John Corigliano, “Fantasia on an Ostinato”: Corigliano is absolutely my
favorite modern composer. He writes stunningly beautiful music. This is a wonderfully
subtle piece: unaccompanied solo piano. Just incredible.
Isis, “Not in Rivers, But in Drops”: The transition between the last one
and this just about scared me out of my seat. From solo piano to loud, heavy
post-rock. Once the shock of the volume change was past, I love this track. Isis
is a really fantastic group.
Dirty Three, “Amy”: Dirty Three is another interesting transition. DT is another
post-rock, but from the opposite end of the post-rock spectrum from Isis. DT is mostly
accoustic, heavily classically influenced post-rock. Most of their studio work doesn’t have
the energy or the focus of a band like Isis, but it’s still very good stuff.
Trans Am, “(Interlude)”: from post-rock to math rock. Trans Am is a pretty neat
little band. Not nearly as good as some of the others in my collection, but definitely fun.
Jadis, “Need to Breathe”: Finally, some neo-prog. Jadis is a new neo-progressive
group that’s heavily influenced by Marillion. They’re pretty good. Not great, but good.
Broken Social Scene, “Our Faces Split the Coast in Half”: a big disappointment. I heard Broken Social Scene being interviewed on NPR. They’re a Canadian collective, which has
some overlap with the deities of postrock, “Godspeed you Black Emperor”. The bits they played
live sounded great. But when I got one of their albums, it’s profoundly dull. Pretty much
the only time I ever listen to it is when it comes up in a random playlist, and then
I usually wind up skipping past.
Echolyn, “The End is Beautiful”: very good neo-progressive rock. Maybe a tad on the emo side,
but the quality of the musicians more than makes up for that. Seriously good stuff,
very highly recommended. Includes a really beautiful fugue section.
Gong, “Magdalene”: Brilliant prog-rock, with nothing neo about it. Gong has been
together since the 70s (although I just recently found out about them). They’re one of the
most amazing bands I’ve ever heard. Very strange, very silly at times, but always
musically brilliant. They’ve got unusual instrumentation – very woodwind heavy for a rock
band. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Alan Holdsworth, “The Sixteen Men of Tain”: Alan Holdsworth is someone who’s music
I simultaneously love and hate. The guy is, without a doubt, one of the most skillful
and artistic guitar players ever. He can play fast or slow with every note being crisp
and perfect. He can play rock, jazz, and classical guitar with equal skill. And yet,
most of the time, he leaves me cold. He’s like a guitar playing machine – perfect in every
mechanical way, but somehow, his playing just totally lacks humanity.
The Flower Kings, “The Blade of Cain”: The perfect ending for a FRT: my
favorite band, the Flower Kings. These guys are the neo-progressive band
to watch. Brilliant composition, brilliant performances. They come closer to musical
perfection than any other rock band I’ve ever seen or heard. I found a youtube clip
of them performing this track live, so you can get a sense of what I mean, which is below.