Stupidity Will Inherit the Earth: The Regressive Arrogance of Nick Beggs

The Mute Gods, Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth (InsideOut, 2017)

Tracks: Saltatio Mortis (1:57), Animal Army (5:00), We Can’t Carry On (5:11), The Dumbing of the Stupid (7:08), Early Warning (3:57), Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth (5:02), Window Onto the Sun (6:00), Lament (2:01), The Singing Fish of Batticaloa (8:25), The Andromeda Strain (2:57), Stranger than Fiction (4:23)

press_cover_01I’m going to catch hell for that title. I really don’t want to get political, but it seems that the regressive leftists are taking over this beloved genre we like to call prog. (I am, after all, the one who just last year wrote an article entitled, “Keep Your Politics Out of My Prog.”) Anyways, the first part of this article will be a subjective rant. The second half will be a relatively objective review. Both are neatly titled, in case you want to skip the rant part.

Continue reading “Stupidity Will Inherit the Earth: The Regressive Arrogance of Nick Beggs”

The 10 most influential bassists, by Nick Beggs

Nick Beggs recently named his 10 most influential bassists and here are his top three:


“Fronting up a band as a bass player and vocalist is a tough gig –  one with which I’ve had some experience. Geddy shows how it should be done. In a power trio, every little helps and additional duties on bass pedals, double-neck guitar and synths made for a fulsome sound in his stadium filling band Rush.”


“Also often cited as the most influential player ever, his approach to Jazz and the fretless instrument was ground breaking. It’s hard to find someone Jaco didn’t influence. The 80s music charts were populated with hits featuring many Jaco clones – and for good reason.”


“My biggest musical influence ever. His sound and tone inspired a legion of players. Chris’ own inspirations were Paul McCartney and John Entwistle, two players who probably influenced more than most. But for me, Chris will always be top of the list. Sorely missed.”

Bryan’s Best of 2016

2016 has been a pretty horrible year: terrorism, deaths of way too many musical heroes, the recent loss of Prog magazine and the total screwing of all Team Rock employees, personal inability to find a job… Yeah, this year has sucked.

Thankfully, despite these trials, progressive rock has continued to be the most creative and innovative genre in the music business. I always enjoy writing a “best of” list, mainly because it gives me a chance to look over the best music of the year. We prog fans really are spoiled.

Like last year, my 2016 list will be pretty big, and the order is completely arbitrary. I have a numbered top 4, but my top 3 picks for this year are essentially tied for first place. Without further ado, my favorite albums of 2016:

Continue reading “Bryan’s Best of 2016”

What I Liked This Year

I wasn’t too adventurous in my listening this year – maybe because artists I’m already familiar with released so much good music that they kept me busy!

Here’s what I liked in 2016 in the world of prog:

Tales_from_Topographic_Oceans_(Yes_album)10. Yes: Tales From Topographic Oceans (Blu-ray ed.)

Technically not a 2016 release, but with Steven Wilson’s 5.1 mix, this is a new album to my ears. This has everything a Yes fan could ask for – versions of TFTO that include the original mix, a radio promo, a “needle-drop” vinyl transfer, an instrumental version, in addition to Wilson’s new mixes – literally hours of music. A sometimes maligned work gets its proper release, and it really shines.


The Mute Gods9. The Mute Gods: Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

I love Nick Beggs’ blend of 70s – era FM rock with snappy songwriting. Turns out he’s much more than one of the best bassists ever.


Continue reading “What I Liked This Year”

The Mute Gods Dissect the Era of Disinformation on Debut Album


If you haven’t listened to The Mute Gods yet, you really should. They have crafted one of the best albums of 2016.

Nick Beggs himself will personally take you through the album, track-by-track, if you listen to his detailed, in-depth interview with Progarchy from last week.

Also, here’s the press release from Inside Out records, which accurately describes what’s going on with this supremely excellent album:

Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Lifesigns), Roger King (Steve Hackett) and Marco Minnemann (Joe Satriani) join forces to deliver engaging, expansive rock for the thinking person

Is everything truly as it seems? Are we living in a state of manufactured reality? How can regular people rise above the propaganda that floods daily existence? Those are some of the important questions The Mute Gods explore on its debut album Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me on InsideOut Music.

The album’s 11 provocative tracks explore the dark clouds governments, corporations, media, and religious institutions form atop society. Songs such as “Praying to a Mute God,” “Feed the Troll,” “Your Dark Ideas,” and “In the Crosshairs” look at how we’re driven to distraction by these forces, taking our focus away from important issues and meaningful personal priorities. Musically, the album is a mercurial journey that seamlessly shifts between the realms of progressive rock and adventurous pop.

“We live in a time of heightened religious fundamentalism in which people deliver the wrath of God or speak out on his behalf,” says Nick Beggs. “When did God appoint these dubious PR men? The people in this world who should truly be listened to are often the ones who are silenced. The voice of reason seems strangely quiet in the face of so much disinformation. The Mute Gods address this imbalance.”

The band is the brainchild of Beggs, an acclaimed bassist, Stick player, songwriter and vocalist, with a footprint stamped across a wide range of genres including progressive rock, pop, Celtic, funk, and soul. Collectively, his own band and project releases have sold more than four million copies.

Beggs has also worked with some of the biggest names in rock and pop, including Belinda Carlisle, John Paul Jones, Gary Numan, Cliff Richard, Seal, and Tina Turner. In the progressive rock realm, he’s performed with Steve Hackett, Steve Howe, Iona, Lifesigns, and Rick Wakeman. Currently, Beggs records and tours with Steven Wilson, the progressive artist enjoying significant acclaim and chart success with Hand. Cannot. Erase., his latest release.

The Mute Gods came together during Beggs’ tenures with Hackett and Wilson. Roger King, the album’s keyboardist and producer, worked with Beggs on Hackett’s sold-out multi-year Genesis Revisited tour. King has long been Hackett’s right-hand man, serving in production, arrangement and writing capacities for the ex-Genesis guitarist. Marco Minnemann, considered one of the most important drummers of his generation, has worked with Beggs extensively on many Wilson tours and recordings.

The album also features contributions from other rock, pop and jazz luminaries, including keyboardist Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson), drummers Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Tears for Fears) and Gary O’Toole (Steve Hackett, China Crisis, Kylie Minogue), and multi- instrumentalist Rob Reed (Magenta) as well as Ricky Wilde (who happens to be Kim Wilde’s brother).

Perhaps the most important special guest on the album is Beggs’ daughter Lula, an emerging singer- songwriter. The album closes with “Father Daughter,” a poignant reminder of keeping family intact even in the face of difficult challenges. The emotional vocal duet between Beggs and Lula looks at the struggle of a father reconciling dealing with his responsibilities to the world with the needs of his children.


Nick Beggs: string basses, string guitars, Chapman Stick, programming, keyboards and vocals

Roger King: keyboards, programming, guitars, backing vocals, production and mastering

Marco Minnemann: drums, guitars and sound design

Guests on the album:

Ricky Wilde: keyboards, programming, guitars and backing vocals

Frank Van Bogaert: keyboards and backing vocals, additional mixing

Nick D’Virgilio: drums, guitar and keyboards

Gary O’toole: drums

Lula Beggs: vocals

The Mute Gods: Coming In Loud and Clear

The Mute Gods

I’m old enough to remember those halcyon days of the early-to-mid-’70s when FM radio was full of great music. Every time I turned on my J.C. Penney clock radio, I knew the odds were good that something great would come blasting out of that tiny speaker. The likes of Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, Kansas, Bowie, 10cc, and many others dominated the playlists of my local “progressive rock radio” station, WKDF.

Artists like the aforementioned walked a tightrope between pop accessibility and progressive complexity with an ease that today seems miraculous. Garnering lots of radio play, a group like Electric Light Orchestra could appeal to teenyboppers as well as college-age music geeks.

Fast forward a few decades, and those of us pining for that golden age of FM radio are now well-served by Nick Beggs’ new project, The Mute Gods. Right out of the gate, the album’s title track, “Do Nothing Till Hear From Me”, is a tour de force of instrumental prowess and spectacular vocals. Set in a totalitarian dystopia where no one can be trusted and the singer is on the run, the song is 7-plus minutes of aural bliss.

There’s a reason Nick Beggs has played with everyone from Celtic-prog band Iona to Steven Wilson: the man is a monster on the bass and stick. I’ve always been a sucker for inventive and melodic bass work, and Beggs delivers on every track. At times sounding like Chris Squire and others like Tony Levin, Beggs is able to go from providing a discreet pulse to thundering beats in a flash, all the while maintaining a unique melodicism. I’m now a huge fan.

That said, this is not a bass showcase. The band is tight as hell and every member makes significant contributions. In addition to bass and stick, Beggs also plays guitar, keyboards, and handles lead vocals. Marco Minneman (drums, percussion, guitars, sound design) played with Beggs in Steven Wilson’s band, while Roger King (keyboards, guitars, backing vocals, programming, and production) played with Beggs in Steve Hackett’s band.

This is one of the best-produced albums I’ve heard in quite a while, with a mix that allows each instrument to shine without overwhelming the overall sound. Little details are there for the discerning listener to enjoy, like the brief retro organ solo in “Your Dark Ideas”, or the Frippy guitar in “Praying to a Mute God”.

And how about the songs themselves! They move from peak to peak, with gorgeous melodies. I am often reminded of prime Alan Parsons Project as well as Hackett-era Genesis (especially on “Strange Relationship”). Lyrically, they tend to deal with alienation, paranoia, and the irrationality of current times. As Beggs states on their official site, “The record has a number of moods. But overall, it’s a rather disgruntled rant at the dystopia we’ve created for ourselves and our children.”

“Feed the Troll” is a very creepy look at an internet stalker who could have come from the dark imagination of Steven Wilson. “Swimming Horses” is a meditation on the passing of time, while “Father Daughter” is a beautiful duet between a father and daughter in which he confesses his regret at not being there for her as she grew up. “Praying to a Mute God” addresses the nutjobs who claim to speak to speak on God’s behalf. Heavy stuff, but the stunning music helps it go down easily.

There’s only one slight misstep, “Nightschool For Idiots”, which gets dangerously high on my cheese-o-meter. But hey, even that one is a pleasant listen.

So is this album pop, or is it prog? The Mute Gods successfully walk that tightrope with a superb collection of songs – it’s both and it’s more; it’s just great, great music. With Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me, The Mute Gods have set the bar very high for everyone else in 2016.