I love that old-timey contemporary classical prog-choral rock opera
November 20, 2014 5:05 AM   Subscribe

Help me buy music for my extremely eclectic dad!

My dad loves music. He is a self-taught guitar player and composer with a very wide range of tastes. I'd like to get him some new stuff for Christmas. However, he is extremely eclectic, and since I hardly keep up with new music nowadays, I am at a loss.

In the past I have given him with success:
- Nico Muhly (I Drink the Air Before Me)
- Tortoise
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor (a big hit)
- Fleet Foxes (good because it reminded him of Crosby, Stills and Nash)
- all of Paco de Lucia's recordings with Camarón de la Isla

I have also given him Strange Mercy by St. Vincent, which he was ambivalent about.

He is a big Pink Floyd fan, and was really into Rodrigo y Gabriela when I saw him this summer. When we go on vacation together I let him use my Spotify account, and his favorites folder contains:

- Haken (progressive metal)
- Erik Satie
- Hèctor Parra (Hypermusic Prologue. A projective opera in seven planes, which is exactly what it sounds like)
- Frank Zappa's rock opera, Joe's Garage
- Claude Debussy

So I need something weird, and if you can stick the word prog on the front of it so much the better. New is good, but something older he might not have heard of is also good. I prefer something avaliable in hard copy, but it's not a deal breaker. Bonus points if I can vet it first on Youtube or Spotify.

Music nerds of metafilter, gimmie your best shot. Thank you!
posted by lollymccatburglar to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Your Dad will love Gentle Giant's Free Hand.

The thing is mostly meant to be listened to all the way through (an actual album) but my favorite piece is On Reflection.

Sort of a Yes, Jethro Tull, vibe, which is sort of Prog.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:09 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Does he know They Might Be Giants?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:12 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: I heard Perry Leopold on WMBR's Lost and Found a while back. "Acid folk" is how some people label his music - to me it was uncategorizable.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:14 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

He might like Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana."
posted by Dolley at 5:56 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: First of all, your dad sounds awesome, and I would love to have a beer with him sometime. As for music, I would get him a best-of compilation from Django Reinhardt, "The Inner Mounting Flame" and "Birds of Fire" by Mahavishnu Orchestra, and "The Courage of Others" by Midlake.
posted by jbickers at 6:05 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The old-timey at the beginning of that list of genres made me think of Punch Brothers (the bluegrass version of art-rock).
posted by Octaviuz at 6:07 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: Ayreon is a prog-rock/metal project with multiple vocalists and orchestras and stuff. Check out The Human Equation or Into the Electric Castle.

Devin Townsend could be interesting as well, it ranges from extreme metal to new age music. The Retinal Circus concert is a good example of his entire career. He reminds me a little bit of Frank Zappa, specially the sense of humor and production style.

Other stuff that might interest:

- Spock's Beard: contemporary prog rock with lots of 70's elements.
- Cripple Black Phoenix: post/prog rock, very pinkfloydish
- Philip Glass: classical composer
- Andrew Bird: more indie/folk oriented, very nice
- Pain of Salvation: prog-metal/rock, specially B, which is very diverse.

PS: Hèctor Parra sounds awesome
posted by florzinha at 6:17 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Purple Snow
posted by jillithd at 6:21 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: Oh your dad needs Song From the Uproar
posted by kalapierson at 7:15 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: I was just coming to recommend Spock's Beard, as well as The Flower Kings and The Mars Volta. (All recommendations from my father's prog rock collection!)
posted by Neely O'Hara at 7:32 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: This is a great question, and I hope to check out some of the things you have already mentioned. I wish I had time and money to keep up with new things and be a completist, but here are some things that roll around in my head that might be of interest. Please note that I have a pretty liberal definition of prog, so...:

Since he's such a Pink Floyd fan, I wonder if he's into other, less-well-known English psych-prog. See the Wikipedia article on "the Canterbury scene" if you want to spend several hours (days?) following this path. Here is but a small taste:
-Soft Machine - I'm no expert, but I understand that the first 4 albums are the classic "must-own" albums from SM. Here are some selections from the first one (self-titled): Hope for Happiness (YT) ; We Did It Again, Plus Belle Qu'une Poubelle, Why Are We Sleeping (YT)

Pattern is Movement - This band has gone through several phases (earlier stuff had a Tortoise-/Sea & Cake-/Pinback- post-rock-esque sound; and from what I've heard of the most recent album, there is now a stronger soul-, R&B-esque style) but the following mid-period tracks may be relevant to the question. The vocals are pseudo-operatic sounding, with warm, tinkling synths and some great rhythms and crashing drums. All Together (2006 album; US Amazon link): Peach Trees (YT) ; Bird (YT; live); Right Away (YT; live)
-We Are the Light of the World (YT; 2010 tour-only EP, probably not available in hard copy -- but here is an apparently legal free mp3 download)

-Scott Walker is an interesting guy who started as a 1960's pop singer, but has moved into weirder and weirder dark, opera-like territory since then -- especially his stuff from the past two decades -- experimental and often dark and just weird; okay, I'll stop using the words "weird" and "dark". If you're in the right state of mind, it can feel transcendent. 3-album "trilogy": Tilt (YT) ; The Drift ("Jesse" [YT] ), and Bisch Bosch ("Epizootics!" [YT]).
..Oooh! semi-breaking news, this October, he released an album with the experimental drone metal (?) band, Sunn O))): Soused (YT album promo/trailer) ("Brando" [YT]). This is the first I've heard it, but I wonder if this might be a contender.
posted by mean square error at 8:34 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Does he already have any ZPZ?
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: Also: if he's not already listening to Anoushka Shankar, he should be.
posted by flabdablet at 8:49 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: Also also: I like all the things you've said your Dad likes, and I also like Bevis Frond. A lot.
posted by flabdablet at 8:55 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a bit of Floyd it took me far to long to notice the existence of.
posted by flabdablet at 8:59 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: He's almost a dead cert to have No Pussyfooting already as well, but that shouldn't stop you listening to it.
posted by flabdablet at 9:07 AM on November 20, 2014

Phish have lots of epic, proggy, guitar-centric compositions (it's not all just jamming).

Try an earlier album like Junta or Rift.
posted by grog at 9:31 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: Seconding Mahavishnu Orchestra, although it's entirely possible your dad already has most or all of their work. But the leader of the group, guitarist John McLaughlin, has had a long and eclectic career, so some of his other stuff (either as a leader or solo or as a member of someone else's band) could be right up your dad's alley.

Off the Godspeed like, try Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, or in a somewhat "heavier" vein, Pelican and Red Sparowes.

Your dad's probably got some older King Crimson, but they've re-grouped and re-invented themselves like a dozen times over the years, so there might be some of their work that he's unfamiliar with.

Mastodon might be a bit too metal for him, although their second album, Leviathan, is a concept album loosely based on Moby Dick. (The novel, not the Led Zeppelin song.)

Also in the prog-metal-ish vein, I think they're cheesy as heck, but try Symphony X and Dream Theater.

Maybe try some of the suggestions in this AskMe (Can people recommend non-twee classical music?)
posted by soundguy99 at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: Joanna Newsom - Ys
I'm not a fan so much, but prog is a term people have used to describe The Decemberists' The Crane Wife.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:07 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How fun it is to find new music for a hungry mind!

The work of Finnish composer Pekka Pohjola is lovely and rather symphonic.

Van Der Graaf Generator was headed by the ever-prolific Peter Hammill, who's also made quite a few good solo albums.

Norwegian band White Willow make a particularly lovely music.

Slapp Happy was comprised of individuals very important to several prog scenes but made lovely, fun music.

Canterbury prog band Caravan is well worth checking out.
posted by the matching mole at 1:48 PM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: A bit of a weird suggestion, but Steve Vai's album Sex and Religion might suit - it's full of proggy effects and features a 21 year old Devin Townsend (recommended above) on vocals. Vai got his break playing with Zappa. Passion and Warfare is another album of his that might also suit.
posted by goo at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: If Mahavishnu Orchestra appeals, have a listen to what its drummer Billy Cobham can do when playing with people not obsessed with weird-ass time signatures.

Not that there's anything wrong with those.
posted by flabdablet at 9:42 PM on November 20, 2014

Best answer: My favorite French indie prog rock album of this year is Moodoid's Mondo Moo
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:01 AM on November 21, 2014

Best answer: Teeth of the Sea's 2009 album Orphaned by the Ocean is pretty obscure, but it presses a lot of these buttons. It's guitar oriented, experimental and trippy. 2013's Master is pretty great too, but more synth/minimal techno oriented.

The new Goat album, Commune, is phenomenal, but there's a chance he'll have heard of them. (Word's been getting out.)

Self-taught New Zealand guitarist/environmental studies professor Roy Montgomery might appeal, though his work's a lot moodier. An album like Temple IV might fit the bill if moody is what you seek.

The new Woodsman album is pretty good. Also, +1 to the Bevis Frond recommendation above.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2014

Best answer: Umphrey's McGee. Like a cross between Pink Floyd and Phish.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:56 AM on November 22, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! These answers went above and beyond what I was expecting. My dad is going to love his presents this year, and I'm covered for Christmas and birthdays for the next decade!
posted by lollymccatburglar at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2014

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