What Is NEO Progressive Rock?
by, 01-30-2013 at 12:03 PM (1465 Views)
I'm planning to post a series of blogs along the lines of "What Is..." - which will describe my personal take on several genres or sub-genres of music.
To kick the series off - here's a personal take on the "What is neo?" question.
Despite certain artists vigorously denying it – “neo progressive rock” is in fact a sub-genre of prog.
In the late 1970s, progressive rock appeared to be on its last legs - but there was a resurgence of the genre in the early '80s. It was led by British acts Marillion and IQ, and assisted by Jadis, Pendragon, Pallas, Twelfth Night, and several others. The term "neo" was originally used to describe this "new" wave of progressive rock - but today, the word has morphed, and - in the context of progressive music genres - it no longer means "new". Instead, it now describes the style of music played by that group of early ‘80s artists.
So today "neo" progressive rock is based on the style of early Marillion and IQ - which, in turn, is:
- Rooted more in Genesis, than in any of the other big 5 / big 6
- Often (but not always) more song oriented than (say) symphonic prog
- Fairly approachable, usually with one or two almost radio-friendly tracks per album ... though that does not make it 'pop'.
- More-or-less the standard rock lineup – i.e. vocals, guitar, bass, keys, drums – and only rarely do other instruments play any significant role the mix.
- Strong melodies with a focus on vocals, usually delivered in a Gabriel-esque style
- Very appealing guitar work
- A strong keyboard presence, usually with lots of 'Trons, Hammonds and Synths - either genuine or sampled
- Frequent big walls of sound
- Good musicianship
- Emotion-laden, sometimes dark moods to the songs (the up-beat Jadis is a notable exception)
- I’ve sometimes heard it said that neo incorporates an element of punk.
- Finally - it's often hard to draw the line between Neo and modern-era symphonic prog.
It has become fashionable it denigrate neo in some circles, which explains - in part - why many artists in these genres avoid the label, or deny that it even exists.
But, quite clearly, it certainly does exist..
Finally - neo prog does not include acts like Spock’s Beard, Porcupine tree, or The Flower Kings. They fall into 3rd wave - a completely different subgenre.
Marillion (both - the Fish and the H eras)
Twelfth night / Casino
Strangefish (sorry, Uschi)
Big Big Train (not including their newest CD)
Almost everything Clive Nolan ever did - including the band they CYNICALLY named "Neo"
And maybe Magenta