I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but I’m currently stuck waiting between very long and slow compiles, so I figured why not?
- Echolyn, “Make Me Sway”: Brilliant track by Echolyn, one of the very best american neo-prog bands. One of the things that’s so distinctive about Echolyn is the way
that they use complex vocal harmonies better than anyone else.
- Umphrey’s McGee, “Miami Virtue”: Ick. What a disappointment. I’d heard great things about Umphrey’s, and got their Mantis album, which was pretty good. So I got their latest album, “Death by Stereo”, which is absolutely atrocious. Ugh.
- Tinyfish, “I’m Not Crashing”: Now this was a great discovery. I know nothing about them, but someone pointed them out to be on Twitter, and when I grabbed one of their albums, it knocked my socks off. This is seriously terrific neo-prog.
- ProjeKct X, “The Business of Pleasure”: Weird. Very, very weird. This is one of Robert Fripp’s experimental instrumental gatherings of musicians. It’s strange stuff, but if you (like me) like interesting oddness, this is one of the most amazingly bizzare and yet great pieces of work you’ll find. Is it rock, jazz, or something else? Yes.
- Cynic, “Nunc Sans”: progressive death metal with strong jazz influences? Yup.
- Owl, “Sky Rocket”: Meh.
- Gong, “Sold to the Highest Buddha”: How did I go for so long without learning about Gong? This is one of the very best of the Manchester prog bands. Amazing stuff, which never takes itself too seriously.
- Jason Ricci and New Blood, “I Turned Into a Martian”: I don’t normally like blues much, but… Jason Ricci completely redefines what you can do with a harmonica. Despite not being a fan of the format, his playing is amazing, and he put together a great band to back him.
- NOW Ensemble, “Change”: This is a big change of pace from the rest of this list. Here in NYC, there’s a really great organization called New Amsterdam Records. NAR is a non-profit label dedicated to promoting the NYC post-classical scene. The NOW Ensemble is my favorite of their stable of artists. Beautiful music by up-and-coming composers, brilliantly performed. I’ve embedded a Youtube link to a couple of their pieces below.
- Steve Reich Ensemble, “Clapping”: This is a perfect demonstration of the beauty of simplicity. This piece consists of two people clapping the same pattern – but one periodically shifts by a beat, so that the pattern overlaps with itself in different ways. Embedded below is a ten-person variation on it.