Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Prog Rock Contest: Preliminary

So we finally got enough entrants to fill out the prog rock contest today, and with that, Friday13th started the first round.

Here's a little background on the tournament, and its history: Friday put together the first one in 2013. In 2014, he switched it over to a Psychedelic Rock tournament. However, this proved to be less popular. So he went back to prog rock in 2015, and he's kept it as prog rock ever since.

Again, these are relatively obscure albums competing, albums that have drawn less than 30 ratings a piece on the Sputnik Music site.

Here's the list of previous winners:

2013 - Los Jaivas - Alturus de Machu Picchu (1981) - A Chilean band that blends folk and symphonic rock

2014 - T2 - It'll All Work Out in Boomland (1970) - A British psychedelic/progressive rock band

2015 - McLuhan - Anomaly (1971) - An American prog rock band that blends jazz and psychedelic rock

2016 - Landberk - One Man Tells Another (1994) - A Swedish progressive art rock band

2017 - Universal Totem Orchestra - Mathematical Mother (2016) - An Italian symphonic jazz rock band

2018 - Carmen - Fandangos in Space (1973) - An American prog rock band that mixes rock music with flamenco music and dance

As you can see, the winners have come from several different countries, many different sub-genres of progressive rock, and a time span from 1970 through 2016 (although with the '70s having been prog's heyday, there tend to be more entries from this era than from any other). I don't know about you guys, but out of these six albums, the only one I was previously familiar with was the Carmen album, and it had been a long time since I'd heard it.

The tournament begins with 16 entries every year. Friday has to approve each entry as meeting the criteria of the contest. (You can't claim Duran Duran is prog, for example. You have to have an outside source saying the artist is prog, such as progarchives.com, Wikipedia, or even Sputnik Music itself.) For each of the first 8 weeks, Friday will present two entries that he believes go together in some way or other, and everyone votes on their favorite, after giving each album at least one (but hopefully several) listens.

This year's players, much like the bands who'll represent them, also come from a number of different countries. Here are this year's entries:

1. The Mercury Tree - Permutations (2016) - American alt-math-prog band
2. Pulsar - Halloween (1977) - French dark symphonic prog rock band
3. Thrice Mice - Thrice Mice! (1971) - German classical/jazz prog rock band
4. Fireballet - Night On Bald Mountain (1975) - American symphonic prog rock band
5. Tangerine Dream - Firestarter OST (1984) - German electric synthesizer prog band
6. Trettioariga Kriget - Krigssang (1975) - Swedish heavy progressive rock band
7. Unreal City - La Crudelta Di Aprile (2013) - Italian symphonic prog rock band
8. Tako - Tako (1978) - Yugoslavian jazz fusion/progressive rock band
9. Art Bears Hopes and Fears (1978) - English experimental avant-rock
10. Wallenstein - Mother Universe (1972) - German progressive krautrock band
11. Evership - Evership II (2018) - American Neo-prog rock band
12. Embryo - Rocksession (1973) - German jazz fusion/prog rock band
13. Powerized - The Mirror's Eye (2018) - Netherlands symphonic prog rock band
14. Wobbler - From Silence to Somewhere (2017) - Norwegian symphonic prog rock band
15. Spettri - 2973 La Nemica Dei Ricordi (2015) - Italian heavy prog band
16. Fish - A Feast of Consequences (2013) - Scottish Neo-prog rock artist (he's the former lead singer of Marillion)

SO, pretty interesting group of entries. The only one of these that I've ever heard before other than my own entry (Tangerine Dream) is the Wobbler album. Ten different countries are represented here, although interestingly, my entry is the only one that's not from either the 1970s or the 2010s. Quite a range of styles, too, although as Friday pointed out, we don't really have any representatives of folk prog. But hey, there's always next year.

Round 1 has begun, and I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about the first two contestants. I've just given them each a listen, and it's going to be a tough vote for me (although I am leaning slightly in one direction).