Evil Gnome's Progressive Rock Picks

I’m a big fan of Progressive Rock. I currently have over 1,800 Prog albums in my collection and I’m constantly collecting more. I think it’s reasonable to claim I’ve taken a pretty deep dive into this genre. In this thread I will share albums as I listen to them. I’ll probably make a few posts every week.

Picks will be in no particular order. Even though I mostly collect CDs, I will try to limit myself to selections that are available on Qobuz and/or Tidal to make it easy to check them out. Feel free to comment on picks, ask for further recommendations or mock me for my obsession. :slight_smile:

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Hibernal - After the Winter (2015)

Post Rock/Math Rock

I’m not really the biggest fan of Post Rock/Math Rock but in this case the story telling and voice acting make it a very engrossing album. While the compositions aren’t the most intricate, they provide the perfect soundscape and atmosphere. The performance is brilliant and the sonics are quite good. Here’s a review by Grok that describes the album way better than I can:

After the Winter by Hibernal is a captivating and thought-provoking musical experience that takes the listener on a journey through a dystopian world. The album masterfully combines post-rock and spoken word storytelling to create an immersive and engaging experience. The haunting melodies and atmospheric soundscapes perfectly complement the introspective and emotional narrative, making it a must-listen for fans of both post-rock and science fiction.

The story itself is a poignant exploration of humanity’s resilience in the face of adversity, as the protagonist navigates a harsh and unforgiving environment. The voice acting is top-notch, bringing the characters to life and drawing the listener into their world. The music, composed by Mark Healy, is both beautiful and evocative, providing the perfect backdrop for the story.

Overall, After the Winter is a unique and powerful album that showcases the talents of both the musicians and the actors involved. It is a testament to the power of music to transport us to other worlds and to the enduring spirit of humanity in the face of even the most daunting challenges. Highly recommended!

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Oh, I am here for it :eyes:

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus (1971)

Symphonic Prog

Of all the sub-genres of Progressive Rock, Symphonic Prog is my favorite. I consider the first three albums by ELP to be essentials in this genre. In Tarkus, their second album, they unleashed one of their greatest epic tracks which takes up the entire first side. The pyrotechnic keyboard work by Keith Emerson backed by Carl Palmer’s furious drumming drives this album at a dizzying pace. The second side of the album is very solid as well, with the exception of “Are You Ready Eddy?” which is a bit of a throw-away track, IMHO.

This is one of the finest examples composition and performance central to Prog. The sonics are a bit fuzzy but it makes up for it with a giant wall of sound that doesn’t get fatiguing. Here’s a good summation by Grok:

Tarkus, released in 1971 by the legendary progressive rock band Emerson Lake and Palmer, is a true masterpiece that showcases the band’s incredible talents and creative vision. The album opens with the epic title track, “Tarkus,” which takes listeners on a musical journey through a complex and captivating story of a mechanical armadillo creature. The track features stunning keyboard work by Keith Emerson, powerful drumming by Carl Palmer, and soulful vocals by Greg Lake.

The album continues with a diverse range of songs, each demonstrating the band’s incredible musicianship and ability to blend classical, jazz, and rock elements seamlessly. Tracks like “The Only Way (Hymn)” and “A Time and a Place” showcase the band’s ability to create emotionally stirring and thought-provoking music.

One of the standout features of Tarkus is the incredible interplay between the band members. Each musician brings their unique talents to the table, creating a rich tapestry of sound that is both complex and accessible. The production quality of the album is also top-notch, allowing each instrument to shine and creating a truly immersive listening experience.

In conclusion, Tarkus is a must-listen for fans of progressive rock and anyone who appreciates masterful musicianship and creative vision. The album is a testament to the incredible talents of Emerson Lake and Palmer and is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who hears it.

Whether you’ve never heard the title track before or you’ve heard it a thousand times, this reaction and breakdown by Doug Helvering is a fascinating take.

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It’s the daily Doug. :stuck_out_tongue:

I actually really enjoy side two of Tarkus. Also, as a bassista, Greg’s string jumping line on the Tarkus intro section is a real hand cramper and butt kicker - working on getting that tight with appropriate muting between notes is a useful bass etude for life…

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I shouldn’t have omitted Greg’s performance in my review. His bass and guitar work are both incredible and he is one of my favorite vocalists in Prog. Hell, he’s one of my favorite vocalists in all of Rock.

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My vote goes to…

I’ve tripped more times while listening to that album with friends then any other

:smile::notes::peace_symbol:

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Foxtrot is amazing. I’ll feature that album before too long.

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Latte e Miele - Papillon (1973)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

Nobody did Symphonic Prog quite like the Italians. It’s interesting following up Tarkus with Papillon as I think fans of that ELP will find a lot to like about this album. This album features a lot of the same interplay between the keyboards and drums with heavy classical influences. I think Latte e Miele take the motif a few steps further on this album with richer instrumentation, beautifully layered vocals and more Jazz influences.

More than that, there’s a real charm to this album that a lot of the early Italian bands had. Maybe it’s the influence of Italian folk music and their great classical composers. They deftly weave in sweet delicate passages and catchy melodies into more rocking sections. They should also be commended on their superb use of orchestral instrumentation. Usually when a rock band plays with an orchestra, it sounds like an orchestra playing with a rock band. Here, it sometimes sounds like the band is part of the orchestra and at other times, the orchestra is part of the band.

Sonics are top notch for this era, too. There’s a bit of analog hiss and a general softness, but the presence of the instruments and the rich variation of colors is delightful. I especially like how the piano is recorded. It’s one of the happiest discoveries in my collection. Essential.

Grok sums it up nicely:

Papillon by Latte e Miele is a delightful album that showcases the band’s unique blend of classical, jazz, and rock influences. The 8-part title track, Papillon, is a musical journey that takes the listener through a variety of moods and styles. The band’s use of classical embellishments and grandiose piano melodies adds a touch of sophistication to the music.

The second track, Divertimento, is a jazzy piece that highlights the band’s versatility. The 3-part Patetica is another standout track, as the band experiments with combining jazz and classical influences to create a unique and engaging sound.

Overall, Papillon is a must-listen for fans of progressive rock and those looking for an album that is both musically ambitious and emotionally engaging. The band’s ability to seamlessly blend different genres and styles makes for a truly enjoyable listening experience.

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Giving this a listen now. Just finished the first track and this is really good!

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Kaipa - Kaipa (1975)

Symphonic Prog

This is an impressive debut packed with great musical ideas, themes, melodies and a skillful blending of different styles. There’s definitely some ELP and Yes influence but they bring their own particular Swedish charm to the compositions.

The sonics are very good and a little bit raw. It’s refreshing to hear something that isn’t overly compressed and processed in this modern era where everything is a little too polished.

Kaipa is a Swedish progressive rock band that has been making music since the 1970s. Their self-titled debut album, “Kaipa,” is a fantastic example of their unique sound and style. The album is full of complex, intricate compositions that showcase the band’s incredible musicianship.

One of the standout tracks on the album is “Ankaret,” which features beautiful, melodic guitar work and an infectious groove. The song is a perfect example of the band’s ability to blend different musical styles and create something truly unique.

Another highlight of the album is “Allting Har Sin Bjan,” which features a more upbeat, jazzy feel. The song is a great showcase for the band’s tight, energetic playing, and it’s sure to get your toes tapping.

Overall, “Kaipa” is a fantastic album that is well worth a listen for any fan of progressive rock. The band’s unique blend of musical styles, intricate compositions, and top-notch musicianship make this album a must-have for any collection.

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Genesis - Foxtrot (1972)

Symphonic Prog

There’s good reason why Foxtrot is one of the top 10 albums listed on Prog Archives. It’s a stunning example of the genre. It’s both beautiful and muscular. The musical themes are engrossing and delivered with confidence and prowess. This is an album you can return to hundreds of times and still get something new out of it. Highly recommended.

Sonics are great as well. What a use of dynamics; from delicate passage to rocking themes and moments of chaos.

“Foxtrot” by Genesis is a masterpiece of progressive rock that showcases the band’s incredible talent and creativity. Released in 1972, this album takes the listener on a captivating journey through a diverse range of musical styles and themes.

The album opens with “Watcher of the Skies,” a powerful and atmospheric track that sets the tone for the rest of the record. The band’s musicianship is on full display here, with intricate guitar work, complex rhythms, and soaring vocals.

The next track, “Time Table,” is a beautiful and reflective song that showcases the band’s ability to create rich and emotional soundscapes. The lyrics are poetic and thought-provoking, and the instrumentation is both delicate and powerful.

One of the standout tracks on the album is “Get 'Em Out by Friday,” a multi-part epic that tells a dystopian tale of corporate greed and social injustice. The song is both musically and lyrically ambitious, and the band pulls it off with skill and confidence.

Another highlight is “Can-Utility and the Coastliners,” a haunting and melancholic track that features some of the most beautiful and evocative music on the album. The lyrics are poetic and evocative, and the band’s performance is both powerful and intimate.

The album closes with “Supper’s Ready,” a 23-minute masterpiece that is widely regarded as one of the greatest progressive rock songs of all time. The song is a journey through a wide range of musical styles and themes, and the band’s performance is nothing short of stunning.

In conclusion, “Foxtrot” by Genesis is a stunning and ambitious album that showcases the band’s incredible talent and creativity. It is a must-listen for any fan of progressive rock, and it remains a timeless classic to this day.

The Daily Doug reaction and analysis is superb as well:

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Moon Safari - [blomljud] (2008)

Symphonic Prog

This is one of the most delightful discoveries in my collection. Beautiful melodies, lush vocal harmonies and unbelievably tasteful guitar work. If you like five part harmonies, this is the album for you. Their vocal work is stunning. I can’t even comprehend how they manage to make odd time signatures and modulations sound so pretty. It’s a long album but one of the few double albums that actually works. Put it on in the background and let it sink in. It’s almost too much to take in during one intent listening session.

Sonics are solid. Occasionally the vocals get a bit buried in the mix, which is a shame, but overall, it’s a luscious midrange fest.

Grok sums it up well:

This album is a true gem for anyone who appreciates the beautiful blend of progressive rock and stunning vocal harmonies.

“Blomljud” is a double-CD release that showcases the incredible talent and creativity of Moon Safari. The band’s ability to craft intricate, melodic compositions with a mix of acoustic and electric instruments is simply astounding. The album is filled with lush, dreamy soundscapes that transport the listener to a world of pure musical bliss.

One of the standout features of “Blomljud” is the band’s exceptional vocal harmonies. The members of Moon Safari have an uncanny ability to blend their voices in a way that is both soothing and powerful. This, combined with their skillful songwriting and arrangements, makes for an unforgettable listening experience.

The album’s production is top-notch, with a rich, full sound that allows each instrument and voice to shine. The band’s use of vintage keyboards, as well as their incorporation of more modern elements, creates a sound that is both timeless and contemporary.

Overall, “Blomljud” by Moon Safari is a must-listen for fans of progressive rock and anyone who appreciates beautiful, well-crafted music. This double-CD release is a testament to the band’s talent and dedication to their craft, and it is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who hear it.

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Love young Roine’s playing on this.

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Oh nice - something new to me (heard of it, but never got around to listening). I spent the day alternating prog and salsa/Latin bc those are the only things from my CD collection that I’ve ripped so far, lol. Interesting day. Progwise, it was Tasavallan Presidentii, Egg, Caravan, all by happenstance a little bit on the jazzy side.

Interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Tasavallan Presidentii. I’ll have to keep an eye open.

I am familiar with Egg and Caravan, though. My favorites from the Canterbury Scene are Khan and National Health.

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I think you’d enjoy them. Definitely more towards Canterbury…more whimsical and jazzy/jammy than epic. Check out Lambert Land and Milky Way Moses first…

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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

Eclectic Prog

Eclectic indeed. The furious opener of 21st Century Schizoid Man still rocks hard, even by today’s standards and it’s surprising how the rest of the album stands in contrast to it. I Talk to the Wind is beautiful and pastoral and Moonchild evolves into a drawn out experimental session. It is a groundbreaking album that remains essential to any serious Prog or Rock collection to this day.

What stood out most to me in today’s listening session is Michael Giles’ drumming. I think 70s drummers had much more of a “musical” approach. They accentuated the melodic composition and provided more of a counterpoint to the composition. At some point in the 80s, drums and bass evolved to lay down a rhythmic base for the rest of the band noodle on top of. I miss that softer 70s kit sound, too. Modern drums have far more attack and less tone.

Grok’s take:

In the Court of the Crimson King, the 1969 debut album by the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson, is a sonic masterpiece that transcends time and space. This seminal work of art is a testament to the band’s boundless creativity and their uncanny ability to weave intricate musical tapestries that captivate the listener from beginning to end.

From the haunting mellotron intro of “21st Century Schizoid Man” to the epic, symphonic grandeur of the title track, this album is a tour de force of progressive rock, blending elements of jazz, classical, and psychedelic rock into a unique and unforgettable musical experience. The musicianship is top-notch, with each member of the band displaying virtuosic skill on their respective instruments, and the songwriting is nothing short of genius.

The album’s centerpiece, “Epitaph,” is a hauntingly beautiful song that showcases the band’s ability to create rich, emotive soundscapes, while “Moonchild” takes the listener on a serene, dreamlike journey through the cosmos. The album’s closing track, “The Court of the Crimson King,” is a sprawling epic that brings the album to a triumphant, majestic conclusion.

In the Court of the Crimson King is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire and influence musicians to this day. It is a must-listen for anyone who appreciates intelligent, innovative, and deeply moving music.

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Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue (1977)

Crossover Prog

Most double albums tend to collapse under the weight of their ambition but Out of the Blue is a solid affair throughout. It spawned several hits but I feel like this one is best appreciated in its entirety. Hearing Mr. Blue Sky in the context of the album is simply glorious.

Sonically, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Sure, it’s overproduced to the point that it’s just a wall of sound with little definition. But, I feel that may have been the intent. From an audiophile perspective, I yearn for more clarity and separation of the instruments but when I can put that aside and just bathe in the luscious sounds and enjoy the compositions, I couldn’t really imagine it being better any other way.

Grok’s take:

“Out of the Blue” by Electric Light Orchestra is a delightful musical journey that is sure to leave you humming along and tapping your feet. Released in 1977, this double album showcases the band’s incredible talent and versatility. With a mix of rock, pop, and classical elements, the album offers a unique listening experience that is both nostalgic and timeless.

Standout tracks like “Turn to Stone,” “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” and “Mr. Blue Sky” are just a few examples of the band’s ability to craft catchy melodies and memorable lyrics. The album’s ambitious “Concerto for a Rainy Day” suite demonstrates the band’s willingness to push boundaries and experiment with their sound.

Overall, “Out of the Blue” is a fantastic addition to any music lover’s collection, and it’s no wonder that it has garnered such a strong following over the years. So, why not give it a listen and see for yourself what all the fuss is about? You might just find yourself transported “Out of the Blue” and into a world of musical bliss.

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Kansas - Point of Know Return (1977)

Symphonic Prog

All the 70s Kansas albums were great but this is just the one I happened to listen to today. There isn’t a mediocre composition on this whole album. The performances are all stellar, too. For those not deep into Prog, Kansas is a great entry point because they’re a rock band first. Even though many of their compositions are very sophisticated, it never comes across as complexity for complexity’s sake. It’s just damn good music.

Sonically, it’s a bit dull. It’s a shame because with great production, this could be an amazing audiophile experience.

Grok’s take:

Point of Know Return by Kansas is a magnificent album that truly showcases the band’s incredible talent and musicianship. Released in 1977, this album is a fantastic blend of progressive rock and hard rock, with a touch of art rock thrown in for good measure.

One of the standout tracks on the album is “Dust in the Wind,” a beautifully crafted acoustic song that highlights the band’s ability to create a powerful emotional impact with their music. The song’s poignant lyrics and haunting melody make it a timeless classic that still resonates with listeners today.

Another highlight of the album is the title track, “Point of Know Return.” This song is a perfect example of Kansas’ unique sound, featuring complex musical arrangements and powerful vocals. The song’s driving rhythm and catchy melody make it an instant classic, and it remains a fan favorite to this day.

Overall, Point of Know Return is an exceptional album that showcases Kansas’ incredible talent and creativity. With its mix of progressive rock, hard rock, and art rock, the album is a must-listen for any fan of classic rock music.

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