Axver (axver) wrote,
Axver
axver

  • Music:
Over at the Interference.com messageboard's Bang & Clatter subforum, we're currently conducting a tournament known as the "Prog Island game". It's a sequel of sorts to two previous "Desert Island games", where the objective is to compile a tracklist (within certain rules, e.g. no repeats, no longer than 160 minutes); the tracklists then compete against each other and people vote on who has managed to fit the most musical goodness onto their tracklist. The Prog Island game is being run as a mini version of the Desert Island game, partly because there's a small group of us who love progressive rock and partly to trial some new rules before the third full installment of the Desert Island game.

I'm running the tournament and I thought I would share my playlist here. Yes, there are links. Enjoy.



Links
Tracks 1-31: http://www.sendspace.com/file/1n4282
Track 32: http://www.sendspace.com/file/019vpt

Tracklist

1. Frost* - "Hyperventilate" - Milliontown (7:31)
2. Utopia - "Overture: Mountaintop and Sunrise/Communion With The Sun" - Ra (6:54)
3. Marillion - "Assassing" - Fugazi (7:02)
4. Opeth - "Closure" - Damnation (5:15)
5. IQ - "You Never Will" - Dark Matter (4:54)
6. Under The Sun - "Gardens Of Autumn" - Under The Sun (5:03)
7. Pineapple Thief - "Kid Chameleon" - 137 (6:56)
8. Rush - "Red Barchetta" - Moving Pictures (6:10)
9. Queen - "Ogre Battle" - Queen II (4:08)
10. Day Shift - "The Alternative Magpie" - Imaginary Menagerie (8:05)
11. Circus Maximus - "Glory Of The Empire" - The 1st Chapter (10:27)
12. Symphony X - "The Accolade" - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (9:51)
13. Anathema - "Judgement" - Judgement (4:20)
14. Indukti - "Cold Inside... I" - S.U.S.A.R. (4:05)
15. Riverside - "The Curtain Falls" - Out Of Myself (7:59)
16. Pink Floyd - "Sorrow" - A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (8:49)
17. King Crimson - "21st Century Schizoid Man" - In The Court Of The Crimson King (7:21)
18. Spiral Architect - "Purpose" - A Gathering (6:59)
19. Pure Reason Revolution - "The Intention Craft" - The Intention Craft single (4:13)
20. Camel - "Rhayader" - The Snow Goose (3:02)
21. Magellan - "Estadium Nacional" - Impending Ascension (11:16)
22. Osiris - "Fantasy" - Osiris (6:00)
23. Spock's Beard - "Walking On The Wind" - Beware Of Darkness (9:09)
24. Blackfield - "Miss U" - Blackfield II (4:13)
25. Neal Morse - "Where The Streets Have No Name" - One (Special Edition) (5:48)
26. Trans-Siberian Orchestra - "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24" - Christmas Eve And Other Stories (3:25)
27. Subterranean Masquerade - "Kind Of A Blur" - Suspended Animation (3:12)
28. Split Enz - "Time For A Change" - Second Thoughts (Remastered) (4:04)
29. Passengers - "Always Forever Now" - Original Soundtracks No. 1 (6:23)
30. Porcupine Tree - "Anesthetize" - Fear Of A Blank Planet (17:42)
31. Dream Theater - "Trial Of Tears" - Falling Into Infinity (13:05)
32. Transatlantic - "Stranger In Your Soul" - Bridge Across Forever (26:06)
Total run time: 3 hours, 59 minutes, 27 seconds (239:27)

Brief introduction for Interference
An announcement is being made in sound: the ties that bind music and the shackles that constrain artistic expression have fallen away. My tracklist's purpose is to demonstrate that reality. It seeks to explore music as a means of expression using progressive rock as the vehicle. It is an arrangement of moods and atmospheres that sometimes complement and sometimes contradict; it is a process to stimulate the senses and captivate the imagination with ideas fully realised; it is an overview of how times and eras are both distinct and inextricably linked. Travelling from the birth of prog with King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man to the present day's musical eloquence in Porcupine Tree's Anesthetize, An Announcement Is Being Made In Sound showcases the many faces of prog: technical proficiency of unparalleled calibre (Spiral Architect's Purpose), political awareness (Magellan's Estadium Nacional), soaring majesty (Utopia's Overture), and emotional depth and sincerity (Transatlantic's Stranger In Your Soul). It even achieves a festive touch, courtesy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's unique approach. And beyond musical and thematic depth, there is an underlying geographic depth: New Zealand's Split Enz, Bahrain's Osiris, Norway's Spiral Architect and Circus Maximus, and the Anglo-Israeli Blackfield collaboration. If prog rock has been there, an announcement was made in sound. Listen and savour it.

A more detailed approach
I put a fair bit of effort into constructing this tracklist, so I would like to take the chance to explain some of my decisions regarding track selection and track placement. Those who know my tracklist style will probably be surprised to find some points - one in particular - that are not especially stylistically cohesive and lack flow, but this is for artistic effect. So let's have a closer look at things.

1. Frost* - "Hyperventilate" - Milliontown (7:31)
2. Utopia - "Overture: Mountaintop and Sunrise/Communion With The Sun" - Ra (6:54)
3. Marillion - "Assassing" - Fugazi (7:02)
I'm very proud of my opening trio. I was initially debating whether to use the Frost* song or the Utopia song as the opener, but come on, this is prog rock: if any tracklist deserves a lengthy, extensive, lavish opening, this one does. Accordingly, as the two songs worked well together and provided a nice flow into Assassing, I decided to go with the full trio. Furthermore, it offers the advantage of introducing all three eras of prog in one hit: Frost* are a band from the current, third wave of prog, Utopia were active in the first wave of prog's heyday, and Marillion were the leading force of prog's second wave.

(Just for the record, the asterisk in the name Frost* doesn't signify a footnote or anything. It throws me off, but it's part of the band's name, so ...)

4. Opeth - "Closure" - Damnation (5:15)
Yes, I know what some of you are thinking. "Opeth? Don't they play death metal?" Yes. They play progressive death metal, i.e. death metal with progressive elements. The progressive elements come from the musical tastes of Opeth's leading creative force, Mikael Akerfeldt, a fan of classic prog rock. And for the entire Damnation album, Opeth abandoned their death metal sound to create a soft album that hearks back to prog's glory days. This track is thus very original: prog rock with a dark, brooding death metal atmosphere. So don't fear - there are no death growls or suffocating riffs here.

7. Pineapple Thief - "Kid Chameleon" - 137 (6:56)
8. Rush - "Red Barchetta" - Moving Pictures (6:10)
9. Queen - "Ogre Battle" - Queen II (4:08)
10. Day Shift - "The Alternative Magpie" - Imaginary Menagerie (8:05)
In this section, the Pineapple Thief track is employed as a segue from Opeth's modern take on classic prog to a couple of actual classic prog representatives. Furthermore, I used the Queen track Ogre Battle for a very specific reason - while their earlier material contains much more serious prog fare, I wished to illustrate that prog can have a more fun and whimsical side. Ogre Battle achieves this objective nicely, and is also more musically complex than the first impression may give. I then employ the Day Shift track as another segue, this time out of classic prog to some more modern material.

11. Circus Maximus - "Glory Of The Empire" - The 1st Chapter (10:27)
12. Symphony X - "The Accolade" - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (9:51)
13. Anathema - "Judgement" - Judgement (4:20)
Tracks 11 and 12 are softer fare by two of the best prog metal bands and illustrate that not all lyrics employing mythological/historical overtones are inherently cliche crap. These two tracks provide a more epic touch, and I was surprised at how well they segue together as well as into Anathema's Judgement, which is a quick change of pace to retain a sense of freshness and diversity.

14. Indukti - "Cold Inside... I" - S.U.S.A.R. (4:05)
15. Riverside - "The Curtain Falls" - Out Of Myself (7:59)
This is my "modern Eastern European prog duo". Riverside in particular is a great East European band, and the two songs complement each other well. I found it hard to create a good segue out of Anathema's Judgement, but I think Cold Inside does the job satisfactorily - certainly better than my earlier selections.

16. Pink Floyd - "Sorrow" - A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (8:49)
17. King Crimson - "21st Century Schizoid Man" - In The Court Of The Crimson King (7:21)
18. Spiral Architect - "Purpose" - A Gathering (6:59)
The Curtain Falls provides a good lead-in to this section. Sorrow really continues the atmosphere that has been built up, and helps the flow from modern prog back to the birth of the genre. 21st Century Schizoid Man was arguably the first prog song, and its insanity is complemented perfectly by the jolt back to the present day provided by Purpose. Spiral Architect are one of the most proficient technical metal bands out there - their ability is really something astounding and Purpose is a good illustration.

19. Pure Reason Revolution - "The Intention Craft" - The Intention Craft single (4:13)
20. Camel - "Rhayader" - The Snow Goose (3:02)
Now we enter one of my favourite parts of the tracklist, its most notable contradiction. I was a bit surprised that Purpose and The Intention Craft fit together, but they do and they create a strong impression. And then suddenly, The Intention Craft ends and the soft, atmospheric sounds of classic prog in the form of Rhayader enter. I feel that my tracklist succeeds in providing a coherent flow with strong segues, but I worried that this would pose a problem in perception. I wanted to demonstrate that despite the continuity present over the genre's history and despite the fact it still is a fresh sound with something to offer, it is also a very diverse genre. The sudden cut from Pure Reason Revolution to Camel provides a good demonstration of just how strong that diversity is.

21. Magellan - "Estadium Nacional" - Impending Ascension (11:16)
22. Osiris - "Fantasy" - Osiris (6:00)
23. Spock's Beard - "Walking On The Wind" - Beware Of Darkness (9:09)
24. Blackfield - "Miss U" - Blackfield II (4:13)
Following on from the atmospheric Rhayader, I employed Estadium Nacional as it has a very appropriate lead-in. Its lyrical content is very politically motivated too and should be topically familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the last track of U2's The Joshua Tree. The subsequent tracks pick up on a theme starting to be established of prominent keyboards and show the various ways in which they have been used in the 1980s (Osiris, whose style looks back to the 1970s), 1990s (Spock's Beard), and 2000s (Blackfield). Incidentally, I find Walking On The Wind to be the compilation's most moving track. The final couple of minutes in particular are very powerful.

25. Neal Morse - "Where The Streets Have No Name" - One (Special Edition) (5:48)
For a little bit of variety - and also because I think it fits sonically - here's something unexpected: a prog cover of U2! Neal Morse, former Spock's Beard/Transatlantic vocalist, in no way tries to re-create Edge's intro or Bono's vocals. Instead, he provides his own individual take on the song. I have heard a lot of people attempt to cover Streets; Neal is the only one who actually pulls it off well.

26. Trans-Siberian Orchestra - "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24" - Christmas Eve And Other Stories (3:25)
27. Subterranean Masquerade - "Kind Of A Blur" - Suspended Animation (3:12)
28. Split Enz - "Time For A Change" - Second Thoughts (Remastered) (4:04)
29. Passengers - "Always Forever Now" - Original Soundtracks No. 1 (6:23)
I think this is the really artsy part of the tracklist. It demonstrates the influence of classical music on prog, shows off keyboards, and paints evocative soundscapes. Although it isn't quite the season, I could not resist including Trans-Siberian Orchestra just to show the broad diversity in prog, and I also think the song fits and sounds amazing. It flows seamlessly into Kind Of A Blur, which I must mention is the exception rather than the rule for Subterranean Masquerade, whose remaining songs really aren't for anyone who dislikes death growls (though they are all terribly creative and original). The seamless trio is completed by Time For A Change, sourced from the period when Split Enz were prog/art rock rather than quirky pop-rock. It is then followed by a strong atmospheric track that builds well and is right at home on any prog tracklist - except, perhaps, for the part where Bono's vocals come in. Bono on a prog tracklist? It doesn't seem quite right, but the song's great. U2 might still be worth a damn if they'd kept pursuing this kind of creative music rather than bland top 40 fare.

30. Porcupine Tree - "Anesthetize" - Fear Of A Blank Planet (17:42)
31. Dream Theater - "Trial Of Tears" - Falling Into Infinity (13:05)
32. Transatlantic - "Stranger In Your Soul" - Bridge Across Forever (26:06)
And here we go, the epic conclusion. I started lavishly, and I'll be damned if I don't finish this lavishly. Prog is all about epics, and I think this section really demonstrates just how incredible epics can be. If you listen to nothing else on this tracklist, listen to both tracks 30 and 32 beyond the 15 minute mark. They have an indescribable beauty.

I think this explanation has revealed some of the depth of thought that went into this tracklist's composition. There were, of course, other factors that influenced tracklisting decisions that I haven't outlined here, and in some cases, the ultimate decision really just came down to what I felt created the best sonic effect, the best flow, the best atmosphere. I always chose my songs in order to fulfill an artistic vision; I never sought to use the band's most famous song or one that most adequately defines their individual style.

I hope anyone who listens to this enjoys it and discovers some great new music.
Tags: music, progressive rock
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