In my never-ending quest to improve the quality of the GEPR (and to make more work for myself than I can possibly handle), with this release of the GEPR I inaugurate the Gibraltar Webzine. For now, the Webzine will concentrate on interviews with some of the lesser-known Progressive Rock artists, who are nevertheless releasing some excellent music. They deserve some attention too, and that's what I hope to do with the Gibraltar Webzine. I will also publish news and information which may be of interest to the Prog Rock community, which I sometimes happen to hear about as Editor of the GEPR. The webzine will not take paid advertisements to make sure that it can stay unbiased, but I'll be happy to pass along news and info on Prog events such as festivals and such. Just send me the info and it will get published as soon as possible.
Since the GEPR's budget is approximately zero, I'm trying a new approach to doing these interviews. They are being done by e-mail exchange. I send off a bunch of questions to the artists, and they respond. I use their responses to create a new set of questions, and they respond again. I've also invited the artists to volunteer answers to questions I haven't asked yet, and then I make the interview "flow" by asking the appropriate question after the fact. It will remain to be seen how well this technique works, but personally I have high hopes that this will be a good way to do things. By the way, the photographs used in the articles are supplied by the artists and/or clipped from their web sites. Graphic art is cobbled together by myself, unless otherwise noted.
I've tried to "get technical" a bit on these interviews, since it seems that so many Proggers are into doing music themselves. I thought some info on equipment, techniques, and composition might be of interest to GEPR readers. If I've missed the mark here, please let me know and I'll cut back on these kinds of questions in future interviews.
The frequency of publication of the Gibraltar Webzine remains to be seen. The truth is I will do a new issue "as often as I can". This may be once a month, once a quarter, once a year, or just sporadically. But I will release a new one as often as I can.
If YOU know a progressive rock artist or band who would like to be featured in a future Gibraltar Webzine issue, don't be shy! Interview them yourself and send me the article. If you see a great progressive rock concert (especially of one of the less famous groups), then write up a concert report to tell us about it! If the quality is decent (or we can edit it a bit to make it decent), then you could have a column of your own in the next issue! Just send it to me at the ususal address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Just remember that the point here is to make interesting information available to the Prog community, not to sell CD's! Blatantly self-promoting interviews are not of interest! We want some meat, not just fanboy gushing about how the band is the greatest thing since sliced bread. OK?
Keep on Proggin'!
You may not have heard of artist David Bagsby. He's not exactly a "household name", even in Progressive Rock circles. But if you haven't, you're missing out on some of the most incredible Progressive Rock being recorded today. David is a difficult man to categorize. His solo work spans a huge range of styles, from Progressive Rock to Neo-Classical compositions to experimental Electronic musics to completely insane Country/Western ditties (that's where the "Madman" part comes in). And you can find all those styles on just one CD! In addition, David has teamed up with other great musicians like Kurt Rongey to form Xen, and is working with guitarist Ron Jarzombek of Spastic Ink on their new album. What makes this guy tick? Let's find out in this, the first Gibraltar Webzine interview!
GEPR: Hi, David, how's it going?
Bagsby: Very well indeed, thanks.
GEPR: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your musical background? Were you classically trained?
Bagsby: I have been playing since 1975; professionally since 1980. I got an A.A. in Music from Tulsa Junior College and had a few composition classes at the University of Tulsa when I was working there as a librarian.
GEPR: Did you concentrate on composition or performance?
Bagsby: Composition was my emphasis. I also played in all sorts of bands from Progressive/Jazz to Punk, Western Swing, Reggae, 50's/60's ... and assorted Orchestral deals with the Tulsa Philharmonic and a variety of Choral groups. I felt that to understand a style I should actually do it. The wonderful thing about music is that it doesn't matter what you learn, you can apply it to anything ... like Chopin's "Economy of Motion" idea ... that's something you can use in any genre or with any instrument.
GEPR: So, you started off in Tulsa, went to school there, and did a couple of CD's in tribute to Tulsa. But now you're in Kansas. Why the move?
Bagsby: I was born and raised in Tulsa and moved to Lawrence, Kansas this year. As a joke, I dedicated my Jethro Tulsa CD to a girl I dated 17 years ago (who I hadn't seen since) because she was a Tull fan. I figured it would be like a time delayed punchline. Anyway she contacted me and I moved up here. We're to be married next year in Scotland ... so be careful, the Butterfly Effect works! [That was] the point of migrating [to Kansas] ... not just to be closer to Kerry Livgren.
GEPR: Wow! Congratulations! So what are you working on now?
Bagsby: I'm now working at the University of Kansas library during the day and have several projects going at night. I just finished up some stuff for Ron Jarzombek's 2nd Spastic Ink CD. I'm also finalizing Translator, which is a double CD utilizing the same approach as The Aviary except instead of orchestrated birdsongs, this time it's land/sea animals & locales.
GEPR: Speaking of The Aviary, I've wondered about how you did that CD. How did you go about translating bird song into the compositions we hear on the CD?
Bagsby: The Aviary and the upcoming Translator CDs were done using a pitch-to-MIDI converter which changes the actual "songs" into MIDI. I act mainly as an orchestrator on these projects, since the field recordings act as the music. I do no quantizing or any other modification to the pitches/rhythms/velocities. It's like digitizing a photograph then changing the colors. I am trying to make these natural soundscapes more overt. I have a lot of material in this vein which I will continue work on as my equipment gets better.
GEPR: In the introduction to this interview, I called you an "Avant Garde Progressive Rock Neo-Classical Experimental Electronic Music Keyboard Wizard/Genius/Madman" ...
Bagsby: ... the Madman part made me laugh aloud (maniacally).
GEPR: The photo of you [at the top of this article] holding a parrot and a guitar indicates that even this is only part of your musical range. You've released two CDs that are tributes to your home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma [Squid Pro Quo: The Tulsa Project and Jethro Tulsa: The Magic Empire Strikes Back]. You do everything on these CD's from Progressive Rock to Neo-Classical to Country and Western comedy songs. Why is it that your musical interests are so varied?
Bagsby: I like all sorts of things; from cartoon greats Raymond Scott & Carl Stalling to soundtrack composers like Jerry Goldsmith & Leonard Rosenman ... go listen to the soundtrack for Planet of the Apes or Fantastic Voyage ... if you dare! I've always been a fan of harmony and keyboards so I guess it's inevitable that I would like Progressive Rock. I was indoctrinated in the 70's with Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Tull, Steely Dan, ELP ... I suppose they make an appearance in one form or another ... but as Zappa said, "without deviation, there can be no progress".
GEPR: Anybody who could actually record "Thrifty Nickel" must be at least a little bit mad! (Note: This is a tongue-in-cheek country/western tune sung by a guy who advertised for a wife in the Thrifty Nickel ... you can imagine the kind of response he got. Or if you can't, check out David's Jethro Tulsa CD).
Bagsby: Thifty Nickel is a leftover from my days as a Stand Up Comic. I'm a big fan of Zappa, Spike Jones, Tom Lehrer and the like, so there's no escaping your roots.
GEPR: Are the Tulsa CDs just for people from Tulsa, or can anyone enjoy them?
Bagsby: The Tulsa CD's are mainly instrumental so anyone could enjoy them. Mainly it's just the song titles and graphics that would require a Tulsa upbringing to get all the inside jokes. You don't have to know Kobaïan to enjoy Magma, why should this be any different?
GEPR: Has the response to these CDs been encouraging, disappointing, or are people just baffled?
Bagsby: These projects were a good way to clean out the closet of loads of things that didn't really fit anywhere else album wise. The response is as expected; did well in Tulsa but outsiders can't seem to get beyond the graphics.
GEPR: I've noticed that some of your releases are on CDR and some are on regular CDs. How do you decide whether it would be better to make a run of regular CD's or just use CDR's? Does it have to do with the volumes you expect to sell?
Bagsby: Yes, exactly. Most things are very experimental and very diverse so it's hard to make any sort of name in the field because everyone expects you to do one thing and stick to it. You can't release anything without someone trying to put you into some box or catagory. Some folks only like German Electronic Music and others only will accept Mellotrons which is fine but a bit too thin of a definition of music for me. I enjoy inventive structure and sound design. I like Todd Rundgren, XTC, 12 Rods & Self ... they are firmly rooted in Pop but have great harmonic ideas and I'm amazed they actually got a break to be honest.
GEPR: Transphoria is about to be re-released on Mellow Records. I loved that CD! What instruments did you play on this CD? I also understand that some parts of it were recorded live?
Bagsby: The Steinway piano on "Stranglefsky Part C" is live, but the rest of the CD is all my playing; guitars and all except the afore-mentioned piano (played by Candy Gaffen) and some poetry read by Jenny Labow. The rest is keyboards or samplers and guitars.
GEPR: Was Transphoria made before or after the Tulsa CDs?
Bagsby: This CD, as with all my work, evolved over a long period of time. I write many different types of music so I won't release anything for a year or two and then put out 4 CDs in rapid succession. This makes marketing a nightmare. Maybe one day I will cover enough niche markets to actually make a better go of it. The reason I do CDRs is so I'm not up to my eyeballs in inventory. All I have to do is buy blank discs and make them up as the demand dictates. This also gives me freedom to release anything I want even if only three people like it.
(Left) David Bagsby and Kurt Rongey of XEN.
Although this is a staged photo of them rolling the dice to determine the next
note in the score, it does hint at some of their composition techniques.
GEPR: Let's talk about XEN, the band you were in with keyboardist Kurt Rongey from Underground Railroad. How do you know Kurt?
Bagsby: I met Kurt running sound for his prog band The Choice years ago. I found out later that they were interested in having me play guitar for them but the band fell apart and I was playing in a (Gasp!) Country band when this came down. I didn't know how to contact those guys and eventually ran into Kurt again at an Adrian Belew concert a few years later. He invited me to a prog group he was in called Crunchy Frog which also featured Bill Pohl on guitar. In a few months, I was the Lead Singer/Bass Player/Keyboardist for the Frog. We did a lot of original stuff with a goodly helping of UK, Genesis, Holdsworth, Dregs ...
GEPR: How did you decide to work together in XEN?
Bagsby: Kurt went off to school in London so the band fell apart and XEN started up when Kurt was back for Christmas break. He came by and we just started recording stuff with nothing in mind other than to have fun. Eventually we had enough stuff to release 3 cassettes. The original concept for XEN was to be a musical setting of Max Ernst's collage novel, "The 100 Headless Woman" ... we wanted to do a Wagnerian scale piece that would take maybe 10 years to complete and run maybe 20 discs at completion ... hey, shoot for an elephant, get a camel.
GEPR: So XEN is strictly a studio band?
Bagsby: We did a couple of live shows; once opening for the Legendary Pink Dots. Actually Master of Night was supposed to be a live CD, that's why you have some drastically re-orchestrated tunes from the first XEN CD on there; but everytime I would try to arrange a gig, the club would go out of business ... still wonder why I'm not in Tulsa anymore?
GEPR: The photo of you and Kurt shows you rolling the dice. Did you really use dice rolls as a composition aid?
Bagsby: That photo was totally staged, however some tunes were done using Triominoes as a generative device and other very obscure methods including Fibonacci Series, square/cube roots, stochastics and playing cards.
GEPR: Since you've moved to Kansas and Kurt has moved to Fort Worth, Texas, what are our chances for more XEN releases?
Bagsby: Kurt's busy with his family/job/U.R.R. right now, but we've discussed doing a Tolkein based Prog CD with Bill Pohl so some day we'll make some headway on that. I'm sure XEN will return in some extropian form someday.
GEPR: Any other projects going on at the moment?
Bagsby: Also in the works is production on my brother Steve's solo CD, experiments with humanly impossible rhythmic hierarchies (a CD re-release of Bizaria, previously available only on cassette), infinitely variable filtering systems, and I'm having software developed to explore Euclidian Space & perfect tuning systems. Also, Hydrophony will be revised/released with new material soon. Ephemeron, which is also reviewed in the GEPR, will be revised with new material along with the original cassette set list.
GEPR: Your Tulsa CD's are released under various names (Squid Pro Quo and Jethro Tulsa). Are there any other pseudonyms you use that we should know are actually David Bagsby?
Bagsby: There's Snap-On Voles; this is my brother Steve & I doing cartoon jazz. And The Smurks; think of an ill tempered version of the Chipmunks ... not for the squeamish. Also Eden Musee: mainly acoustic prog with violin/guitars/Chapman Stick ... I hope to do a live recording. I also have an album of gothic symphonic terror music under the name "Vlad 3" that is in production.
Since the completion of this interview, David has been busy. He has released the 2CD Translator (which he mentions above) and also re-released Ephemeron (reviewed in his entry in the GEPR) on CD. Since this was originally only about 30 minutes of material, he has included Hydrophony on this CD as well, as a "bonus track", bringing the CD up to about 42 minutes. I have copies of these which I will be reviewing soon for his entry in the GEPR. -- Fred Trafton
|For further reading|
In the GEPR:
GEPR entry for David Bagsby
GEPR entry for Kurt Rongey
GEPR entry for XEN
GEPR Webzine #1 Underground Railroad Concert Review
Gibraltar Webzine Concert Review by Fred Trafton
When I heard that The Underground Railroad was going to be playing at Break Time in Denison, Texas, my first reaction was ... "you're playing where"? Why would one of the premiere new Progressive bands be playing in a little bar in the middle of nowhere? Well, why not? It was close by, so I grabbed a friend and my digital camera and we hopped into the car and tried to find this place ...
"What we're playing here tonight is called 'Progressive Rock', or 'Symphonic Prog'. It's kinda wierd and complicated, and they used to play it back in the '70's ..." It was Michael Richardson, the Underground Railroad's new bassist (also keyboardist and vocalist), addressing the small crowd between songs. It almost sounded like an apology.
Underground Railroad Guitarist Bill Pohl
(Photo by Fred Trafton)
"Right," interrupted guitarist Bill Pohl. "Like everyone here didn't ride up with us."
"I was talking to them back there," said Michael, gesturing to a pool table behind me full of biker types smoking cigarettes and steadfastly ignoring the band. The band had already played much of their debut CD, Through and Through by this time, but the part of the audience actually listening was pretty small. Maybe 20 people, and it was true that most of them seemed to be friends of the band.
But let's back up ... my friend Alan and I found the place a little before 9:00pm on Saturday night, January 13, 2001. We went in and found the back corner where the band's equipment was already set up. I ordered a beer and we talked and waited. The leather-clad biker types milling around didn't seem to care that a couple of nerdy-looking guys had come in and sat down at the first table in front of the band. I was wondering if there was going to be many people here to see Underground Railroad. Evidently not.
About 9:45, I saw keyboardist Kurt Rongey come in with a lady I assumed to be his wife (which she was). He recognized me from my picture in the GEPR and we got a chance to chat awhile. Kurt is one of the most laid-back guys I've ever met. I asked him why they had chosen to play here of all places. "Well," he said, "Michael our new bass player lives here in Denison and has played here with a number of other bands. We just want to start getting out playing to get ready for our NEARFest concert. It's no big deal, we didn't even really publicize it much. We're just here to play, it doesn't matter who shows up."
If you didn't know, The Underground Railroad was the first band signed for the annual NEARFest progressive rock festival this year. I asked him what he thought about that. "Yeah, that's great," he said. "That will probably be the biggest thing that ever happens to this band. And if it is, that will be fine." He told me that they are scheduled to be the first band of day two, which he sees as a great time slot. "Nathan Mahl played at that time in '99, and everyone loved them."
Underground Railroad Keyboardist Kurt Rongey
(Photo by Fred Trafton)
He seems to take his music very seriously, but he doesn't seem to take himself that seriously. By which I mean he doesn't have a swelled head about his music or any unrealistic expectations about "making it big" as a Progressive rock act. He told me that he got a surprise phone call at work from a guy who said, "I have your CD!" Kurt is a program director for WRR-FM, Dallas' classical music station, so he was confused. The station had put together a CD of classical music to support the station, but when Kurt asked if that's what he was talking about, the guy said, "No, no. Your CD, the one with 'Book'". Of course, he was talking about Kurt's debut solo CD, Book in Hand, and had put together that this guy on the radio must be the same Kurt Rongey. Kurt isn't used to people recognizing him for his Progressive Rock work.
By this time, the rest of the band had arrived, and Kurt quickly introduced me around, then they got down to business. They quickly tuned up (the equipment was mostly ready) and launched into "May-Fly" from their Through and Through CD. A great song, with lots of complexity and interplay between the musicians. Michael Richardson was still playing the bass part using sheet music, but as near as I could tell he didn't miss a beat.
They followed up with what was basically the entire Through and Through CD, namely "Through and Through", "Mars", "Comprachicos of the Mind" ("Watch out," said Rongey before the sync synthesizer intro, "this might hurt your ears!"), "In the Factory", and "The Doorman". Then they treated us to a debut of three new songs they've been working on, "Creeper", "Love Is a Vagabond King" and "Lattice Circus". Perhaps it was just that they had warmed up or the mix was getting better, but I liked these three new songs even better than the first part of their set (and I love the Through and Through tunes!).
Mini-movie (two frames) of Kurt Rongey at the
(Photos by Fred Trafton)
Actually, the mix was a major problem throughout the evening (or maybe I should say Through and Through the evening, ar ar). Nothing against drummer John Livingston, but the drums were overwhelming the melodic instruments. That wasn't John's fault, the rest of the band just couldn't crank up their instruments loud enough on their PA system to match his powerful drumming. Not only that, but the sound of beer bottles crashing against the trash bin and people yelling out conversations behind me didn't do much for the band's presentation. This was particularly annoying during the spacey, hypnotic (and quiet) sections which came across sounding sort of unfocused due to the interference of bar noises.
The fact that they were mixing themselves from the stage rather than having a sound man for this concert also didn't help. It wasn't possible to do any real-time changing of the instruments' sound levels because someone would have had to stop playing to adjust the mix. Still, in spite of the problems, the band was fantastic and played a great set of live symphonic progressive rock with textures that rivalled their CD in complexity and orchestration.
After the set, Kurt came by to chat some more. I accused him of being an Echolyn fan, I thought I heard a lot of influence from them in the Underground Railroad's music. He got a strange look on his face and stood up ... he pulled up his sweater to reveal an Echolyn T-shirt underneath. I guess that answered my question. But then he sat down and said, "It's amazing to me. Every single review of Through and Through mentions the Echolyn influence. It's true that I really like them, but I didn't think it came through that strongly in my writing!" Well, maybe not that strongly. But as a reviewer, it's hard to find ways to describe a band's music to people when you only have text and no sound. To me, their music is about as close to National Health or the original UK album as it is to Echolyn. There's also reminders of Gentle Giant and several of the Canterbury bands, and more than a bit of Genesis, especially some of the piano parts which remind me of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. But in reality, they don't really sound like any of these bands. They have a style of their own, and it's a great style.
While this conversation was going on, the rest of the band were setting up for their second set. This set was to be performed by "The Mess and the Magic", which was the Underground Railroad without Kurt. They were going to do a tribute to Rush with just guitar, bass and drums. Kurt's keyboards were turned to face Michael Richardson, and Kurt went off to sit with his wife and friends and watch the rest of the show.
Bassist (/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist) Michael Richardson and Drummer
(Photos by Fred Trafton)
Michael hit "play" on a tape player, and the opening synthesizer noises of "2112" poured out. From the microphone placement, it was obvious that Michael was going to do the entire Geddy Lee thing ... bass, synthesizers and vocals (except for the bass pedals, which were still in front of Bill Pohl). Let's just say I was skeptical about what this would sound like. It's hard for me to imagine anybody but "the Old Geddy" (as opposed to the New non-screaming Geddy) screaming the lyrics to this piece. When the instrumental intro paused and Michael sang, "And the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth ...", I thought, "not bad, but we'll see in a moment ..."
Then, the power chords began playing, and Michael stepped up again and began to belt out "The Temples of Syrinx": "We've taken care of everything, The words you hear the songs you sing..." It was incredible! This guy sounded exactly like Geddy Lee! The strain was clear on his face, as he turned bright red singing in this register. But it was perfect! I looked over at Kurt's table with an amazed expression on my face ... he just smiled and shrugged.
They continued with their renditions of "Xanadu", "A Passage to Bankok" ("This is a song about ... uhm ..." stumbled Michael. "It's a song about pot," Bill assured him), "Fly By Night" and "La Villa Strangiato" to name a few. They were all great, faithful to the originals except where Bill Pohl took off on the guitar solos which tended to sound more like John McLaughlin than Alex Lifeson. But that's fair, Bill's solos don't need to match the Rush solos. After all, he's not Alex Lifeson, why should he solo like him? Kurt heckled them gently by requesting that they play "Huckleberry Finn". (Rush fans, at least, should chuckle at this)
By this time it was 1:00 am, and I had a two hour drive home, so we had to leave before the end of this amazing set (I'm not as young as I used to be ...). But both sets were excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing these guys at NEARFest without the "ambience" of Break Time interfering with the sound. -- Fred Trafton
|For further reading|
In the GEPR:
GEPR entry for Bill Pohl
GEPR entry for Kurt Rongey
GEPR entry for The Underground Railroad
Other related web sites:
Kinesis's Larry Kolota says:
"I won't be releasing any more CDs on Kinesis"
No, you won't need to go out and buy Kinesis' entire stock of CD's to make sure you have them all. Not yet at least. But Larry Kolota has decided to call it quits as far as releasing any new bands on his Kinesis label. "I've always run the whole thing singlehandedly in addition to my day job as an engineer for a NASA contractor, and I realized some time ago that something had to give," he told the GEPR.
I asked him if that meant I would soon be unable to order any of the CD's already being offered by Kinesis. "You don't need to rush out and buy all the titles now," he said, "but they do go out of print eventually. Several already have. In some cases, it's practical to keep them available as a CD-R, but not always."
Larry plans to continue to distribute the titles already in the Kinesis catalog. "The mailorder side of things will continue indefinitely, though it alone requires more time than I'd like to devote to it," he told me. In fact, he has just done a major upgrade of his web site to add a secure shopping cart style ordering system, something very few of the other prog rock sites have.
Larry is optimistic that the bands originally on his label will find new ways of getting their music out to their audience. "As with Rocket Scientists, I hope I've done some good in getting bands to the stage where they can get a deal with a larger label for future albums. Iluvatar especially should be well-positioned for this when they record another album. And the release of a new album on a larger label benefits me because it stimulates sales of the band's back catalog. Brutal Architecture has been given new life by the release of Oblivion Days, for example."
It's too bad ... progressive bands have few enough options for getting their music distributed. Kinesis was one of the few small labels that actually did some promotion of their bands ... at least they had glossy catalogs, a professional-looking web site and advertised in prog-related magazines. But it's over now. No more new prog from Kinesis. Hopefully some of my favorite Kinesis acts will show up with new material at a new home soon ... especially Puppet Show. -- Fred Trafton
|For further reading|
|Click here for the Kinesis web site|
New Prog Rock book available:
Emerson, Lake and Palmer:
The Show That Never Ends
The new book by George Forrester, Martyn Hanson and Frank Askew, "Emerson, Lake and Palmer: The Show That Never Ends" was published on November 25th 2000, price £12.99 UK (paperback) and £20.00 UK (hardback). This was the same day as the book launch, which took place at Helter Skelter Books in London. US price is $18.95 MSRP, or $15.16 (Paperback only) from Amazon.com.
Carl Palmer was present, signing books with the authors, including copies of the hardback numbered limited edition. This version contains slightly different photographs from the generally available paperback edition. Only 500 copies of this hardback version were made.
|For further reading|
Click here for
author George Forrester's web site
Click here to order from Amazon.com
New MP3 pay-per-download site
supports non-mainstream artists
Avantnoise is a new web site being launched. It is already open to artists who are beginning to upload their musical material now. Artists will get a percentage of the pay-per-download fees, and bypass the "Music Biz" selection and distribution standards. This should allow progressive artists and other artists who may be considered "non-commercial" to find an audience and still get paid for what they do.
To quote from their still-under-construction site:
"The Music Industry is killing music. Ironic but true. The big record companies decide what the fans should hear, how it should be distributed - they take a huge slice of the money made from selling the records and tie artists in with gruesome contracts."
"You might think that's bad. We think it's just plain wrong. And we think that there's a better way."
"Avantnoise is about giving fans a way to find the music that they want, and giving musicians a way to make a decent pile of money without taking away any of their rights."
Kinesis' Larry Kolota says they have already approached him about "creating many MP3's and pages for the Kinesis artists". He thinks this will be a way to make some of the out of print Kinesis albums available again. The site is only open for artists at the moment, but they promise to be operational in "a few more weeks". Thanks for the tip-off, Larry! -- Fred Trafton
|For further reading|
|Click here for the Avantnoise web site|
Negative vs. Positive Progressive Rock
This guy is either a very astute observer of how things work in the
world of progressive rock, or he's completely missed the point and hasn't
got a clue about it. I've already made my choice ...
Dear Mr. Trafton,
Recently, I was wandering lost through a labyrinth of web links and I accidently stumbled upon your web site. I was pleasantly surprised to find a web site that not only contained a wealth of knowledge about progressive music, but which also answered the age-old question "Who is Fred Trafton?".
However, after thinking a little bit about progressive music, I realized that there are only two types of progressive music that I am really familiar with: "Negative Progressive Music", and "Positive Progressive Music". But, in all of your myriad plethora of progressive music sub-genre listings, I did not see one mention of these two fundamental musical types. How un-encyclopedic can you get? This seemed like a glaring omission to me.
So, even though being single, a low pressure video game programming job , and a condo full of three year old gadgets screaming "upgrade me!" keeps me pretty busy these days, I thought it was important to take a few minutes of my time to explain "Negative Progressive Music" and "Positive Progressive Music", thereby adding my small microdrop of knowledge to the ocean of data that you are currently maintaining.
Negative Progressive Music works like this - you'll hear a song on the radio, and you immediately like it - you think "That's one of the catchiest tunes I've heard in years!", so first chance you get, you buy a copy (big mistake!). The second time you hear it, you still like it but somehow the song doesn't seem as fresh. The third time you hear it, you notice that it really is kind of a formula song. The fourth time, you notice that it actually is a very repetitive, formula song. The fifth time you hear it, you notice that it really is very similar to those other 39 songs that they are playing on the top 40 radio stations. The 10th-89th time you hear it (because they're playing it incessantly on the radio now and you can't change stations fast enough) you really begin to despise the song.
That's how Negative Progressive Music works - even though not one bit of the song's digital image is changing, every time you hear it, the song gets progressively worse, until finally,hearing the opening notes of the song is akin to the sound of fingernails scraping on a chalkboard.
Positive Progressive Music, of course, is just the opposite. You'll listen to a song only because they stuck it on a CD with some other music that you already like, and you're too lazy to hit the skip button and go around it. The first time you hear this song, you think "Oh, that's one of those mediocre songs that they use to fill up CD's." The second time you hear it, you notice there are some subtle things going on that you totally missed the first time. The third time, you notice even more details that you missed before. The fourth time you hear it you realize that the melody, while not immediately catchy, is growing on you.
The eighth time you hear it, you noticed that you are still finding new things to like about this song. The eleventh time you hear it, you begin to think that this could become one of your all time favorite tunes. The twentieth time you hear it, you get all excited about the song, so you grab your CD, rush over to a friend's house, throw it in their CD player, and say "Man, you GOTTA hear this!", and after you play it you ask your friend "Whadaya think?" and he says "I think that's one of those mediocre songs that they use to fill up CD's." and you say "WHAT? Are you DEAF???" and then...
But you get the idea. Positive Progressive music somehow gets better every single time you hear it.
That's really all I know about progressive music. But I'll keep poking around your website - maybe I'll learn a thing or two.
Thanks for listening,
Mr. Secret I. Dentity