Radio Erewhon on Live 365

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Attack of the Clones!

There hasn't been a better time to be a fan of progressive rock since the '70's. There were very worthy artists who made a lot of great music in the '80's and '90's, but the flowering of progressive rock music in the last few years is unprecedented since the heyday of the style 40 years ago. Undoubtedly due in part to the rise of social media sites like MySpace and Facebook, and file sharing sites like Bandcamp and CD Baby, not to mention encyclopedia projects like Prog Archives, new bands and new music have popped up all over the world recently. This is a most welcome development.

Neverthelss, there is a trend which I feel compelled to comment upon, and that is the predominance of Genesis clone bands. I count myself among the most staunch fans of Genesis (at least during the Gabriel and Hackett eras), and it is to be expected that many later bands would model themselves on one of the greatest of all progressive rock bands. The problem as I see it, though, is that there seems to be developing a kind of "standard" prog rock or neoprog sound which is derived from the classic Genesis sound.

It's not even that I think that such a sound is bad. Rather, it's the notion of any kind of "standard" sound in progressive rock which bothers me. The original progressive bands were characterized by their willingness to incorporate a variety of sounds and styles into their music--from classical and jazz to folk and psychedelic, even a little country (see Steve Howe). That's what made them "progressive." Experimentation. Taking risks.

The emergence of a "standard" sound is a sign of playing it safe, of being risk-averse. Failing to experiment, refusing to risk failure in the search for the new, would mean the death of any progressive rock worthy of the name.

So, here's to the adventurous, the brave musical explorers who carry on the true spirit of progressive rock! Long may they thrill us with their discoveries!

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