The Progects: Thoughtfully curated, artfully mixed

by nielskunze on May 16, 2019

Cultural preservation is up to us. It is we the people— ourselves— who must determine what is worth preserving, and then take the appropriate steps to carry it forward for new generations.

Institutionalized and corporate interests will always promote and project that which has already proven to be popular, first as nostalgia to the aging masses, and then as recycled, modernized, updated fare for mass re-consumption by the young. But what is popular is not necessarily good; in fact, it is only ever rarely so.

The Progects concerns itself with music— specifically, progressive music, generally referred to as “prog.” Although initially, prog was an umbrella term for progressive rock, it has grown since its birth in the late sixties to encompass musical stylings including jazz, country and classical structures, along with ethnic influences in addition to common rock and roll. Essentially, prog has come to mean any music outside of “normal” structural conventions, often featuring marked complexity and/or eclectic instrumentation. Prog draws upon all styles and conventions in order to blend and repackage the familiar into unique and interesting and often novel forms, providing fresh interest and originality, where the strictly traditional might otherwise tend toward sterility and endless repetition.

I became a rabid prog-head already in my early teens. When asked— as kids do among each other— “What’s your favourite band?” I could only answer accurately with a list of five. As to which of the five might be my favourite on any given day depended entirely upon the mood I happened to be in. That list of five, in no particular order, was: King Crimson, Yes, Rush, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull.

It was these five, more so than any others, who provided true excitement to my music enjoyment. Sure I liked Led Zeppelin, The Who, Boston, Black Sabbath and many other popular acts of the seventies, but it was the truly progressive bands who captured and aroused my imagination and transported me to other realms and worlds from the comfort of my own bedroom. Coming home from the downtown record shops every other week with a new stack of trippy music was the cherished prerequisite to magical adventures. And I loved it!

The Progects seeks to recreate that sense of endless discovery through providing hour-long mixes of progressive music. I earnestly wish to impart that sense of real excitement that carried me through my youth and has continued to only grow as I march now through adulthood. For those who “get it”, music is able to provide a unique stimulant to the psyche of the listener which no other art form seems able to achieve. This music is not background noise for attending to other tasks. It demands an actively engaged listener intent on experiencing a sublime joy unique to the musical experience. I know it sounds pretentious, and maybe it is, but who cares if it achieves a lifetime of pleasure along the way!

So far, the bulk of The Progects has focused mainly upon the 7 explosive years of unprecedented creativity which occurred generally among the years of 1969 to 1975. Up until fairly recently I had erroneously thought that prog was a small and very limited phenomenon mostly confined to this tiny historic period. However, not only was there an incredibly huge output of progressive music worldwide during these 7 golden years, the movement— or genre— has also grown enormously ever since. Recent changes in social media has allowed The Progects to mine the previously undiscovered global richness from the vintage era as well as attempt to keep up with the burgeoning developments in the growing genre ever since.

As a Music Archeologist, it is my duty and pleasure to sift through veritable mountains of tailings to collect the nuggets and gems of personal fascination in order to finally arrange them into publicly accessible exhibitions. I have always taken great pleasure in mixing and arranging music into themes, styles and narratives that tickle my imagination. It’s how I listen to music. The criteria determining which specific songs and segments make it into any of my mixes is simply that I like them. I don’t feel duty-bound to include pieces with supposed historic significance if the songs bore me. I honestly enjoy every one of the thousands of songs contained in these Progects. Indeed, this is something I would be (have been) doing anyway, strictly for my own pleasure. It’s just that now, with modern technological advancements, it has become feasible to share this passion with the world at large.

Finally we need not be concerned with copyright violations. YouTube has become the world’s largest music sharing site. Their processing algorithms are able to accurately identify songs holding copyright claims, and monetize videos containing these songs on behalf of the copyright claimants. The video uploader does not receive payment from the use of copyrighted material. As a result, the sharing of such videos acts as a promotional tool on behalf of the claim holders and the artists themselves.

Note: On my personal blog, The Free Radical, I have replaced the WordPress audio players with embedded YouTube videos in order to properly address these copyright concerns. What I was doing before, posting music mixes without any redress for copyright claimants, was in violation of copyright law. Now the appropriate parties are being paid as advertisements infiltrate my mixes. (This can’t be helped— sorry. But you can subscribe to YouTube’s premium streaming service which is ad free.) Additionally, on occasion a single track in one of the mixes may restrict the visibility of the video containing it due to the assertion of global rights by its claimant. When this occurs, I remove the song and note in the track listing below that the video has been edited, so there might be a tiny stumble in the otherwise seamless mix.

Currently, I have created several of my own sub-genres to divide The Progects:

Horned Prog: contains songs mostly from the vintage era, but not exclusively so. They are generally characterized by the use of wind or brass instruments, accounting for their “horniness.”

Epiprogue: this series includes second and third generation prog— so anything from the eighties until the modern day. My personal preferences tend to include Symphonic Prog and Eclectic Prog with a few Crossover (pop) numbers.

’69 Give and/or Take: focuses on psychedelic and prog tracks from the period of 1967 to early 1972, and is featured in the narrative on my blog called The Music Archeologist.

Progged Down and Getting Uppity: is the catchall umbrella term which can include virtually anything I like from any era. There will however be some commonality linking all parts of a mix.

There will be others.

As far as my tastes in modern (2nd and 3rd generation) prog are concerned, my contemporary list of five would be: Beardfish, Echolyn, Spock’s Beard, Izz and The Tangent. And then there’s always Frank Zappa who spans the vintage era through to the second generation proggers of the nineties. (Frank died in ’93.)

As a general rule, I like my prog rock to “rock out.” I shy away from a lot of the more atmospheric or space rock, and generally I’m not much of a fan of Neo-Prog— of which there is a true glut of bands operating in this mostly boring sub-genre. I like music that grooves.

If your own musical tastes overlap with mine, please check out The Progects either on my blog, The Free Radical, or on YouTube at the channel: Music Archeologist. Enjoy!

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