Most people have heard of progressive rock (or prog rock, or simply prog) but the great majority of them treat it with mild disdain (at best) or outright hatred (at worst). Most of the criticism is a mindless rejection based on current trends and a misunderstanding of the genre; “dinosaur” is a common term of abuse, neatly parodied by Adrian Belew on King Crimson’s 1994 album Thrak
There is an increasing quantity of literature on the subject, ranging from the analytical or academic (Edward Macan, Rocking the Classics; Kevin Holme-Hudson, Progressive Rock Revisited) to the fairly straightforward lists (Charles Snider, The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock.) There are also thousands of fans out there who not only continue to attend concerts, but also contribute to a growing network of fanzines and on-line forums. Fans are even served by Prog, a glossy magazine from Future Publishing now in its tenth year, entirely devoted to prog in all its forms
The ProgBlog has been put together to encourage discussion about progressive rock music illustrated by personal observation
The award-winning ProgBlog
The Night Watch are a four piece instrumental/progressive/metal band based in Ottawa, comprised of guitarist Nathanael Larochette, drummer and percussionist Daniel Mollema (who also adds piano), bassist Matthew Cowan and violinist Evan Runge. They blend folk, metal, jazz, swing and post-rock musical influences along with an immense range of emotions into dynamic and cinematic soundscapes; an embrace of dynamic possibilities with the spirit of exploration of the progressive rock bands of the 1970s.
The Night Watch release their third full-length album An Embarrassment of Riches on November 15th 2019. Read Stefano Amadei’s review here
The original aim of the blog was to promote discussion about all and any facet of progressive rock but from time to time, bands and musicians contact ProgBlog with new prog-related material that they want to expose to a wider audience; ProgBlog's album of 2017 An Invitation by Amber Foil was one such approach. The DISCovery section has been introduced to better serve the requirements of musicians who contact ProgBlog with the aim of increasing the audience for their music; without music there can be no discussion of music
Moon Letters is a quintet from the US Pacific North West who coalesced from a number of other Seattle bands and is comprised of John Allday (keyboards, vocals, trumpet), Mike Murphy (bass, vocals, trumpet), Kelly Mynes (drums), Michael Trew (vocals, flute) and Dave Webb (guitar). They have recently released their first album Until They Feel the Sun, a concept album presented in the form of a song cycle, inspired by seal-human shape-shifting Selkie folklore from the north east Atlantic. Lovers of early classic-era progressive rock should like this album but the broad range of styles incorporated into the music make it unique Moon Letters. Read about it here
The ProgBlog Diary
A list of recent past, present and future happenings in the prog world
05 - October 2019
Live report: 6/10/2019 Cellar Noise – Legend Club, Milano
When I first signed up to attending Fabio Zuffanti’s Z-Fest in 2017 I watched a couple of YouTube videos posted by Cellar Noise, the first act on the bill, who were in the process of releasing their debut album Alight. At that gig they performed most of the album and then sneaked in an encore of Genesis’ The Knife and, blown away by their set, I bought a copy of the CD from the merchandise stand. Alight is updated classic symphonic Italian progressive rock with a wide-ranging palette and thanks to expert production, bears pleasing if unsurprising comparisons to material by La Maschera di Cera or Zuffanti’s Höstsonaten.
Though they weren’t performing, I spoke to the band briefly at the 2018 Z-Fest and was told that they were working on a new album and that the sound had a harder edge. That album, Nautilus, was released at the end of September and the free-entry launch gig was held on October 6th at Milan’s Legend Club, ably supported by Out of the Edge and Lumho.
Their set included material from both Alight and Nautilus, allowing an easy assessment of their change of style. Nautilus represents a shift towards heavy prog, if not prog metal (there were a few metal tropes) in a similar way to Steven Wilson’s retro-prog sound on The Raven that Refused to Sing gained a harder edge more representative of modern prog on the subsequent Hand.Cannot.Erase. Francesco Lovari’s vocals now seem more assertive, fitting with the topical and political themes of Nautilus, while Alight was more fantasy (think Peter Gabriel's short story on the back of Genesis Live.) The new material isn’t just heavy and riff-driven, but retains touches of their original melodicism. Alessandro Palmisano, a talented and thoughtful guitarist whose principal role on Alight was to add colour (c.f. Steve Hackett with Genesis 1971-1974) may play a more prominent role on the Nautilus songs but he still adds tasteful soloing. With a single Nord Stage 3, Niccolò Gallani’s keyboard rig much more compact than when I first saw them but he still exacted an impressive range of authentic tones for both original and new songs. The rhythm section, brothers Loris and Eric Bersan were given responsibility for driving the material from Nautilus – Eric’s fills showed what a good drummer he is and Loris, who was almost as animated as frontman Lovari though not necessarily when he performed on classical guitar, kept everything really tight – some of the songs had been performed at other, international gigs. Dispensing with the classic sound shouldn’t prove too much of a risk – Cellar Noise is exceptionally talented and the self-produced Nautilus hints at great promise for the future
Latest additions to the ProgBlog collection: Aktuala by Aktuala (Vinyl); Fabrizio d’André in Concerto arragiamenti PFM vol.1 and vol.2 by Fabrizio d’André (V); Discesa Agl'Inferi D'Un Giovane Amante by Il Bacio della Medusa (V); Frutti per Kagua by Capitolo 6 (V); Nautilus by Cellar Noise (CD); The Rising by ESP Project (CD); Resistance by IQ (CD); Sulle Ali di un Sogno by Le Orme (V); Cardington by Lifesigns (V); Ao Vivo by Mutantes (V); Icebound by Not a Good Sign (CD); L’Ultimo Viaggio by Nuova Era (V); Lord Cromwell plays Suite for Seven Vices by Opus Avantra (V); La Valle dei Templi by Perigeo (V); Placebo by Placebo (V); The World Became the World by PFM (V); In Rock by Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno (V); Live at Glastonbury Festival 2003 by Yes (CD); Symphonic Live by Yes (V)
The vast majority of these acquisitions were sourced on holiday in and around Milano, where The Concept in Lecco https://m.me/theconceptlecco and Dischi Volanti http://www.dischivolanti.net deserve a special mention, along with Punk Funk in Palermo (visited a couple of weeks earlier) https://www.facebook.com/PunkFunk-record-shop-music-bar-1941835792590113/
2/10/2019 Roger Waters Us+Them – A film by Sean Evans and Roger Waters at the Everyman Cinema, Crystal Palace
Craning my neck from the front row of screen 4, I still managed to enjoy the showing The set chosen for the film was excellent, even though I’m not a fan of Waters’ last couple of albums as a member of Pink Floyd. The sound was fantastic and his assembled band did the music justice, making me regret that I chose to ignore going to see the live show. It wasn’t initially clear that the film was cut from performances in Amsterdam but it did seem unlikely that an American audience would react in such a positive way to Waters’ anti-Trump, pro-Palestinian viewpoints and his despair for our treatment of refugees. I was transported back to the execrable political situation of the late 70s with footage of local children joining the band on stage, wearing boiler suits bearing the legend ‘Maggie’s Farm’- cartoonist Steve Bell ran a series under that name first in Time Out magazine then following a journalists’ strike at the title in City Limits, between May 1979 and 1987. Waters has been calling out abusers of power for a long time and perhaps this slick concert film will provide encouragement for others to do likewise
25/10/2019 Guitarist and founding member of Focus Jan Akkerman is to release Close Beauty, his first solo album for 8 years. His distinctive style was key to the success of Focus and Close Beauty recaptures the timing, harmonics and virtuosity that make up the classic Akkerman sound, running like a thread through the twelve compositions on the album; acoustic, electric, solo performing and accompanied by his own band, Marijn van den Berg (drums), David de Marez Oyens (bass) and Coen Molenaar (keyboards)
16/10/2019 ESP Project, Half Moon, Putney + Hats Off Gentlemen it’s Adequate
The Rising (available 11/10/19) album launch – another beautifully crafted addition to the canon from Tony Lowe’s ESP Project http://sunncreative.com/latest/esp/
31/10/2019 Genoa symphonic prog band Melting Clock are due to release their debut album Destinazioni. The first single Caleidoscopio, released earlier this month has attracted positive reviews. To get a taste of their intelligent, hyper-melodic songs, visit