Prog Round-up: June 2013

Geoff Barton on new releases from Prog Rocks!, Believe, Fantasist, Primitive Instinct and Earthling Society

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Various: Prog Rocks!

You know what to expect from prog compilation albums, don’t you? They’re full of Yes, ELP, Genesis and, if you’re lucky, a bit of Atomic Rooster, right? Well, yeah… except for this one. Produced in cahoots with our wizardy friends at Prog magazine, this five-CD set celebrates a quintet of legendary labels: Harvest, Charisma, Virgin, Liberty/United Artists and Inside Out. Each gets a dedicated CD all to itself and the track selection is, as you might expect, eclectic and unpredictable. From Deep Purple (The Bird Has Flown) to Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Lost In The New Real), Prog Rocks! also showcases the quite staggering musical breadth (and, indeed, depth) of the genre. This is a massive listen, goes without saying, but for the moment we’re enjoying the more left-field tracks including Pete Brown & Piblokto!’s bizarre Got A Letter From A Computer; Cochise’s obscure classic Lost Hearts; Egg’s suitably scrambled Wring Out The Ground (Loosely Now); and Peter Hammill’s spooky Red Shift, with Randy California on guitar. (910)

Believe: The Warmest Sun In Winter

The fifth studio album from Poland’s Believe tells of a chance meeting between two childhood friends; they sit and talk about what’s happened in their lives. This is a rich and rewarding listen, full of stylish and technically superb soundscapes. If you’re only familiar with the bleak side of Polish prog (ie. Riverside) you’ll be surprised by this sublime, elegiac offering. (810)

Fantasist: Fantasist

Fantasist call themselves an “enigmatic and eccentric UK alternative progressive trio”. Ragged, jagged and guitar-heavy, this offbeat album mixes the uncompromising attitude of punk pioneers Wire with the eyebrow-arching quirkiness of XTC. Many of the songs appear to be musings on the digital age: “If I delete my page, will I disappear?” they ask pointedly on standout Fear The Worst. (710)

Primitive Instinct: One Man’s Refuge

Primitive Instinct were formed in Maidstone, Kent in 1987 by singer/guitarist/ songwriter Nick Sheridan, and this is their first album since 2000’s Belief. Full of Barclay James Harvest-style sentimentality (Breathing has a distinct Mockingbird vibe) and characterised by Sheridan’s heartfelt vocals, this is soothing and passionate in equal measure. (710)

Earthling Society: Zodiak

”A journey through the mind of a drifting serial killer, Zodiak, to the altar of the Satanic occultist in the Astral Traveller,” Earthling Society win the prize for Best Concept Album Of The Year So Far. The magnificently meandering 30-minute title track is Zodiak’s centrepiece, reminiscent of a spontaneously combusting space-rock collaboration between Hawkwind legend Dik Mik and Primal Scream. (710)