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Ancient Astronauts and modern bullshit a.k.a. "Progressive Rock" concepts

(17 posts)
  • Started 1 month ago by Johnny_Heartfield
  • Latest reply from Johnny_Heartfield

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  1. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    Chariot Of The Sun - To Phaeton On The Occasion Of Sunrise (Theme From An Imagined Movie)

    I'm quite happy that MP obviously do not just repeat some Daeniken trash - the album title hinted a little in that direction. Instead an artful play with mythology and SF concepts, embedded into another crossmedia project. Some of the best MP stuff of the last 10 years originated in some kind of side project (Here be Monsters, N.O.X.) or found its place there (almost all the ballet stuff).
    That's the difference between a clever band /album concept and the rather stupid way some so-called progressive projects have dug into cheap SF or pseudo-esoteric mythologies in order to give their products some philosophical appeal. Probably just too much dope in the 70s ;-). One of the best examples: Eloy's "Dawn" or "Ocean". While I do like those albums musically the album concepts - let alone the lyrics - are just too unwillingly funny.

    "It's dark in the sky..." (opening of "Atlantis' Agony" on "Ocean") - probably the 70s pop equivalent of the worst introduction in the history of novels ("It was a dark and stormy night..."). Bulwer-Lytton, if I do remember rightly. And then "gliding into light and knowledge across a neverending pasture", sung with a broad German accent, still elevates me into the highest levels of cosmic laughter. Oh yes, btw. "from se highest place in space..." (From the same album, Eloy's "Dawn").
    And then all that second-rate "Lord of the Rings" stuff - early Rush being not quite innocent in that direction...
    Completely over the top and therefore brilliant the performance of Rick Wakeman's "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" - on ice:
    https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-crazed-story-of-rocks-ultimate-folly-rick-wakeman-and-king-arthur-on-ice

    Progressive Rock, hah! I'm just happy that our Trondheim boys are much too clever to fall into these traps. Or at least wise enough to just play with these ideas and concepts - and never to take themselves too serious.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  2. suntripper
    Member

    Poor old Bulwer-Lytton! He always gets panned for that! It's actually a perfectly reasonable opening. Here is the first sentence in full:

    It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

    While I can't vouch for the quality of 'Paul Clifford', I have read 'Zanoni' - a profound, fascinating and most certainly well-written work that I would recommend to anyone.

    I don't know what you make of the concepts on which hang 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' and 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' but, if they played a part in the making of two of the best albums of all time, I'm in!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  3. dongonz
    Member

    and-- tbh. MP don't need esoteric stuff or all those fantasy stuff they also are more then capable of real bad lyrics ^^ just saying... The All is One.... I made fun playing with the lyrics in my head... Nobody walks anymore, the public transport is gone, it's ugly as never before, motorization has won.... blabla

    Posted 1 month ago #
  4. dongonz
    Member

    me, personally, i cannot find anything in the music of Steven Wilson. I just find it uterly boring.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  5. suntripper
    Member

    You're not alone!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  6. otherdemon
    Member

    I'm a bit ambivalent about Steven Wilson. On one hand, I do think he has written
    some great songs throughout the years. On the other hand, he way too often plays a
    type of prog-rock that doesn't appeal to me: Technically impressive, but not very
    emotionally resonant.

    I love him as a producer, though. The albums he produced for Opeth + the whole remix/
    remaster job he did for King Crimson was great.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  7. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    @ suntripper: Really doesn't sound too bad, this Bulwer-Lytton beginning in full length

    As for Tales of Topographic Oceans: You must be one of the very few who consider it one of the best albums of all times. Generally it is being bashed as boring, blown-up, with pseudo-philosophical esoteric lyrics. While I might support this opinion with respect to the lyrics, I do like the music quite a bit - even better condensed to 25 minutes (I did this once a long time ago, cutting with my old 4 track machine...).

    And the Lamb concept isn't too pompous itself. Rather surrealistic than pseudo-philosophic, Gabriel trying to reach more common musical shores with this one. Probably the beginning of a process that ended with "Solsbury Hill". By the time Gabriel had learned to express himself in just a few minutes ;-).
    Musically the Lamb is probably Genesis at their best, though I personally prefer "Selling England".

    Posted 1 month ago #
  8. supernaut
    Member

    I‘m more of a Foxtrot guy. And I like Tales from a Topographic Ocean musically in parts, especially the wild stuff in part 3. Lyrically well it‘s 70s esoterics by twentysomethings.

    It‘s not really progressive music if you imitate 70s progrock today, is it? Do Motorpsycho do that? Maybe in parts. But there‘s NOX, TDDU and Folk Flest, so they fly beyond this issue. Didn‘t Bent once state they‘re truly prog by stating something like they push the current perception of musical concepts as opposed to trying to sound like those old bands?

    Then again, it‘s music, arts... you‘re free to be as cheesy as you like.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  9. supernaut
    Member

    Thick as a Brick was meant to be a joke towards concept albums. And turned out to be quite a good one. I prefer A Passion Play, though.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  10. suntripper
    Member

    @Johnny; @supernaut: I know! Even many Yes fans can't get on with 'Tales', but I love it! I would accept the notion of cutting side 2 right down - the musical ideas on that side probably should only sustain 10 to 12 minutes. However, I place sides 1 and 4 alongside their other very best works, while I'm also very fond of side 3 and I'm glad they felt free enough to go where it took them. Maybe the spirit that enabled that sort of pushing at the edges - truly progressive - is similar to that which animates MP at times - yes, with N.O.X., Folk Flest, etc.

    Tull? It's Songs from the Wood for me! Bit of a concept there? Anyway, it's a wonderful, joyful album!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  11. Punj Lizard
    Member

    Personally I find it very hard to be objective about bands and specific albums that I like. I accept that a widely held objective view of Tales from Topographic Oceans is that it's overblown nonsense, but to me it is glorious. Jon Anderson's lyrics have nearly always been (and especially during the 70s) hard to pin down. Very few of his lyrics build any narrative and to me it has always been the sound of the vocal tied to the lyrical (word-salad) flow that was key. To criticise TFTO for being lyrical nonsense is fine, but the same can really be applied to pretty much anything great Yes did in the 70s. Some tracks work better than others lyrically, but the pleasure I've taken in the band has been prompted by the overall sound. TFTO provides beautiful melodies, harmonies, and aural excitement, emotion, power and fragility in spades. And although for some it might be too long (you're not first person I know to have made their own shortened versions of the album, Johnny - it seems to have been quite a popular exercise for some Yes fans ), for me I wouldn't cut a moment of it. Each track has a distinct flavour and themes which works well given the subject matter. And while it's easy to dismiss the subject matter for its source in the questionable Autobiography of a Yogi, the specific inspiration is Hindu scripture (the sastras) as described in the footnote to which Anderson refers. In that regard I suppose it could fairly be called pseudo-esoteric, but the same could be applied to artists of all stripes that have been inspired by philosophies of the East - The Beatles, Herman Hesse, and more. Some of it, being more high-brow or having had a greater cultural influence will be considered profound, some of it will be considered a load of airy-fairy bollocks. But arguments could be made for both. I love TFTO, start to finish and don't care what the widely held (so-called) objective reviews say.

    The Lamb, as Johnny says, is a different beast. But is it? We might be tempted to accept it more readily because it can be linked to the Western scientific delving into the mind, the subconsious, the surreal that has been given credence by Freud, Jung and the many more brilliant pshychoanalysts all the way up to Zizek and beyond. It sounds more serious because it has a link to scientific analysis. Fair enough. But religious philosophies have also been studied seriously for thousands of years even though the route to understanding has been different to that used by scientists and psychoanalysts. It has been an inner journey - certainly open to abuse and being promulgated in ways that are intended to bamboozle. Personally I love the Lamb probably as much as TFTO, but in this case, there is a narrative (that you don't find in TFTO) and that narrative is highly compelling. But they have a common ending, a common resolution. IT. Nous somme du soleil. Both give us a sense of having come out the end of a transformation, but the endpoint of that transformation is a place beyond space and time, beyond duality. The presence of both these albums and their endpoints, remarkably, make it clear that it is not the specific process we go through that gets us there, but that the point beyond duality was always there and merely has to be grasped.

    Dear oh dear, what a load of guff! Ha ha. Anyway. I think Dark Side of the Moon, with it's exploration of the human condition offers a similar conclusion in Eclipse.

    As for Motorpsycho's contributions to the world of concept albums, I'm going to have to go for a long walk in the woods to meditate on it.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  12. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    If there was a Nobel prize for rock music, MP would be close contenders for the first nomination. Exaggerated? Fan view? Probably. But...

    Motorpsycho do not just "copy" or "replay" or "milk" 70s rock, be it progressive, heavy, folky or whatever. Motorpsycho do to 70s rock musically what Bob Dylan has done to the american folk blues canon: took it up, wrestled with it, re-shaped it, re-interpreted it and spit it out as something intelligent, new and still recognizably old at the same time - and definitively their own.

    @ Punj Lizard: If you go for a walk in the woods, don't miss the sunrise and those hazy figures on the cover of MP's next album

    Posted 1 month ago #
  13. suntripper
    Member

    @Punj Lizard: Far from being "a load of guff", that was an excellent read! Thank you! I particularly enjoyed your take on the resolutions of both albums. We're obviously of like mind here. By the way, as well as 'Zanoni', I also plead guilty to having read 'Autobiography of a Yogi' and 'Siddhartha'. No doubt you've been there too!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  14. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    The Lamb: Certainly a kind of poor man's Jungian self-analysis, but with a rich command of words and images - and musically sublime. Therefore: thumbs up from me.
    Btw: the deeper the mystical insights, the weaker the words to describe it. Old rule, also valid in the world of concept albums.

    Posted 4 weeks ago #
  15. suntripper
    Member

    Yup - ordinary language is inadequate. That's where poetry comes in - although not most of what passes for poetry these days.

    Posted 4 weeks ago #
  16. Punj Lizard
    Member

    @johnny - I love this!

    If there was a Nobel prize for rock music, MP would be close contenders for the first nomination. Exaggerated? Fan view? Probably. But...

    Motorpsycho do not just "copy" or "replay" or "milk" 70s rock, be it progressive, heavy, folky or whatever. Motorpsycho do to 70s rock musically what Bob Dylan has done to the american folk blues canon: took it up, wrestled with it, re-shaped it, re-interpreted it and spit it out as something intelligent, new and still recognizably old at the same time - and definitively their own.

    And I completely agree with you and suntripper regarding the inadequacy of language to describe the, er, ineffable.

    @suntripper - I have to say that poetry, a few exceptions aside, leaves me cold. And it took me years before I really started to appreciate lyrics (thank you Miss Mitchell with your pills and powders and passion plays). But outside of the musical setting I just don't feel it. Anyway, yes I read Autobiography of a Yogi and a couple of Hesse books, including Siddartha. Loved Siddartha and Steppenwolf. For some reason I never read The Glass Bead Game (Das Glasperlenspiel), though people kept telling me I should. I'm not familiar with Zanoni at all. I read Von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods back in the early 70s. It was a fantastic read, as I remember. Exciting ideas and possibilities to the mind of a 13-year-old kid or anyone with a vivid imagination.

    I listened to DDU a couple of days ago and reread the lyrics. Obviously it's strongly narrative, and it seems very literary to me. Another story of transformation, it too seems to end in an epiphany of sorts (Into the Mystic), though the nature of both the journey and the realization are fairly ugly. But, the narrator does seem to have conquered the fear of death, looking it in the face.

    Death appears to be a motif in both N.O.X. and Begynnelser. Of course MP didn't write Begynnelser but it's a funny (non-?)coincidence. All three are also about life, beginnings, transcending the mundane and defying death.

    I really don't know if life or death are themes in Folk Flest. I just haven't engaged with it that way at all. Like Magma's music (talk about concepts!!) (by which it's clearly influenced) I just love it and have never attempted to understand it. What I really need to do is sit down and read Johan Harstad's manifesto and the rest of the stuff in the booklet.

    Talk about concepts!! Magma are a bloody weird band to try to describe to people. It's not too bad as you stumble through the unusual mix of musical elements, but when you add that it's sung in Kobaian and then have to explain all that, it starts to get really difficult to convince just how bloody brilliant this band is.

    Have a good Sunday all

    Posted 4 weeks ago #
  17. Johnny_Heartfield
    Member

    I never got to grips with the DDU concept/lyrics. Everytime I tried I was somehow transported into the world of Terry Jones' "Eric the viking" - and therefore DDU always has an underlying comic note for me. Probably never intended by MP

    Kobaian: after being estranged, surprised, fascinated and equally irritated by that language it suddenly appeared to me that it may be just a Frenchman's concept to come to terms with the German language. German - without understanding the words - must have an equal effect to a foreign listener, especially one not used to germanic tongues. I consider the whole Magma concept as a way of - probably subconciously - coming to terms with the French occupation trauma during WW2: horror, submission, and at the same time the dark fascination of fascism, military order, Nazi uniforms and so on. It certainly all is mirrored in the Magma concept - probably expressed in the strong Carl Orff influence on the music. Of course the French counter culture of the 70s used the social taboos and fears (especially the dark Nazi elements) to express itself. Same thing probably happened - on another level - in England, from David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister via Joy Division up to Prince Harry.
    In Magma this dark side is outbalanced by the strong spiritual dimension which Vander always has explained as his Coltrane influence.

    Daevid Allen has always described Magma as the shadow (band/aspect) of Gong - and vice versa. On the one hand total musical discipline, strong leadership, big Ego on Planet Kobaia, on the other hand loose, chaotic hippie mysticism on Planet Gong. When both bands went on tour together, which happened several times in the 70s, it would always be a brilliant evening for one band and a musical disaster for the other - with changing roles.

    Posted 4 weeks ago #

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