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Archive for July, 2000

Djam Karet will play NEARfest next year

Monday, July 31st, 2000

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m pretty damn excited that Djam Karet has been booked to play NEARfest 2001. Djam Karet played a key role in the development of my progressive rock tastes, and as such I have something of a soft spot for them. I’ve never seen them live but I keep hearing that their live shows really cook, so I’m pretty enthused.

A night of techno

Sunday, July 30th, 2000

Last night for a friend’s birthday I allowed myself to be taken to the N Club in nearby Greensboro, NC. Some interesting beats mixed in with mostly lame beats made up the music. They played nothing but techno. I don’t think I heard a single melody of any sort all night. Which is fine, given what the music was there for, but I just don’t understand how people can grind to that all night. Dance clubs that play R&B and rap mixed in with the pure drum-n-bass stuff are somewhat more comprehensible, but the concept of dancing to very slightly different beats for five hours is beyond me. The three hours we spent there was way more than enough for me anyway.

Keith Jarrett is da man.

Josh Kortbein recently recommended to me Emergency & I by Dismemberment Plan, saying that since I like Sunny Day Real Estate I might like it. “They also boast all sorts of prog-happy things like polyrhythms, genre blending (very faint, so these labels are inappropriate, but: hip-hop, drum n bass, disco - mostly in the rhythm section, who are amazing), on-a-dime musical turns.” Oh, and he also says this rather amusing bit in today’s entry in josh blog:

Also, I found my high school diploma. How useless is that? My kitchen table’s been wobbling a little, though, so maybe… hmmm… or, I can just wait to get my MS and then use all four to elevate the table, to make it easier to sit at while I work on my next degree.

rmp: where the people who know shit hang out

Friday, July 28th, 2000

I’m somewhat bewildered by all the bashing that goes on in various mailing lists I’ve only now joined or started paying attention to (I’ve been subscribing to e-prog for a looong time, for example, but not until recently have I had time to actually read any of it). That newsgroup was the first source of prog information I found on the net. Luckily I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut and lurk for a long time (years, actually) before ever posting anything, so I was never in any danger of getting flamed for being a clueless newbie saying all the wrong things (like, “Dude Pink Floyd is the best band in the world are there any other bands that sound anything like them cuz they ROOL!”).

I agree with those that say that rmp is sometimes awfully hard on said clueless newbies, but frankly, I believe that the regulars of that group are the most informed prog listeners in the world. It’s still my number one source of info.

New stuff and various ramblings

Thursday, July 27th, 2000

Some new ones just in from New Sonic Architecture; I’m pretty excited about these:

I know, I’m late getting onto the Mahl bandwagon, but there have just been so many albums lately on my must-get-now list that this one has suffered. I’ve been wanting to get a White Willow album for a while, and after hearing nothing but praise for Sacrament (well, except for one amusingly bad review - go search for it, it’s good for a quick laugh), I went ahead and picked it up. I’m rather disappointed that the lyrics are in English, but otherwise I like it so far. Oh, and Diacronie burns, baby.

Ok, in a fit of boredom I just went back to and checked out the guy that posted that review of Sacrament. Apparently, he exemplifies the worst of that website - he’s given everything he reviewed either five stars or one star. I think one album got two stars and one got one and a half, and the Thieves’ Kitchen album got four and a half (sorry Paul :), but literally all the rest got five or one, nothing in between. Don’t know how many raving five-star reviews he’s written… I stopped counting after twenty or thirty. Heh.

I’ve been so busy with adding reviews (the reviewers have been fairly prolific lately - which is the way I like it!) and adding various random new features to the site that I haven’t had time to update this sucker. One nice little perk that comes with the new server is an automatic web counter. Yesterday there were 4500 page accesses. Of course, that number is rather inflated when you count only unique hits, but I was pleasantly surprised anyway.

Doesn’t look like the forums are going to catch on. That’s fine, there are already too many places to talk about prog rock on the Web. In addition to regularly reading, I think I’m now a member of something like seven or eight separate prog-related mailing lists. Sheesh.

Great photos from NEARfest

Wednesday, July 19th, 2000

Studio M Live has some bad-ass photos from NEARfest… much better than mine. Webcasts are “coming soon”. <sexist>The photos, BTW, prove that, contrary to popular vote on rmp, Magdalena Hagberg was by far the hottest female on stage. Or maybe that’s just because she’s juxtaposed with the Kopecky brothers. Hmm.</sexist>

30 years ago…

Monday, July 17th, 2000

Something you’d never see in the press these days, at least not without massive amounts of vehement scorn: “King Crimson and, particularly, Robert Fripp, have grasped the concept that rock can be built on a scale to rival classical music…” (Melody Maker, December 19, 1970, from the Lizard liner notes)

Art rock vs. prog rock, and more

Wednesday, July 12th, 2000

Man… who makes this shit up? (From the art-rock/prog-rock “music style” summary at the All-Music Guide)

The difference between art rock and prog rock is slight, but important. Art rock bands tend to draw more heavily on classical influences and show a tendency toward medieval and mystical lyrical imagery. Prog rockers do have some classical elements to their music, but they also have more of an overt jazz and psychedelic influences — and have a greater tendency to improvise.

Interesting tidbit from Jan Erik Liljestrom of Anekdoten, from an interview on their web page:

In 1993 we were surprised that so many of the reviewers of our first album thought we were Crimson-clones. I had been more worried that they would spot the references to Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator and Trettioåriga Kriget. “Nucleus” probably turned more extreme because we wanted to show that we had other influences as well.

Surprisingly, I think this is pretty funny. Also from NME, this little quote from rapper Eminem, offered without comment:

“Boy/girl bands - little watered down pop groups, made bands, somebody sticks ‘em together and makes something that’s artificial, that’s fuckin’ phoney. You can only rhyme fuckin’ ‘fire’ and ‘desire’ and ‘heart’ and ‘fall apart’ so many times an’ I’m sick of seein’ it, sick of hearin’ it, and if I lose my fans ‘cos they find out Eminem doesn’t like N Sync, I don’t give a fuck. Fuck N Sync, fuck Backstreet Boys, fuck Britney Spears, fuck Christine Aquilera [sic], fuck all that bullshit, that shit is trash to me, fuckin’ no talent.”

Final couple of article links: The Wire bashes Zappa and interviews Magma (both are from 1995; the latter is by Paul Stump).

Various things including a little Progression hatin’

Tuesday, July 11th, 2000

After Crying seems to have a new official homepage.

The July 10 entry in josh blog sees Josh musing on prog, prog metal, prog fans, and King Crimson (I wonder if he has or has heard The Great Deceiver?). He writes somewhat negatively about, among other things, Dream Theater: “…all technical ability and nothing else really to speak of, except for the tepid compositions…” I find his criticism mostly on the mark — and I wonder how guilty I am, myself — but it leaves me thinking about how subjective the phrase “tepid compositions” is, or perhaps about what exactly it means.

There’s a fairly interesting Adrian Belew interview over at, in which Belew talks about how difficult the ConstruKction of Light material is to pull off live. An excerpt:

“I really tricked myself, because the lyrics on the choruses of ‘ConstruKction Of Light’ are random words, but each word is assigned to a specific note. The way I wrote the words was I went through and said, okay, every time I sing a G I’m gonna say the word ‘pain,’ every time I sing an E I’m gonna say ‘passion.’ And where there was a note that was repeated a lot, I gave it a second and third word. I wanted it to have a certain internal architecture, and that was fun. But now, of course, trying to remember words that have absolutely no meaning together, while you sing them in five and seven and play in 4/4…that’s gonna give me a headache for a while…”

Jon Fry sent me a couple reviews under the heading “Reviews of Stuff You’d Hate”. He then commented,

I was surprised at the jab at you in the editorial in Progression magazine, and also noticed the lack of mention of Ground and Sky in the “Prog on the Internet” or whatever article. If you ever start a “Ground and Sky in the News” section, you should wear the former as a badge of pride in it. Good day!

Amoeba Music, and I’m an “odd fellow”

Sunday, July 9th, 2000

Oy. Just got back from a nice vacation in San Francisco. I have a nice big backlog of reviews in my inbox and a few interesting tidbits to relate. Tomorrow I’m turning right around and driving a couple hours to play four games of Ultimate, so no more updates til Monday…

Made my usual stop at Amoeba Music and blew a hundred bucks or so there:

  • The Gathering - Nighttime Birds
  • Giles/Muir/Cunningham - Ghost Dance
  • King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon 30th anniversary limited
  • King Crimson - Lizard 30th anniversary limited
  • Tony Levin - Waters of Eden
  • A Silver Mt. Zion - He Has Left Us Alone…
  • Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

I wanted to pick up RuinsBurning Stone (used), a bunch of Yoshida Tatsuya stuff, a 2-on-1 of Gryphon’s Red Queen to Gryphon Three and Raindance, Djam Karet’s Suspension and Displacement, Zappa’s Läther (used), etc etc etc, but I ran out of cash. What a familiar situation.

Unfortunately, due to dinner plans and a rather persistent flu-like sickness that I’ve had for almost two weeks now, I was unable to see the Le Orme show on O’Farrell street Monday night. (ARG!) I’ve heard it kicked some ass and there were only like 20 people there. I will be kicking myself for the forseeable future for missing this, but what the hell.

Here’s a neat tidbit from MP3s of a live Atavism of Twilight performance in 1991.

Interesting comments from an anonymous Ground and Sky fan about the latest issue of Progression, which I have yet to pick up (nicely enough, the local Borders carries the zine quite reliably!):

On your “other resources” page, you note that Progression magazine’s reviews are “invariably positive”. The editorial in the latest issue of said mag (Spring/Summer 2000) has this to say: “One odd fellow who has a prog-rock website noted in his blurb about Progression that the magazine’s reviews are “uniformly positive,” suggesting they’re of little service to the discerning reader. That’s a crock.”

Is the editor referring to Ground and Sky?

Then, three pages later, brand-new columnist Stephanie Sollow discusses music review sites on the web. Maybe there truly are “hundreds” of such sites in existence, as she writes, and so it is impossible to mention them all, but I find the omission of G&S to be particularly glaring.

I don’t know the answers to the questions posed, but I will say this: my take on Progression stands - I read it because there’s not a lot to read in terms of print zines about this genre, but I find the reviews less than useful and the writing less than great. They can take me to task (if they can’t dish out the criticism, can they take it?), but that’s an honest opinion and I’ll stand behind it. As for Stephanie’s article, well, we recently traded banners with no problems at all, and as far as I know she holds no enmity towards this site, so I can’t imagine an intentional omission occurred for any underhanded reasons.

Currently reading Douglas Hofstadter’s acknowledged classic of modern philosophy, Gödel, Escher, Bach. He makes fascinating observations about Bach’s music - I’m sure they’re nothing new or revelatory, but I’ve never read any in-depth study of Bach, so it’s all intriguing stuff for me. Besides that, it’s a great book so far anyway.

Well, it’s been a long week and I have a long day ahead of me, so I’d better catch a few hours of sleep. Till Monday.