As the year winds down, I would like to start a new feature over here at Progarchy.
This new feature is called “Late to the Party.”
Its purpose is to communicate albums that I found out about too late to include on my own Best of 2016 lists.
That is, I found out about them mostly by reading other people’s Best of 2016 lists!
Upon checking out their suggestions, anything that I fell in love with, and consequently started playing on heavy rotation, is placed on my “Late to the Party” list.
(We can continue this feature into January, if people are willing to share their late year-end discoveries. I know I always learn about a ton of great new music from CEO. Carl will always keep me busy for a lot of January!)
Also, you can include items on the “Late to the Party” list from years prior to 2016, items that you nevertheless discovered in 2016, and played heavily during the year, just as if they had been brand new discoveries that edged out all the competition in 2016 for a time on your playlists. (I include two of these “REALLY Late to the Party” discoveries below: i.e., Harvest and Gowan.)
First up is Anakdota, who have an absolutely fantastic, crazily progtastic album that I learned about thanks to Nick here at Progarchy:
Also, the MoMM taught me about the existence of Maschine. I absolutely love their jazz tinges and I am giving this one much heavy play in December also:
Further, AMG alerted me to this excellent 80s-style metal album, which totally rocks:
And now on to the big revelation for December. MoMM also gave me The Jaguar Priest, which is probably the album I am playing in heaviest rotation this month. If you can’t handle death metal vocals (i.e., growly “Cookie Monster” singing) as part of the vocal palette of a cast of multiple singers, then skip tracks 1, 2, and 4 on this release. But do not miss the rest of the album which, even with those three tracks deleted, remains one of the finest prog metal epics of the year. Don’t believe me? Then download one track, “Awakened By the Light.” I did and I was soon hooked, buying the whole album in short order:
By the way, I discovered Harvest in 2016 and ended up listening to their Northern Wind album from 2014 an incredible amount of times. This was also an album where I downloaded only one track at first, “It All Becomes Clearer,” but fell in love with it and soon purchased the whole album, which I listened to again and again:
Harvest — Northern Wind (2014)
Finally, I saw earlier this year that an album by Gowan from 1990, Lost Brotherhood, was re-released on iTunes. I never listened to it at the time, but it turns out that it has three brilliant tracks that totally hooked me this year: “Love Makes You Believe,” “Message From Heaven,” and “Holding This Rage.” Highly recommended!
Gowan — Lost Brotherhood (1990)
It’s never too late to come to the rock and roll prog-party!!!
Bruce Frohnen has an essay over at TIC about ELP, arguing that they are “the most important musical group of the rock era.” Here’s part of his argument:
“Karn Evil 9” is not overblown, it is genuinely and intentionally music on a grand scale, combining classical techniques with multiple, interlacing rhythms, and polyphony to immerse the listener in a web of sound that for a time creates its own reality.
“Counterpoint” is a concept (not to say a reality) little understood among most rock musicians; but it was crucial to ELP’s ability to produce sounds that made sense at a level frankly higher than can be achieved in most blues-based music, with its emphasis on a single, simple melody underscored by rhythms deeply rooted in a single beat. At their usual best, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer performed according to a vision of rock music as rooted in the classical past. They produced both direct classical adaptations (“Fanfare for the Common Man” being the most famous) and original compositions that likewise combined modern rhythm and technique with melodic sophistication to create genuine art—pieces of beauty capable of affecting the souls of listeners.
The Vivaldi Metal Project is arguably the Album of the Year for 2016.
Part of that argument involves adopting an historical perspective. To that end, here’s an extract from the interview that on January 2015 (at Blue Train’s studio, Venice) Mistheria gave to Sir RICK WAKEMAN.
Rick wants to test his theory that Vivaldi was the first rock star, and that the Four Seasons was the first concept album. The Croatian musician Mistheria, who is behind the Vivaldi Metal Project, confirms Rick’s thesis.
Rick Wakeman on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
Antonio Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons is the most popular piece of classical music of all time. There have been over 1000 different recordings , selling tens of millions of copies. It’s become so ubiquitous – in lifts, as phone ring tones or on call-centre answering machines – that it has been denounced as Muzak for the middle classes.
Rick Wakeman – platinum-selling prog rock keyboardist and television Grumpy Old Man – thinks the critics are wrong. He believes that the Four Seasons was so far ahead of its time that it was actually the first ever concept album – and that Vivaldi was the world’s first rock superstar.
But how could a sickly 18th century priest create the prototype for Rick’s very modern genre? And why did Vivaldi and the Four Seasons disappear into obscurity for more than 200 years after his death ?
Rick turns detective to solve the mystery: his journey takes him to Venice – in the 18th century the most debauched city on the planet – where he encounters some of those who have devoted their lives to studying and worshipping Vivaldi … and uncovers the whiff of a very modern rock star sex scandal which may have contributed to Vivaldi’s downfall.
Rick talks to Scottish virtuoso Nicola Benedetti and genre-hopping British composer Max Richter. In Venice he tracks down a Vivaldi super fan who relocated from France to pay homage every day; he meets Vivaldi scholar Susan Orlando and author Dr Virgilio Boccardi who writes about The Red Priest. And he learns about the composer’s involvement with Pieta, an institute for abandoned children to whom he taught music, from former Wimbledon photographer turned Venetian Micky White.
But the investigation also leads Rick to unexpected places and people. He meets fellow prog rocker Mike Rutherford from Genesis and debates whose band Vivaldi would join; and he encounters the Croatian arranger and keyboard player whose multi-national assembly of musicians is turning the Four Seasons into heavy metal.
Along the way Rick also discovers the only existing original score for the Four Seasons – in just about the last place anyone would have thought to find it ….
Directed/Produced by Linda Brusasco/Tim Tate
Watch the whole documentary online if you can.