Monday, 11 January 2016

A True Progressive

Like many, I woke this morning to the breaking news of the death of another 20th century rock music icon, David Bowie: I suppose that they, and we, are getting to an age where this will become more prevalent, but this does not make his passing any the less important and tragic for family, friends and fans alike.

Bowie was a part of the rock music world for the best part of 45 years: artistic, innovative, at times baffling, but never dull or boring. I have been aware of his work for most of those 45 years, but didn't really begin to fully explore his back catalogue until about 5 years ago. From glam rock, to soul, funk, hard rock & electronica, Bowie explored and even innovated a multitude of musical genres (his 'John I'm Only Dancing' was ahead of the disco boom of the mid-to-late 70s). His collaborations with many on the cutting edge of popular music, such as Iggy Pop, Brian Eno & Robert Fripp, stretched the boundaries of what music could be, and his lasting influence will be evident for the foreseeable future.

Although much of his music was not what one would call 'Prog', Bowie was to my mind a true progressive. He was always willing to take risks, artistically and musically, as his decision at the height of his fame in 1973 to 'kill off' his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust - the ultimate 'Rock 'n' Roll suicide - proved.

Rock music would be a lot blander without the genius of David Jones. Thank you for showing us that there are no limits to this fine artistic format.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Finding new Music

Music is an important part of who I am: I've grown up with it since the early 1970s (when I started taking a serious interest in it), and during those formative years the best place to find out about new stuff was through friends at school. But where do you go to find new material when you're an aging hippy like me?

If one's preference is for more mainstream music these days, there are numerous avenues to explore to find new material to listen to. But what if your tastes are a little more 'niche', left-field, away from what is considered 'popular'? Where do you look nowadays for something new and exciting?

When I discovered that Progressive music was, contrary to popular wisdom, alive and kicking, my first port of call was an Internet Radio station called 'Aural Moon'. There I was able to discover (and rediscover) music that connected with me in ways I'd not really known for the best part of 30 years.

Through 'the wonders of modern technology' I have re-found my musical home, and made a number of new friends from all over the world as a result of my searching. If your preference is for music with a little more to offer than the standard fare of mainstream broadcasting, can I suggest the following as places where I have found wonderful community and great tunes (a number of these are available to download as podcasts):
  • Progzilla Radio, curated by Cliff Pearson and broadcasting 24/7 a wonderful mix of classic and contemporary progressive music of various hues and styles, featuring a wonderful array of hosts;
  • The European Perspective, broadcasting on The Dividing Line Broadcast Network, a vehicle for Dave Elliot (The Amazing Wilf!) to share the best of European Prog (and occasionally music from across the pond);
  •, particularly their 'Music In Widescreen' and 'Check it Out' shows;
  • Progradar - though be warned that Martin's recommendations can cause serious damage to ones wallet!
  • And finally the Big Big Train Facebook group, where the banter is informative, humourous and frequently laden with sprouts, cowbells and chocolate!

I've also found searching on sites like Bandcamp for music by genre throws up some interesting items!

Music does not have to be the bland selection served up by state or commercial stations: there's so much good stuff out there - have fun discovering it (as I did!)