18 September 2010

The State of the Blog 18 September 2010 (now with added critical content!)

Good morning and welcome to our occasionally weekly (but not always) State of the Blog post.

It’s been another busy week here at BPB, and I’m feeling it a little bit. I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s posts as much as I did getting them together for you. I know I (hopefully) have a busy weekend of writing ahead of me to get some more reviews written for you, covering a wide range of musical styles (symphonic, fusion, avant, and yes, even some heavier prog metal), and I’m rather hopeful that when they’re ready, they’ll be as response provoking as some of my recent posts have been.

Yesterday’s extreme/prog metal day is a great case in point. While you may not see it in the comments (and why won’t you guys use the comments section? I love getting comments on posts!), I got a lot of replies elsewhere (Facebook, e-mail, et cetera), and I know a good number of you enjoyed it. I know some of you didn’t as well, and that’s perfectly fine. Not everything is for everyone. But I do want to bring up something that I’ve mentioned in passing at least once or twice in some of my posts over the years which I think is germane here.

I’ll quote from my concert review that I posted Sunday:

“Prog is NOT about 15 minute long songs in 7/4. It is NOT about mellotrons and violins and flutes and racks of keyboards and triple neck guitars. It is NOT about costumes or lyrics about marmots coming out of the sky and then standing there. It’s about interesting music that does something different. That’s my definition of prog, and I’m sticking to it.”

My experiences show, despite progressive music being such an expansive category of music, that listeners tend to be very compartmentalised. Symphonic prog listeners are just that. Avant listeners are just that. Neo listeners are just that. And so on. There are time I think some listeners (not at all every listener, mind) find a style they like and close out everything else with a wave of the hand and a snide ‘how can you listen to that?’ kind of comment…

How can you listen to Present? There’s no melody!
How can you listen to Marillion? It’s just cloying with no depth!
How can you listen to Magma? It’s Klingon Space Opera!
How can you listen to Opeth? The singer is ridiculous!

And so on.

Maybe I’m lucky in that I’ve reached a point where I find enjoyment in all those various styles of progressive music, and then some. I like to think that there is something good in all kinds of music. Unfortunately, since Sturgeon’s Law applies equally everywhere, 90% of everything is typically crap, and often it’s that 90% that gets the most attention. My point is this…progressive music is happening all across the board, in more that one style, and closing one’s self off to those possibilities is incredibly limiting.

And that’s enough of that!

Lots of stuff coming soon, as we get back to the blog in general. I’m working up some new interviews for you…again, if you check the interviews archive page, you’ll get a hint of what’s to come. New music is coming in almost daily, and You’ll be reading about a lot of different things soon. We’ll also be talking about hype and the genre’s fear of it, looking back at some great albums from the distant past, and reposting some retro-reviews of albums I’ve listened to and enjoyed (or perhaps not!) over the past few years that have never run here on Bill’s Prog Blog. So lots of good stuff.

I’ll wrap it up for this week with my now seeming to be obligatory now listening list for the week…

Effloresce – Shades of Fate
District 97 – Hybrid Child
Edensong – The Fruit Fallen
Goldbug – The Seven Dreams
SimakDialog – Demi-Masa
We Sell Seashells – Be Excellent
Half Past Four – Rabbit in the Vestibule
All Over Everything – Inner Firmaments Decay
Stig – Biodiversity
Le Orme - Contrappunti

I have a few other small posts for today. Otherwise…see you all Monday!


firefly said...

Well said - to keep an open mind about all (prog) music ... it's humbling, too, because I don't have near the talent as the bands you post about!
Also, just want to boast your writing skills and content of reviews, too, etc., which are just as enjoyable as the listening of music ... and since I cannot afford to buy most of them ... and getting an idea first of what to expect if I do decide to buy one or two ...

Assaf Vestin said...

" like to think that there is something good in all kinds of music."
Exactly the way I listen to music.
I don't listen to genres of music, I listen to music and the music can come in all forms.
So keep up the great work!

Brian Z. said...

I tend to agree with you, Bill. All the arguing over cubbyhole labels seems not only juvenile, but a good way to close one's metaphorical door to lots of music one might love. That said, I do often pay attention to labels as descriptors, simply because having the voracious appetite (and, in some ways, well-established tastes) for music that I do, the descriptors help me find new music and maximize my risk/reward given how sadly limited my time for music listening is these days. So while I'll admit I don't like Present (for example), it's not 'cause is *is* "avant" or *isn't* "symph", it's just 'cause I sat there listening to 'em for a while and didn't dig 'em.

Bottom line: Very nice articulation of the issue, sir.