There's a fine line which runs between homage, repetition, and iteration. The individual points which turn some albums into great works of art in their own right while other albums sound trite and derivative are very hard to pin down. But I think it's safe to say that passion is on of the most important of those points, making up much of what makes one thing sound pointless and throwaway while another thing is filled with the exuberance of shared loves. Birth's Born, released in July of this year, is very much of the latter sort.
Like Wobbler, it's an extremely unapologetic showcase of the power of 60's and 70's style progressive rock, replete with redolent synths, psychedelia and the dream-like soundscapes of bands like Yes or King Crimson. But where other bands simply ape these sounds, it is very clear that Birth deeply understand what made the original works so great, an understanding which blossoms into a deep love, and a deep love from which springs true and masterful music. As a result, Born hasn't been far from my ears these past couple of months, when I had first heard it, and I jumped on the opportunity to have Conor Riley, who sings and plays multiple other instruments (including the all important synths) on the album, submit some of his influences.
I was not disappointed. I am not ashamed to say that, beyond the famous/infamous Magma, I was unfamiliar with all of the albums on his list. Since receiving it, however, I have listened to all of them and they are all excellent. Some are very much of the style you would expect to see on this list, namely fantastic progressive rock. But most also reveal a darker and more somber edge to them one that, now that I know if it, I can perhaps now detect on Born as well. So, I invite you to dive into these selections and learn about some new excellent albums. When you're done, make sure to listen to Born; if you are a fan of progressive rock in any capacity, you'd be foolish to not do so.
Comus – First Utterance
The first time I heard this album, I thought it was too intriguing to not have in my record collection. I listened to it a few times and didn’t play for a full year. One day I was having some people over and decided to throw it on and freak some people out. By the second song, everyone was gone and I was left listening alone. Something about that particular moment was life changing. I was completely blown away and probably listened to it another 1,000 times after that, almost every single day. It’s probably the darkest folk album out there. It’s what I wanted the Manson Family Band to sound like.
Aphrodite’s Child – 666
Aphrodite’s Child’s sound is so desperate and soulful. It sounds like what someone would write after surviving the apocalypse while searching for the last remnants of food. Demis Roussos’ voice combined with the legendary synth sounds of Vangelis has always been a huge influence to me. 666 is an extremely well-crafted concept based double LP. You might have to be in the right state of mind to listen to this one all the way through but you could start with the “four Horseman” or “Break”. The first song I heard by Aphrodite’s Child was “The Other People”; not on 666 but also highly recommended.
Premiata Forneria Marconi - Storia di Un Minuto
This album started my obsession with Italian progressive rock. It’s one of the most dramatic albums I’ve ever heard. There’s a good mix of classical, folk and jazz. It is one of the few progressive albums that I listen to all the way through often.
Magma - K.A
K.A was definitely not my entry point into Magma. That was Udu Wudu. But after listening to that album a million times I needed more Magma which eventually led me to the good stuff in its purist form. Jazz, Zeuhl, whatever you want to call it, it is its own thing. I don’t think there will ever be an album quite like it. It is kind of indescribable. Very free, creative and unhinged.