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Thread: How would you say prog evolved in the past 20 years?

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    How would you say prog evolved in the past 20 years?

    I saw this side discussion in the other thread and thought it might make for an interesting topic on its own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    How would you say prog evolved in the past 20 years?

    Here were the responses so far. Feel free to weigh in.

    Quote Originally Posted by NogbadTheBad View Post
    I'd say an evolution away from symph & neo, though there's still loads coming out, with much more psych, metal, non-fusion jazz influenced, post, math & avant. Don't think there has been any revolutionary developments other than Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
    Quote Originally Posted by thedunno View Post
    I think an important evolution is that I hear more and more Jazz that gets a lot proggier.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    bingo. I agree
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Here in Norway, Rune Kristoffersen (of the mighty Rune Grammofon label) has taken to refer to it as simply the "younger progressive jazz/rock-scene", which I think is a bit neat as most of these players cultivate some sort of relationship with 70s progressive rock, avant-garde rock and fusion in addition to "trained" modern jazz traits. In a couple of these groups, such as Ignore and Needlepoint, there are both old-timers and juveniles involved.

    Rune Grammofon recently released the excellent second album by I Like to Sleep, for instance, sporting an instrumental lineup of mallet percussion, double bass and drums. Great stuff, not unlike other relative newcomers on that label like Krokofant or even Grand General, and every bit as dedicated to the conundrum of 'rock' as these. And Ståle Storløkken's son is in the band, having grown up on his dad's ELP-, King Crimson-, Soft Machine- and Terje Rypdal-LPs. That shit helps.
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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    How would you say prog evolved in the past 20 years?
    I think from the 90s to the very early 2000s, prog was in the early stages of the so-called "resurgence". I agree with Ian that much of the prog (and related) musical styles that became popular in the 90s have somewhat fizzled out. Neo-prog, post-rock, third wave symph, and 90s alt-rock influenced groups all seemed to have become far less a part of the scene after the early 2000s. And while I don't follow it closely, it seems prog-metal evolved during this time as well, shedding a lot of its post-80s vibe.

    But in many ways, I would suggest it has not evolved much at all - at least in the last 15 years or so. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's more settled into a groove. I think the primary contribution collectively of the 2000s is that it somewhat homogenized the concept of genre blending. Much of the music feels like a culmination of the 40-50 years previous. Even modern day retro bands largely produce their "take" on a classic sound, but still often contains an aspect of modern music.

    I'd also suggest that, for many, the newer artists that gain attention aren't those that are experimenting on the fringes, but those who are able to either blend styles effectively and/or execute a retro style to perfection.

    For example, I'd consider "All Traps on Earth" a modern classic, matching or even exceeding Anglagard (the obvious comparison) in many ways by both properly executing the same style in a compelling matter while integrating elements such as Zeuhl into the music.

    Finally, in the last 10 years, there's increasing evidence to suggest that while progressive music is proliferating, even thriving from an artist/musician standpoint, it's getting increasingly neglected from a fanbase standpoint.

    Even compared to the "big names" of the 90s (PTree, SB, DT, TFK, etc.), it's a bit of a travesty that many currently artists can't even realistically aspire to be as successful as the 90s bands (who were, relatively speaking, less successful than 70s/80s bands). It's truly a (thriving) underground movement at this point.
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  3. #3
    [QUOTE=Poisoned Youth;988957]

    One of the changes, and to me it's a biggie- The lack of telling stories. Genesis, Yes, Wakeman, etc. they brought you into a world of stories. Today's prog rarely does this, and seemingly emphasizes "sterile"technical ability. Of course this is just a generality, and there are exceptions.

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    For example, I'd consider "All Traps on Earth" a modern classic, matching or even exceeding Anglagard (the obvious comparison) in many ways by both properly executing the same style in a compelling matter while integrating elements such as Zeuhl into the music. >> For me ATOE is not a real group per se but an Anglagard offshoot, but in their Ogans album, one track (the final one) was Lezperish if memory serves

    Finally, in the last 10 years, there's increasing evidence to suggest that while progressive music is proliferating, even thriving from an artist/musician standpoint, it's getting increasingly neglected from a fanbase standpoint. >>> Yup, TBH, I've not only grown tired of many Avant-prog bands, sonics, antics, but but I've even started to get rid of some of those albums (simply got too many of them)

    Even compared to the "big names" of the 90s (PTree, SB, DT, TFK, etc.), it's a bit of a travesty that many currently artists can't even realistically aspire to be as successful as the 90s bands (who were, relatively speaking, less successful than 70s/80s bands). >> Actually, I was never in those "big 90's" act, but I know I'm a bit of an exception in that regard... I'd given up generally after a couple of albums... and I don't own any of them anymore.... Whereas I've still got most of the 90's Scandinavian retro bands.

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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by LEG-art View Post

    One of the changes, and to me it's a biggie- The lack of telling stories. Genesis, Yes, Wakeman, etc. they brought you into a world of stories. Today's prog rarely does this, and seemingly emphasizes "sterile"technical ability. Of course this is just a generality, and there are exceptions.
    I'm not entirely sure there's less storytelling, but I do find that the talent for creating stories among artists varies greatly. I tend to not like any albums where a narrator is needed or that require cut-scenes of "radio drama" to further the story. I would prefer the songs themselves tell a story that allows the listener to interpret. If the story is that crucial that it has to be spelled out so specifically, then either the songwriting needs to be better or the story less complex and in need of an editor.

    As for the second point, I certainly appreciate raw technical ability or virtuosity. However, it can, as you say, feel sterile sometimes. For me this comes across as an album filled with songs I can't tell apart - one song might as well be the next one. It's sort of like the old joke about Carlos Santana or Be-Bop Jazz: Different beginning, different ending, same solo.
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    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    The jazz with proggy touches is a great development for me
    Ian

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    IMHO, the only evolution has been on the Avant side of the ledger. Most of the other stuff is very derivative of the 60's and 70's. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. I don't pay as much attention to the metal side of things or jazz, so I can't comment on those.

  8. #8
    There has been little to shake up the genre. Nothing in the past 20 years has hit me like the initial exposure to bands such as KC, Yes, Genesis and Magma did. It may be expecting too much, but I see no real innovation, but more the development of new versions of old genres.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    There has been little to shake up the genre. Nothing in the past 20 years has hit me like the initial exposure to bands such as KC, Yes, Genesis and Magma did. It may be expecting too much, but I see no real innovation, but more the development of new versions of old genres.
    I realize that the sentiment expressed above is prevalent here on PE, so I am of the minority when I say that there have been plenty of artists that have grabbed my attention and fired up my continuing interest in Prog (and enthusiasm with it) over the past 20 years. If it wasn't for new artists (whether it be "Neo-Prog' or just new Prog related bands) I wouldn't be following the genre or enjoying sites like PE at all. Heck, I wouldn't even be purchasing much in the way of music at all other than the legacy stuff to fill in my collection on CDs. The list below (which I posted on the other 2000-2020 thread) represents not only artists that have built on the classic 70's Prog sound but also have carved out a sound of their own which I find to be quite innovative and beyond "derivative" sounding. Particularly, bands such as Deluge Grander, All Traps On Earth and others not on this list that were mentioned by other posters on that thread (Thieves Kitchen, Jack O'the Clock, Wobbler) have certainly forged a new direction in Prog and generate an excitement all their own. As far as the derivative aspect, I am able to appreciate what they are doing with what came before and enjoy new takes and interpretation of the classic sounds of the 70's era.

    Overall, I am pretty excited with what has been created in the Prog world over the past two decades and look forward to that trend continuing in the future.

    Kotebel (formed in 1999, with all but debut released after 2000)
    Deluge Grander
    All Traps On Earth
    Birds And Buildings
    Sky Architect
    Aisles
    Bad Dreams
    Unreal City
    The Emerald Dawn
    Cryptic Vision
    Forever Twelve
    Thirteen Of Everything

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    There are very few vocal performances that compare to those of the 70's. Starting in the 90's and 00's, the vocalists, for the most part, are pretenders and wannabes who hide their lack of vocal skills behind overly emotive delivery, nonsensical runs, or pitch-seeking bends.

    On the upside, I agree with Nogbad (et.al) -- blending jazz and prog has been a good, enjoyable, evolutionary step.

    I also find that the genre "Psychedelic Ambient", or Psybient, that exists in modern music circles, has a lot of prog influences. Anyone unfamiliar should give a listen to Shpongle's "Tales of the Inexpressible" for a good example.

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    Member Mythos's Avatar
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    All music is continually evolving. So change is inevitable.

    And I'll point to what I believe are the major factors:
    1) INFLUENCES: Early (1970's) Prog artists, the ones blazing the trails for progressive music, influences included classical music, jazz, and artists like the Beatles, Moodies, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, etc. Where as (80's, 90, and beyond) Prog artists listened to these 70's Prog artists (Yes, Genesis, Tull, Kansas, etc.). So their frame of reference was understandably different.

    2) TECHNOLOGY: As technology has progressed, so has the technical abilities of Prog artists, hell today they can do all their recording on line and be in different cities or even countries!

    3) SOCIETY: These keep marching on, and the influences from different cultures that were not readily accessible prior to the computer age, are but a few clicks away..

    Sure there are groups that try to be "retro and claim early Prog influences, but they simple cannot be reproduced, the time has past and the world is a very different place...

    These are the reasons all kinds of bands keep touring and playing their "old hits" as they cannot recapture the "timing" of their early success, just ask; the Stones, the Beach Boys, or most every 80's group!

  12. #12
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    I think that a band like Big Big Train would fill the storytelling niche pretty well. Beardfish, Flower Kings, Bent Knee. I'm sure there are others.
    In some cases they seek to emulate the past, in others to carve a newish path.

    I grew up with Prog as my pop music. It was played on the radio. I went from bubblegum and Beatles to Yes, ELP,Focus, etc. College radio got me Genesis, Canterbury and the like.
    When the late 70's and early 80's rolled around I got tired of some of the stylistic gymnastics the Prog bands were attempting to remain relevant.
    The story telling got strained and ( to My ears, which are the only ears that really matter to Me ) weak homage to the previous decade.
    I became more interested in the newer material being played in new ways on new ( different )instruments. ( RIO, 'new age' instrumentals, jazz rock fusion )

    I never abandoned the old music, I just layered on more. Late day Miles Davis, Metheny alt noise rock, Manchester new wave, Grunge.
    Then I started hearing about 'new' Prog Spocks Beard, Echolyn, Porcupine Tree, Flower Kings, Änglagård, alt country/newgrass acts that used pedals and odd tunings and new song structures.
    The Jazz aspects grow stronger ( with me ) more hypnotic repetitive rhythm based music replaced synth driven ( think Klaus Schulze .
    Present day zeuhl , brass driven jazz rock, mash-ups of different sounds.
    More than almost any influence has been the curation by Steve Feigenbaum through Cuneiform Records of my collection.
    Labels like Inside/Out and the explosion of DIY production and distribution through the internet and places like Bandcamp have also made it easier to discover newer bands.
    My restless mind is always seeking new and new to me sounds. Festivals like Bigears and Progday and Rosfest keep the torch burning for older ( perhaps less appreciated by younger audiences ) acts as well as spotlighting up and coming bands.
    The newer bands with 'prog-ish' influences have room to grow without being held back by endless comparison to 50 year old acts. Although for some, those comparisons are first and foremost in their critiques of the bands music.

    The future is bright.
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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Everything in life evolves - every single subject and facet that we can think of, and music is no different. I think as humans it is in our nature to absorb our daily experiences and interactions - these things become embedded in our brain and emotions whether we acknowledge it or not. The music that was created from say 1965 until 2020 is part of the creative process today (and arguably way before that as well), and if we look forward to 2060, the music from 1965 until 2060 or so will then become the influence - I think this process feeds off itself and it's never-ending. To say that music has not advanced is sort of naive imo - music and art is constantly evolving and progressing. Whether we choose to accept newer music with an open heart and mind is an entirety different subject though.
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    I think the public has gradually become more receptive to an increasing eclectic mix of styles. Where 30+ years ago, [most] bluegrass fans didn’t want heavy metal mixing w/ their favorite string based traditional styles, now, more artists have done this, and purists have had a chance to let this sink in. They’ve become more accepting and even interested in it.
    The same might be said of avant techniques mixed with more commercial/traditional ones.
    Twenty years ago, students of mine would’ve described certain sounds as “strange” or “wrong.” Today, younger people don’t view these sounds to be quite as far out.
    This applies to more than just prog rock. However, in many ways, prog always consisted of or was defined by a mix of styles. It’s always been a very impure style, in a good way.
    Some might say that this is not a true evolution, rather a kind of circling back.
    Now that I’ve rambled, someone else give us specific names of artists to help illustrate my attempt at a point.

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    Though I still love the originals of my youth, I still find gems that match that verve I felt as a kid. Prog is not stagnant. I’m happy with new discoveries of young people creating something fresh.


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    I would say it with either a Russian or a Scottish accent.

  17. #17
    I have noticed the increase in Prog Metal albums that start out very calm and pretty or with some sort of calming sound effects and then suddenly someone is yelling at me.
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    I would agree with the not much camp. The main thing I can see/hear is just various 'modernizations' of music, ie a type of music being added to the mix that didnt exist way back when/new types of equipment/modern recording techniques/etc. Other than that, seems it's same as it ever was. Which isn't to say that there is nothing in the prog world out there, there is, it's just not this groundbreaking stuff that things were in the late 60s/70s or even 80s and 90s.

    I suppose there is also alot more stuff out there (including prog), which is again thanks to technology existing so everyone could be their own engineers/producers/promoters/etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    I think the primary contribution collectively of the 2000s is that it somewhat homogenized the concept of genre blending.

    .
    That's a good point. Although, putting stuff together that doesn't really go together has happened for over half a century now. Just because it's become more homogenized (or perhaps more breakneck/wide-ranging) doesn't really make it forward looking.
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  19. #19
    My take on things:

    it is ok to admit that in the years 1965-1985 so many, many wonderful and revolutionary things happened in music. Things that have not happened in the last 2 decades. This is not because musicians were more talented then than now or more creative, there was simply much more room for innovation to occur: a social-political environment that welcomed change and revolution, new technologies that amounted to new means of production, new instruments, new sounds - and I would definitely add the huge influence of Afro-American culture that emerged with a distinct voice into the frame of Western Culture.

    In my opinion Progressive Rock was a vital part of this process that began to stagnate in the 80's. Musicians that come afterwards carry a heavy weight on their shoulders. It's called the Agony of Influence. How to make progress when so much has already happened? How to create something new - that reflects the spirit of times - not just good music that pleases the ear?

    The answers that were given in the last 20 years to this question are singular. It's a lonely path it seems to me. There is really no specific movement in our days, no "scene" in the sense of bands competing, interacting or working together like in the 70's. Clearly eclecticism is a huge part of the answer, as it has already been noted here. Musicians try weird, "incorrect" things in order to discern themselves. Throw in some growls, play some punk combined with church music or whatever - anything, to assert individuality. There are examples of success, but compared to the past they are few, they remain totally underground and they do not constitute a single movement. Things are disparate and - I am afraid - irrelevant for the masses.

    Great, innovative music still happens in our days - but to ignore the general decaying process would be to turn away from truth.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    Musicians try weird, "incorrect" things in order to discern themselves.
    I thought your entire comment was very thought-provoking but the above quote struck me as interesting. If this is so, then where is the authenticity? Where is the organic muse that drives the creative process? I'm not naive that all writers, artists, musicians, etc., just sit down and spill their thoughts into the world. However, there must be some driving force that is akin to sitting down and just writing a song or composing a piece or improvising something.

    As a music lover, a lot of 20th Century "serious music" comes across as a scientific experiment rather than music meant to be enjoyed. It's almost as if the composer says, "Let me show my peers what I can do", and then sets out to do that thing. There are 20th Century pieces of serial music that I enjoy but they are few and far between. Most of it comes across as saying, "Are you good enough to listen to me?"

    One other thing regarding Rock music in general. The shift in influence for guitar players from Blues/Jazz/Country to what seems like mostly Metal style guitar playing has made so much sound "samey" to me. Alt Rock is crunchy. Prog Rock is crunchy. Fusion is crunchy. Are they all using the same effects pedals and amps?
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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Splicer View Post
    I thought your entire comment was very thought-provoking but the above quote struck me as interesting. If this is so, then where is the authenticity? Where is the organic muse that drives the creative process? I'm not naive that all writers, artists, musicians, etc., just sit down and spill their thoughts into the world. However, there must be some driving force that is akin to sitting down and just writing a song or composing a piece or improvising something.

    As a music lover, a lot of 20th Century "serious music" comes across as a scientific experiment rather than music meant to be enjoyed. It's almost as if the composer says, "Let me show my peers what I can do", and then sets out to do that thing.
    I am not against what you're saying at all. Many times the experiments happen for the sake of it, and in "serious" music in particular. I was having this same conversation with a friend of mine, who is quite an ascending "serious" composer working in Germany. His idea was that some of these experiments did not have a specific cultural reference point, and therefore were bound to miss the listener's psychic involvement. (he was specifically speaking of serial music and 12tonal music etc).

    On the other hand, the new ideas in the form of things can also be a source of authentic inspiration. Microtonal music for example - of which I know little about - can work as a fresher platform for new content to emerge. But clearly not on its own. To me the essential thing is a sort of musical vision that transcends the intellectual considerations, and uses them for its own purpose.

    Of course "musical vision" sounds vague, but I don't know how else to put it - we're already on metaphysical ground here

  22. #22
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    I am not really qualified to even attempt to answer the question in the OP, but for me I think even continued refinements and tweaks as well as incorporation of modern sounds and recording methods are all valid elements to the progression of music. It would seem that there are not a lot of big drastic shifts or shocking genre-blending things happening. Maybe the evolution that is happening right now is of the more incremental sort and will be easier to see clearly in another 10 or 20 years.

    I'm not necessarily into music for the sake of innovation. I'm just happy to stumble upon things I enjoy. But I was just talking to my son (a drummer with ears I trust) yesterday about Haken. We were noticing that Ray Hearne's drumming has continued to evolve from album to album (in comparison to someone like Mike Portnoy, who seems to have said all he was going to say by the time of Awake). How many musicians even push themselves to new heights to that extent? I can be inspired by smaller evolutions such as this.
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  23. #23
    The last 20 years, since 2000……I would say that after the 80’s desert with a few Prog oasis’ and the 90’s resurgence of what I guess is termed Neo Prog there was a splintering into much smaller, narrower terms. I won’t go into specific genres or bands but there are now many aspects that I may not have even considered ‘Prog’ initially. Seems it’s all in the interpretation and the inevitable “What is Prog?” quagmire.
    As I see it, after 2000 the internet really became a viable method of distributing music (legally or illegally) and the music industry gradually had less and less impact dictating the direction of many musicians. Granted their massive promotion and advertising capabilities were diminished as well. But Prog managed to survive and even thrive in a world of self-promotion. There are many, many new Prog bands these days covering multiple sub genres and appealing to many different audiences. The seemingly endless supply of young, virtuoso musicians in these bands is inspiring and encouraging. Maybe the music has not evolved sonically so much in 20 years, there has always been the same notes for everyone to use, but certainly the method of distribution to the ‘masses’ has.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by NogbadTheBad View Post
    Don't think there has been any revolutionary developments other than Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
    Two more that I can think of, I would say - although only the first even comes anywhere near conventional "prog":

    • The Mercury Tree, and their experiments with 19-note microtonality. The results vary from absolutely amazing to appallingly out-of-tune sounding - sometimes in the same song. But there is no gainsaying that this is something new, different, and innovative.
    • The late work of Scott Walker, from The Drift onward. This isn't "prog" - though it's sure-as-hell progressive - and I couldn't even start to accurately describe what it is. Serious, austere experimental music with roots in MOR pop? Dark surreal European art films for the ear? Scott started from an idiom already pretty far out, a bit like late Bowie - then walked straight off the edge and improbably remained suspended there, ignoring gravity, pirouetting in space, and levitating in thin air.

  25. #25
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Two more that I can think of, I would say - although only the first even comes anywhere near conventional "prog":

    • The Mercury Tree, and their experiments with 19-note microtonality. The results vary from absolutely amazing to appallingly out-of-tune sounding - sometimes in the same song. But there is no gainsaying that this is something new, different, and innovative.
    • The late work of Scott Walker, from The Drift onward. This isn't "prog" - though it's sure-as-hell progressive - and I couldn't even start to accurately describe what it is. Serious, austere experimental music with roots in MOR pop? Dark surreal European art films for the ear? Scott started from an idiom already pretty far out, a bit like late Bowie - then walked straight off the edge and improbably remained suspended there, ignoring gravity, pirouetting in space, and levitating in thin air.
    I haven't really connected with Mercury Tree but I defer to experts in terms of their microtonal endeavors. I have the Scott Walker album Soused with Sunn O))) and really like it. Terrific stuff.
    Ian

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