A Review of Riverside, Wasteland (Insideout, 2018).
At first, I was surprised that the two best (and best known, at least in American prog circles) Polish bands named their most recent albums, Wasteland. Well, ok, there’s a slight difference. Newspaperflyhunting named its album with a plural. Still, it must be more than a coincidence. Presumably, each took the name either from the Arthurian legends or from T.S. Eliot (who took his from the Arthurian legends). Regardless, the title fits for most of our world of 2018.
No. 5. Cosmograf, HAY MAN DREAMS. I’m pretty much a shoo-in for purchasing every thing Robin Armstrong—master of all things chronometry—does. I love the angst and the seriousness he brings to each and every note and lyric. Spirited without being gushy, and thoughtful without being pedantic. I also love how entrepreneurial he is in his approach to music—finding the best musician to fit each part he’s written. Whatever Armstrong does, he always achieves something serious and meaningful. The HAY-MAN DREAMS is no different. As with everything Armstrong does, there is gravitas.
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.
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 😉
Over two of music and minimal commentary. Featuring music by Arjen Lucassen in his many incarnations and manifestations. Also, music by Big Big Train, The Tangent, Blodwyn Pig, Jethro Tull, Hans Zimmer, My Bloody Valentine, the Sundays, Tears for Fears, Vertica, Sixpence None the Richer, Roswell Six, Matthew Sweet, ELO, Spacehog, and Newspaperflyhunting.
Our great Polish friends, the members of Newspaperflyhunting, have just released their latest single at Bandcamp.
In continuity with their past musical approach, but armed with excellent new ideas, the band progresses properly. Be prepared for a much proggier 1985 New Order mixed with some 1990 Cranberries mixed with the genius that alone belongs to NPFH!
When the Polish band newspaperflyhunting released Iceberg Soul in 2014, to my ears it was a shot across the bow of prog, which maybe needed a little hard striving to bust out of the templates. The album was an original in a widening landscape littered with knockoffs, so while their sound skimmed Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground, Mazzy Star and modern metal, their song structures, melodies, and presentation were a strong reminder of prog’s roots: a playground for the far out and unexpected, combining psychedelia, improvisation, and musics new and old, with a focus on riffs and the straight-up sonic power of rock’s stomp. This was not a music to be sequestered unto itself, and reminds me how the Soft Machine cut their teeth opening for Jimi Hendrix, and Yes was as likely to be paired with Iron Butterfly, or Rush with ZZ Top, as with strictly like-minded souls.
“Through the Lurking Glass” is representative of the rest of Iceberg Soul, which is unfussy and melodically rich, a dark stage lit by accents like Fender Rhodes piano and an innocent, plaintive vocal approach which is improved by its Polish tilt. It’s an utterly unique record. Along with the work of Gazpacho, newspaperflyhunting is the best argument I can find for the continuing vitality of progressive rock.
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