Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday's Playlist: Prog-Rock Pond Scum

Are you busy right now, or do you have a little time on your hand? And by a little time, I mean THIRTEEN F*CKING HOURS! Because that's how long this playlist lasts.

That's right, it's a behemoth of a playlist. Over seventy tracks. Several hundred musicians. Fifty billion time signatures. Massive, we tell you. Excessive in every way. In that regard, it's coherent with the subject: Progressive Rock.

GASP! The P word. No doubt you've been told that Prog (let's call it Prog) is a sub-genre to be vilified, full of pompous, pretentious muso twats who are more concerned with playing absconse, unlistenable, technically perfect, soulless compositions than writing actual songs you can enjoy without the consumption of mind-altering substances. And to be fair, some of the accusations are not always without merit... But that is the grandeur of prog: expanding the lexicon. Not being limited by a format, a genre. Confounding expectations. Exploring new musical forms. To boldly go...

Don't listen to the rock n'roll Ayatollahs. Prog is good. Prog is great. Prog is fun. Prog is a journey.

Some musicians in this playlist refute the term Prog. Robert Fripp, for example, resents King Crimson being lumped in with other musical explorers like Yes or Genesis. But then Robert Fripp resents the music business at large, fans, bandmates, photography, children, pets and joy... Because Robert Fripp is a self-admitted old goat, and we love him for it.

Robert Fripp is also not wrong: King Crimson does not sound like its peers. Then again, its peers sound nothing alike either. And that's the tricky thing about Prog: it has no specific sound. It is more easily defined by what it isn't than by what it is.

What it isn't is easy, complacent, pre-digested, dumbed down. And that's what all the artists in this playlist have in common, more than a sound, a scene, an aesthetic, a time or a place: a commitment, a vision and a passion.

Like a great Prog piece, this playlist takes twists and turns. Different moods collide, different styles clash, some themes blend. There is drama and levity, there is darkness and light, there is tension and release. Of course you'll have to break it down in several sittings. But make the first step and take the journey. It's a difficult trek but every step is rewarding.

Inevitably, there are a few tracks here that overlap with our Canterbury Scene playlist from July 2020 as well as our recent Instru-Mental playlist. I think that there is enough music on here, and diverse enough, that this can be overlooked...

In the comment section below, tell us which Prog numbers are your favorites, and which artists you'd like to see featured in an eventual second Prog Playlist.

Enjoy, comment and share!

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