Weekend Roundup 2: DIY Britprog

One indication of the absolute glut of recorded music available today: more of what I’ve whimsically labelled “DIY (for Do It Yourself, a la Peter Gabriel) Britprog” is available than ever. With Prog Magazine providing a megaphone and Big Big Train’s international impact paving the way, countless musicians from England have brushed up their chops, dusted off their home recording setups, and churned out self-released albums by the bushel in the past decade. Even as the chances of market penetration narrow in the age of Spotify and live lockdowns, an astonishing number of artists seem compelled to keep plowing the furrows first tilled by Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and their sundry heirs. The sheer amount of “meh” music that’s resulted notwithstanding, three recent releases (and a teaser of more to come) indicate there’s still enough fertile soil in that ground to keep yielding fresh harvests.

First up: Tiger Moth Tales’ The Whispering of the World from late 2020, for which TMT mainman Peter Jones stripped down both his writing and his usual instrumentation. Working with producers Robert Reed and Andrew Lawson, Jones eschewed multi-sectional tunesmithery and one-man-bandship in favor of a song cycle for voice, piano and string quartet. The result works like gangbusters! From the vigorous, propulsive opener “Taking the Dawn” through melancholy mini-epics like the title track, “Quiet Night” and “Waving, Drowning” to the grave, sweeping pop of “Blackbird” (no, not THAT one, but arguably as affecting) and the closer “Lost to the Years”, every track feels unpretentious, fresh and heartfelt. The semi-classical sonics mesh effortlessly with the compelling songcraft; Jones’ sensitive singing and lush piano playing weaves in and around the light and shade of the strings. Even better, the music proves the right medium for the lyrical message, as Jones narrates a cathartic passage through (in his words) “special or significant moments . . . coming to terms with both losing those close to us and our own mortality and place in the universe.” Sound a bit heavy? Well, yeah — but paired with Jones’ solo Quiet Room Session, The Whispering of the World is a sentimental journey well worth taking. Sample it for yourself, then order it on Bandcamp.

Continue reading “Weekend Roundup 2: DIY Britprog”

The Ultimate Prog Super-Hero Team-Up?

From Big Big Train’s Facebook page:

We are delighted to announce that Robin Armstrong will be joining the live line-up of Big Big Train for our shows in 2018 and beyond.

Robin is a multi-instrumentalist and the leader of progressive rock band, Cosmograf. Nick, Rachel and Greg have played as guest musicians on Cosmograf albums and we are looking forward to performing with Robin at our shows at The Anvil in Basingstoke and at the Night of the Prog festival in Loreley, Germany.

 

Will the good Dr. Birzer’s head explode anticipating all the proggy goodness to come?

Tune in tomorrow … same prog-time … same prog-channel!

 

— Rick Krueger

A Proggy Christmas, 2017 Edition

First the Big Big Train Christmas single, then the new Tiger Moth Tales album, now this — our Founding Progarchist’s stocking is filling up quick!  From Cosmograf’s Facebook page:

“Cosmograf will be releasing a single record on December 1st, entitled ‘A Festive Ghost’. Exclusively distributed in digital only format via Bandcamp, this unconventional Christmas song is a wistful reflection on the pressures of maintaining damaged relationships at the time of the festive season.

All of the instruments on this record are played by Robin himself including the drums.

A donation is being made to MacMillan Cancer Care for each download purchased.”

 

Robin Armstrong Tells It Like It Is

Robin Armstrong’s (Cosmograf) latest post on his website is a must-read defense of Steven Wilson’s hard-won popularity. Here’s an excerpt:

Well here’s the rub, you, like me and thousands upon thousands of people making music in the world today are entitled to precisely nothing.  We have no right to be heard, no right to earn a living from our art and certainly no right to success.  For the mere mortals, these things have to be earned, slogged at, and when some little successes arrive, appreciate them.

The truth is, that making a record now has never been easier.  Making a record that people will listen to got harder, much harder.   When someone makes a record that people are falling over themselves to listen to, in a genre of music that’s similar to yours, be bloody inspired, I know I am…

Read the whole thing here.