Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Learning to Fly

While post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd has mostly been dismissed by disciples and critics alike as colourless and lacking a firm direction, there are a few moments of inspiration throughout the two studio albums and two live documents that the David Gilmour-led line-up recorded. One of these moments is the spacey "Learning to Fly" from 1987, a classic Floydian tale of loneliness and angst. While it doesn't hope to compare with the unshakeable Floydian classics of yore, it's still a muscular piece of adult-contemporary rock that easily stands up to anything similar prog-rock contemporaries like Yes and the Moody Blues churned out during the late 1980s. Perhaps 1987's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" and 1994's "The Division Bell" do deserve reappraisals after all, based on the not-at-all horrifying aesthetics at work here. Check out the typically cinematic video clip for it here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


An awesome, mind-boggling study in instrumental dynamics, King Crimson's impossibly intricate "Discipline" is a long-cherished gem in the prog-rock legends' impressive back catalogue, and arguably the one single track fundamentally responsible for the eventual development of that oblique sub-genre of rock known as "math-rock". A most unorthodox 5/4 time signature, intense, masterful axe-wielding, and flighty, controlled Stick improvisations are all encased within a complex, polyrhythmic structure that presents irrefutable proof that the 1980s incarnation of King Crimson are a true force to be reckoned with, and easily on par with the decidedly darker, more dramatic sensibilities espoused by the 1970s line-up. Check out a superb live rendition of "Discipline", which is thoughtfully interspersed with illuminating comments on technique and form by head Crimson honcho Robert Fripp and drummer extraordinaire Bill Bruford.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Grieve

An apt musical tribute to the victims of 9/11, Peter Gabriel's mournful, yet vaguely optimistic threnody "I Grieve" (which first appeared in an embryonic version on the "City of Angels" soundtrack from 1998) remains one of the most underrated gems in the veteran art-rocker's vast repertoire. Gabriel has rarely written and sung lyrics invested with such emotional quotient, such as "So hard to move on, still loving what's gone", "The news that truly shocks is the empty, empty page" and "Life carries on in the way we are tied in". Take some time out to view this live-in-the-studio rendition, which came at the end of a Larry King special originally aired in 2002.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Don't Dream it's Over

Quite possibly the most beloved of all Crowded House standards, the bittersweet classic "Don't Dream It's Over" has become an anthem of sorts for disaffected Generation X'ers, a revealing song about the necessities of leaving the past where it should belong. Check out the rather literal, wonderfully kaleidoscopic video for this undisputed masterpiece.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Steel Cathedrals

While veteran avant-rocker David Sylvian is more widely known for his surprisingly accessible leftfield rock songs, a largely unexplored aspect of his artistry is his worth as a proponent of ambient, improvisatory compositions. This sensibility is brilliantly manifested in the pair of collaborations with Kraut-rock stalwart Holger Czukay, 1988's "Plight and Premonition" and 1989's "Flux and Mutability". However, it is with 1984's carefully constructed sound montage "Steel Cathedrals" that Sylvian first established himself as an adventurous purveyor of what is known as Fourth World Music, boldly mixing found sounds, ad-hoc samples, synth programs and organic instrumentation. Check out the two distinct sections of "Steel Cathedrals", both set to an artistic collage of eerie, surreal, industrial-informed imagery.