Beyond the Wall: Björk – Utopia

You can’t go very long in a conversation about art pop before the name ‘Björk‘ springs up. Whilst progressive rock fans look more towards Kate Bush as the heralding maiden of the genre, it would be greatly amiss not to appreciate Björk‘s contributions to experimentation, artistic expression and technological innovation in pop music over the past few decades.

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From the youthful energy in Debut‘s electropop to Vespertine’s sensual microbeats and from Medúlla‘s primal a capella to Vulnicura‘s emotionally-devastating string section, there is very little in Björk‘s solo discography that hasn’t experimented with a wide variety of styles, instrumentation and themes. Cue Utopia  Björk‘s latest album that explores the use of woodwind instrumentation and, quite unsurprisingly, circles the theme of paradise.

Those of you who know me personally know how much I anticipate each Björk release, so what did I think about it now that it’s released? More importantly, what did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below the review, but without further ado – let’s talk Björk:

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Justice Cow: Bent Knee’s Little-Known Clumsy Sister

Boston prog rockers Bent Knee keep making waves by releasing success after success, the latest of which is their 2017 album Land Animal, which we unanimously praised. However, the band’s bassist and singer, Jessica Kion, along with bandmates Ben Levin and Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth, tap into comedic gold on their side-project Justice Cow.

This seems to have started as the Youtube channel of Jessica by herself, as early as 2012, with the song “Let Me Be the One”. Shortly thereafter, the channel was also host to her deadpan humour with the video “How to Get Gum Out of Your Hair in 30 Seconds”. The comedic side of Justice “Jessica” Cow seems to then take over the musical side of the project, with more humour videos than music ones. To me, the apex is reached in late 2013, with three great videos in a row: the song “A Cautionary Tale”, which is great but unfortunately is on none of their releases, the false tutorial “How to Get a Boy to Like You on the First Date”, and the gloriously absurd “Wu-Tang Dance Contest”.

The channel continues on with various comical videos and songs that are rather consistently good, although more simple than what Bent Knee is known for, and the latest video on record is for the song “Elephant Man“, which was posted almost two years ago. This song features some intricate and impressive interplay between the guitar and the keyboard, but I don’t think it’s one of their best.

The project has, through the years, released three albums that are available on bandcamp. If you can never get enough of Bent Knee – just as you should –, I suggest you take a glance at Justice Cow. It’s not as grandiose and bombastic as Bent Knee, but it’s funny, charming, and they play some very good rock that’s more in the indie, folk, and alternative vein.

Let’s Talk: Frank Zappa’s Ghost

Well, maybe not ‘ghost’ per se, but his hologram.

The Zappa Family Trust has announced a collaboration with Eyellusion to produce a hologram of  the deceased musician Frank Zappa to perform in future live shows alongside (living) former bandmates.

Ahmet Zappa has also teased at the premise of a full performance of ‘Joe’s Garage’ featuring the virtual Frank.

You can read the full announcement here

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On a completely unrelated note, the Zappa Family Trust has suffered internal strain between Frank and Gail Zappa’s children since Gail’s passing. Ahmet and Diva Zappa allegedly hold a larger proportion of shares and control than Dweezil and Moon Zappa. The biggest controversy surrounding this debacle is Dweezil Zappa’s ‘trademark violation’ of his band ‘Zappa Plays Zappa’, in which the guitarist covers his father’s work.

Dweezil Zappa has since changed the name of his latest tour to ‘50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants – The Cease and Desist Tour’ to avoid further legal from the Zappa Family Trust.

You can read more about the events surrounding the Zappa Family Trust here

But here’s the question: should a musician be brought back from the dead, either through necromancy or the wonders of technology, for the purpose of performing more live shows? Is this a genuinely well-intentioned premise from the Zappa Family Trust or are they only in it for the money? Will Frank Zappa’s hologram ever perform with Tupac’s hologram? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below – let’s talk ghosts!

Roundabout: Steven Wilson – To the Bone

A man who needs very little introduction: Steven Wilson, widely considered to be the flagbearer of 21st century progressive rock, has just released his fifth solo LP, To the Bone. Alongside its announcement earlier this year, Wilson stated that he would be departing from his usual brooding prog rock aesthetic in favour of more straightforward pop rock. As you may well imagine, this caused quite the stir amongst his followers.

Following 2015’s emotive Hand. Cannot. Erase., and the instrumental excellence of the 2016 EP, , the singles released from To the Bone showed a big shift in Wilson‘s sound and songwriting. But is To the Bone on the same calibre of quality as his other albums? Can he still be considered the frontrunner of modern progressive rock?

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Join Cerpin, Leth, Sacul, Frog and guest writer SirPent as they scrutinize To the Bone – the biggest, and potentially the most controversial, prog release of 2017. Will they commend or condemn Wilson‘s evolvement? There’s only one way to find out, it’s time for another Roundabout!

We’d like to remind you that our Roundabout reviews are compilations of each Prog Talk admin’s subjective opinions established after multiple listens of an album. While we may have expressed our thoughts on the album beforehand, we do not collude while writing our reviews. So without further ado, let’s talk Steven Wilson:


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Album Review: The Dystopian Project – Paradigm

Back in 2015, Irish-based progressive rock band The Dystopian Project released their debut album, Death Leaves an Echo. I had mixed feelings about it… It was promising, but failed to grasp my interest and illuminate my imagination with a firm hand and a brilliant light. Two years later, almost day for day, Dublin’s quintet comes back with Paradigm, their sophomore album. Will they succeed or will this be their second strike?

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A Beginner’s Guide To: Anathema (2017)

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Almost a year and a half after the first one, I bring you a redesigned, brand new flowchart to one of my favorite bands – Anathema! Had to update it to include their latest record, but started from scratch since giving the band only one starting point didn’t feel like the right choice, so changed it to three. Plus, now I used a more, uh, professional tool rather than MS Paint so it looks nicer. And finally, included a little bio about them.

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Album Review: Yes – Open Your Eyes

Open_Your_EyesThere’s a reason why very few people look back fondly on Yes‘ 90’s period.

As I have a few hours to kill on a flight, I’ve taken it upon myself to drudge through the post-Drama depression so you don’t have to – I’m a modern day saint, I know, you’re welcome. You may think I revel in tearing albums apart, but I honestly approached Yes‘ seventeenth album, Open Your Eyes, with a glimpse of optimism and thought to myself: “It can’t be as bad as everyone says it is. It can’t be as bad as Heaven & Earth”.

I was wrong.

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Album Review: Glaswegians – Severance

glaswegiansIndependent Bandcamp artists – they can be quite the unassuming species, can’t they? Amongst the layers of aspiring lo-fi bedroom artists; waves of opportunists jumping on the vaporwave memewagon and a scattering of experimental oddities, there is gold to be panned.

Vancouver-based artist Glaswegians is one of those rarities, with 2017’s Severance being better than an underground independent release has any right to be. Severance is 65 minutes of progressive, folk and post-rock excellence that puts most professional artists’ work from this year to shame.

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Roundabout: Bent Knee – Land Animal

Boston-based art rock act Bent Knee have been about since their 2011 self-titled release, and on the playlists of almost every Prog Talk admin since their explosive 2014 sophomore release in Shiny Eyed Babies and the excellent Say So from last year.

The band has gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries of pop, rock and the avant-garde simultaneously, and many here at Prog Talk would gladly label them the most exciting upcoming act of the 2010s.

That said, does their most recent release, Land Animal, live up to our notably high expectations? Are we asking too much of the band? Will Leth, Cerpin and Symphony make it to the 21st Century? Find out the answer to all of these questions on this upcoming episode of… Roundabout“!

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As ever, we’d like to remind you that our Roundabouts are compilations of each Prog Talk admin’s individual and subjective opinions. While we may or may not have expressed our thoughts on the album in private beforehand, we do not collude while writing our reviews. So without further ado, let’s talk progressive art rock.

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In Honour of Fathers, Here Are Our Favourite Dad Prog Anthems

What better, thought I, than to celebrate our fathers, and those among us who father, than to share some of the best ‘dad prog’ out there. As you may know, I have quite a history of opposing that rather subjective subgenre, but, despite all its cheesiness and retrogressive flaws, I do have a soft spot for some songs. A few indeed are able of breaching the shell and reach my hard, cold heart and warm it ever so slightly.

Father’s Day is usually celebrated on the third Sunday of June, but many countries digress. But since I’m in a country that’s part of the majority, I’m writing this today, in honour of the fathers who are there for their children, for the fathers who aren’t, and for the fathers who have been there. I’ve gathered the opinions of the other admins of the page as well, so here’s a list of some good dad prog.


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Neal Morse – Cradle to the Grave (One)

This duet with Neal Morse is the emotional tale of a father and his child, and though it’s simple, cliché, and not inventive the slightest, it’s effective, and struck a chord with me. I hope it does with you as well. The album, and whole Neal Morse solo project, is very Christian and preaching, but some of his compositions manage to get us through it all.

The Tangent – A Crisis in Mid-Life (Not as Good as the Book)

This whole (double-)album is just the pinnacle of dad prog. On one side, it’s a concept album about a midlife crisis – you could hardly get more dad than that -, but on the other side, the music is really inspired, progressive, and interesting Canterbury-style progressive rock. It deals lyrically with some subjects that are difficult to get right, as they can sound fake, edgy, or cliché, but on this album they have all ben executed to near perfection. Even the mini-novel that comes with the physical edition of the disc is an emotional tale of nostalgia and futurism centred around progressive rock that manages to work.


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Crucis – Recluso artista (Crucis)

Crucis are one of Argentina’s most iconic prog bands. Although some obvious influences like Yes and Genesis, and even Jethro Tull are notorious, they still hold that special sound and style that made our national progressive rock stand out. Their balance between complex arrangements, technical passages, and catchy melodies and good jams, are sure to make you sing along to it!


Happy Father’s Day!