Presenting our Chicago Prog Vol. 2 playlist feature. Sixteen tracks were selected from artists working within the progressive rock, progressive metal, art rock, and fusion idioms from our area.
Featuring a variety of long-time music scene veterans and good mix of new and heavy up and coming artists.
|Lawrence Spivey||Origin of Animal|
|Insomniac Blue||Sonus Umbra|
|The Baron||Hedgehog the Fox|
|Run Away||Zip Tang|
|Above Ground||Nomadic Horizon|
|Accolades for Idiots / The Veil Lifted||Gentle Gene|
|Adolpho’s Dilemma||Kick the Cat|
|Count Me In||David Forman Project|
|Liberation (Control Denied)||Acracy|
|Dead Man’s Stare||Armored Assault|
|AntiFragile||Sons of Ra|
Chicago Prog Vol. 2 PlaylistCurated by Erik Oldman
Origin of Animal
Formerly a revolving- door group of musicians, we would book a gig and then fly by the seat of our pants. Since 2010 we have performed with anywhere from five to twenty members; written and recorded original compositions with as many as thirty musicians; and collectively, since forming in 2007, have worked with a total of about 80 people.
SONUS UMBRA was originally formed in Mexico City in 1989 and performed with a number of different lineups from different geographic locations before reforming in Chicago in 2013.
Along with a new line-up, the band released “Winter Soulstice”, and began a serious itinerary of live performance all over North America, including a return to RoSfest, appearances at Progtoberfest in Chicago, Terra Incognita in Quebec City, and various shows at hallowed venues such as Orion, the NJ Proghouse and the Boston NewEARS showcase.
2016 saw the release of “Beyond the Panopticon”, a highly collaborative effort that saw the whole band involved in the writing and arranging of the songs. This was followed by more touring on the East Coast and the Midwest, appearances at Progtoberfest II in Chicago and ProgDay in Chapel Hill, and a trip to Mexico for the Breaking Borders Festival in San Cristóbal, Chiapas and a return to old haunts in Mexico City. In October of 2017, SONUS UMBRA underwent its first Canadian tour, with stops in Toronto, Montreal and a return to Quebec City
Chicago’s Sonus Umbra instantly take command of the stage with a performance brimming with good humour and vitality. The almost Gentle Giant-like complexity to their arrangements makes them compelling to watch from beginning to end. (“Live: RoSfest 2015”, Simon Godfrey, Prog Magazine, June 2015)
Hedgehog and the Fox
Hedgehog and the Fox is an instrumental rock quartet who draws influences from classic progressive and jazz-rock artists from the ’60s and ’70s. Particular comparisons can be drawn from Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Jeff Beck, and Frank Zappa.
“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. This fragment from a Greek poet gave rise to the name of the band. The energy in the band’s music comes from the tension between structure and improvisation.
Zip Tang began as a conversation at a local jam session in a suburb of Chicago, IL. in 2002. The idea was to start a fun little project covering some of their favorite artists’ music – Steely Dan, Jeff Beck, Traffic, Yes, King Crimson, etc…
The first album released in 2007 – Luminiferous Ether – gained some recognition with the track “Tower Of Tuna” and their interpretation of the “Tarkus” suite by ELP. The next album Pank was warmly welcomed by critics and was nominated for best progressive rock album by the “grass roots Grammys” organization Just Plain Folks in 2009. Great reviews continued with the two follow up releases Feed Our Heads and Das Reboot. In the summer of 2015, Zip Tang ver. 2.0 released their fifth collection of tunes – Private Shangri-La. In the summer of the pandemic they released their first concept album.
Nomadic Horizon came together as a result of a desire to create some music inspired by their mutual love of classic progressive rock, along with other styles that exhibit texture, dynamics, free-form creativity, and originality.
In their first year, they released a four song EP simply titled “4”. The EP release coincided with the band’s debut live show, and it was immediately apparent that they were able to engage an enthusiastic audience, even through some of the more intricate moments. The shows have only gotten stronger, with the band having shared the stage with many of their local contemporaries, and people are paying attention.
Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana area alt-rock band “Gentle Gene” is a three-piece group comprised of bassist/vocalist Mark Vasquez, guitarist/producer Chris Gardner & drummer Phil Goodrich. The trio have been performing together in various groups including Rotten Records artist “Ideamen” as well as working together in other projects over the years.
Each member brings different experiences, influences and abilities to the band – Chris is a multi-instrumentalist and producer/engineer. Phil brings raw power and energy to the music with drumming influences like Dave Lombardo, Buddy Rich & Terry Bozzio. Mark’s mission with songwriting is to put everything about his life’s journey into catchy alt-rock songs. This is also Mark’s first project taking on multiple instruments and singing lead vocals.
“Empathogen is a product of the pandemic, from its founding to its execution, and one that thrived due to its limitations. Drawing together members of Chicago’s weird and heavy underground scene (including Snow Burial, Sons of Ra, Without Waves, Polarizer, Uncouth, and Tides Cult) and capping it off with session drums from Failure drummer Kellii Scott, it’s an entirely remote creation built without even much in the way of conscious coherence. Their first single “Separation Anxiety” was written by each member adding in their own part without knowing what else was to come. This looser approach bypasses a lot of the challenges more structured projects face, though it does place a lot of faith in the contributors—fortunately, the result is a killer slice of brooding Chicago rock that defies further classification.
The multi-layered nature of the song isn’t surprising, given its genesis, but the whirling tiers of guitar, bass, keys, and noise all interlace rather gracefully, lashed together by a hypnotic and repetitive rhythm. It’s a wistful song, dwelling on might-have-beens rather than any present misery, but it’s also bolstered by intermittent threads of hope (and novel uses of guitar harmonics that I could have sworn was a cowbell).” Invisible Oranges
Kick the Cat
Based in Chicago and Nashville, Kick The Cat is an internationally renowned jazz/rock fusion ensemble. Musically, the band is within the virtuosic lineage of classic fusion/prog ensembles like Return to Forever and Weather Report but draws on contemporary groove elements, electronics and a healthy dose of humor as well. The result is a high energy of mind-bending rhythms, harmonies and kaleidoscopic textures that is surprisingly approachable.
The band formed while in college in the late 90’s to perform each other’s unique and challenging compositions, at the time living together and working on music while also each individually making names for themselves in the Chicago music scene. KTC has produced four full- length albums of original material and has performed hundreds of shows, headlining and opening for a variety of national acts. KTC has long been noted as being one of the most engaging, highly virtuosic jazz ensembles to emerge from Chicago’s richly varied scene.
Chicago quintet Polarizer creates what they call “loud, spacey epic rock,” combining heavy walls of sound with echo-laden, introspective passages and progressive-rock sensibilities.
Garnering comparisons to Muse, Rush and Jane’s Addiction, the band has played extensively in the Chicago area and has toured regionally and opened for national artist the New Regime.
David Forman Project
David Forman Project has worked with Matt Walker (Smashing Pumpkins. Morrissey, Garbage, Filter), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, countless others), Steve Albini (Nirvana, PJ Harvey,), and Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, Jon Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, countless others). DFP is funk rock and incorporates many other genres within its catalog. DFP has also has songs placed in TV shows, movies and commercials.
Seiche formed in Chicago as a recording project to show off the skills of the musicians and the engineer. The resulting record: Seiche – Demo Press LP was a hard psych/prog record released in 1981 that sounded like it came straight out of 1973. The records was mostly unavailable due to its extremely limited release (50 printed copies).
Inspired by psychedelic rock and fresh out of high school, Seiche melded the often disparate worlds of histrionic hard rock soloing with some of the more skewed elements of full-blown psychedelia.
This Jackpot release pulls out all the stops, sourced from the original masters and loaded with archival and bonus materials. Don’t miss out this time around
Acracy– n. In political philosophy, the negation of rule or “government.” A society with the absence of coercion; one of voluntary order.
This is the very idea behind the recently formed metal band to hail from the Chicagoland area: one that writes and performs music without boundaries, without the standard rules of order, and without the impetus to follow the stylistic trends of popular music.
Armored Assault has been at it for over 17 years, relentlessly rehearsing, writing, and playing shows. With two official releases under their belt, Dead Before Dawn (2011) and Call The Beast (2014), the assault continues nearly seven years later, except this time around more assertive and explosive than ever. Blood Queen is the band’s first release to feature the dexterity of guitarist Tony Notardonato and the slamming bass work of Billy McDonald, rounding out the core lineup of lead singer Andy “Pindy” Pindelski, shredding guitarist Tommy Bellino, and hard-hitting drummer Mark Suttner.
Dissona is a progressive metal band based out of Chicago. Since becoming active in 2006, they have become known for their diverse, imaginative sound, and powerfully expressive performances.
They take a dramatic approach with their music, creating robust, yet intricate compositions with thought-provoking, often abstract lyrical content.
Chaometry is devoted to writing and performing original progressive music, bordering on the heavier side of things but with direct classical influences and a penchant for complex use of meter and melody. Always looking to challenge the listener, in the tradition of their own categorization in the prog genre, Chaometry miss no opportunity to push their own limits as they write and develop new material.
HIVE is a progressive metal band based out of Chicago. They are known for harsh, unrelenting vocals accompanied by unorthodox rhythms, aggressive riffs, eerie atmospheres, and paralyzing grooves. HIVE continues to prove time and time again that they will live up to their reputation for delivering the darkest content imaginable.
Sons of Ra
“Sons of Ra sidesteps some of the formulaic conventions of progressive metal by weaving in its eclectic influences, working in its jazz fusion element in ways that evoke the progressive rock of the 1970s — King Crimson, namely — while also engaging in the loud, high-speed antics more in line with today’s acts. Getting this all to work together requires some staggering talent and chops just to figure out how to play it, let alone record it, but the performance feels real — not sloppy, but not glossy machine-like perfection either, and that gives extra weight to each hard-earned note. The result of their labors, long in the making, is a rewarding foray into progressive metal that doesn’t forget to keep things exceedingly strange.” – Invisible Oranges