Category Archives: Music

Friday Random Ten, December 19

  1. Olivier Messiaen, “Turangalila – Symphonie: II. Chant d’amour 1”: This
    was an unexpected wonderful surprise. A few years ago, my older brother gave me
    a book on Stockhausen, who is a fascinating guy on an intellectual level, but
    whose music I find absolutely unlistenable. The book talks about Stockhausen’s period studying with Messiaen. I was expecting Messiaen to be another one of “those 12-tone guys”; I’ve never been able to develop an ear for 12-tone. But I decided to give Messiaen
    a listen, and was amazed. He’s not exactly an easy listen, but it’s beautiful music. It’s
    very dissonant, frequently atonal, and yet melodic. This section of the symphony is extremely dramatic, almost theatrical. It’s really a beautiful piece of music.
  2. Peter Schickele, “Funeral Oration from ‘Julius Ceasar'”: from the sublime to ridiculous… A doo-wop funeral oration based on Shakespeare.
  3. The Tempest, “The Winning Game”: What a great song! I’ve lately totally fallen
    for “The Tempest”. It’s a group that started as a collaboration between Andy Tillison and Roine Stolte. They’ve got members from Tillison’s old band (Parallel or 90 degrees),
    Stolte’s band (the Flower Kings), and Van Der Graff Generator. It’s some of the best
    neo-progressive rock you’ll find anywhere. Stolte later left their band, which resulted
    in a serious change in the band’s sound, but both before and after Stolte, they’re
    an amazing group, with wonderful compositions and absolutely dazzling performances.
  4. King Crimson, “Frame by Frame”: One of the things that King Crimson has been
    able to do is to combine some of the most far-out experimental progressive rock with
    some wonderfully catchy, easy-to-listen-to pop songs. This is a great example of that;
    Frame by Frame is a very catchy poppy song, and yet it’s incredibly deep and complex.
  5. Porcupine Tree, “Dislocated Day”: some older Porcupine Tree. PT did one
    really wacky album of mostly very long-form neo-progressive tapestries. This is off
    of that album.
  6. Marillion, “Essence”: a track off of Marillion’s brilliant new album. Just
    go buy it!
  7. Isis, “Holy Tears”: what were the odds that I could get through a FRT
    without some post-rock? Isis is a post-rock band on which leans towards the
    heavy-metal end of the post-rock spectrum. They’re terrific – great composition,
    great performance. They do sometimes use vocals, which is fine; but a bit too
    often, the vocals are distorted shrieks. This track uses a bit of that; it’s OK
    in moderation; in fact, I really like this track a lot. But listening to too much
    Isis at a time, that use of shrieking growl vocals gets to me.
  8. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, “Misunderstood”: I used to be a huge
    Flecktones fan. But I despise Jeff Cofflin, the saxaphone player they added
    a few years ago. I just simply cannot stand to listen to the guy – he’s absolutely
    awful. He’s incredibly predictable – the guy’s got the creativity of a
    a small rock; he knows how to play at exactly one volume – too damned loud;
    and he’s in love with stupid gimmicks. He’s playing on this track, so guess
    what I think of it?
  9. Tony Trischka, “Hawaii Slide-O”: interesting that this came up in the shuffle
    right after Bela. Tony is Bela’s former banjo teacher. (I’ve taken lessons from Tony
    as well; Tony is a great guy who’s happy to give lessons to anyone who’s
    interested.) This track is Tony experimenting with playing slide banjo. Back when
    I was taking lessons with him, I heard an early version of this track – he was
    showing me what he was working on at the time, and he’d just started playing with
    a slide on the banjo for the first time in years. Tony is a fabulous musician,
    and I love everything on this album. (In fact, I can’t think of anything Tony’s done
    which I haven’t loved.)
  10. Rachel’s, “Where have all my files gone?”: more post-rock, this time from the
    classical end of things. Rachel’s is an amazing group. This is very typical of their
    sound. Very atmospheric, beautiful.

Friday Random Ten

  1. Elizabeth and the Catapult, “Golden Ink”: a mellow track from a very
    good NY area band. This really isn’t one of my favorites of their songs. It’s rather on the dull side.
  2. Miles Davis, “Ray’s Idea”: Miles is one of the great geniuses of the 20th century. What more need be said?
  3. Do Make Say Think, “Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”: DMSY is one of the very
    best post-rock ensembles you’ll find. They’re another group that overlaps with
    Godspeed You Black Emperor, and they approach the brilliance that is Godspeed.
    This is a nice mellow track, with some lovely steel guitar playing.
  4. The Tangent, “Photosynthesis”: great neo-progressive stuff. This band started off as a collaboration between Roine Stolte of the Flower Kings and
    Andy Tillson. This is off the first Tangent album after Stolte and Tillson had a falling out. The band still features some members of tFK, but the writing is now
    pretty much all Tillson. They’re an excellent band, but I did prefer their sound with Stolte.
  5. Marillion, “Splintering Heart”: the best track off of a frankly lousy
    Marillion album.
  6. Gogol Bordello, “Not a Crime”: Gypsy punk rock, with brilliant fiddle
    playing. What could be cooler than that?
  7. Mel Brooks, “Springtime for Hitler”: A song from one of the most brilliantly offensive shows of all time. The original movie remains one of my very favorite movies. Come on, how can you not love the blue blankie? Or Mel Brooks stepping out of a dance line to sing “Don’t be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the nazi party?”
  8. Marillion, “Throw Me Out”: something off of Marillion’s new double album. I love this album. It’s the best thing from Marillion in ages. I can’t stop listening to it. This is why I love Marillion. Brilliant songwriting, amazing technical performances, music loaded with feeling, and those astonishingly wonderful Marillion transitions. Even a short little song like this manages to be just
    brilliant, with so many little treasures hidden in it.
  9. Pink Floyd, “The Dogs of War”: It’s a damn shame that David Gilmour got control of the Pink Floyd name, and chose te release so much crap under it. He’s a wonderful guitarist, but frankly, he’s a pretty rotten songwriter. All of his compositions have this dull droning quality to them. This is typical. There’s some nice guitar work in the live version, but the song itself is just dreck.
  10. Happy the Man, “Maui Sunset”: I was delighted when I heard Happy the Man was getting back together. I wasn’t so delighted once I heard what they did. It’s got all of the technical qualities of good progressive rock: complex melodies and harmonies, interesting chord progressions, complex and irregular rythyms. But it’s cold. It sounds like music performed by a computer. There’s not a trace of humanity to it. Technically brilliant, but ultimately remarkably dull.

Friday Random 10, November 14

  1. Hawkwind, “Masters of the Universe”: Great bit from the early days of psychadelic/progressive rock. I’ve got recordings of both the live and the studio versions, and I vastly prefer the studio.
  2. Peter Gabriel, “The Family and the Fishing Net”: This is
    just a magnificent piece of music. I love pretty much everything
    that Gabriel has written, from his days in Genesis, to his solo work like this, to his movie soundtracks. But the “Security” album is
    something special even for Gabriel, and this is one of the best tracks
    on the album.
  3. Michael McGoldrick, “The Fisherman in the Wardrobe”:
    Ick. This is crap. Michael McGoldrick is an amazing Irish flute
    player; he was one of the original flutists in Lunasa. But he did this album, which consists of vastly overproduced and overly up-tempo Irish music played against an electronic drumbeat. It’s just awful, and it’s a shame because if you could get rid of the electronics and the ridiculously overdone reverb, there’s some nice playing hidden in there. Still, I’ve never bought another of his albums after this.
  4. Peter Schickele, “Listen Here, Tyrannosaurus Rex”: a silly little song which Schickele actually takes credit for in his own name. Probably because it’s not quite awful enough to be credited to PDQ Bach.
  5. Micho Russell, “Children’s Song”: this is a great example of what traditional Irish can be. My tinwhistle/flute teacher travelled to Ireland, and spend time with a wonderful Irish whistler. The resulting recording is just Micho Russell, with no accompaniment, playing a
    two dollar tin-whistle. No fancy arrangements; he plays it slowly – a reel at only about 70 beats per minute; very sparse tasteful ornamentation – and when you listen to it, you’ll understand why these tunes have lasted so long.
  6. Kansas, “Byzantium”: Quite a contrast from the last one. This is recent work by Kansas. It’s beautiful; things like this make me glad that they got back together. It uses very middle-eastern chords and melodies, and if I’m not mistaken, some middle-eastern instrumentation. It’s really quite lovely.
  7. Jethro Tull, “Black Satin Dancer”: Mediocre Tull tune. Nothing special. The rest of the album is great, but this isn’t a particular good song.
  8. The Tangent, “The Winning Game”: This is seriously amazing. It’s a collaboration between Roine Stolt and Andy Tillson, along with various members of their respective bands. It’s really stunning music,
    beautifully written, and performed with incredible virtuosity by all involved.
  9. Igor Stravinsky, “Three Pieces”: Stravinsky is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, and probably of all time. This is a very delicate, intricate chamber piece.
  10. Stuart Duncan, “Miles to Go”: Wonderful acoustic bluegrass
    fiddling. I was fortunate enough to see Steward Duncan performing live once with Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush, and Joshua Bell. Joshua Bell (one of the worlds great classical violin soloists) actually talked about what he learned about rhythmic bowing from Stuart. As is typical of the greats, he doesn’t feel any great need to constantly show off his
    chops; and some of his most compelling playing is on leisurely tracks like this.

Friday Random Ten, October 3

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  1. Metaphor, “The Sparrow”: An excellent track
    from a great neo-progressive band. They’ve got a very distinctive sound, and this is an excellent example of it.
  2. Marillion, “A Collection”: a track off Marillion’s
    worst-ever album. It’s not a bad song; probably the best
    on that profoundly mediocre album. But that’s not saying much.
  3. Sonic Youth, “Fauxhemians”: very good, very strange, very noisy stuff.
  4. Porcupine Tree, “The Creator Has a Mastertape”: I love Porcupine Tree. This is an excellent track, very typical of them. Great stuff built around highly distorted vocals and guitar, backed by great bass work. Amazingly great stuff.
  5. A Silver Mount Zion, “Sow Some Lonesome Corners So Many Flowers Bloom”: Post-rock from a subset of Godspeed You! Block Emperor. They’re nowhere close to as good as the full-blown
    Godspeed collective, but they’re pretty good. This is off of my favorite Mt. Zion recording, “This is Our Punk Rock, THee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing”. It’s very good, with a nice minimalist structure of building up layers.
  6. Peter Schickele, “Allegro Ma Non Troposphere”: If you don’t know about PDQ Bach, you’re sadly deprived. PDQ is the invention of Professor Peter Schickele; he is allegedly the 13th illegitimate grandson of J. S. Bach; the last and least of the
    musical descendants of Bach. Schickele writes music allegedly by PDQ. It’s amazingly funny stuff, ranging from slapstick (this
    one starts off with the musicians playing off of the wrong sheetmusic), to the very deep (musical tricks making fun of the typical gimmicks used by various composers; for example, this
    one contains a climbing melody in the beginning that’s similar to something commonly used by Vivaldi; but instead of rising up twice or three times the way Vivaldi would, it does it something like twelve times. It’s also got a few digs at Mozart, John McLachlan, and a few others.) I happen to have been lucky enough to be in the audience of the performance this recording was made from.)
  7. Zoe Keating, “Legions”: This is brilliant and strange. It’s a classically trained cellist who performs solo with tape-loop. She starts by laying a basic loop, and then building layers on top of it, until she’s got a texture, and then playing the main composition on top of the loop. It’s amazing.
  8. Anekdoten, “The Great Unknown”: a neo-progressive group that sounds a lot like “Red”-era King Crimson. They’re very good, but they sound a bit too much like KC. In general, I think that there aren’t enough groups that try to follow in the footsteps of Fripp and Friends, but I’d like to hear something a bit more original. If you listen to one track by Anekdoten, it sounds fantastic. But by the time you’ve listened to an entire album, you’re very bored; it’s all so derivative.
  9. The Redneck Manifesto, “Good With Tempos”: a post-rock band that’s very much in the style of Mogwai, but with their own distinctive style. The Rednecks are fantastic.
  10. Magma, “Ork Alarm”: I’ve mentioned Magma before. They’re one of the strangest groups I listen to. They’re sort of a cross between classical music and progressive rock. The leader of the band actually invented his own language to sing in, and the singing is more in the style of a choir singing in a symphony. This sounds a lot like a 20th century classical opera. Fortunately, I like
    20th century opera. I’m not a fan of the older, traditional Italian opera like Verdi, but a lot of the 20th century stuff by folks like John Adams, Phillip Glass, and Igor Stravisky have, while not necessarily being traditional opera, been utterly brilliant.

Friday Random 10, Sept 12

My apologies for how slow the blog has been lately. I’ve been sick with a horrible
sinus infection for the last month. I saw an ENT on wednesday, and with massive doses of antibiotics and steroids, I’m finally on the mend, so hopefully things
will get back to normal soon.

  1. Marillion, “Thunder Fly”: For those of us who pre-ordered Marillion’s upcoming album, they just made mediocre-quality prerelease copies available for download. Overall, I’m very happy with it. It’s quite good; I can’t wait to listen to it in its high-quality CD form. This is a fun track; it’s got a nice bounce
    to it, but also has some of those wonderful Marillion transitions. It’s a vast improvement over anything from their last album.
  2. Explosions in the Sky, “Yasmin the Light”: some Mogwai style post rock. Explosions is one of my favorites of this style of post-rock. This is very typical of them – really excellent.
  3. Motionless, “United States of Amnesia”: another post-rock band,
    whose style is a lot like Mogwai. Not quite as good as “Explosions in the Sky”,
    but still very good.
  4. Red Sparowes, “Buildings Begin to Stretch Wide”: even more post-reck. Yes, I do love my post-rock. The Red Sparowes have a louder, harder sound. Much less derivative of Mogwai than the last two bands. The Red Sparowes are a favorite of mine. In fact, for people who haven’t listened to any post-rock before, the two things I recommend are Red Sparrowes, and “Godspeed You Black Emperor”.
  5. The Klezmatics, “In Kamf”: The first time I ever seriously listened to Klezmer was back in college. I was really involved in Hillel (a campus Jewish organization), and we sponsored a concert by a NY klezmer band called the Klezmaniacs. Two of the members of the Klezmaniacs are also members of the Klezmatics; this album is the first klezmer album I ever bought. This isn’t one of my favorite songs on it; I prefer the dance music.
  6. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, “Goodbye Desolate Railyard”: Yet more post-rock; one of the sillier names that “A Silver Mt. Zion” has used. In
    general, I really like ASMZ, but the leader’s voice is awful, and this track has a strong vocal lead. So it’s just an eh. In general, I love this album, just not
    this track.
  7. David Sylvian and Robert Fripp, “The First Day”: this is one of my overall favorite albums. I love just about everything Fripp has ever done. Sylvian is excellent, except that he’s sometimes lacking in energy. The two of them together are absolutely stunning. Everything on this album is pure brilliance.
  8. Victor Wooten, “Happy Song”: a very appropriately named song. Vic Wooten is the bass player from the Flecktones, and he’s an incredible master
    of the electric bass. The guy is up there with folks like Jaco Pastorius in
    his skill at the bass. This is a catchy, bouncy, happy little song which has some really stunning bass work going on in the back. It’s not a style of music that I’m wild about, but it’s worth it to hear that kind of ass-kicking bass. Once it gets past the intro, into the middle of the song, it’s just dazzling. The first time
    I heard this, I was in the car with my wife, and they were playing it on NPR. I was listening, saying “I gotta find out who this is, they’re amazing. The style sounds a lot like Vic Wooten, but I don’t think he’s quite that good”. And then the song finishes, and they start talking to him, and it’s Vic.
  9. Metaphor, “When it All Comes Together”: Metaphor is a great, unknown neo-progressive band. This is very typical of their sound. You can get their stuff online from bitmunk, which is one of my favorite places for buying music.
  10. Tony Levin, “What Would Jimi Do?”: a wonderful track from another
    bass genius. In a wonderful takeoff from the garbage being spewed by christian loonies, the song is about asking “What would Jimi Do?”

Friday Random Ten, The Vacation Edition

I was away on vacation this week, which explains the near-total
silence on the blog. But at least you’ll get a FRT from me. And some
nice posts on cryptography and game theory coming next week.

  1. Gogol Bordello, “Dub the Frequencies of Love”: Eastern
    european gypsies meet punk meets reggae.
  2. Hawkwind, “Urban Guerilla”: A live recording of a rather
    catchy tune by Hawkwind. Personally, I prefer their spacier stuff.
  3. Porcupine Tree, “Glass Arm Shattering”: Porcupine Tree is
    always great. This one starts off slow and quiet, and then builds.
  4. IQ, “Harvest of Souls”: Peter Nichols, the leader of IQ
    in their incarnation on this album is nothing short of a
    genius. This is a wonderful song – which is not surprising, since
    everything from the “Dark Matter” album is wonderful.
  5. Naftule’s Dream, “Afterwards”: Lately, I’ve been very
    into Klezmer – particularly the more modern jazzy/experimental type.
    Naftule’s Dream is one of my favorite bands of this style. They
    record traditional Klezmer as “the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra”, and
    their more out-there stuff as “Naftule’s Dream”. This is a
    deceptively mellow track, which has a lot of strange stuff going on.
  6. Genesis, “Supper’s Ready”: early Genesis – this track is
    the direct precursor of “The Lamb Lays Down on Broadway”, which is
    one of the best works in the history of rock music.
  7. Sonic Youth, “Lights Out”
  8. Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, “Buma”: More Klez.
  9. Peter Gabriel, “Signal to Noise”: a masterpiece off of
    Peter Gabriel’s latest album. This is an amazing track – blending
    orchestral backing, African singing and drumming, and some
    traditional progressive tropes. Really great – this gives me chills
    every time I listen to it.
  10. The Flower Kings, “A King’s Prayer”: As far as I’m
    concerned, the Flower Kings can do no wrong. I can pick out any
    track off of any FK album, and be pretty much guaranteed to
    hear something amazing.

Friday Random 10, August 22

  1. Solas, “Darkness, Darkness”: One of my favorite Irish
    bands doing a great cover of an old song.
  2. A Silver Mt. Zion, “Goodbye Desolate Railyard”: a decent
    ASMZ track, but not an outstanding one.
  3. Mogwai, “Acid Food”: Anything by Mogwai is terrific. This
    is no exception.
  4. Kansas, “Myriad”: One of my favorite tracks of the latest
    from Kansas.
  5. Metaphor, “Stella Maris”: I just got this album today, and haven’t even gotten to listen to it all the way through yet, so I haven’t really formed a strong opinion yet. But it sounds like Metaphor, and that’s a good thing.
  6. Rush, “The Enemy Within”: A classic old Rush tune.
  7. David Sylvian and Robert Fripp, “Jean the Birdman”: this is
    pretty much what you’d expect from Fripp and Sylvian. Sylvian’s
    crooning; Fripp playing with tape loops and strange tonality. Even
    though it’s what you expect, it’s still amazing – these are two of the
    most creative guy’s you’ll find anywhere, and when they work together,
    the result is something special.
  8. Porcupine Tree, “The Moon Touches Your Shoulder”: A bit
    off of PTs most traditionally progressive album. Not my favorite
    bit of the album, but the whole album is amazing.
  9. Kruzenshtern & Parahod, “Sippurim”: K&P is one of my
    favorite things to listen to lately. I usually describe it as
    progressive klezmer, which I think is accurate; but it’s also
    not really adequate. These guys are stretching the boundaries so
    far that it’s hard to describe. There’s a very strong Klezmer element;
    but also very strong Jazz and Rock influences. Their stuff is hard
    to track down, but well worth the effort. It’s really spectacular.
  10. Tie the Bonnet: Traditional Irish, from the masters. Lunasa
    is wonderful. This, however, is not one of my favorite bits by
    them. Like many popular Irish bands, they tend to over-rush
    the tempo. It’s damned impressive, but it deprives the music of some
    of its heart. This stuff is music to dance to – but they’re playing it at tempos that no one could ever dance to.

Friday Random 10, August 15

One of the things that I always like to talk about is how a natural
expression of randomness will periodically produce something that appears
non-random – and in fact, if it doesn’t, then it’s not really random!

This weeks friday random 10 is a great example of this. In the past, when I’ve been in a mood for a particular kind of music, I’m done random shuffles within a playlist containing the stuff I feel like listening to. I didn’t do that this week. I let iTunes randomly pick out 10 things, and these are the first ten from the list. It
turned out to be a nice week for progressive music.

  1. IQ, “Infernal Chorus”: IQ is one of the great neo-progressive bands that started off as
    a Genesis ripoff. A lot of those bands have gone on to do a two-album magnum-opus work that
    tries to be comparable to “The Lamb Lays Down on Broadway”. IQ is the only one that’s really been
    able to pull it off. “Infernal Chorus” is off of a double-album concept set by IQ called “Subterannea”,
    and in my opinion it’s as good as “Lamb”. Magnificent.
  2. The Flower Kings, “The Devil’s Danceschool”: Instrumental flower kings featuring
    improv played on a trumpet piped through a distortion rig. Seriously out-there; they wander pretty far
    away from the tonic chord in this. It’s the kind of thing that only the Flower Kings could really pull off.
  3. Yes, “Our Song”: Ick.
  4. Porcupine Tree, “Mellotron Scratch”: Another great neo-progressive band. Porcupine Tree started
    off as a joke, and turned into one of the best serious bands out there. This is a mellow piece off of their
    “Deadwing” album.
  5. The Police, “King of Pain”: a track off of an album that Sting one described as a “nasty piece of work”.
    It’s all very dark, but it’s good music.
  6. Naftule’s Dream, “Emperor Red”: progressive Klezmer, with a seriously bluesy feel to it.
  7. Marillion, “Paper Lies”: Brave is one of my favorite Marillion albums. Every bit of it is
    wonderful. This is a track that’s actually sort of catchy, which seems sort of incongruous considering how
    totally dark “Brave” is. But it fits in, and it’s a great song.
  8. Spock’s Beard, “Skeletons at the Feast”: Another band that started off as a Genesis ripoff. They
    did try to do their own “Lamb”, called “Snow”, but unlike IQ, they didn’t pull it off so well. After that,
    their founder left, and it took them a while to find their feet again. But they did, and this album is
  9. Genesis, “Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist”: I really didn’t plan this – it’s just
    the way the shuffle turned out. But here’s a track from “Lamb”. Not my favorite track, but every on Lamb is
  10. Metaphor, “Battle of the Archons”: A relatively unknown neo-progressive band. Definitely not
    from the Genesis ripoff school.

Friday Random Ten, August 1st

  1. Kansas, “Byzantium”: an example of why Kansas fans waited so long for
    Kerry Lofgren to return to the band. The guy’s a brilliant songwriter. Even with
    Walsh’s voice clearly aging and suffering from abuse, this is fantanstic stuff.
  2. Isis, “Wrists of Kings”: Fairly hard post-rock. I like Isis a lot, but one thing
    about them that takes some getting used to is the “lead singer”. In general, Isis has a sound
    a lot like Mogwai, but they do use vocals. And their vocals consist of a guy screaming
    hoarsely in the background. This track doesn’t have the really awful vocals; in fact, the
    singing here is pretty reasonable.
  3. Genesis, “Squonk”: I’ve been going back and listening to old Genesis lately. And
    it’s really amazing to listen to. You can see why so many of the neo-progressives start
    out by trying to sound like Genesis – it’s such an amazing, unique, engaging sound.
    This is off of the first Genesis album after Peter Gabriel left, so it’s a pretty dramatic
    change from what preceeded it. But it’s still distinctly Genesis – listening to
    “The Lamb Lays Down on Broadway” followed by this, it’s clearly the same band.
  4. Marillion, “How Can it Hurt?”: a bit off of the worst album Marillion ever made. Considering the album that it came off of, this isn’t a bad song; but for Marillion, this
    is crap.
  5. Sonic Youth, “Rats”: typical Sonic Youth. That means that it’s fantastic,
    strange, full of odd tonalities and controlled noise. It somehow manages to be smooth
    and mellow and noisy and dark all at the same time.
  6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Static: Terrible Canyons of Static”: The deities of
    post-rock. No one can do this kind of music like Godspeed. I dearly wish they’d get back
    into the studio and do some more music. Their spinoff “A Silver Mt. Zion” is really good,
    but it’s not Godspeed.
  7. King Crimson, “Indiscipline”: Brilliantly goofy song from King Crimson. This consists
    of wonderfully improvised dark noisy guitar and spectacular drumming, interspersed with
    Adrian Belew talking about some thing, without ever saying what the thing is.
  8. Kruzenshtern and Parahod, “March”: progressive klezmer. Wow. This is strange,
    and wonderful, and amazing, and really strange. I’d kill to be able to play
    my clarinet like that!
  9. Naftule’s Dream, “The Aimless Path”: In a wonderful coincidence of iTunes
    shuffle randomness, another bit of progressive klezmer. Naftule’s Dream is
    a spinoff of the Shirim Klezmer orchestra. Shirim is fantastic, mostly traditional Klezmer.
    Naftule’s Dream is the stuff that really pushes the boundaries of the genre. Highly recommended, and a lot easier to find than K&P.
  10. The Flower Kings, “Man Overboard”: The Flower Kings are, probably, my favorite band. They started off as a blatant Genesis ripoff (see my comment above on “Squonk”), but they’ve evolved into a really amazing band with a real distinctive sound. You can’t mistake the Flower Kings for anyone else – just a couple of seconds of any of their songs, and you know that it’s them. This is one
    of my favorite of their shorter tracks – only 3 1/2 minutes! But it’s got the most amazing twisted rhythm and chords in the chorus, connected by a highly contrasting smooth melodic bridge. It’s amazing.

Friday Random Ten, July 18

  1. The Flower Kings, “Underdog”: a neo-progressive track with the lead played by a bagpipe and a steel guitar. How can you not love that?
  2. Broken Social Scene, “Ibi Dreams of a Pavement”: A post-rock
    track with vocals. Very good stuff – very dense. Like I said it’s got vocals, but they’re not the dominant part of it – they’re actually almost in the background.
  3. Marillion, “Heart of Lothian”: a track off of my favorite Fish-era Marillion album. It’s hard to take this in isolation – the whole album is really one continuous piece of music – with recurring themes, lyrical motifs, etc. This is really just a continuation of what came before it – it’s not a standalone. But it’s amazing – the kind of music that can give you chills even the hundredth time you’ve listened to it.
  4. Naftule’s Dream, “Speed Klez”: Rollocking progressive Klezmer,
    played by a mix of instruments including clarinet, trombone, electric guitar,
    and who knows what else. Amazing, dazzling stuff.

  5. Magma, “Ork Alarm”: progressive rock, which really staddles the line between modern classical and progressive rock. Very complicated stuff. Not the easiest listen – it’s very strange, and takes a few listens before you really
    understand it enough to enjoy it. But like modern classical music, it’s worth the effort. This group is really one of the most amazing ensembles in progressive rock.
  6. Happy the Man, “Stepping Through Time”: a piece off of the reunion album of the great american progressive band. I’m a huge fan of HtMs old work. This new album isn’t bad – it’s interesting, complex music, with nice melodies, time changes, and amazing musicianship. But it’s strangely lacking something. It’s soulless. It just feels very mechanical.
  7. Isis, “All Out of Time, All Into Space”: more post-rock. Very atmospheric, dark.
  8. Lunasa, “Island Paddy”: quite a transition from the last one; this
    is a straightforward traditional Irish showoff piece. Bouncy fun that makes you want to get up and dance.
  9. Sonic Youth, “Queen Anne Chair”: a wonderful little snippet. This
    is off of Sonic Youth’s album “The Destroyed Room”, which is assembled from
    experimental studio clips. It sounds like Sonic Youth playing post-rock.
  10. Hawkwind, “You Shouldn’t Do That”: Amazing strange but wonderful
    stuff from early Hawkwind. Depending who you ask, this is either early progressive or psychedelia.