Please note that this diverse list highlights the great diversity and
wealth of progressive rock, but may differ from your own ideas and
concepts. This is, by no means, a definitive guide. This list represents
but one opinion, but does serve as a useful guide. Your own opinions may
differ based on your listening experiences. This style guide was written
by Mike McLatchey and appears here with his kind permission.
More of a minimalist form of electronic music (although not always
electronic) bands that tried this form of music were usually quite
experimental. Maybe the most deceptively simple form of progressive music.
Eno, Cluster, early
The very border of progressive music in which more commercial styles of
music were created at a different angle. Not quite progressive but
Be Bop Deluxe, early Eno, Roxy Music, etc.
More of a region in England where all these bands originated. Maybe the
earliest form of progressive, Canterbury bands wallowed in complexity and
sounded extremely English. The ideas resulting from this form of music
were very original.
Machine, Hatfield & The North,
More accessibly related, bands starting with The
Nice that fused classical music, i.e Bach, Beethoven with rock
structures and were often quite pompous yet were quite successful at their
time. Usually a three man format.
The Nice, ELP, Le Orme, Ekseption, Trace,
The Trip, etc.
Obviously Dutch oriented, bands like this all had a certain sound in
common, yet one I find difficult to describe except for the fact that they
usually have a huge guitar presence.
Focus, Finch, Supersister, Crucis (Arg.), Earth & Fire, etc.
Early British Progressive
Most associated with much of the music on the early Vertigo "Swirl" label,
this type of music was like combining late sixties psychedelic rock with
the advent of progressive music and was almost that exact combination.
May Blitz, Cressida, Spring
Often mis-categorized by being called "new age," much of this music was
around far before they coined that awful term. Arguably the most
explorative of the prog genres, this is a wide open field and is
categorized by the use of almost all electronic equipment. Only for the
'70s Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Steve Roach, early Popol Vuh, Heldon, Richard
A catch-all that basically describes a more straight forward type of
progressive music, characterized best by the early 70's German label
Bellaphon. Often combined with "Kraut Rock."
Often, the band has a distinctively styled female vocalist that is quite
lush and usually very German sounding.
Nektar, Message, Nine
Days Wonder, etc. With female vocalist: Earth & Fire, Sandrose, Analogy, etc.
Very weird genre that may do anything at any time and can be quite stunning
to quite horrible depending on what you are listening to.
Nurse With Wound, Current 93, etc.
Close to the symphonic genre yet distinctly French
- a style of music that consisted of progressive rock and theatrical
sensibilities and carried on with Gabriel's costume/rock style. Too French
to be compared to Genesis though, except for
Ange, Mona Lisa,
More explorative jazz-rock that took this simple form of music to a new
level of innovation. Maybe a little jazzier than the space fusion, if you
don't like jazz at all, you may want to avoid this category. Not a good
enough description but it will do.
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brand X, Bruford,
Arti E Mestieri, etc.
Gentle Giant Influenced
Gentle Giant were an island unto
themselves and created a startlingly complex music that involved more
elements than I have time to describe here. This include bands heavily
influenced by them.
Since this genre is so undefinable, I never bothered to compare all those
bands in my articles to the English ones. For the most part this type of
music is purely Italian with the accentuation on dynamics and elegance and
PFM, Banco, Nuova Era, Semiramis, Il Balleto Di Bronzo, etc.
Another catch-all that vaguely defines most of the music created in Germany
in the early seventies and may or may not include the labels Ohr, Brain,
Komische, and Pilz. This definition is quite inadequate - most of these
bands were pioneers as of themselves and all merit intense discussion!
Amon Düül II, Annexus Quam, Xhol, Can, Faust, etc.
Music that fused Bartók, Prokofiev, and Satie 20th century classical
music with Crimsonian rock structures
and chamber rock. Also very difficult to get into, bands like these were
way out on a limb and quite different.
Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, ZNR, etc.
Symphonic rock done in a typically more simple or
commercial format. Also very lush but lacking the complexity of the upper
Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Aragon, etc.
I don't know what else to call this type of music since it was so
innovative. Mike Oldfield, an
incredible musician and composer created a form of music that combined
everything form hard rock to Celtic music and did it with such style and
verve that it actually became popular. Usually written like Symphonic prog and was also quite bombastic yet more
Mike Oldfield, Jean-Pascal Boffo, Sung Woo Lee, etc.
A variety of music that took simple folk songs and did something quite new
with them. There were many forms of this exploration.
Emtidi, Witthuser & Westrupp, Malicorne, etc.
A more rock oriented fusion that isn't purely jazz-rock but fuses together
many elements from the different progressive genre including Euro-rock,
symphonic and ethnic musics.
Embryo, Area, Thirsty Moon, etc.
Progressive Space Fusion
Very jazz oriented but typically with a heavier rock edge or "punch" bands
in this category used heavy amounts of trippy synth effects and were
You-era Gong, Ozric Tentacles, Neo,
Carpe Diem, some Djam Karet, etc.
Rock In Opposition
A form of music coined by ex-Henry Cow
drummer Chris Cutler. This type of music consistently defies
categorization (except for "RIO") and is extremely challenging and often
hard to listen to. Only for the very explorative.
Henry Cow, Art
Bears, News From Babel, Thinking Plague, etc.
Like space fusion but without the jazz edge, more of a straight forward
type of space rock. Hawkwind were almost the be all and end all of this
genre and were the innovators.
Düül [UK], etc.
Characterized by lush keys/synths and very melodic vocals and usually
written like a piece of classical music - i.e. "Symphonic." Different from
Neo-progressive by being much more complicated,
especially in rhythm or scale structure.
(early), Camel, Atoll, Teru's
If you listen to Frank Zappa, you know what
I mean. Not typically quoted as being "progressive" but deserves to be
included here maybe more than some of these others. Quite individual.
Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Floh De Cologne, etc.
A type of jazz fusion heavily influence by the French band Magma. Magma were a
truly bizarre band who's drummer, Christian
Vander created his own language to convey his conceptual universe.
The music is often dark and gloomy and can swing form Coltrane-ish marches
to wailing fusion operas in a matter of seconds. Pronounced "tsoil."
Niggurath, Honeyelk, Musique Noise, etc.
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