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View Poll Results: Which album shall we listen to?
Anathema's Judgement 1 7.69%
Ayreon's Universal Migrator Part I: The Dream Sequencer 0 0%
Blackfield's Blackfield 1 7.69%
Circus Maximus's The 1st Chapter 0 0%
The Devin Townsend Band's Synchestra 1 7.69%
Dream Theater's Images And Words 3 23.08%
James LaBrie's Elements Of Persuasion 1 7.69%
OSI's Free 0 0%
Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream 5 38.46%
Pure Reason Revolution's The Dark Third 1 7.69%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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Old 05-31-2006, 09:41 PM   #1
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The 6th Interference Album Listening Party - Axver's Modern Prog Edition

No, this isn't a mistake. MrBrau will still be doing his Britpop-themed listening parties, but we've decided to add some variety into the mix. We're going to try to run a party each fortnight, and I'm going to run a modern progressive rock/metal theme (prog = progressive). It will be interesting to see how this goes down.

I've picked some of my favourite prog acts of the last 15 years and tried to showcase the diversity of the genre. The poll will be open for five days, and the party itself will be at 1pm Australian Eastern Time, Saturday the 10th of June (US Eastern: 11pm, Friday the 9th of June). I'm pretty sure most people here will be entirely unfamiliar with the artists featured, so I've chosen to write a little bit about each one. Think one sounds particularly interesting? Vote for it! Don't worry if you don't have any of the albums - we'll take care of making sure everyone can listen in during the party.

Anathema - Judgement (1999)
The Anathema that recorded Judgement was stylistically a very different band to the Anathema that came to fame as a member of the 'Peaceville Three' (along with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost) that pioneered the genre of death doom. By Judgement, the band had lost all their death doom trappings and were an alternative/progressive rock outfit, and this album is quite simply their masterpiece. More restrained guitar playing than is usual for prog is combined with emotionally powerful lyricism.

Ayreon - Universal Migrator Part I: The Dream Sequencer (2000)
Ayreon is a project led by Dutchman Arjen Anthony Lucassen that is credited with reviving the rock opera genre. Arjen writes the music, sings, plays a variety of instruments, and for every project, assembles a cast of musicians (often other notables within the prog/metal community) to fully flesh out the sound. The second Universal Migrator album is quite metal-focused, but this one is softer and has a more classic 70s prog feel. Arjen never lets his music be restrained by ordinary rock/metal instruments and features a number of instruments more common to traditional music.

Blackfield - Blackfield (2004)
Blackfield is a collaboration between Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israeli pop star Aviv Geffen, and it takes Wilson's considerable abilities to craft soundscapes and combines it with Geffen's pop sensibilities. The songs are often a bit melancholy and sombre, and rather curiously for prog, only one song even reaches a length of five minutes.

Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter (2005)
Are these Norwegians the future of progressive metal? Well, if they can keep producing music as good as their debut, they just might be. Despite obvious Dream Theater influences, Circus Maximus forge their own path; great vocals combine with music that ranges from intense prog metal to much softer passages.

The Devin Townsend Band - Synchestra (2006)
I've seen Devin's music described as "happy metal", and that's probably a fairly apt description. Devin Townsend is a master at creating walls of sound that don't sound muddled, both through multiple layerings of a particular effect (i.e. vocals to create a "chorus of Devy's") and in adding atmospheric noise.

Dream Theater - Images And Words (1992)
Dream Theater is arguably the most important progressive band in the world today, and they single-handedly saved the prog genre by kick-starting the third wave of prog with the release of this album in 1992. After the first wave of prog (i.e. Rush, Yes, King Crimson) was destroyed by punk in the late seventies, the second wave of prog (i.e. Marillion) fizzled out in the later half of the eighties, but then through came Dream Theater, mixing their love of first wave prog with heavy metal. Images And Words is not only their seminal work, but has been imitated since by countless prog metal bands.

James LaBrie - Elements Of Persuasion (2006)
James LaBrie is the lead singer of Dream Theater, and has a voice that you either love or hate. I happen to be firmly in the former camp, and this is an excellent solo album. LaBrie assembled a great cast of backing musicians and the result is more metal than I would have expected, though it is of course focused on showcasing LaBrie's vocal skills primarily.

OSI - Free (2006)
OSI - Office of Strategic Influence, named after a short-lived official US department - is a prog project featuring a number of notable names in the prog world. It features Fates Warning's Jim Matheos on guitar, Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex-Dream Theater) on vocals and keyboards, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums, and although the first album had the excellent Sean Malone (Gordian Knot, ex-Cynic) on bass, this one has Joey Vera of Fates Warning. The song lengths are primarily shorter than usual for prog, and feature Kevin Moore's strong influence. His vocals aren't exactly the best in the world, but they suit his music.

Porcupine Tree - The Sky Moves Sideways (1999)
In its earlier days, Porcupine Tree earned comparisons to Pink Floyd due to their atmospheric and epic compositions, and more recently, metal riffing has been incorporated into their repertoire. Stupid Dream falls at the transition point, with Steven Wilson writing songs that largely conform to traditional song structure and length. While the music is complex, it also comes with some strong, catchy choruses and Wilson's voice is captivating. Then again, whatever Wilson touches turns to gold. You can't go wrong with Porcupine Tree.

Pure Reason Revolution - The Dark Third (2006)
Whereas Circus Maximus may be the future of prog metal, I have to ask, is Pure Reason Revolution the future of Floydesque prog rock? Their debut bears resemblances to Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and Porcupine Tree's The Sky Moves Sideways, but is far from a rip-off: not only does it have beautiful instrumental passages that paint ethereal and luscious sonic landscapes, but PRR has mastered something PF never mastered. What is it? Appropriate use of female vocals! While The Great Gig In The Sky is unlistenable, PRR has a male and a female vocalist who float in and out of each other beautifully and flawlessly.

There is a lot more I wanted to include, but I made a point of devising some criteria for inclusions:

1. This is Axver's MODERN Prog. Not Axver's CLASSIC Prog; not Axver's FIRST WAVE Prog; not Axver's BANDS THAT WERE POPULAR WHEN MARILLION WAS Prog. I wanted to expose people to the less well-known prog bands of the modern era, rather than old favourites such as Rush and Pink Floyd. For that reason, an album could be no older than 15 years. In fact, if you look at the dates by the titles, you'll see only one is over ten years old. The Dark Third is barely a month old!

2. No death growls or other such vocals. This sadly ruled out some absolutely brilliant bands who should be included, but I know death vocals are certainly not for everyone. If you are open to them, I highly recommend the following, all of whom employ death vocals to some extent: Agalloch, Atheist, Cynic, Death, Opeth, Orphaned Land.

3. Try to avoid wholly or largely instrumental albums. It seems instrumental music isn't all that popular, but if you enjoy prog without the vocals, the following should be right up your alley: Gordian Knot, Liquid Tension Experiment, Russian Circles.

Ultimately, I kept in mind what I know about this forum and tried to make some picks that might be appealling to anyone coming to the listening parties (which goes some way to explaining rules 2 and 3). I hope people enjoy this theme. I truly love prog, I find it the most satisfying genre of music in every sense (I honestly don't comprehend the criticisms that it is soulless and focused on technical ability exclusively), and I hope some of you may be introduced to new music you'll enjoy too.
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Old 05-31-2006, 09:47 PM   #2
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I think the wording of my post gives away which album I think we should listen to: "Then again, whatever Wilson touches turns to gold. You can't go wrong with Porcupine Tree." I was initially thinking we should go with Dream Theater's Images And Words to introduce people to the seminal album of modern prog, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised Stupid Dream is a better choice. In any case, people seem to take to Steven Wilson's vocals far more readily than James LaBrie (though I think they're both excellent).
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 05-31-2006, 10:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
I think the wording of my post gives away which album I think we should listen to: "Then again, whatever Wilson touches turns to gold. You can't go wrong with Porcupine Tree." I was initially thinking we should go with Dream Theater's Images And Words to introduce people to the seminal album of modern prog, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised Stupid Dream is a better choice. In any case, people seem to take to Steven Wilson's vocals far more readily than James LaBrie (though I think they're both excellent).

Why not? That's what I voted for, though I've never heard any of these albums...


Unfortunately, I'll be away on 10 June so I won't be able to come to the listening party
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Old 05-31-2006, 10:31 PM   #4
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Originally posted by hippy
Unfortunately, I'll be away on 10 June so I won't be able to come to the listening party
We can adjust the date. I simply chose 9/10 June because that's exactly a fortnight after the last party. But it'd be nice if the regulars could make it. Otherwise, the party will just be me rocking out and Brau giving his thoughts on the tunes.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 05-31-2006, 10:44 PM   #5
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I won't be available the 9/10th of june. I'm free the 16/17th though.

I love Rush. So, who will I like?
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Old 05-31-2006, 10:53 PM   #6
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Originally posted by MrBrau1
I won't be available the 9/10th of june. I'm free the 16/17th though.
Righto, we'll change the date, though I'm not so sure I'm keen on the 17th. That falls right in the midst of my exams. But if that's the best we've got, we'll run with it.

Quote:
I love Rush. So, who will I like?
Hmm. Dream Theater's heavily influenced by Rush, though the similarities were more pronounced on their debut when they had a different vocalist who sounded eerily like Geddy Lee. Obviously, all of these bands have Rush in their heritage somewhere simply by virtue of being prog, and the most pronounced comparisons can probably be drawn to Dream Theater, LaBrie's solo album, and Circus Maximus due to the higher vocals.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 05-31-2006, 11:05 PM   #7
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Russian Circles rock, but I take them as post-rock with some dark influence ("Death Rides a Horse", "New Macabre"?)

anyway, prog rock of this kind isn't for me
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Old 06-01-2006, 12:14 AM   #8
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Originally posted by Jack In The Box
Russian Circles rock, but I take them as post-rock with some dark influence ("Death Rides a Horse", "New Macabre"?)
It seems there's a line where prog and post-rock blur together. Russian Circles seems to be more prog metal-y to me (at least in comparison to a band like Explosions In The Sky), especially with the use of some heavier, metal riffing.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 06-01-2006, 12:23 AM   #9
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voted porcupine tree cuz of barbieri

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Old 06-01-2006, 12:35 AM   #10
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Originally posted by KhanadaRhodes
voted porcupine tree cuz of barbieri

As soon as I saw your name in the 'last poster' category, two words went through my mind: Barbieri factor.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 06-01-2006, 01:02 AM   #11
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As soon as I saw your name in the 'last poster' category, two words went through my mind: Barbieri factor.


i should've not voted porcupine tree to go for the unexpected, lol.
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Old 06-01-2006, 02:24 AM   #12
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It seems there's a line where prog and post-rock blur together. Russian Circles seems to be more prog metal-y to me (at least in comparison to a band like Explosions In The Sky), especially with the use of some heavier, metal riffing.
post-rock and doom metal are more alike than post-rock and prog metal

check Pelican, Isis, Jesu, Red Sparowes

even bands like Té, Boris (they're more drone metal, but not drone as Sunn O)))), Mono, Mogwai, The Evpatoria Report, Saxon Shore and well... Explosions in the Sky have a doom vein I like

but anyway, I find Russian Circles in every post-rock group/page a visit... so, for me they're post-rock XD
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Old 06-01-2006, 03:46 AM   #13
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post-rock and doom metal are more alike than post-rock and prog metal

check Pelican, Isis, Jesu, Red Sparowes
So I've been discovering! I was first led to Isis via my interest in doom metal, but when I read about them, I often saw references to post-rock too. And jesu's simply excellent, I love the drone doom style. Quite a few of the other bands you named in your post are ones I've heard of and been meaning to check out - and the ones I don't know, I'll add to the list.

I'll have to look further into post-rock too. What I've heard sounds good, and when it comes up in prog circles, it is typically mentioned in a positive manner. I have rarely been let down by the prog circles I frequent.

Quote:
but anyway, I find Russian Circles in every post-rock group/page a visit... so, for me they're post-rock XD
Heh, whereas whenever I see them come up in conversation on prog boards, they tend to be considered an instrumental prog band, so to me, they're prog.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 06-01-2006, 04:09 AM   #14
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I voted James LaBrie! Like his voice
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Old 06-01-2006, 06:32 AM   #15
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I voted James LaBrie! Like his voice
Slightly Out Of Reach is one of the best examples of his singing. I love that song. A lot.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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