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Progressive Music



CD Collection (with cover): A-B  C-D  E-F  G-H  I-J  K-L  M-N  O-P  Q-R  S-T  U-Z

Sorry. Due to a bug in Internet Explorer (bug solved in Explorer 6.02), I am obliged to load the pages of the above links twice.

The list of groups above is just a small sample of progressive music that I happen to have in my private CD collection. It is not supposed to be a discography for each group. Discographies of progressive groups are largely available in the internet. One web site that is quite authoritative is the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.

DVD-Audio and SACD

Besides normal CDs I also list the DVDs-Audio and the SACDs that are classified under the progressive umbrella. This is a quite complete reference in these formats for now, since I regularly check to see if a new title comes out relatively often.

I used to like DVD-A more than SACD before really listening to either one of them because of the comments about the high level noise created in "inaudible" very high frequencies and because the sampling in PCM (DVD-A) seemed to be of better precision than that in DSD (SACD). This turned out to be completely false after I listened to the SACDs. SACD is by far much better than DVD-A. The audiophiles are completely right in trying to push this format forward. The reason of this better performance is the 1 bit high frequency sampling associated with the highly compressed way to represent abrupt transitions in DSD allowing representing the original analog wave much more faithfully than in PCM.

I am not against DVD-A. A record that is released in DVD-A will probably not be released in SACD, neither vice-versa. Therefore a universal player like the Pioneer's (see below) seems to be the ideal choice. Most people think that there is a format war between these two formats for the CD replacement. I think the CD will have two successors instead of only one: DVD-Audio and SACD.

Equipment

The equipment I usually listen the CDs above is sited here for reference. The amplifier is a 5.1 Marantz SR7000 5100W. The speakers are 5 Tannoy MX3 with a subwoofer. The CD/DVD-A/SACD/DVD player is a Pioneer universal player (DV-SS733A, DV-47A or DV-0747A). This player has also interesting features for CDs to upsample 16-20 bits/44.1KHz to 24bits/176.4KHz and send the obtained digital "waves" at 96KHz to the amplifier via a digital connection. The settings for this is "Legato Pro (standard)" and "Hi-bit". The result is quite impressive. My CDs gained "new life" with these tricks. Since the manual explicitly cites "16-20 bits" I have the impression that this player also plays HDCDs even though it does not have the HDCD logo and it does not say it explicitly (the logo is probably too expensive). I don't know if this is true. Any infromation on this would be appreciated. The cables for DVD-A and SACD with direct 5.1 connections to the amplifier are Gloria cables. This equipment is of quite high quality for a quite reasonable price. Of course I would have preferred a Krell amplifier but the price is simply astronomic. The same is applicable for the speakers; I would have preferred Martin Logan's but I am still thinking about it and I am not in a hurry.

What is Progressive Music?

Progressive music is one of the most creative and complex types of music ever known. It was originated in the late 60's, thus being largely influenced by the psychedelic music, and it was formally considered to be over as a musical movement in the mid 70's. With the advent of the punk music, whose premises were simplicity and straightforward rhythms as opposed to the complexity of the progressive music, the movement had traversed a serious period and indeed it almost completely disappeared. The movement re-emerged in the 80's and completely consolidated in the 90's with the appearance of several new groups. Many people have been struggling to diffuse progressive music and to establish it as a new class of music similarly to what happened to jazz, blues, etc. For now, though, it is still a nearly underground kind of music, but that it is quite popular nowadays also among young listeners. Thanks to the internet, the movement perceived an increase in popularity among an exigent and careful audience.

Links with the Psychedelic and the Counterculture Movement

The progressive music, also known as progressive rock or art rock, is a very demanding type of music where musicians generally have classic music formation and explore new and complex schemes. To accommodate these demands the songs are generally quite long perhaps to imitate the classic music counterpart. It is not difficult to trace a connection between the progressive music and the counterculture. The counterculture is a much broader movement concerning all human activities including arts, politics, sociology, etc. The goal of the counterculture, as its name says, was to create an alternative culture as opposed to the traditional one. It emerged in the 60's agitated social protestations. The movement materialized in many different flavors in different countries. In United States and in Europe (France, in particular) the movement has appeared mainly as an anti-war movement (against Vietnam or Algerian war). The expression Peace and Love and the famous symbol made with the hand where the indicator and the middle fingers form a "V", each finger being associated with one of the two words, popularized what was broadly known as the hippie movement. The psychedelic movement was part of the hippie movement and this had tremendous influence in the experimental as well as complex and exploratory aspect of progressive music. Since everything had to be re-invented to satisfy the counterculture paradigm, artists had tremendous liberty to create, to explore and to experiment with all sorts of instruments and rhythms. Progressive rock then appeared imposing more structure in the psychedelic music that was rather chaotic.

Prog Music and Me

I think everything started around 1972-1973 when we once in a while failed to go to school in certain courses to go to the house of a colleague that lived nearby the school. We generally listened to music and talked during that time. The discs we listened were those of this colleague's sister, who later on got married with a good friend of mine, Marcus. This is a very strange coincidence (it might be Young's synchronicity theory in action here) since I knew him few years later when we were attending technical school together. I only knew quite recently that he had been married with my colleague's sister, the owner of the discs we used to listen. It was when we both were living in United States, me for my Post-doc and he for his PhD in 1997 (another strange coincidence). I was living in Durham, NC and he was in Indiana, a quite long trip. In this opportunity he told me that he used to play in a progressive rock band some years before, which was a complete surprise for me.

Anyway, we used to listen a quite broad variety of discs that were available in my colleague's house, Pink Floyd and Yes, in particular, among other groups. In 1975, during a long bus trip, I knew Yes Relayer through a tape I borrowed from someone. I think it was Leonel's, who is now living in Australia or someone else from the friendship circle of Alexandre Torrano, another colleague that used to listen music with us at those early years. Torrano has a brother (Edgar, see photo) who apparently also knew quite well progressive music, but unfortunately he and his discs were not there at the time. I knew Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells also through a borrowed tape and also during a bus trip to the beach for vacations in the house of an ex-girlfriend, in 1978.

King Crimson is by far my preferred group but my contact with it came later. However, I am unable to trace when exactly I knew it. What is certain is that Bertrand in the early 80's was certainly responsible for expanding my knowledge about King Crimson and other progressive groups such as PFM. We used to listen to music and talk at the same time during hours and hours. I remembered that when I used to leave his house I felt dizzy from all the talking and the amount of information we used to exchange. We both were quite enthusiastic and passionate by the things we did and liked. He used to do some super-8 movies which I also did once. My film was made for a friend called Doris to a class work she had to present. I had written, produced, directed the film and I was also the cameraman. The film was around 12 minutes long and its name translated to English was: "Three of Clubs", generally a useless card in card games as opposed to twos that are considered as wildcards in certain games. The artists were all friends of Doris and mine. I met her through Zé Carlos, a friend I met in the Architecture School's bar, who also participated in the film, but who unfortunately committed suicide years later. His preferred disc was Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, a disc that when I play I remember him. Zé Carlos, how I wish you were here among us. I once convinced Doris to see a concert of a progressive group but the group was not very good (I think it was 14-Bis) and the audience was quite young which I remembered she complained a lot, :-).

I remember an occasion that I tried to convince Milton Doll and Gerdano (where have you been, guys?) to listen to King Crimson which I considered quite unstructured, but Milton discarded it saying that it was too structured and that we should play concrete music instead, and then he started to improvise weird sounds with any objects he could find around him, Gerdano promptly adhered to the idea and me and Leonel also did but not quite understanding what was going on, :-).

My preferred King Crimson song is without any doubt Asbury Park originally released in the album Live In USA, the last from the best King Crimson line-up ever: Robert Fripp, John Wetton and Bill Bruford from the 1972-1974 period. Unfortunately this album was previously not released in CD. The only way to get this song in CD was buying the box set The Essential King Crimson: Frame by Frame with 4 CDs, while the three first CDs are a compilation of each of the three King Crimson periods (at the time of the release of this set): 1969-1971, 1972-1974 and 1981-1984. These three CDs are not more than an improved version of its vinyl counterpart The Young Person's Guide To King Crimson from 1976 with the same booklet inside but this CD version has also the period 1981-1984 included and a genealogic tree of all the King Crimson members since Giles-Giles and Frip until about the time the set was released (1991). The real jewel of this box set, though, besides its amazing presentation (see it here) and all the features I describe above is the forth CD which is a live CD with extremely rare tracks (such as Mars) from all the three periods, and, of course, Asbury Park, the real reason why I bought this box. All in all I bought this box only for this song... However, Live In USA has been recently released in HDCD (I also had a copy of a Russian bootleg bought in Argentina). But the most amazing fact relating this song and me happened on 28 of July 2005 when I got lost by car trying to find a hotel in New Jersey and I suddenly entered the city. I felt so weird. It is the same city where the song had been recorded live in 28 of July 1974 (notice the coincidence of the day). Helen was the one that pointed out the plate displaying the name "Asbury Park" also puzzled with the coincidence. Another coincidence, I had Live In USA in the car and I had been listening it for the whole trip.

Rush I knew in 1975 (Caress of Steel), but it did not impress me until I knew 2112 in 1978. But who really introduced me to the later Rush (Hemispheres and Spirit Of The Radio) and also to Frank Zappa (One Side Fits All and Over-night Sensation) was Dimitrius. I cannot avoid remembering those weekends nights in the late 70's we passed with Tutti, Deko, Roberto and your brother fiercely playing War, listening to music the whole night and drinking those enormous Cuba Libres. I still remember that time you falsified your exchange card to a triangle when you really had a ball but that I did not tell anybody because we were allies. I think nobody never knew about it and nobody has noticed it besides me probably because they were all drunk... Not talking about all those parties we went without being invited. I don't remember if you were with us that night 3:00 AM returning from a party when we all saw the strange spheric UFO crossing the sky. I remember Tutti was there as well as your brother and Roberto. But, still it is not right to keep my Roger Dean's Tales from Topographic Oceans poster to yourself since I told you some years ago that this poster was mine, that it was just borrowed for the time being. I gave you the other one, the The Swimming Pool. I told Nelson and Beto about this and they could barely believe you would do such a thing, :-).

I am definitely very thankful to my friend Marcelo for all the time we spent in 1981(?) talking and listening to Pink Floyd Meddle, that turned out to be my preferred Pink Floyd CD (thank you, Denise, for this gift that meant a lot to me), and the two Triunvirat CDs (Illusions On A Double Dimple and Spartacus). I still remember when Carlos never came back when you proposed that look-at-your-face-in-the-mirror game, :-).

I cannot forget either my friend Klaus de Geus who introduced me to some CDs of Soft Machine, mainly Third, my preferred Soft Machine right now, and Gentle Giant Playing the Fool Live. He is also a King Crimson maniac (see Interests in his web page), and these pages are inspired on his idea of putting personal interests like music in one's own web site. Hey Klaus, I hope you enjoy!

Finally, my knowledge in progressive music has greatly increased thanks to the internet and the news groups in the 90's and thanks to good friends like Pierre, who has an amazing collection of CDs and with whom I often exchange a lot of information on new or old obscure groups. Not forgetting Pierre and Mimi, their passion for Pop music and the discs conventions they convinced me to go where I could find an amazing amount of unknown material. I remember that The Web I Spider CD I found at that convention at Agen, not talking about many other CDs like Illusions On A Double Dimple, also quite rare, that I was able to find in other conventions (Perpignan, Barcelona, ...).

The power of the news groups and internet can be easily understood by an experience I had. I watched around 1972 or 1973 on TV a clip from Traffic that contained an extremely good song, but I did not know neither the title of the song nor the disc in which it was released. I only remembered the song and some psychedelic effects with the keyboards that twisted in a multicolor sequence along with the music. I described these effects in the news groups (alt.music.progressive) and after sometime someone sent me a message saying that the song was called Glad and that it was played live in San Francisco in 1972. He recognized because that song is the only one he knows that contains psychedelic effects. I explained to this person that he had just solved me a problem that puzzled me for more than 30 years.

Thanks to Mireille and Valerie to show me what I called "regressive rock". I insisted so much in this new term that they gave me some junk CDs with the so-called "regressive rock" music, :-). Recently they sent me a surprise gift that was a new Dream Theater CD after making sure with the record store guy that the CD was not "regressive rock", :-).

Not to forget Antoine who is more into psychedelic stuff such as Jefferson Airplane instead of progressive, but who knew Christian Vander from Magma in the beginning of the 70's. He used to like a lot Pink Floyd Ummagumma and made me know More (I never bought it in CD). That party at Muret was just unforgettable! He is now living in Guyana having a very good time there.

To conclude I would like to tell that the progressive music is not only my preferred kind of music, but it is also full of vibrant and pleasant memories from the past. These memories cross themselves in ways I have never thought before. The internet is powerful as I have demonstrated above, but it will never be able to create or reproduce these and other unforgettable moments.