Progressive Rock Top Ten on eMusic

edited October 2019 in General

eMusic used to be an incredible source of Progressive Rock particularly music from the late 60s and early 70s. It's much slimmer pickings these days but there is still some good stuff. Here are ten of my top ones split into two groups - In the Beginning (Late 60s/Early 70s) and Modern (1990s to current day)

A. In the Beginning

Mythos S/T

Guru Guru "UFO"

RPWL "Live Experience"

Crystal Syphon "Elephant Ball"

Ashbury "Endless Skies" (actually 1983)

Solid Sun "Revelations of the Flowermind" (really Modern but totally sounds like late 60s!)

B. Modern

Satellite "Nostalgia"

Aton Five "Live at Mars"

Subsignal "Beautiful & Monstrous"

East & West Rendezvous S/T


  • The at least quasi-prog I just bought since this summer (therefore my top 10, but the numbers don’t mean anything)  If the OP covered the classic and modern eras, consider these to be contemporary and less wedded to the label of prog rock— post-rock, world, folk, jazz, and metal elements may be just as prominent.  Drawn from my posts on this thread: 

    1. “Hallelujah Mystic Garden Part Two” - Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (2019).  See also their 99-cent hour-long album with Guru Guru for a transition from the OP.  My impression of AMT is that they have two kinds of albums, always with epic track lengths and often 99 cents like this one:  psychedelic/prog rock and experimental chanting.  This two-track, half hour long EP is the former variety and my preference.  I’m not aware of a disco revival in Japan, but the first track is indeed risky for playing with the scourge of the 70s.  Rest assured that it’s building to a most triumphant coda.  The second track starts slow and builds off a blaring cymbal to a spacey, sprawling, and curious song with affected playful vocals, again leading to a solo space for guitar heroism.

    2. “Trane Experience” - Alberto Capelli (2018).  Fully instrumental.  Guitar work here makes the categorization as “jazz” questionable enough to put this album on this list.  One can also strain to hear elements of blues, and the drumming is pretty otherworldly overall.  And that’s just on the opening track.  I can’t vouch for whether his other albums are any better, worse, or different styles entirely.

    3. “Songs from 1001 Nights” - Ouzo Bazooka (2018).  Their Middle-East take is weaker than, say Secret Chiefs 3 or Dissidenten, but I’m fond enough of mixing rock with any other worldly elements that I’ll recommend this to anyone to sample at least.  Decidedly less mystical than just a solid, short rock album, but still plenty far out, I assure you.  Also noteworthy for featuring harder guitars and synths in almost equal measure, which isn’t easy—I’m curious if it’s too cheesy for anyone.

    4. “S/t” - Iah (2017).  As hard and heavy as anything I’ve put on any list, and the $5 price should indicate that I had to like what I sampled a lot.  This one flirts with metal, post-rock (it’s fully instrumental), and psychedelia but circles the square to fit here as a whole.  Definitely one I’d play for a friend who’s a hard rock fan and only later blow his mind with the Spanish song titles (they’re from Argentina).  

    5. “The Serpent And the Dove” - In Gowan Ring (2015).  The polar opposite of the previous and proof I appreciate the folksier side of prog, too.  I might not make a folk list, and so this journey of an album needs to go here.  How does one differentiate between regular folk and progressive folk?  Banging on a gong a few times does it for this one.  There’s also a beat occasionally and psychedelic elements to go with very proggily sung lyrics.   

    6. “Melencolia” - Poly-Math (2016).  And right back to the rocking!  Instrumental other than some background words for post-rock atmosphere and given to some very loud crescendoes, climaxes, and outbursts.  Three epic-length songs.  

    7. “Really Don’t Mind If You Sit This One Out” - Mushroom (2008).  This one takes a loooong time to get going, and over the course of the 18-minute intro track, don’t be surprised if you start wondering if it’s ever going to become a rock album.  It will.  Bought it without knowing it’s a live album, and while I don’t regret it, there’s definitely a roughness to the recording.  Best to listen to it with expectations for a long, abstract jam.  AMG says specifically not to start with this one if you’re not already familiar with Mushroom, but anyone still relying on eMu doesn’t have much choice nowadays.

    8. “S/t” - Senogul (2007).  What is one to do these days when confronted with an obscure, hitherto unknown band with an album whose 1-minute samples are intriguing, but the price is a whopping $8?  Not to mention song titles in a foreign language again…those Asturians!  Took a deep breath before springing for this one, all right.  At 71 minutes, it is about twice as long as much on this list, but whether it’s twice as interesting remains to be seen.  It is, at least, the most straightforwardly prog rock album on here, while harboring plenty of surprises.  First and foremost is the 12-minute “Tango Mango,” which manages to sound like Gentle Giant mixed with Astor Piazzolla and Mannheim Steamroller depending on which section one’s in.  I won’t spoil anymore other than to say it’s instrumental.

    9. “Live (En Vivo)” - Jeheka (2018).  It wouldn’t be a proper eMusic list without at least a couple for 99 cents, and this is another borderline case that rocks too hard to be world music while eschewing guitars almost entirely in favor of other strings.  Also note that the price point overcomes my prejudice against live albums, though audience applause does take up a fair bit of each track.  From Paraguay, with harps aplenty but without panflutes, assuredly.  And definitely with folksier moments on all instrumental songs (other than some “fauna” sounds).  They’re young and fresh, and that’s important for a genre that’s better known for 20th century rather than 21st century works.

    10. “Anabelas” - Bubu (1978, if the time stamp is to be believed…AMG says 1992).  Whatever its real date is, let’s close with a bombastic blast from the past.  For anyone missing Sun-Ra-esque flute and saxophone freakouts in their rock music, the first epic track has ‘em.  The second and third tracks have a cantante, fortunately as this list hasn’t been kind to the crooners.   Overall, put this one on the sprawling Yes-end of the spectrum.  

    Again, these are just what I dowloaded and liked recently; I’ve considered the representativeness of prog rock infinitely less than the OP.  I could easily and happily spend a whole $75 booster more on these kinds of albums, but I’ve gotta move on for now.

    Others from previous lists:  

    6. “Endless” - FJIERI (2009).  Italian prog rock album has grown on me with time at least as much as my surprise to find it on the brute force eMusic label quest after having forgotten about it for years in my iTunes library.

    7. “Tiqsimuyu” - Chintatá (2017).  Somewhere between a long EP and a very short album, this one also benefits from being a 99-center that, if I’d known it’d be this fresh and exciting, I’d gladly have paid much more for.  Ritmos Latinos, a funky fiddle, and various other surprise instruments keep the hardness of the progressive rocking here from getting out of the tasteful range.

    9. “Milk” - PeroPero (2015).  If you’ve found the list too tame and conventional so far, try the frenetic, condensed electronic microprog of this album for a total aural palette cleanse.  Turntable scratches and samples have to run to keep pace with hard, driving guitars, and there’s really too much action in these songs to imagine what a typical vocalist might add if s/he could even sing a line edgewise in the unrelentingly delightful cacophony.  Happy to say also that it’s not unrelenting and knows when to take a breath and torture a guest vocalist.  This might be a top choice for someone who wanted to hear a newish, experimental rock album, and I would never have come across this or its tiny label Darling Berlin if not compiling all those massive lists, so hooray for side benefits.  Only the borderline metal of the titular single goes too far for me.

    “Estrellas de Madera” - Arias.  Upbeat instrumental rock in the vein of Tristeza, the Mercury Program, or early Errors.

    “ Caballeros del Albedrio“ - Austin TV.  Not as aggressive as a previous album, but they sustain Latin prog/post-rock as well as anyone over two “discs.”  Mostly instrumental.

    13 Year Cicada - almost no guitars, but still prog rock w/ a female vocalist (unusual!).  Both albums (2017, 2019) are nice and newish.

    Seconded from OP:  “S/t”- East and West Rendezvous, “Elephant Ball” - Crystal Syphon, “Beautiful & Monstrous” - Subsignal.

    46. “Everything You Say Is Lyrics, Anything You Touch Is Art“ - Papernut Cambridge.  2017.  First, everyone who’s read this far needs to go check out wiaiwya for several 99-cent single tracks, each spanning exactly an hour and seventeen minutes. It’s a big bonus that they’re in different genres—not even all electronic, as this one shows.  On sampling, the one minute sounds like a rock song one might expect to go for the usual 3-5 minutes and be done.  So, I think, if there weren’t already others on this label doing the same thing, this would have to be an error.  Barring extreme psychedelia, there’s no way a rock song can be stretched that long.  You can judge whether it holds your interest that long or justifies it (stay tuned for cheeky meta-music messages), but this one just keeps on a-rockin’ for as long as a feature film.  (AllMusic notes they’re connected to Death in Vegas, so I guess that explains it…also incidentally eMusic has way more of their stuff than AllMusic lists.)

    Feeding Tube is well known these days and would have several albums here, but I don’t think they need any more promotion from me.  The same goes for The Physics House Band.

    Other labels with more than one prog rock album:  4 Zero, 1974, El Templo ReKords, FAK Records, Metal Mind, Superstar Destroyer, serpent; Shinkoyo; Bartosz Leśniewski; Mascarpone; Swim; Salvation; Camera Obscura; MonseArt.  

  • edited November 2019
    Thanks, nice list. I am enjoying the IAH so far - it's quite interesting to hear what seems like a straight post-rock track morph into something else and go doomy (It's $3.56 on Amazon without the last two "bonus" tracks.)
  • I always hesitate to put something that hard on a list.  Glad to see your range extends that far!
  • Newish Albums Around the Edges of Progressive Rock (on eMusic & Bandcamp)

    Purists beware, not all of this fits cohesively.  And what doesn’t fit doesn’t in different ways, but I’m excited for people to check these out and couldn’t wait any longer for more textbook prog to fall into my lap.  This list shows that eMusic still has the edge over Bandcamp for Latin-sourced bands.  I’m 100% sure I’d never stumble across most of these otherwise.  Only a couple are $1, so I guess that shows I really like ‘em.

    1. “Particle Shore” - The Illumignarly (2017).  A 99-cent, newish prog-surf instrumental EP by one of the most aptly named bands I’ve come across in a while.  I probably won’t ever do a surf rock list, so this one opens and closes in a tidely manner.   The first track is nothing special, but the rest is rousing, rollicking, and totally tubular.  Pick up the pace and catch that progressive wave!

    2. “Tenquén” - Monstruos del Mañana (2018).  This Latin prog rock album clocks in at just over an hour and weaves vocals into the equation in a way that gives the songs an almost spiritual feel as well as psychedelic qualities.  I hesitated to buy it from my wishlist for years b/c sampling led me to worry it’d be cheesy, as it’s an independent release not supported by a record label.  It’s hard to get an accurate feel of these in just a minute at a time, as each song is long enough to contain different passages which may or may not include ritmos Latinos or more “conventional” prog rock percussion, male or female or choral vocals, etc.  Aterciopelados are a clear reference point, but I think I prefer these guys for their more epic scale.  “Search for me at the bottom of the sea” is a very apt lyric in “Los Ahogados” for the entrancing combination of the tubby bassline and the shimmering guitars. They’re Mexican but might as well represent the whole of Latin America w/ their “psicodelia tropical.”  One of the happiest surprises in a while.

    3. “Relinquo” - Jouska (2019).  Don’t let the space samples and atmospheric restraint of the opening track fool you.  Jouska is just baiting the hook and building to its high-wire circus act of a third track, “Lunapark,” cramming as much energy and variation as humanly possible into a marvelous three minutes.  This one’s closer to post-rock in its instrumental soundscapes, but punchier numbers build a nice groove, too.  Either a long EP or brief album, I’m excited to hear their other works after this.

    4.  “La Nueva Música Venezolana” - QuintilloEns (2018).  This highly ambitious set lives somewhere in the sonic nether regions between jazz fusion and progressive rock.  Flutes and brass are just as prominent as the guitar, and each song has a place for them, whether highlighted or in a supporting role.  Just listening w/out knowing the source, if someone told me it was from Venezuela, I’d be pretty surprised.  There are only hints of a Latin sound, and over the course of an hour one really feels like having gone on a not only challenging but actually dangerous musical journey.  The danger lies in being in totally unpredictable territory, and one worries that the songs will fly off the rails or lose their grip on musicality, if that makes any sense.  About as restrained as Yes in that regard.

    5.  “Ah?” - Ah? Trio (2019).  I hear traces of the beloved Ui or Phil Manzanera if not full King Crimson on this short, expensive, instrumental album.  I should have a deeper more famous vocabulary to draw from, but I’d also compare it to the far more obscure Chinese math rock of Little Wizard or the lick-laden blues rock of Big Ass Truck.  Rather than helping describe this album’s sound, maybe that’ll give you more RIYLs to seek out.  Tight guitar and bass jams w/ a driving beat build to some nice hooks and sections I can’t quite call climaxes b/c they’re not quite as bombastic as what’s come before.  The songs never fully commit to the disco funk or keys generally, so the second track seems like it only wants to toe several different prog pools.  I wouldn’t say this breaks a lot of new ground and is definitely not going to blow anyone away, so the high price is unfortunate.  But if all you need is some new instrumental guitar songs to tap your toes to, these will more than suffice.

    6. “Podría Ser" - Paul Alvarez Project (2017).  While there are definitely rock elements strewn throughout this album, a drum set rather than castanets if nothing else, most of it would better be called progressive flamenco, given the acoustic guitars and gitana vocalist.  Fusing rock, jazz, and flamenco might itself be a progressive act, of course, especially as an alternative to turning it (and all traditional styles) into EDM.  I’d rather this album have been a little cheaper w/out the three bonus tracks tacked on at the end, not least b/c they make inclusion on this list even more questionable, as they’re softer and have singing in English, meaning the album goes out w/ a whimper.

    7. “Sun Cycle” - Elkhorn (2019).  A pretty laid back psychedelic jam in four parts, with a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitars (though strongly in favor of acoustic on the second half).  Tabla is a nice touch, too, very appropriate for a song almost ten minutes long.  I’m probably not introducing this or the many fine titles on Feeding Tube to those who’ve stuck w/ eMu in the last couple years, but a reminder can be nice.

    8.  “Electroetnofusion” - Jorge Campos Kuarteto (2008).  I think this was recorded live, so there’s a roughness to the compositions that doesn’t usually favor introducing an unusual, perhaps forbidden element like turntablism into progressive rock.  Señor Campos is an innovative bassist whose fusion is at the center of El Templo ReKords, and my skepticism led me to try this long, relatively cheap album as a first foray into his discography.  When the time comes for another booster, I’ll probably spring for an example of his studio work next, as this passed the test of avoiding cheesy mumbo jumbo.

    9.  “Waterfort” - Waleed Ahmed (2014).  Mostly instrumental but also often w/ vocals almost buried in the mix, this fairly brief album is given to some excesses of electronic sounds and unfortunately weighed down by drums that sound a bit canned.  Lots of instruments get played, but this could serve as a teaching tool to divide progressive rock and chamber pop in that regard.  The whole thing can be streamed, so it also tests the value of ownership and whether paying eMu benefits anyone.

    10. “Dimension” - Lasse Kallioniemi Project (2018).  Searching for bands w/ “Project” in the name nets a couple proggier titles only labeled as “rock/alternative” on eMu.  This one reminds me of guitar showcases I pick up in Beijing for a few dollars in that the other instruments are severely de-emphasized in the mix so that the focus is all on the lead guitarist’s hard noodling.  This is a real album, and there’s some variety in the sounds of each track (such as a vocal or keyboard bridge here and there), but I often find myself wondering whether these should be considered songs or guitar exercises.  The label Eclipse Music Digital has a lot more going for it in 43 other titles as well, if one prefers jazz.

    11. “Chicanos Falsos” - Francisco & Madero (2017). On another list and also closer to surf rock.  Brief but totally tubular in a different way than the first on this list and a lot more psychedelic.  NYP.

  • edited June 2020
    Thanks for the list @omnifoo. My favourites are Elkhorn and Jouska.

    Interestingly, every single one of my top ten Prog Rock albums that I listed back in October are still available on eMusic. That has to be some kind of a record in these days of ever disappearing labels!
  • Here's hoping they've hit bottom and are on the long road to recovery.  And one way or another, ours will stay one of discovery.
  • edited December 2020
    Fascinating! It’s now more than a year since I recommended “My Progressive Rock Top Ten on eMusic” (see first post above). And all the albums are still there and available! Is this some kind of record for eMusic!?

    By the way, they are all really good and well worth a listen.
  • eMusic, if nothing else, has a high intrigue factor for the vicissitudes of its catalog without rhyme or reason.  I still enjoy much from your list.
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