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Old 12-29-2015, 01:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Future of Prog looking forward, Grim?

Being the co owner - founder of a fairly successful art rock prog label, it's always a daunting question thinking about the future.

My feeling is the best prog was made in the 1970's and little has been nearly as innovative, creative and executed as well since. I certainly have my theories, but would enjoy hearing what others have to say about it.

How does prog really move forward?
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Old 12-29-2015, 05:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I guess it's hard to be "progressive" in the way prog rock used to be, when just about everything has been done now. When prog rock got going in the seventies, the idea of using, say, violins in rock, even pushing keyboards to the front of the mix was quite new. Songs were constructed in a formulaic way (verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus etc) and generally short. Prog rock giants like Yes, ELP, Genesis etc took this formula and kicked it out the window, leading to a lot of excitement at the time because all of this "new" music was different.

Prog rock bands of today, while there are some good ones, are basically copying the same sort of music as their idols/inspiration, with the result that it's hardly what could any longer be called progressive. Prog Rock is basically now just a label, like extreme metal. It's all been done.

I suppose the most progressive of bands these days are ones labelled as experimental or avant-garde, who actually ARE doing new things. Most are not my cup of tea, but they're probably doing more to advance the ideas in music than so-called prog rock bands such as Spock's Beard, Arena or IQ, though I love these bands.

Perhaps the term progressive rock, with respect to those and other bands, should be redefined. Retro-progressive? Retrogressive? Maybe just Keyboard Rock? I don't honestly think any of the bands around in the last ten or twenty years can claim to be moving the music forward and therefore could not, in the strictest sense of the term, be regarded as progressive.

And I'm a lifelong prog head!

I just listened to a band called Comedy of Errors. Good band, but one of the most obvious melding of bands like Yes and Spock's Beard. I still use the term progressive rock for the bands who play like that, who I like, but really as I say, to find true progressive rock you probably need to look outside the genre, to the experimental bands. They're the ones who are actually taking chances, breaking moulds and perhaps trying to set new trends.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
I guess it's hard to be "progressive" in the way prog rock used to be, when just about everything has been done now. When prog rock got going in the seventies, the idea of using, say, violins in rock, even pushing keyboards to the front of the mix was quite new. Songs were constructed in a formulaic way (verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus etc) and generally short. Prog rock giants like Yes, ELP, Genesis etc took this formula and kicked it out the window, leading to a lot of excitement at the time because all of this "new" music was different.

Prog rock bands of today, while there are some good ones, are basically copying the same sort of music as their idols/inspiration, with the result that it's hardly what could any longer be called progressive. Prog Rock is basically now just a label, like extreme metal. It's all been done.

I suppose the most progressive of bands these days are ones labelled as experimental or avant-garde, who actually ARE doing new things. Most are not my cup of tea, but they're probably doing more to advance the ideas in music than so-called prog rock bands such as Spock's Beard, Arena or IQ, though I love these bands.

Perhaps the term progressive rock, with respect to those and other bands, should be redefined. Retro-progressive? Retrogressive? Maybe just Keyboard Rock? I don't honestly think any of the bands around in the last ten or twenty years can claim to be moving the music forward and therefore could not, in the strictest sense of the term, be regarded as progressive.

And I'm a lifelong prog head!

I just listened to a band called Comedy of Errors. Good band, but one of the most obvious melding of bands like Yes and Spock's Beard. I still use the term progressive rock for the bands who play like that, who I like, but really as I say, to find true progressive rock you probably need to look outside the genre, to the experimental bands. They're the ones who are actually taking chances, breaking moulds and perhaps trying to set new trends.
I agree that the genre has failed because of the misnomer that to be progressive bands have to keep changing the sound radically or be experimental, innovative etc. Prog is just a genre like any other. It has a style and a way of doing things, just like any other genre. Usually it is defined by the rhythm section. For instance, let's do a reggae version of "Help". The drummer plays a reggae beat and the bassist the same just using the root note.

All the great prog bands had jazzy drummers. It's a rule of the genre (in the classic sense) You don't need to bring in electronica beats to keep it "progressive" Bring in Bill Bruford, not Moby.

Rock is usually pounding the downbeat. A prog guitarist is going to bring in jazz or classical chops into the rock format. Same with the keys. Jazzy horn solos over prog beats makes it Prog.

I have a lot of thoughts about it.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Is the term progressive rock really appropriate if you're just playing the same old ****e that Steve Howe did thirty years ago?
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Again, progressive is a horrible name. Was "Elvis" prog? It was progressive, was it not at the time?

I think "complex" is a key ingredient. Complex rock might be a better definition.

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Is the term progressive rock really appropriate if you're just playing the same old ****e that Steve Howe did thirty years ago?
His guitar playing was very complex. Still is. It's still much more original that a typical modern metal shredder who is just running chromatic scales all day with lightening speed.

The great prog guitarists were very artsy, stylistic, but also playing over much more complex rhythm sections.

Take Ritchie Blackmore. He certainly could have been playing in any prog band at the time, but the drumming was very rock, it did't have much jazz movement to it very often. If Bruford or Collins was drumming their style in Deep Purple, it would have been much more of a prog band. Certainly DP did some proggy stuff, "Pictures of Home, Lazy, Burn" but most of it was much simpler rock rhythms.

Same thing with Page. Zeppelin start toying with Prog on their 4th…. (Stairway etc) then Kashmir, Achilles, In the Light, those were certainly Prog tunes. But not enough of their material was prog. Maybe 50% of the material should be prog? I don't know.

Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" how could a song be more prog? Big keys, complex rhythm section, long epic build. He just didn't do a lot of that stuff. He actually auditioned at one time for Gentle Giant from what I heard.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:41 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You're good ole daysin pretty hard there.
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Old 12-30-2015, 02:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You're good ole daysin pretty hard there.
Well, the good ol days was a way of doing things also…. and that way does have a history of quality output.
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Old 12-30-2015, 05:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It's true what Frownland says, and what I said earlier, that to call the music progressive is almost laughable in the twenty-first century. I enjoy the beautiful guitar work of Steve Rothery or Sean Filkins or even Andy Revell, but I love it as prog rock because it sounds like Genesis or Yes or whomever. I can never listen to a new, for example, Marillion album and think "Wow that's really progressive" in the sense of pushing the musical boundaries. I'm not really sure who could take that plaudit these days, as like I say, nearly everything has been done.

I just think of prog rock as a label, defining a sound I enjoy and identify with. But I couldn't put my hand on my heart (well, who could? It'd be a physical impossibility unless I were Terminator 2 or something!) and say for instance that the new Steve Hackett album was really progressive, or that Jon Anderson has written something really progressive. I'm happy calling the music I enjoy prog rock, but it is something of a misnomer. Even neo-prog bands like Marillion, Pallas and IQ were just rehashing the greats. Most then moved in another direction, as did the likes of Genesis and Yes, kind of away from the precepts of prog rock.

Doesn't make the music I listen to any less enjoyable, but I'd be hard put to defend it if someone were to ask me why it was deemed progressive.
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Old 12-30-2015, 05:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Just a point: if I had to justify the music I listen to as being labelled progressive (which I don't) then I would venture that it is progression of the actual songs themselves, as in, they progress through different moods, tempos, using other instruments, soft passages, louder ones, instrumentals and so on, and that the "story" in the lyric often progresses too. I certainly wouldn't try to say that Spock's Beard or Arena or Willowglass are pushing any boundaries, but if I had to defend the prog rock title, although it's a poor argument at best, this is how I would do it.
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Old 12-30-2015, 06:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tributary Records View Post
Being the co owner - founder of a fairly successful art rock prog label, it's always a daunting question thinking about the future.

My feeling is the best prog was made in the 1970's and little has been nearly as innovative, creative and executed as well since. I certainly have my theories, but would enjoy hearing what others have to say about it.

How does prog really move forward?
Like how successful? Could you get The Musical Box into a recording studio, or film them in concert and release it on DVD?
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