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Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Brain Hurts and I Like It!

I have often said that hurting my brain was a hobby of mind. Though complex math escaped me in high school I was always good with biology, chemistry, physics and art. I do enjoy simplicity as well. Simplicity can be relaxing, efficient, and perfect if done with the right intent. I like having the refuge of some simple art and music to turn to when I need it. Yet the simple things I like still make me think. I'm not into mindless tv, for example.

I think that I am a prog musician because early in life I found a desire to push boundaries. Maybe I am a musician because I took to the guitar better than the Bunsen burner. But long before I took up the guitar the seeds of creativity and learning were planted (thanks mom!). Judging by the careers and hobbies of my fellow Progulus listeners and station leaders I think this might not be uncommon among prog fans. One listener's screen name is Buckminsterfullerene. Not only is that a brainy kinda name but I know what it refers to. I like reading science books and magazines. An article in Discover a few years ago is one of my favorites. The cover read "If and electron can be in two places at once, why can't you?"

As I read the article I kept thinking that on the surface my brain knew what I was reading, but I just couldn't get below the surface to true understanding. But I enjoyed my attempt. And as I re-read the article from time to time maybe I will "get it" someday. Answers are great but the questions are the fun part. Does thought occur if it isn't first provoked? Maybe that's the key to any life pursuit, whether hobby or career, music or quantum physics. I desire to dive below the surface just to see how deep I can go. Like JFK said, "
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…"

I mock Paris Hilton's "stupid is cool" attitude. I've watched all 3 extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movies back to back and I loved it! I am wallowing in the lovely, complex mud of my nerdiness.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Associating certain songs with certain situations is nothing new. More or less everybody does it from time to time. Some tunes can mean a lot because they remind us of good times or they were a comfort in difficult times. For me personally I am in dept to a handful of bands that have helped me stay afloat during relationship problems. The best example is probably that of “Pain of Salvation”. The singer, Daniel Gildenlöw, has a gift of interpreting songs and bring across the emotions put into the lyrics:

Pain Of Salvation – Reconcilliation (part) /listen/

    I've washed my hands of your blood
    Thought it would leave me clean
    But with time on my hands
    It turned to mud forming this crust of sin
    Now - to be truly free
    I'll let it come to me
    So -break me if you must
    When you break this crust
    Freedom is to see

    Hear this voice, see this man
    Standing before you I'm just a child
    Just a man learning to yield
    I hate these hands soaked in blood
    I hate what these eyes have seen
    Up to my knees in filth and mud
    How it hurts to become clean

This part expresses perfectly my state of mind in a situation when I felt stepped on, and kicked into the gutter and at the same time feeling guilty about my own part in the terrible mess surrounding me, trying to find the path that would end my suffering. I think there are times in our lives when crying is the only way to get rid of all the bad and continue living, and I admit it, I have been howling while listening to this song.

Pain Of Salvation - Morning on earth (part) /listen/

    A relation, so oddly old - bred not to love
    Suffers the beaten grounds of Idioglossia
    We talk but we do not speak
    Together only in our incapability to leave this fallen playground
    We rule this Empire merely with these few crippled toys
    Rust in our faces
    This is what we can share - this is all we can lose
    Furiously we will linger to it with our lives
    Cling to its rust and pains
    Barefoot and torn
    Bred not but born to love

This song helped me to understand some of what I was going through and why. No one could have said it better....

Dream Theater – The Mirror (part) /listen/

    Why won't you leave me alone?
    Lurking Every Corner, everywhere I go

    Self Control-
    Don't turn your back on me now
    When I need you the most

    Constant pressure tests my will
    My will or my won't
    My Self Control escapes from me still...

    How could you be so cruel
    and expect my faith in return?

    Is not as hard as it seems
    When you close the door

    I spent so long trusting in you
    I trust you forgot
    Just when I thought I believed in you...

    "What're you doing?
    What're you doing?"

    It's time for me to deal
    Becoming all too real
    living in fear-
    Why did you lie and pretend?
    This has come to an end
    I'll never trust you again
    It's time you made your amends
    Look in the mirror my friend

I have always admired Dream Theater for their skills with their instruments. It seems that creating meaningful lyrics is also one of their talents as this song clearly shows. What normal relationship has not been through this kind of situation at least once (maybe that's an understatement...but just trying to be diplomatic)?

You could say I have only looked at the dark side of things...True, so when I get the time and inspiration I will try to find some examples of good but positive lyrics.

If you read this and have some songs/lyrics that mean a lot to you, and if you would like to, please feel free to share....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What is Progressive anyway? 3/5 - Dream Metal

Part: 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

Dream Metal

The source of my interest in thrash metal was to be found in my social life. I went to concerts, bought some records and listened to them with my friends, but when I think of it I cannot say that much of the music was great. I didn't listen to it so much, when I was alone and I never wore the metal uniform (jeans, T-shirt with a death metal band and long hair). Maybe it was my religious background (I still go to church on Sundays) that kept me from “giving my soul” to this music. At least I think that deep inside I could not really accept the message about death, destruction, despair and Satan that many of the bands we giving through their songs. I suppose Metallica and Megadeth were (and still are) quite innocent compared to some of the bands I listened to. I can still listen to both of them when I'm in the mood.

My first encounter with prog was Queensrÿche . No, it wasn't Yes as you may have thought (looking at my last blog entry). I'll come back to Yes later. I suppose you cannot put Queensrÿche firmly in the prog category since much of their material, in my book, is nothing but sophisticated rock. At the same time they had enough stuff that veered (progressed, if you will) away from the mainstream rock/metal to consider putting them in the prog camp. Anyways in 1991 I bought "Empire" because of the interesting looking cover and, lucky me, I liked what I heard. I didn't immediately go and buy “Operation Mindcrime”... probably because of Metallica's “Black Album” that was released the same year as my discovery. Metallica completely blew me away with their new style and everything else had to wait...

Queensrÿche and especially Metallica, with their change from thrash to heavy rock, were good for me in the sense that they helped me open my mind to many new bands and styles. I didn't completely abandon my taste for harder side of Metal, but I enjoyed it less and less... Some years later I bought what was to be my last album in that genre. Pantera's “Far beoynd driven” was brutal and after some spins I thought to myself, what am I listening to? Why does everything have to be so extreme? Do I really like this? The answer to my doubt were of course that I had grown tired of the aggression. The music and the lyrics didn't bring me anything that I was in need of.

During the same year (1994) Dream Theater released “Awake”. I probably would have missed if it wasn't for friend who came to the rescue. I'm not sure why, but he just seemed to draw the rabbit out of the hat every time I needed some inspiration in my world of music. The first Dream Theater song I heard was “Lie”, and that was all I needed. Here was a group that was heavy yet melodic, played their instruments to perfection but didn't sound synthetic. Their lyrics had a message Far beyond the simple aggression, that was so prevalent in other bands. For me DT was pure and simple Dream Metal.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What is Progressive anyway? 2/5 - Thrash

Part: 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1


I am at my friend's house. He pulls out a new vinyl disc that apparently is Metallica's latest “...And Justice for All”. My immediate response is METALLICA! Are you crazy.... that is just pure trash”. He answers “Yes, but this record is so much fun... just listen to this”.

A slow and quite nice electric guitar plays without being accompanied by bass, drums or keyboard. After a while you notice the drums. At first they can hardly be heard, but slowly they build getting louder and louder dadadadadadadaDaDaDaDaDADADADA”. The first picture in my head is that of a nice picnic in the park being surprised by a motor cycle gang (anyone recognize what tune I am talking about?). The song is completely taken over and the funny part of it is that the rest has absolutely no resemblance to the first part. How cool was that?

So cool that during the next couple of years we were completely immersed in the local Thrash scene. The local band that caught most of the attention was called Invocator. They had a very nice demo (so we thought) and eventually recorded an album called “Excursion Demise”. Some of you may even have heard of it. Anyways the singer of the band much later moved on to “Anubis Gate”, of which I know many of you have heard.

One day my friend surprised me again... Of all the bands to check he had with recommendations borrowed a video tape of a live concert with band called “Yes”. I thought, he had gotten completely bonkers. Who in his right mind would listen to soft rock, yeah almost pop, like that? I completely dismissed it....I thought.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How did I get involved with my love of prog you ask?

Cuten writes:
Well ok maybe you didn't but were curious anyhow. The very first band that I fell in love with that later became a big influence in many ways in the music community but weren't quite to the prog stage yet was Savatage. At the time it was on a record ( What's that? Well records were these big black vinyl round discs that people used to store music on in the ancient days). Crackling and popping (records frequently got scratches and the sound was distorted sort of like an egg frying sound when they did) notwithstanding, the clarity and nasty evil beauty of Jon Oliva's voice got me hooked. Savatage played pure straight metal in their formative years.
Next was Fates Warning. Wow, that was a change. First of all it was the No Exit release and it was on a cassette tape. Sound was clearer and the vocalist again caught my ear but the eclectic head warping time changes had me trying to fit it into some sort of category in my mind. None existed for me at the time and so I had to give it several, several tries before it finally sunk in. Over time I found another budding prog band, Dream Theater.

Unlike the other two bands that I mentioned the vocalist did not impress me so my time was spent enjoying the Ytse Jam. It was at this point that I might never have proceeded on my way to finding out that there are many, many fine prog bands because the vocals fell so short for me. Fortunately for me, my boyfriend saw the new Dream Theater release (Images and Words) and kept insisting on me purchasing it for us. My mind was hard to sway and the only thing that did that was the fact that there was a new vocalist. After one listen I was convinced that this change in vocalists had made me hungry for more prog.

After that my searches for prog in this area led to a few more prizes. The inserts in the cds made it even easier to discover yet more prog bands. Finding others with an interest in prog increased my curiosity. A few years ago when I got my own computer I was skipping around the internet looking for prog related sources and stumbled onto the Prog Archives. Fascinating site by the way if you have never been there.

My next discovery was a list there on that site for progressive radio stations and it just blew my mind, all this prog to discover was so exciting! The best part was finding Progulus Radio.

This station has not only expanded my prog knowledge but also given me opportunities to make some wonderful friendships and to be able to have my first interview aired on the radio and to moderate the myspace page for them as well. Finding myspace has also been a great way to find talented prog bands and to promote the love of prog. My journey continues as I learn more about the music genre that is such a big love in my life. Viva La Prog! Cutenpurdy is out there, somewhere....

As in politics, all music is local

I'd like to share my thoughts on the state of live local music. I'd really love to hear Ray's European take on this, and feedback from anyone who's thought about live music and local bands. Every band is from somewhere and we all start as local acts. I live in Wisconsin. At one time Milwaukee was a hotspot for live music as I'm sure many cities were. At one time live music was a primary form of entertainment for people. It was for hundreds of years. That all began to change with the industrial revolution and the invention of recorded music. Making a living as a performer has always been hard. Only a small percentage of musicians and singers ever become superstars. I'm sure some problems I deal with are the same ones a young Charlie Parker dealt with. Even into the 70's and 80's live music seems to have still been a way many people enjoyed spending their time. But now... here's a list off the top of my head of all the forms of entertainment I compete with as a live performer:

Movie theaters
Sports events
DVDs (Video... Home theater)
The Internet
Video Games
Live theater
Other live music (cover bands especially)

After WW2 people have live music, recorded music, movies, radio, theater and soon TV to choose from. However, at any given moment there would have been a half dozen radio stations, a few movies and plays, and a couple of tv stations which wouldn't have broadcast 24/7. Now I have to compete with forms of entertainment that run all day and all night, whenever you want them. We are saturated with entertainment. Why should somebody pay $5 to see me play when they can steal all the movies they want for free? If people do go out specifically to see live music they have probably fifty choices on any given night in Milwaukee. And in this area, cover bands are king. People seem to love just shouting at their friends over a beer with a really loud live jukebox in the background. I am pretty cynical about this, yet successful live shows are not impossible.

1. Get out of town. I rarely get paid much around here and thats fine. However, each time I've taken my solo act on short tours I have not lost money. That includes hotels, gas and food. So people seem to be interested in something new, something not local. One of the best compliments Strange Land often gets is "Where are you guys from?" People who have never seen us seem surprised that we're local. I take it that means we have a vibe and a level of professionalism that sets us apart from other bands who are just out to have a good time and party. We want to have fun, but we also want to push it farther than that. People seem to assume that bands from their hometown are no good. I've often been baffled when I go see Dream Theater at a sold out 8,000 seat theater and I wonder "Hell, why don't even 1% of these people come out to see local acts that I'm sure they would like."

2. Open for any national acts you can. Milwaukee is big enough to draw good national acts. Opening for them is great exposure for any band. You will play for people who've never seem you. I mean, it's great to see my friends at shows, but I really need fans more than friends. Being asked to open for bands like King's X, Event and Joe Stump are highlights of my career so far.

3. Always be professional. Get there on time. Don't gripe to club owners. Don't yell at the sound man. Don't badmouth the other bands on the bill. Burning bridges will get you nowhere. You might not like it, just save the bitching for your next practice session. There are plenty of jerks and egomaniacs on the scene in Milwaukee. Word gets around if enough people don't like you. If you can't take what you're given you shouldn't be playing out. I think the state of live music in Milwaukee and probably most of the US has degraded to the point we have to make the most of what we have and realize that the good old days are never coming back.

4. Work hard. This should really be first. And this goes for every aspect of music and life. As much as I hate to call music a business, it is. And in this business you put in 150% and get 10% back. But I still love it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What is Progressive anyway? 1/5 - POP

Part: 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1


Long time ago (that is how it feels), when I was still a teenager I often spend my time with a friend listening and talking about music. My favorite artists at the time were Madonna and Kim Wilde (UK) and I had all their albums. My friend and I would record songs from the radio, and when we met we could spend hours going through the latest tracks.

Then there was the 2 year younger brother... He would some times join us, but for some reason he never really got into our music. One day he brought a tape which had a recording of Van Halen's “Why can't this be love”. The song is is more or less straight and uncomplicated guitar rock. We thought "BLASPHEMY! This is Heavy Metal“ and swore we would never, ever get close to like that kind of music......but the damage was done.

Half a year later we were all addicted to rock and the lighter side of Heavy Metal.

One thing the 3 of us had in common was our dislike of the extreme genres which we, at the time, associated with AC/DC, Iron Maiden and God forbid THRASH.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Progressive in the 21st century

Hi folks. As my first post on this blog I figured I'd take on the easy task of deciding who's better - Dream Theater or Opeth!

Ok, not really. But I have often wondered what is "progressive". I have participated in endless debates over who is or who isn't and who is a bigger innovator. While fun, those debates don't really get you far. For myself, a guy in a band trying to fit into this broad genre a more important question has become "how do I make music that is progressive to me?" How do I stand apart from the crowd?

As I cringe at every commercial I see for the new season of American Idol, I have begun to think that in the early part of the 21st century sincerity, intellectualism, integrity and honesty are essential to my own progress as a musician. Pop music has always been fairly superficial, it is so by its very nature. It probably is popular because it appeals to a lowest common denominator. And if you doubt that pop has pretty much always been fluff, take a moment to go look up the lyrics to Earth Angel or I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

Even though prog has been a largely underground genre for the last 25 years it is also a diverse one. As a composer I struggle to find a voice that is my own. Everywhere I turn with a cool idea I find its been done by someone. But as I've matured I've found more courage to just be myself and to write and play for myself. If I'm not doing it for me, then its not art and its not honest and not sincere. I just have to please myself, satisfy my brain and my heart, and hope that I last long enough to find other people who like what I do and who can find their own meaning in it.

So now I don't rage against my parents, my government (well... I still do that) or 'the man' (who may or may not be the government... They wont tell me). I don't want to sing about love (the world needs another love song like I need another hole in my head) and I really don't want to sing about anybody's badonkadonk, not even my own. I rage against cotton candy/rice cake meaningless pop with vague lyrics and cookie cutter music. I rage against the idea that I am too heavy, old, and unhip for anybody to want to watch me play. I rage against anyone who can't understand the concept of ars gratia artis and I rage against those who think if I don't make money at music I am a failure.

I end with the immortal words of Frank Zappa "
I never set out to be wierd. It was always the other people who called me wierd."

01011001 on

Today proved to be very interesting. I was basically having a fight, trying to concentrate on my work while paying attention to the tag board (chat) at Guess who won? Lets just say that tomorrow I will be in a big hurry to finish some of my stuff.

Other internet radios play the same music, some at a better level of quality, but none seem to capture the feeling of belonging to something, as well as For me, the board is the main attraction. It gives you a unique opportunity to chat about the songs while they are being played, and get to know like minded people (at least music wise). Some of the people using the board have a very broad knowledge about everything related to progressive rock and metal. So if you think you could need some advice in this area, a visit would be worth a lot (I promise).

The big subject of the day was of course Ayreon's new album, which have just been added to the list of requestables. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you don't like Ayreon) there is a limit to how often you can request a certain artist, album or song within a certain time frame, so I haven't heard all the songs yet. What I heard was either good or great, so I guess this is another ”must buy” for my collection. When I have had the albums for a couple of spins I will see if I can get time to put down a review.

Arjen Lucassen, who is the man behind the band (Ayreon), seems to be a really nice guy, at least when it comes to answering emails. Progulus listener popcorn_dracula got a really nice response to her email (link), and another fan reported she had gotten answers to two of her emails. It is so very nice when artists acknowledge their fans in this manner. Arjen deserves a lot of praise for this kind of attitude.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Nowadays setting up a blog is as easy as writing a shopping list. You just need to write down some basic information and off you go. Then comes the difficult but most important part: CONTENTS.

If you do not write, you have already wasted your time, unless you plan to become a blog designer.

So, first of all my main focus is not to waste my time. I have run blogs before, and my main problem was that I didn't have any specific goals about the direction of my writings. Eventually I felt I was going nowhere and I pulled the plug.

Lets start with some ideas on how to get this blog going...

  • Collaborative blogging. It would be cool to have more than one person participating with writing articles. I believe that would make things more diverse and interesting.
  • Band of the week. Write about the good and (hopefully not) bad things about a band and their music. The point would be to start a discussion through user comments.
  • Reviews. These can be very time consuming if they are done well.
  • Concerts. For family reasons I more or less never have the opportunity to go to concerts, but maybe readers (if any exists in the future) go and would like to share the experience.
  • Web site review. Write about any web site that has prog contents.
  • Other. If you read this, feel free to give more suggestions.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Prog Blog

I just decided a few days ago that it would be cool to make a blog around one of my big passions which is Progressive Rock and Metal. I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but decided to get started when one of the regulars (Hi Neoshredder) at created a MySpace page and blog about neo-classical metal and some of the theory behind that kind of music. He also created a discussion forum where you can discuss all things related neo-classical metal. I'll publish the link for the the forum when I find/remember the address...

Neoshredder's Neo-classical forum

Friday, January 18, 2008

This song is sooooo long...

The above statement seems to be the main reason why many people do not get into progressive rock, metal and similar genres of music. Why is it that certain individuals prefer short songs and wish for longer ones to end? I cannot say. What I can say is my own opinion about the subject.

I look at it this way. If some music is good, great or even fantastic to the listener, why would he/she want it to end? I love the 20 – 30 minutes song, which some refer to as an epic. During those minutes I often find myself in a state similar to when I watch an exciting movie. The pictures are painted by the instruments and often tell a story full of passion and emotions. When its over it can leave you with a great feeling that mostly promts you to come back for more.

I guess I am just like the typical movie, game or sports addict except with music I find one major difference: Music doesn't "steal" you time as many other "addictions". Its much easier to do things simultaneously while listening. I just do my things...accompanied by the best soundtrack I can imagine.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Introduction to sliding boxes

click here to slide...


Sliding boxes are created using jQuery, popular JavaScript library.

It uses only 6 lines of code and resulting effect is powerful.

How to use it

Sliding boxes usage is simple.

Place inside paragraph ptitle class everything you want to be visible at start.

Place inside paragraph entirePost class everything you want to appear once user clicks within box boundaries.

You don't have to limit yourself to plain text, any html content is fine


Sliding boxes is first jQuery experiment created by webomatik
Many more to come in the future.

Contact via blog or e-mail gmbportal {at} gmail {dot} com

Thanks and have a nice day!