Edward Macan's "Rocking the Classics"
(short summary by Mark Fonda)

Classic Prog (70's)
The music is characterized as an attempt to combine classical music's sense of space and monumental scope with rock's raw power and energy. It combined the musical genres of classical, rock, R&B, jazz and folk. Subject matter for the albums was drawn from science fiction, mythology and fantasy literature. The music itself is described as complex, dynamic and multi-dimensional. Musical virtuosity and self expression were revered. The music and lyrics had a dichotomy spawned by the hippie counterculture which was trying to reconcile the conflicts with the Vietnam war, the Establishment, the sexual revolution and personal enlightenment. Hence the constant shifting in the music between acoustic/electric, vocal/instrumental and climax/reprise... but always "progressing" in complexity and theme development. It creates a sense of unpredictability, tension and non-conformity. Classical music's multi-movement suites and symphonic poems of the 19th century composers were the basis for the complex sound structures. Album covers were an essential part of setting the tone and backdrop for the music. The bands all put out their definitive or best recordings between 1971 an 1975 which included King Crimson, ELP, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull as well as Van Der Graaf Generator, Renaissance, Gentle Giant and Curved Air.

Neo-Prog (80's and 90's)
Although classic prog-rock had been overshadowed by Punk and New Wave in the late 70's, a new movement began in the early 80's, spurred by a sense of nostalgia and the desire to recreate or prolong the cultural attitudes of the early 70's. This began in several small clubs in Southeast England with bands such as Marillion, Pendragon, IQ, Pallas, Twelfth Night, Ark and Haze. The music had a more sensible approach which appealed to a broader audience, not just the middle class. This "neo-progressive" rock contained analog and acoustic instruments, surrealistic and occasionally psychedelic visuals and vocals, and ambitious thematic conceptions. In the late 80's this style moved out to a more international presence with bands from Italy, Japan, USA and South America which is where most of the activity lies today. This neo-prog music rivaled the classic prog music of the 70's... yet it was much simpler in composition with shorter blocks and less shifting of meter. The multi-movement suite was abandoned, rather they would weave together several unrelated musical ideas, which would then be subject to fairly literal repetition. The prerequisite "tension" in the music was created by balancing unpredictable phrase structures and harmonic progressions with repetition of key melodic and rhythmic ideas from section to section. However the musical breadth and expansiveness of the music is largely lacking compared to the classics of Yes, ELP, Genesis, etc.

Post-Prog (90's and beyond)
While some of the more inventive neo-progressive bands of the 80's managed to get surprising mileage out of the classic 70's style, one cannot see this situation continuing indefinitely. On the other hand, rock has proven to be an extremely elastic music, and several new bands have managed to create new directions by merging the resources of world music, minimalism and electronic experimentation into a new "post-progressive" style in the 90's which has enriched and expanded the legacy of traditional English Progressive Rock. These bands are also almost entirely instrumental, which avoids the lyrical associations with both the outdated 70's subject matter and the more contemporary mindset which risks sounding commercialized. Not only do these bands bring a modern sensibility to the classic 70's idiom, they introduce a number of entirely new elements such as minimalism, electronic experimentation and various ethnic styles. In this sense, all of these bands carry on in one way or another the post-progressive rock revolution initiated by King Crimson with their 'Discipline' LP. Examples of this sub-genre are Djam Karet, Edhels and Ozric Tentacles.