Opposite Day – Space Taste Race, Pt. 2 (progressive rock)

February 4, 2016

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Space Taste Race Pt 2

The ‘progressive’ is a quietly contested quality in rock music. There’s a great deal of music that can be accurately described as such, a small subset of which can be categorised stylistically as ‘progressive rock’. A smaller subset of music that is ‘progressive rock’ in style could also be described as progressive in character. There is an annoyingly vocal minority in the progressive-rock community that likes to shout ‘not prog!’ at anything that doesn’t fit their particular shopping list of stylistic markers, but relatively few artists fighting for their right to the adjective, since they have other things on their minds if their work is progressive …

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Hobopope and the Goldfish Cathedral – Grunt Gullet Pogrom (pronk)

January 28, 2016

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Grunt Gullet Pogrom

It’s tempting to say that the Hobopope project hasn’t been well documented enough, but I think I’m just saying that I wish Paul David Rhodes would write and record some more songs. This release, from a few years ago, brings together pretty much all the material that I’ve heard, in versions that I think can safely be regarded as definitive. It’s not easy to make much headway with a project like this. Few venues outside of major urban areas are going to want you to make a sound like this on their premises, it’s very hard to find musicians capable of playing such complex, abstract compositions, and although there’s a …

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Various Artists – Singles and EPs

December 15, 2015

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EPs feat pic 030

Richard Wileman seems to be going through a particularly fertile patch of late, putting out releases somewhat faster than I can write about them (and the day he puts out something I don’t write about will be a long time coming). After the vigorous collaborative chops-fest (I simplify unfairly) of Strange Relations comes this short programmatic piece depicting the eventual collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. Wileman predicts a cooler, calmer and altogether more pastoral event than sprang immediately to my thoughts, although the vast and oblique affective compass of his alternately gelid and cosy …

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The Chewers – Dead Dads (avant-rock)

November 17, 2015

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Dead Dads

Sections of rock’s avant-garde feel the need to dress themselves in the armour of technical facility, and indeed some of its practitioners are instrumental virtuosi who base their practice on complexity and sophisticated musical structures. Not The Chewers, who are somewhere to the left of even bands like Sonic Youth or Melvins, in terms of their relationship to the exigencies of performance and their reluctance to trot out any of the conventional significations of rock competence. This is not to say that their music sounds in-competent: it’s in time, it’s in tune, it’s assembled into coherent arrangements …

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Dropout Patrol – Sunny Hill (art-pop)

November 9, 2015

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Sunny Hill

‘Literate’ is a term that some might use to characterise Dropout Patrol, and ‘erudite’ is another: neither is really up to the task. Sunny Hill is not a literate record in the sense of being wordy, or more concerned with meaning than feeling, and neither is its erudition of the obvious sort, presenting a succession of clever references or flash musical competencies. But this is a band that knows its language, that has schooled itself in the ways that sounds and stylistic tropes signify, presenting its insights with precision and nuance. There is never any possibility of substitution or paraphrase in the exact…

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Various Artists – Album Roundup

October 23, 2015

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Album Roundup 037

‘Let it be known’, begins the declamation with which Damon Locks opens the first of these two live sets: the immense complexity of the knowing we are invited to share soon becomes apparent. I come across a huge variety of music, much of it extremely creative, inventive, accomplished and unconventional, but rarely do I encounter anything on the sheer scale of Galactic Parables: Volume 1, or anything remotely as ambitious. The performing forces at each of the concerts from which the album was recorded are large but not vast, at ten and eight players respectively, but the creative scope of the music …

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Roland Bühlmann – Aineo (progressive rock)

October 15, 2015

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Aineo

There is a minimal aesthetic to Aineo, but its compositions are structured hierarchically, not by any remotely Minimalist procedure. It’s an instrumental record, with cool, low-key textures, that, for the most part, can be uncontroversially classified as rock – a few folky moments notwithstanding. Everything about it conforms to established norms that say, roughly, each element in a texture will be active and melodically significant in direct proportion to its pitch. The music is not unremittingly monodic, and its textures are frequently more prominent than melodies that, if present, are sometimes no more than coincidences at …

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