Prog on the Block: Four New Progressive Rock Releases You Should Check Out
The guitar doodlers in Plini and CHON, Bengaluru band Rainburn and upcoming Fusion/prog band Raagalogik have new material
There’s a reason progressive rock with its psychedelic leanings has been surviving right from the Seventies, with the likes of Pink Floyd, to Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Rush, which in turn inspired bands such as Dream Theater in the Eighties. The wheels kept turning, and it’s safe to say no one ever looked upon a keyboard solo as a bad thing. Scouring the current progressive rock scene in India and abroad, the sound may have become heavier [case in point, Swedish prog rock/metal band Opeth] and even taken a turn towards metal [see: djent bands such as Periphery], but bands are still influenced by classic prog, and have taken virtuoso instrument skills to the next level. Here’s a round-up of four new releases that caught our eye.
Grow by CHON
The San Diego prog rockers have had two EPs out so far and their debut full-length called Grow is really a proving ground of just how laidback, soothing yet mind-baffling prog can be. Employing math rock guitar noodling and a tangle of polyrhythms, CHON are what you get if you take away all the distortion from prog, employ a few synth layers and drumwork that keeps you guessing. They’ve even got drummer Matt Garstka [from prog metallers Animals As Leaders] sitting behind the kit for “But” and “Book,” while bassist Drew Pelisek adds vocals to “Can’t Wait,” a track which can be best described as a modern prog ballad. Listen to the rest of the album, which released last month, below.
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Canvas Of Silence by Rainburn
You can tell straight off that Bengaluru prog rockers Rainburn are one of those bands that can impress audiences with an easy beat and a few blazing guitar solos. Influenced by the likes of Dream Theater and rock guitarist Steve Vai, the band was formed in 2011. Rainburn’s debut EP, Canvas of Silence, is out after four years of lineup changes and gigs across South India. Vocalist Vats Iyengar adds a hint of Carnatic vocals, but also shapeshifts into Jerry Garcia mode sometimes, on the title track “Canvas Of Silence.” If you like classic prog, tune in to this five-track EP.
The End of Everything by Plini
How many opening tracks start out sounding like you just tuned in mid-song? That’s how wonderfully odd 23-year-old Australian wunderkind guitarist Plini Roessler-Holgate’s new EP, The End of Everything, aims to be. It really does sound like the EP is already coming to a close, but Plini is just getting started, creating a mix of djent, prog rock and jazz fusion that’s tight. Plini, who also contributed a guitar solo on prog rock/metal band Skyharbor’s song “The Constant,” has got a bunch of collaborators of his own to boast about on The End of Everything, from jazz fusion/metal drummer Macro Minneman and Polish guitarist Jakub Zytecki on “Paper Moon.”
“Ansh” by Raagalogik
Formed in June 2014, Pune fusion rockers Raagalogik released their first single “Ansh” last month, and it’s the best mix of prog and Hindustani classical – with founding member Ashish Kulkarni’s classical vocals matching some hard riffs from guitarist Aditya Ranade. Joined by tabla player Tejas Mazgaonkar, bassist Ashish Ambekar, keyboardist Shaunak Kulkarni and lead guitarist Bhushan Chitnis, Raagalogik has already gone on to open for the likes of Malayalam rock band Avial earlier this year. The band says over email that their aim is “making intense classical music easy to listen to the ears.” There’s certainly some calm among all the chaos in “Ansh.” Check out the song below.