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Thread: Was jazz-fusion a dead end music genre?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamarplazt View Post
    Ever since punk made all things prog forbidden, people have been classifying the prog they like as something else (RIO, art rock, kraut...). It seems to me that most people are defining prog by the punk prejudices, rather than looking at the movement as it happened back then. There's lots of atonality and modern classical influences going on all over prog, also in big prog acts like Yes, King Crimson and ELP. Bill Martin has a good discussion of this in his book "Listening to the Future".
    I've never met anyone actually into prog who doesn't classify Henry Cow and Soft Machine as obviously being a part of the big progressive movement - even those more into lightweight symphonic prog.


    Can, well yeah, they're quite alien. Henry Cow... only in that they use elements foreign to rock, but those elements are not as such foreign in themselves. If you know some atonal chamber music and avant jazz, Henry Cow sounds quite familiar (and in a very good way, obvioulsy). Yes, on the other hand, sounds like nothing before.
    By that line of argument even Can aren't that alien in global terms, (ie if yr familiar with musique concrete on the one hand, and various funk/world musics on the other, then they do indeed sound quite familiar). But what I was really looking for is another way of describing "futurism" in language that might make more sense! So "alien" is the term that I use, and in a sense Can and Henry Cow were alien (in terms of Artrock) as they assembled and synthesised influences that previously had been entirely outside the acceptable remit of possible influences for "rock". Obviously to an extremely well informed listener almost nothing can possibly sound alien. But I need more detail on why you reckon Yes in particular sound like nothing before.
    Last edited by gek-opel; 23-11-2006 at 02:26 PM.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by gek-opel View Post
    Yes in particular sound like nothing before.

    On this Yes vs. Henry Cow tip.
    Now i found Henry Cow quite boring, meanwhile Yes had become one of my favorite band, go figure! Yes were "futuristic" in a old classical way, lot of references to classical science fiction, proto new-age mysticism and others fantasy. Sure they were unique, since i don't know of band who tried to sound like them, unlike the many groups who copycat King Crimson or Henry Cow. Speaking of which they have a sort of nostalgic bucolicism, no? And too much "good taste"!

  3. #33
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    Who do? Henry Cow or Yes?

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    Yes had all the idyllic back-to-nature covers, not to mention Jon Andersons lyrics, but in terms of the music, there's nothing bucolic about it to my ears. What makes it "alien" and sounding like nothing before? Well, first of all I'd say just listen to it, it's so obvious! But basically it's the rhythms, and in particular Chris Squires bass, the way it writhes and jumps and twists elastically, and still has this weird propulsive groove. I'd say you'll have to go to jungle or grime to find basslines that take the lead so much, and are as bizarrely syncopated and simultaniously totally funky. Those grooves command the rest of Yes' music, the way it's structured, the strange ways the tracks develop, taking odd twists and turns. Well, and then there's the high pitched, sexless vocals - sexless in the best sense of the word: as un-rock as vocals get. Just skip the words he's singing.

    As for Henry Cow, they had some links with the Canterbury scene, and especially their first lp "Legend" has a bit of that hippe-folk feel I'd say, so not completely un-bucolic. There was also Lindsay Coopers woodwinds on later records.

    As for Can, you can single out the ingredients there too for sure, but I'd still say there's an x-factor that makes it quite alien. It has just as much to do with their overall dream-like mood as with the hypnotic grooves.

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    Talking of metal being prog, has anyone heard Ocrilim's album "Anoint"? It's a solo disc from the guitar player from Orthrelm. Definitely a strange one!

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamarplazt View Post
    Yes had all the idyllic back-to-nature covers, not to mention Jon Andersons lyrics, but in terms of the music, there's nothing bucolic about it to my ears. What makes it "alien" and sounding like nothing before? Well, first of all I'd say just listen to it, it's so obvious! But basically it's the rhythms, and in particular Chris Squires bass, the way it writhes and jumps and twists elastically, and still has this weird propulsive groove. I'd say you'll have to go to jungle or grime to find basslines that take the lead so much, and are as bizarrely syncopated and simultaniously totally funky. Those grooves command the rest of Yes' music, the way it's structured, the strange ways the tracks develop, taking odd twists and turns. Well, and then there's the high pitched, sexless vocals - sexless in the best sense of the word: as un-rock as vocals get. Just skip the words he's singing.
    With all due respect to hamarplazt and francesco, I find the suggestion that Yes were sonically 'alien' or futuristic very hard to swallow. Exhibit number one: Steve Howe, whom I consider to be one of the un-grooviest, un-funkiest, and most ham-handed guitarists in the history of recorded sound. The way that he always found it necessary to insert some cock-eyed country riff or major third into a solo, his hiiiiiideous guitar tone, his horrific note selection . . . Howe always destroyed the vibe for me, always reminded me that I was listening to a prog band who were trying too hard rather than something 'futuristic' . . . i listened to a lot of Yes back in the day and almost always, there comes that 'wincing' moment when Howe ruins the song. "I've Seen All Good People" sounds alien? To me it sounds quite the opposite - all of those stupid major scale guitar riffs and bends are just unbearable. As for the rest of the corpus, Bruford was nice while he was there, one can find some ferocious early live bootlegs scattered 'round, Relayer had some nice moments (e.g., "Sound Chaser"), Squire was always a monster as you say, and I am fond of many individual moments and songs in their corpus, but still . . . Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman's diddle-diddle and ultra-ultra goofy Jon Anderson? Futuristic? Eeeeeek.

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    well, at least the discussion is interesting. now i find Yes futuristic in a non post-modern way, in a classic sci-fi adventure mood more Olaf Stapledon or Starship Troopers than K Dick or the almighty Ballard so much loved by postpunkers. there is also to say that this futuristic Yes observations should be placed in their prime time (the early/mid '70) and in confront to others big prog act: genesis and gentle giant had all litearies references to past full of myths (there is this tension beetween progression and state of the art new technology and this lust for a mythic old land that is one of the most interesting thing of prog), pink floyd post-cosmic became humanist, van der graaf choose obscure existensialism, king crimson were sadly mostly confused by which directions and thematics endorse (ah if only they had delivered an album all like the Red track!!), most italian prog were or socialist/communist or catholic, Yes were fantasy sci-fi epics (and the cover more than bucolic old lands seems to me like fantasy alien/alternative universe lands). And also 90125 sounded thank to Trevor Horn and his samples like the electronic future of AOR rock in 1981 (but nothing date faster than visions of future). Was not Kodwo Eshun, of AfroFuturismBlackSonicScienceFiction a Yes fan?
    Last edited by francesco; 24-11-2006 at 04:49 AM.

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    uhm, i don't think that much of Howe really, i think his guitar just add to the mix but it's not the lead instrument... Wakeman really had been in and out without the sound changing that much... yeah, it's Squire that really is my hero. Squire is Yes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by francesco View Post
    there is also to say that this futuristic Yes observations should be placed in their prime time (the early/mid '70) and in confront to others big prog act: genesis and gentle giant had all litearies references to past full of myths (there is this tension beetween progression and state of the art new technology and this lust for a mythic old land that is one of the most interesting thing of prog)
    Ah yes, interesting point, Francesco. The intersection of new technology, new levels of performance expertise, and the lust for myths and old lands seems especially to apply to Gentle Giant, with all of their pseudo-Renaissance musical stylings ("Knots," "On Reflection," "In a Glass House" ) and references ("Raconteur-Troubador," etc). What is your view on Gentle Giant, Francesco? They always appealed to me much more than Yes (though I agree, Squire was amazing and Yes certainly wrote some classic songs), because Gentle Giant were more adventurous, more genuinely weird. And stripped down. And groovy. Gentle Giant, for all of their complicated arrangements and complex structures, were always still extremely tight (live bootleg videos bear this out). Weathers was the perfect drummer for the group - minimal and unfussy, but still in the pocket. On "Free Hand" and "Just The Same" and "Interview" and "Experience" etc, Weathers could hit a stride that was somewhere between groove and motorik - whatever one would call it, the band knew how to deliver an ensemble performance that was awfully, awfully tight. And completely devoid of the overblown Yes-like arena-rock epic vibe. Minnear was pretty crazy too, where on earth his musical imagination came from heaven only knows.

    Also, Gentle Giant wrote so many great prog 'songs'! Free Hand, On Reflection, Just the Same, So Sincere, Playing the Game, Cogs in Cogs, The Advent of Panurge, Knots, The Boys in the Band . . . .

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    I love a bit of post-Miles fusion.

    Broken beat's got lots of it, obviously.

    There should be some of it in dubstep IMO. I've done one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by francesco View Post
    king crimson were sadly mostly confused by which directions and thematics endorse (ah if only they had delivered an album all like the Red track!!)
    I'm sure you must have heard the album Red, but what did you think of the live one USA??

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    Quote Originally Posted by tate View Post
    Ah yes, interesting point, Francesco. The intersection of new technology, new levels of performance expertise, and the lust for myths and old lands seems especially to apply to Gentle Giant, with all of their pseudo-Renaissance musical stylings ("Knots," "On Reflection," "In a Glass House" ) and references ("Raconteur-Troubador," etc). What is your view on Gentle Giant, Francesco? They always appealed to me much more than Yes (though I agree, Squire was amazing and Yes certainly wrote some classic songs), because Gentle Giant were more adventurous, more genuinely weird. And stripped down. And groovy. Gentle Giant, for all of their complicated arrangements and complex structures, were always still extremely tight (live bootleg videos bear this out). Weathers was the perfect drummer for the group - minimal and unfussy, but still in the pocket. On "Free Hand" and "Just The Same" and "Interview" and "Experience" etc, Weathers could hit a stride that was somewhere between groove and motorik - whatever one would call it, the band knew how to deliver an ensemble performance that was awfully, awfully tight. And completely devoid of the overblown Yes-like arena-rock epic vibe. Minnear was pretty crazy too, where on earth his musical imagination came from heaven only knows.

    Also, Gentle Giant wrote so many great prog 'songs'! Free Hand, On Reflection, Just the Same, So Sincere, Playing the Game, Cogs in Cogs, The Advent of Panurge, Knots, The Boys in the Band . . . .
    gentle giant absolutely fucking rule

  13. #43

    Default Fusion recs

    Here's a few post 70s recs for the person asking. These all revolve to a greater extent around extemporisation that's combined with other non-jazz elements:

    - Supersilent / 1 through 7: glorious fusion of many things inc. noise, freedom, jazz, folk, etc
    - Mat Maneri / Pentagon: queazy, slippy violin-led contemporary NYC electric jazz
    - Phantom City / both releases, fine late model Paul Schutze-led hybrid models
    - Offworld / Two Worlds, Kirk Degiorgio in brilliant production move slices and dices Azymuth in techno meets jazz, sort of, shocker...
    - Eivind Aarset / first two albums from the Norwegian gentle giant: convincing (imo) melding of ambient, jazz, post breakbeat and electronica
    - Other Norwegian stuff: Food, Bugge Wesseltoft
    - First two or three Material albums / Laswell gets an often deservedly bad press, but Memory Serves and Temporary Music, along with his own-name debut Baselines, are excellent downtown mashups. Oh and the Arcana albums are pretty marvellous
    - Last Exit / Koln or anything else with the arguable exception of the studio-bound Iron Path
    - Don't forget Naked City, thrillcore played as if it were Bach variations
    - Sinistri/Starfuckers: anything by these Italian jazz/rock/blues art fusionists is worth checking
    - Jon Hassell / City, Works of Fiction probably my top choice, but it's a tough call choosing just one
    - King Crimson / The Great Deceiver: jazz rock par excellence
    - Ronald Shannon Jackson / Texas, Red Warrior and lots of others
    - Power Tools / Strange Meeting: excellent OOP power trio
    - Various Chicago Underground formations
    - Burnt Sugar / Blood on the Leaf with the Arkestra Chamber.
    - Ornette and Pat Metheny / Song X. Check.

    I could go on, but I'm tired. Hope there's something there of interest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tate View Post
    What is your view on Gentle Giant, Francesco?

    I don't know real much about them. I have, stored on the other side of this planet, a copy of the first album, which i recall i liked much, especially the track Alucard. This, if i remember correctly, is one of the prog records i like much because of it's freshness, still having psychedelic and rock feeling in the '60 goes '70 continuum, before prog become all synphonic in his evolution. Like on their second album, wich i listened at a very young age and even i recall dearly not less because the track on Pantagruel make me discover the Rabelais book, one of my favorite ever (now, i have discovered a lot of books by namechecking on music tracks or reviews, like discovering about the same time Lautremont through Current 93 'Maldoror? tracks, or Ballard through Joy Division, ect...!). I remember also i love that track on Shipwrecking, truly really totally symphonic Prog and great at this. Then the only other one I had listened, because i used to have on tape, is the third Three Friends, that escaped the uber-complexity of the second for a more rockish and stylish and streamlined and thigh and hypnotic sound... probably a overlooked gem. The tracks you mention are from successive records, i think... and no i don't know them... you know, if money wasn't a problem, i would have all the book and all the music ever....

    ....which remember that on one of my now rarely buying records voyage, between a soul and a studio one reggae and a disco comps, i decided to pick King Crimson 'Discipline' ( i still did not know what i think of it... i like the likegamelan guitars, i really dislike the singer, the songs, as it's normal with Crimson, are really weak) and noticed the reissue of USA, that i have never listened, and the tracklist seemed if not perfect interesting. The perfect King Crimson record would for me be all the instrumental tracks from 'Lark', 'Starless' and 'Red' put together

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    Quote Originally Posted by bruno View Post
    i haven't heard much in the way of jazz fusion but if anything else comes close to the atmosphere and pace of miles' he loved him madly, i'd like to hear it. if this is a dead end, it's a glorious dead end!
    not many records as good as that!

    the ultimate 5am record...

    some records have the floating atomosphere, but without the sad melodies... maggot brain has both, but gets a bit too rowdy!

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