Friday 5 February 2010

Neo, retro, who gives a shit-o?

Lots of nice reviews about the album have appeared, which is very pleasing. However, I confess to being a little irritated by the common shorthand descriptives of 'neo-prog' and 'retro-prog' that have appeared in some of the reviews.

I do hate both of those terms. 'Neo' is normally used in a 'look-down-the-nose' kind of way. 'Retro' is less damning, but suggests that there is no sense that a band is trying to do anything original at all. And is it possible to be both 'neo' and 'retro' at the same time? Maybe it's the start of a new sub-genre: 'retro-neo'?

People do, of course, need to get an idea of what a band sounds like from album reviews, and I have to say I much prefer the direct comparisons to other bands. If someone says we sound a bit like Genesis if they'd returned to their 'progressive' roots in the 1980's, as Slartibartfast does in his Progarchives review, then I'm both pleased and flattered.


dsw said...

I've read conflicting theories as to whether neo-prog originated with the Genesis quartet or trio. Whatever the case, this term has become far too loose (and yes, pejorative) to be helpful.

Happily, I don't believe the album has been in any way condemned by the convenience of categories. It continues to edge The Whirlwind in the ProgArchives' Top 2009 Albums, despite being listed in the ultimate WTF category, "Crossover Prog."

Unknown said...

I think the use of "neo" and "retro" show a lack of imagination and writing ability on the part of the reviewer...

TUY is new(not neo), and awesome.

Anonymous said...

categories - who needs em? reviewers probably.
This album will move you firmly into the "prog" big time and hopefully a wider audience. (Victorian brickwork should be compulsory listening for all). I am the original Genesis fan, even shortened my honeymoon to see six of the best. It is human nature to compare with the best from the past, and man does this compare with the best. take the good comments and please give us more. Any chance of seeing anything live?

Unknown said...

While both these terms (neo/retro)may have negative pigeon-holing connotations for some, for other music fans they may simply be shorthand descriptors that instantly evoke the desired association. To say that a band sounds like 'Genesis circa 1975', while somewhat more precise, is not necessarily any more helpful than the suggestion that some of their sound harks back to the past, as is implied by the adjective 'retro'. In both cases a certain familiarity with the musical references is assumed.

MatD said...

Hi Greg,

I use to say to my friends that The Underfall Yard sounds like Genesis would today, if Gabriel and Hackett would never have left. Hope this is okay to you? :)

If one still insists in a category, I'd say "Classic Prog in a modern dress".

I still hope to see you live sometime. Preferably in West Germany. ;)

Sers, MatD

Leo said...

I am of the opinion that BBT create their own sound. The term retro does not do them justice and the term neo is just insulting imho.


Steve said...

Gereg - your post sums it all up! Does it move you? Does it make you want to buy more of the band? Does it inspire you, or make you want to cheer/cry/shout? I personally don't give a crap if it's neo/retro/prog-metal/space-prog or whatever ridiculous terms are being used. I play in a band (Also Eden) and we've been described as "neo"-prog. I actually find it a little flattering.

So what's BBT? Well - simply beautiful, skillful, crafted music.