Tuesday, 25 October 2016

1000... and more.

Yes, yesterday I posted the 1000th song on this little blog! I wanted to stop here, and after all 1000 is the perfect number to take a good rest. But there's too much prog out there and too much good songs are worth a presentation in my humble place. So I decided to go on and I hope you'll excuse my stubbornness. Of course, I'll slow down a little and I'll post on a less regular basis. You see, I'm old now, and I need some ease. All in all, thank you so much for being there, for listening to good ol' prog and for visiting this little place from time to time!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Indonesia (Abbhama, 1978)

As this track clearly states, Abbhama come from Indonesia, and they were active during the late Seventies. They released just one album (originally on cassette format) called "Alam Raya" (meaning "The Universe"), then split up. Unfortunately, I daresay, because their sole work is one of the best Asian symphonic rock album, IMHO, with a slight folk taste and an excellent piano classically played by the band's leader and composer Iwan Madjid.

The CD release kept the original cassette artwork. Good idea.

This atmospheric song was conceived as an ode to the band's homeland, but it's no way popmpous, as it flows slowly on a dreamy and nostalgic tone. The winds (flute and oboe) and the native tongue lyrics add a recognizable and sweet accent to "Indonesia", while the background arrangements could be campared to Camel. A beautiful song from a well balanced album, finally released on CD in 2014 (better late than never!).

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Pigs [Three Different Ones] (Pink Floyd, 1977)

"Pigs" still is a great favourite of Pink Floyd's fans all over the world. And I reckon they're right: not only this song has a special and immediately recognizable rythm, but the lyrics are among the most interesting ones by Roger Waters. As the sub-title says, the three stanzas of Pigs present three different powerful individuals, whose identities remain a matter of speculation, even if the third one is clearly identified as the English hyper-conservative  activist Mary Whitehouse.

The pig flying over Battersea power station...

Back to the  musical side, the main theme is catchty and well found, while the beautiful arrangements exploit some less usual devices in PF's typical instrumentation, such as a fretless bass guitar and a talk box. Two bass solos and a guitar solo also grace this track, and it's worth nothing that its live performances were usually longer than the album version, reaching some 18-20 minutes of duration. A true classic, always welcome in my playlist.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Moon Hangs High / 月梦 (Tang Dynasty / 唐朝, 1992)

Tang Dynasty are rather on the metal side of Chinese rock, but they surely were influenced by progressive rock and never forget how melody and atmosphere are important when it comes to writing good songs. This one, for example, comes from the album "A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty" (well, the title itself seems interesting to me...) and belongs to their softer side. I like the way they take advantage of the classic song formula enriching it with instrumental bridges and a vocal emotional crescendo.

"A Dream Return..." was the debut album by Tang Dynasty.

Most of all, the themes are very well found and the Chinese lyrics add a special, unusual (for us) sound to the big picture. Kaiser Kuo's guitars and Ding Wu's vocals are the first contributions the listener appreciates in this track, but the entire band knows how to play without uselessly showing off their skills. After all, a beautiful song doesn't need too much tinsels...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Baghdad I, II & III (Ilvcia, 2013)

Spanish folk, oriental mood and symphonic patterns... can you imagine such a mix? Well, it actually exists and you'll listen to it on the album "In The Nature of Reason", released by Spanish band Ilvcia. "Baghdad", in particular, is a suite of three tracks spanning over some 18 minutes and lining up a first acoustic part called The Gates, a more progressive and lively central section titled The Market and a liquid, pulsing finale (The Suburbs).

"In The Nature of Reason" was the first album by Ilvcia.

This three part piece of music is difficult to label, but this is exactly what I expect in a progressive song. Sure, you'll recognize here many traditional prog elements, namely the guitar / keyboard interplays and the atmospheric passages, but there are also so many folk, pop, space rock and even psych ingredients in this spiced kind of music that make me feel strangely happy when I listen to it. A good omen, no doubt.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Génesis (Vox Dei, 1971)

"Génesis" is the opening track of Vox Dei's first and likely best known album, titled "La Biblia" ("The Bible"), considered as the first Argentinian concept album ever. This band was founded in 1967 and started its discography in 1970, showing an eclectic approach to rock, a very prog attitude, I daresay. Multi-instrumentalist Ricardo Soulé is responsible for the lyrics and he was able to abridge the main books of the Bible into brief and effective stanzas, while the music - composed by the entire band - has a warm and melodic taste with some rocky moments.

"La Biblia" was the second studio album by Vox Dei.

"Génesis", in particular, features a beautiful bass guitar work and provides a soft and dense intro to the concept. Useless to say, the whole album deserves the progfans' attention, but "Génesis" is a very good way to get into Vox Dei's colourful and unpredictable world.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Remember Us (The Pineapple Thief, 2003)

This long track was the closing one on "Variations on A Dream" album and surely is one of the most emotionally-charged songs by Pineapple Thief to date. The acoustic, dreamy intro and the subsequent melodic line fade into an etheral instrumental section, one of the highlights of "Remember Us". Bruce Soord's guitar is stingy and almost obsessive, digging inside the listener's soul. Then here you are a keyboard-driven section, full of arcane effects and dark moods.

This is the K-scope 2011 re-release cover art.

The abrupt passage to a warm acoustic guitar is stunning and the suspended, delicate atmosphere is soon backed by a pulsing rythmic section, building up a thicker frame for the forthcoming vocal harmonies. The final section includes a beautiful electir guitar solo, midway between suspended waves and acid temptations. In short, this is a brilliant example of modern pogressive rock, well balancing experimental passages and pop-rock calls. An excellent way to spend your next 16 minutes, I daresay.