FAME Review: Various Artists - Emkog
 
Various Artists - Emkog

Emkog

Various Artists

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

Don't know who came up with that Gog-Magog label name but it's a cool one. This CD, however, is a fiery muthah and handsomely displays exactly what you're in for, pilgrim, when laying an ear to such a blisteringly portentous anthology of the progrock ilk. Emkog is not only unashamed to be vending prog but is doing so via inexplicably uber-accomplished bands (I've never heard these ensembles!) measurably steeped in startlingly knowing compositional methods and jaw-dropping instrumental ability. From the Spano-Balkan multiple hybridizations of Deluge Grander to the painterly effulgence of All Over Everywhere (perhaps the best description for everything about the entire roster of Emkog's stable) to the dizzying whirlwinds of Birds and Buildings and thence towards the jagged deluges of Cerebus Effect, take nothing for granted, buckle the seat belt, and have dramamine handy, 'cause you're in for tempest upon tempest.

These bands bring to mind Iceberg, Zappa, Univers Zero, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jasun Martz, Gilgamesh, and Bog only knows how many overachievers in the genre, legendary groups famed for over-the-top exhibitions and talents. Such chops as the Emkog folks represent are what have caused me to proclaim that progrock has all along been neoclassical, unrecognized as such through the moribund insipidity of the lion's share of its critics. Yet the proof has been there since the emergence of the form's cardinal product, the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed, soon re-defined in King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, and then perpetually re-proven, re-contextualized, and expanded as time passed. The stylistic sobriquet is barely serviceable any more, so sprawling has the unquenchable morphing been.

Then came the unutterable banality of punk and the near demise of prog, drowned in an anti-intellectualism engulfing the globe, a move hotly supported, unsurprisingly, by most prog crits, Jello Biafra, and other questionable emirs. Now, slowly, the original movement is being seen for what it really was, and one can barely spit without hitting a 'prog' splinter of every conceivable other style: prog-grass, progressive country, prog-folk, weird folk, everyone's claiming the mantle eschewn from the late 70s forward. The more things change…

Emkog, however, not only demonstrates that the hiding period is over but that, beggarly though the output may have been in whole since the advent of Johnny Rotten and mates, some have been utilizing the period of ostracization and exile profitably, honing vast capabilities to the depth one would expect over such interceding years of world cultural malformation. Ah, but there's more! This CD is half a collection of cuts from six releases and half an exposure of works in progress, including a 20+ minute collage of slated CDs, as well as substantially remastered versions of published materials, and thus a matter of necessity for the serious aficionado. For the uninitiated, though, I'll repeat the warning: prepare to have your breath taken away, bolt down the furniture and wear head gear.

Track List:

  • Deluge Grander: The Solitude Of Miranda
  • Birds And Buildings: Birds Flying Into Buildings
  • All Over Everywhere: Art Of The Earth
  • Birds And Buildings: Yucatan 65: The Agitation Of The Mass
  • Cerebus Effect: Nine Against Ten
  • Birds And Buildings: Miracle Pigeon (Early Version)
  • Deluge Grander: Aggrrandizement
  • All Over Everywhere: Gratitude
  • [Anthology]: A Big Blob Of Demos And Early Versions Of Forthcoming Music

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 
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