Argos: A Seasonal Affair

Distinctive retro-prog from Germany.

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Argos have been described, somewhat oxymoronically, as retro-prog as well as progressive.

Without getting mired in the age-old discussion of what this exactly means, the German group’s previous albums have shown diverse influences feeding into their music. Vanishing opens their latest album with electronic patterns overtaken by real drums. Peter Hammill-ish piano lines set a sombre tone, broken by Rico Florczak’s flamboyant guitar solo with its echoes of Allan Holdsworth. Divergence is similarly stern, its lyrics ‘Something you never imagined/ Your world an acrostic of lines’ could also have come from Hammill. By contrast, Silent Corner features soprano sax, flute and electric piano, which gives it a swinging, jazzy feel. As the album progresses it looks back more frequently to earlier times. Not In This Picture is the centrepiece, a 12-minute suite with a German singer who sounds uncannily like Caravan’s Pye Hastings. The reedy keyboards and sunny disposition also evoke early Genesis. However one categorises Argos, they employ a wide-ranging musical lexicon of old and new sounds, and mould them into something distinctive.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.