. Did he really say that? Gee, guess who the proggy-prog band on this tour is?

Actually, this lineup isn’t bad… Dream Theater, Opeth and Unexpect round things out. It’s a lot more along the lines of last year’s Progressive Nation lineup (replace Between the Buried and Me with Unexpect and Three with Bigelf) than this year’s U.S. tour, which I’m pretty unexcited about. Unexpect always puts on an awesomely spastic show - I saw them three times last year and they just kept getting more entertaining.

Rick Wright is gone

Monday, September 15th, 2008

RIP Rick Wright.

As I mentioned in my writeup of Aussie Floyd last year, Pink Floyd was the group that made me the music lover I am, and so Wright’s passing affects me quite a bit. I’ll be listening to Broken China tonight in memoriam.

Vialka: French avant-folk-prog in DC

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Vialka 9

Vialka, a French husband-and-wife duo of drums and baritone guitar, played at the Velvet Lounge on Tuesday night. I previewed the show at Black Plastic Bag, complete with plenty of hype and one wildly inaccurate comparison (no, these guys do not sound anything like Ruins).

The show definitely lived up to my expectations. As I wrote in my preview, the band describe themselves, glibly, as a “turbo folk micro-orchestra,” whatever the hell that means. But what they really are is prog, albeit prog in the Etron Fou sense more than anything else, minus a bit of the dadaism. They played a number of lengthy compositions that flitted whimsically through two to three seemingly unrelated themes, most of them involving tricky but somehow bouncy rhythms, gratuitously sung/screamed/declaimed vocals (all in French), and a hell of a lot of fancy guitar fretwork.

Vialka 6

Vialka combine the manic, stop-start spasticity characteristic of so much proggy avant-rock with a melodic sense that draws straight from Eastern European folk and what I ignorantly categorize in my head as “French music.” There’s a sense of whimsy that’s very un-American going on in their writing, which probably makes them sound ridiculous to some of the more jaded types out there, but gives them a certain irrepressible charm for me.

In concert, all the quirkiness embedded in the compositions came out in the open. I got a chance to chat with both band members - Eric Boros, the guitarist, and Marylise Frecheville, the drummer - before and after the show, and my very enjoyable conversations with them gave no hint of their stage personalities. When the show began, Eric donned a shiny metallic shirt and Marylise a sequined spaghetti strap top and the quirkiness just kept going from there. They danced around a lot - Marylise leapt up from behind her kit to dance in the middle of the crowd on two occasions, and Eric was bouncing around with a huge grin on his face the whole time - but more than that, their personalities just seemed to shine through in the vocals and the sometimes hilariously disjointed rhythms.

The reception was quite good, and they sold a few CDs, always nice to see with a band likely so far outside the experience of your average American concertgoer (even one who frequents the Velvet Lounge). Good times.

Vialka 1

There are a few more photos in the full Flickr set - mostly of Marylise as the lighting was almost nonexistent on Eric.

One I like and one I don’t

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I recently picked up DFA’s much-heralded new album, 4th. A long long time ago, I gave Duty Free Area, their last studio album, quite the rave review. When this new one came out, it immediately started garnering very very positive comments in the usual circles, so I was pretty psyched to spin it for the first time. I did, and… I was bored out of my mind. Have my tastes really changed this much in the past eight years? I suppose it’s quite possible. I’ll be giving 4th a few more spins in the hopes that my first impression was a situational fluke, but we’ll see.

Instead, I’ve become totally enamored with Secular Works by Extra Life, which is a band led by Charlie Looker, the guitarist/keyboardist who recently left Zs. This stuff is was more accessible than his old band, though — imagine complex math-rock superimposed on early music and monophonic medieval chants, and you have a very rough idea of what this sounds like. The opening track, “Blackmail Blues,” is completely amazing and one of the coolest things I’ve heard in a long time. Listen to it at Myspace.