Archive for the iceberg Category

Prog Promulgation #2

Posted in avant-garde, iceberg, prog promulgation, progressive rock, van der graaf generator with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Note: Prog is often called ‘pretentious.’ Thus, so are our personas. Although on the surface this may seem overtly insulting towards most musical genres, we only wish to immerse the reader in the pretentious lifestyle of prog. The music is still fantastic and necessary, and the pretention is (usually) meant with good humor.

Brother Bartholomew is currently fencing in the Tuscan fields, fighting for the good of prog overseas.  Unfortunately, this means that he is not here to preach to the prog-thirsty masses of Pantheon.  Never fear, aficionados of good music!  The Red Barron is more than qualified to introduce you to a few wondrous prog gems.

Van der Graaf Generator, while critically acclaimed, is often ignored when compared to Genesis, Yes, and other symphonic bands.  Eschewing traditional instruments such as guitar in favor of saxophone and keys, the eclectic prog band manages to create a dark and occasionally menacing atmosphere.  Lead by virtuoso Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator released a series of brilliant and genre-bending albums throughout the 1970s.  While all are necessary if you are to call yourself a true prog fan, the 1975 release Godbluff is a masterpiece that commands your full attention.

The album begins with “The Undercover Man,” a song which slowly builds to a brilliant chorus.  As you will soon find, Hammill’s vocals sound quite odd at first, but, given time, they prove to be awe-inspiring to the true music lover.  After moving through the scorching “Scorched Earth,” the listener is struck by “Arrow,” surely a highlight of the album.  With lyrics more macabre than most of the metal in this magazine (How long the night is, Why is this passage so narrow? /How strange my body feels, impaled upon the arrow!) and eerie howls by Hammill, this would be the centerpiece of the album if it was not for “The Sleepwalkers.”  Be warned; this track may be too much for lowly prog initiates, especially after the aforementioned three songs.  Go ahead, listen to the album, but Brother B and the Red Barron are not liable for the shock and awe that comes from witnessing such a brilliant piece of music.

While you have undoubtedly not heard of Iceberg (I have already assumed that you live under a rock), you most certainly should have.  The seminal fusion band released Sentiments in 1977.  Iceberg goes above and beyond the usual trappings of the genre to create a pastoral and whimsical atmosphere while retaining a technicality that simply annihilates other fusion bands.  While “Joguines” must be mentioned due to the fantastic, flamenco-influenced guitar work, the true centerpiece of the album is “Alegries Del Mediterrani.”  Featuring meandering keyboards and sublime solos, the song truly encapsulates the feel of the Mediterranean coast.  I am sure that as you read this, Brother B is listening intently to this album as he gallops across the Tuscan plains on his valiant steed.  Compared to Van der Graaf Generator, Iceberg is indeed much more upbeat and, dare I say, happier, but this in no way makes it less worthy of your attention.  Prog legions, I command you to go out, improve your music tastes, and listen to these two magnificent recordings.  Surely, you will be better for it, and may even one day ascend to become a true progressive luminary, like Brother B and the Red Barron.  -Adam (the Red Barron)