Ultraprog!

Ultraprog Wizard

Can I shock you? I love prog rock.

This much-maligned genre delivers songs like symphonies and albums like Chinese puzzle boxes. Structures to get lost in and lyrics you can chew on. It’s colourful, expansive, visionary, and oh so beautifully naff.

Today I’d like to talk about a concept that I call Ultraprog. This is where a prog rock song just pushes itself that little bit further. Intensity builds. Maybe the tempo increases, or the band introduces a particularly fiddly riff. Things go interstellar – heavenly, or hellish. It’s one of those things that you just know when you hear it.

To better explain what I mean by ULTRAPROG, I’m going to show rather than tell. Here are a number of examples of moments in songs where things jump from prog to Ultraprog.

Please note: There will be no examples of Ultraprog moments from Tool, Yes, or Emerson Lake and Palmer. This is because these three bands seem to exist in a state of perpetual Ultraprog. It’s all they know. You can’t really take things higher or further when your starting point is so intense already!

So light some incense, pour yourself some green tea, and come along and Ultraprog with me.

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The Wooden Whale, and Other White Whales

Wooden Whale 1

“And this is what ye have shipped for, men! To chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out.”

I recently wrote about my long-term hunt for a green man incense burner.

In writing this, I Got To Thinking about certain other white whales I’ve pursued over the years.

Urban Dictionary defines a white whale as “something you obsess over to the point that it nearly or completely destroys you.”

Now, I wasn’t exactly obsesses with any of these things. They’re just things I was “on the lookout for” for much longer than was perhaps reasonable. I caught some of these white whales. But some are still out there, waiting to be found.

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Meet John, the Excitable Ent

Ent 2

For some years now I’ve been looking for a green man incense burner.

I saw one for sale once in that shop that sells everything in Liverpool’s Albert Dock. You know the one.

It was a beaut. It had a long root-lined tray to collect the ashes. The green man himself was a large tree stump with a face. You put the incense stick in his mouth, so it looked like he was smoking.

I didn’t buy that beaut. I saw something similar in a new age shop that existed for a short while in Belper. I didn’t buy that one either. And since then a green man incense burner has been my “white whale”. The monomaniacal hunt’s been on.

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