What is prog?

I donít know. I know what I like, and nothing else matters. The myriad of musical genres, born from the febrile minds of limiters and labelers, donít tell us anything about what takes place during the creative process, but merely when the music was created. Thus progressive rock (also called ďprogĒ rock) is constricted to a brief period of time, roughly the late '60s through the '70s, when artists adopted classical motifs in their music. For this reason, prog rock is often referred to as classical rock.

However, not all progressive rock bands featured recurring musical themes spread out across extended works. Within the genre, the doors were opened wide enough to admit artists on other criteria: superlative musicianship, the use of a mellotron, high-minded conceptual works. Further muddying the waters was the creation of the ďart rockĒ sub-genre, whose members were identified by music played with artistic ideals (e.g., Roxy Music, 10cc). Art rock was in many ways a response to prog rockís long-winded concepts, an attempt to condense progressive rockís ideas into shorter, self-standing songs. Art rockís lifespan was brief, generally contained to the Ď70s.

If prog and art rock were all we had to worry about, defining ďprogressiveĒ music might be easy. But other sub-genres have bled into the discussion: jazz/fusion, psychedelia, electronica, and new wave among them. Itís an arbitrary system at best, beknighting some artists (Japan) while booting equally worthy bands (Icehouse, OMD). What could all these different genres of music possibly have in common? Headphones. And what Iíll discreetly refer to as the sweetleaf factor.

It wasnít simply serendipitous that progressive rock grew from this environment. Audiences were listening more closely to music, looking for doorways into expanded consciousness in some cases, escape in others. Psychedelia was a panacea at first, but it was too arbitrary upon closer inspection. Astute members of the audience wanted an elevated musical dialogue that rewarded examination, a three-dimensional world ripe for discovery and exploration. Progressive rock (and its tangential offshoots) gave them that. And so something that was all about breaking down boundaries and expanding musical consciousness found itself caged by manís micromanaging insecurities. Shame on us.

Thatís about as close as I can come to a definition of the music that youíll find on this site. Itís not progressive rock, itís ambitious rock. A friend of mine once laughed at my need to name all the animals (so to speak), and Iíve seen the humor in it since then. Music is what it is. But weíre numberers and fence-builders by nature.

Sorry. I know thatís not what you were looking for, but you shouldnít look to me for answers. The music will speak its own name if you listen.


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