TeamRock Gets Louder

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And, so it begins. . . –Kosh

Jerry Ewing, the fearless and beloved leader of the world of prog, has just announced that what was TeamRock has become Louder.  The rebranding comes as the various members of TeamRock fear that labels such as prog and metal have become too exclusive and narrowing for a younger generation of listeners.

To read the full explanation, go here.  Regardless, we wish Ewing all the best, as always.

 

Guest Post: Michał Pawłowski on Labels and Steven Wilson

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Love it or hate it, it’s Steven Wilson!

The following came in as a comment on a post regarding the media and fan reaction to the new Steven Wilson album, TO THE BONE.  It’s so good, though, that I don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle of comments.  So, without permission!!!, I’m posting it as its own post. Michał Pawłowski is founder and lead of the astounding art rock band, newspaperflyhunting.  He’s also a really brilliant and good person.

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A very very good point Brad! Strangely enough (or not) the comments that jump on me on social media are more along the lines of ‘Wilson betrayed prog, if you like the album, there must be something wrong with you! Bring back PT!’

“What the?????” First of all ‘prog Wilson’ for me is: 1) “The Sky Moves Sideways” and “Signify”, 2) More importantly: prog is all his output taken together. ‘Prog Wilson’ is not “Grace for Drowning” and “Raven” as I don’t really count retro as progressive and those people on social media I quoted above somehow see this direction (a fraction of SW’s overall output) as THE Wilson. I do not – it was a phase in his career (probably caused by his remixing King Crimson et al. at that time) that seems to have passed (or abated) as all phases in his career do. This is the very thing that makes him TRULY progessive, now culminated in a self-proclaimed ‘pop’ album released after the retro of “Raven” and the wonderfully eclectic “H.C.E.”.

The position you descibe, ‘you must like his new album or you betray prog!” is equally daft. I don’t listen to genres. I use genre names so that I can communicate ideas (like this post), they have no qualitative value for me. I don’t like “Raven” not because it’s retro (prog) but because when I listen to it I’m bored. It doesn’t resonate. The label doesn’t change anything either way. I heven’t heard “To the Bone” in full yet (I’m waiting for the CD), but I like the tracks I heard a lot and Pariah is one of the best things SW has ever done.

Pop or not, prog or not I like what I hear and this is what ultimately matters. One should not like a poor record any more or less because it is a poor record in a genre they happen to like. And no album should be forced down my throat because it’s prog or Wilson or classic or whatever. People should grow good sets of ears and an anti-social media shield 😉

On The Futility of Genres

OK, confession time. After seeing this admission, you might decide to stop reading, thinking that I’m a little odd (and in that you’d probably be right). It’s my hope that some of you will be kindred spirits. Here goes:

After purchasing digital music from iTunes or Amazon, the very first thing I do, even before my first listen, is to right-click on the downloaded files and delete the genres that have been assigned to them. I do the same thing when ripping a CD; my first move, after CD details have been acquired from Gracenote or some other media identification service, is to delete the genre information.

There, I’ve admitted it. Is that weird? Do you do something similar?

In my case, this behaviour stems from early frustrations with digital music purchases. I would buy some Tangerine Dream and would be baffled by its classification as ‘Dance Music’, or I would download some classic Mike Oldfield and be astounded to see it labelled ‘New Age’. Besides such obvious travesties, I’ve downloaded many tracks where there is genuine ambiguity: a track labelled ‘Pop’ that I would tend to think of as ‘Rock’, or vice versa.

Just what is the difference between ‘Pop’ and ‘Rock’, anyway? I’ve never been clear on that; indeed, I no longer think it is possible to be completely clear on that.

The Amazon/iTunes model of music classification would have us believe that genres are an orderly array of rigid boxes, into which any given piece of music can be neatly placed. As prog fans we know better than anyone how flawed this model is. The boxes, such as they are, are not rigid. Their boundaries are fuzzy, very fuzzy – and these ill-defined boundary zones are precisely where the most interesting and rewarding music is to be found!

It is a familiar problem for any prog fan. Prog, with its tendency towards experimentalism and the effort it makes to draw upon many influences, invariably seems to lie at the intersection of some weird multi-dimensional Venn diagram of genres. And that point of intersection is difficult to pin down, as if a musical version of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle were at work, affecting our observations. The easy way out is just to define prog as its own genre and abandon any attempt to relate it to anything else – but that’s a question I shall explore in another blog post!

In my more facetious moments, I often think that there are only three meaningful genres of music: stuff you like, stuff you don’t like and stuff you haven’t heard yet. Or perhaps Tim Hall (@Kalyr) had it right when he suggested on Twitter and his blog that genres should be regarded as recipe ingredients rather than pigeonholes.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but for now I’m going to keep on deleting.