I began this series when I first joined Progarchy back in 2013, and my last post concerning these obscure prog bands dates back to June 8, 2014 – almost seven years ago exactly! At the time I told myself I was going to cover only ten of these bands – it’s a tidy number, and, considering how many obscure prog bands were and are currently out there, I wanted to keep the list manageable. Furthermore, after graduating from college in 2016, my taste in prog remained almost exclusively centered on the heavy hitters of the “classic” era: Yes, Genesis, ELP, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson.
But then yesterday I changed my mind. My interest in these unheralded bands was rekindled only very recently, thanks to fellow Progarchist Reyna McCain. There are far too many under-appreciated progressive rock musicians out there – so why stop at ten? I compiled a list of some thirty bands (yes, I know that is not an exhaustive number; I will probably add more), and my goal is to cover all of them. My other goal is to keep these reviews fairly brief – after all, it’s the listening that matters most. So, without further ado, let’s begin at eleven:
Alloy Now is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist David Noel, who began his prog career with the Plastic Overlords, a Georgia-based psychedelic trio. Shortly after Plastic Overlords released their eponymous album, Noel started Alloy Now, a solo project (although he does feature some guest musicians on bass guitar and drums). Despite his Southern roots, Noel sounds like a mix of David Gilmour, Dave Brock, and Peter Hamill (at his more restrained): the acid-space-psychedelic influences are clear throughout this album.
Twin Sister of the Milky Way was released in the year 2000, but sounds like it could have been made in the early 1970s. That being said, it is not a simple homage to its influences, which range from Pink Floyd to Van der Graaf Generator to Hawkwind. Particular highlights include the opening number, “The Butterscotch Star,” which features a rich bass guitar (think Chris Squire), trippy vocals, and gorgeous keyboard-driven melodies. The instrumental “Shoulder of Orion” opens with ominous keyboards and percussion, but gradually transforms into something like a cosmic march through the stars. “Ghostly Superhero” could have been written by a Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie – think “Starman” or “Moonage Daydream.” Finally, the title track may be the strongest on the album: Noel’s spaced-out, symphonic guitar and keys play over wordless vocals, taking you on a trip through the Milky Way galaxy.
In my humble opinion, there is not a weak song on this album. If you are inclined towards symphonic prog or the acid and space rock sound of Hawkwind and Pink Floyd, then Twin Sister of the Milky Way belongs in your galaxy.
Stay tuned for obscure prog band number twelve!