There’s a great article in the Sunday New York Times this week about The Mars Volta’s upcoming Frances the Mute, and about prog in general. The author name-drops the usual groups like Dream Theater and Rush, but also mentions Cuneiform Records as well as post-rockers Mogwai and Sigur Rós. The review of Frances the Mute itself is very positive — I’m going to have to check this thing out; I was reasonably impressed by the band’s debut full-length, De-Loused in the Comatorium, though I didn’t think as highly of it as a lot of folks — but the comments on prog in a broader sense are also great. For instance:
Until recently, neither fans nor mockers admitted that progressive rock could also provide some of the same thrills - speed, whipsaw changes, sheer pummeling impact - as punk. That’s why many of prog’s musical twists migrated elsewhere in the 1980’s and 1990’s: the odd meters to hardcore and thrash metal, the dissonance to primitivist art rock, the convoluted song structures to indie rock and its proud subset of math rock.Prog may have been hopelessly uncool, but it was nothing if not alternative. Despite its brainy reputation, at its core it was a rebellion against ordinary pop. By any objective reckoning, it was also deeply demented. Who, after all, would labor over a suite in 13/4 time pondering the meaning of free will when the way to gigs and hits was with catchy love songs?
Nice to see prog not only not get a bad rap, but even actually garner praise, even if indirect, in a (very) mainstream publication.