ProgDay CD Purchases
- It's a slow afternoon (the server I need to work with is down), so
to kill time I figured I'd write up some first impressions of the
CDs I bought at ProgDay this year. For what I think is the first
time, my purchases were entirely from bands that played the festival
this year or in the recent past.
At the preshow I picked up National Holographic's "Enigma" and
"Trance Encounter" CDs, because they were having a 2-for-$15 sale.
I think "Enigma" is a recent one and "Trance" is older, but to be
honest I can't really tell much difference. It's good stuff,
mostly (entirely?) improvised on various keyboards, samplers and
drum machines. Very atmospheric, spacey and hypnotic. Good
background music for work. I doubt I'd buy any more of their CDs
though, because like Ozric Tentacles, even though they're good,
once you've heard one album you've pretty much heard them all.
First thing Saturday I hit the vendor tent looking for CDs from
Cabezas De Cera and Amarok. I really liked both bands last year,
but only had enough money to buy one CD from each. So this year
I picked up CDC's "...un segundo" and Amarok's "Mujer Luna". The
CDC disc sounds very similar to their first album, which is the
one I bought last year. Kind of mechanical sounding, very avant
in places, fairly angular yet somehow melodic and catchy at the
same time. Some nice, flashy stick work, lots of wind instruments
and that homemade metal acoustic guitar thing. Good disc, but I
still think I like the first one better. Maybe this one just
needs a while to grow on me.
The Amarok CD sounds a lot like the one I bought last year
("Quentadharkën") - symphonic prog with lots of Spanish touches.
Very nice female vocals, and some not-so-nice male vocals on
one track. Reading the lyrics in the booklet makes me glad that
they sing in Spanish. Maybe it's just a bad translation. Overall
I think I prefer Quentadharken, but this disc is good too. I just
wish it didn't have that painting of a naked chick on the cover;
when I take it to work I have to turn the booklet inside out in
case anyone sees it lying on my desk. My wife's comment on
hearing the CD is that she thought they sounded like what Yes
would have sounded like if they came from Spain.
Also on Saturday I saw that the Muffins were selling "Loveletter #2",
so I grabbed a copy. It's made up entirely of improvisations they
recorded with members of the Sun Ra Arkestra, which made me expect
some very unstructured, very avant sounding music. You know, the
annoying honking sax factor. There are some avant moments on the
disc, but overall I was surprised at how "composed" and melodic a
lot of the CD sounds. Good stuff.
After Psicotropia's set on Saturday I went and bought a copy of
their new CD/DVD release "Grog". The band's manager asked if I
wanted it signed, so I said OK and she rounded up the three band
members and got them to sign it. I should have realized that the
DVD wouldn't play on my TV at home, but it does play on the
computer. Both the DVD and CD have a "home made" look to them,
and the CD has trouble playing in my car's CD player. But it
plays fine in all the other players I've tried, and the music is
pretty good. All instrumental, it sounds like a mix of Primus
and Rush to me. The disc is only 47 minutes and the DVD is only
30, but any more might be overstaying their welcome. I particularly
like the CD's title track where they try to work in just about
every style of sound possible from heavy metal to jazz to goofy
noises and whooping laughs.
My last purchases on Saturday came after The Spacious Mind's set,
when I bought their new live album "Do Your Thing But Don't Touch
Ours", and their new studio disc "Rotvälta". I'm not sure why I
bought two discs, because I didn't really enjoy their set all that
much, but the CDs have really been growing on me. Very long, very
spacey improvs that never seem to gel into anything, the discs
makes for great background music at work. My wife's comment on
hearing it is that it sounds like music to get stoned to.
I wasn't going to buy any more CDs, but on Sunday I enjoyed Far
Corner's set enough to pick up their self-titled disc. I'm glad
I got it, because with each listen to my tape of their set I'm
liking this band more and more. And the CD is really good too.
I didn't notice the ELP influence when sitting at Storybook, but
it comes out more with each listen, particularly in the song
"The Turning". ELP with a flashier bassist and a cello added
to the mix, trying to play music inspired by U Totem or X Legged
Sally. Not really sounding much like those bands, but coming up
with something closer to that then to ELP. Hard to describe,
My final purchase of the weekend was Glenn Phillip's "Echoes"
2-disc anthology. I expected to like his set, and through the
first half or so I was in the "I like it, but not enough to buy
a CD" mode. But then he played the wicked "Guitar Intro" to the
song "I Want to Talk to My Girl", and from there on out the set
really seemed to gain a lot of steam. The music still doesn't
sound very "proggy" to me, but I like the stuff on Echoes. Sort
of more low-fi sounding Joe Satriani type of guitar hero album.
That's the pile - only 10 CDs this year. I actually came home
with almost $100 in cash left. I must really be slipping. I
blame the lack of a Wayside table for my inexcusable lack of
-- Bob "Bice" Eichler