I’ve got to say that one of my favorite things about the current music industry is this strong resurgence of jam band music and culture that’s been going on for the past several years. As someone who wishes they had been alive to witness the explosion of psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and the jam band scene in the ’60s and ’70s, I am extremely happy about the genre’s relatively unimpeded longevity. After the Grateful Dead’s disbandment in 1995 as a result of guitarist and frontman Jerry Garcia’s death, the band Phish stepped in to fill the gap. Although they never achieved quite the amount of success and popularity that the Dead had, they certainly helped to keep the scene alive for the next decade. They were also an integral part of the rise of large-scale music festivals in the modern era. If you think about all of the festivals that host yearly events now – Bonnaroo, Coachella, Camp Bisco, Rootwire, Lightning in a Bottle, All Good, Wakarusa – the list goes on and on.
Dopapod is a group that is quickly rising to the forefront of the jam band scene. Born in 2007, they recently released their third studio album, Redivider, on 12/21/12. The entire record was recorded in a barn at Tyrone Farm, a solar powered farm in Pomfret, Connecticut. Despite the fact that it was released less than a year after their previous album, Drawn Onward (side note: if you haven’t picked up on this yet, the band really likes palindromes), there is nothing about Redivider that gives away any sense of rushed preparation. As a matter of fact, the entire thing is pure, musical gold.
Anyone who follows the progressive rock scene even a little bit will most likely have heard the names Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt. The former is most well known for his brainchild Porcupine Tree, while the latter is the frontman of the notable Swedish prog metal outfit Opeth. Both groups have released ten studio albums over a two-decade period. Both have achieved outstanding success and critical acclaim in their respective fields. Both frequently cross the line between intense heavy riffs and delicate melodic passages. Yet they are two very distinct musical identities. Thus, it came as somewhat of a surprise and much of a thrill when it was announced that Wilson and Åkerfeldt would be collaborating on a brand new musical project known as Storm Corrosion.
The eponymous first album released by the newly formed duo in 2012 was not necessarily what we might have expected, though. In an interview back in 2010, Wilson stated “…we have this kind of passion [for] very experimental, obscure records, almost orchestral in their scope. And we wanted to make a record like that for a long time. It’s a long way from metal and it’s a long way from anything that, I think, Mikael has ever done…it’s actually a long way from anything I’ve done…The one thing we didn’t want to do is get together and do a prog metal supergroup, which would have been so easy to do – and kind of expected, in a way.”
Album artwork for Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar
First of all, I would like to extend my best holiday wishes to each and every one of my readers! Your support has been truly inspirational, and I thank you all for it. I hope that all of you had a very Merry Christmas! As a holiday treat, today I would like to present you with one of the most musically unique albums that I have encountered in the past year. Let no one say that Rich Vreeland, also known as Disasterpeace, does not have a distinctive sound. He is the mastermind behind Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar, an album that combines the glitchy wonder of retro video game music with the musical complexity of progressive rock. Well, that’s certainly an interesting twist. If a band like Seventh Wonder or Dream Theater had decided to write electronic-based music for an 80s adventure game, this might have been the result. Let’s take a closer look!
This music represents a bit of an indulgence for me. Those of you that follow this blog regularly have probably realized by now that I am a big fan of progressive rock. It is the genre that I grew up with, and it will definitely always hold a special influence in my musical endeavors. I am also a passionate video game music enthusiast. The world of video games is the perfect theater for compositional experimentation. Different moods can be created for different scenarios in the game, characters can each be assigned their own musical themes, and dramatic interpretation is an omnipresent element. There is so much inspiration that can be drawn from various components of a game, and composers use this inspiration to create a sonic world that helps the game take on a whole new life.