prog-gnosis: cellos!

Steve over at Hot Rox Avec Lying Sweet Talk the other day mentioned something about a “2fs side-by-side comparison.” I wasn’t particularly aware that I often did that – but looking back, I can see that, yeah, I kinda do.

Anyway, here’s another one. Our first track is from Cream. Despite their reputation as a blues-based rock band, on their studio albums, they often explored a proto-prog sort of sound with folk overtones, particularly when Jack Bruce took up the writing reins. Here’s an example, the oddly elliptical “As You Said.” Long-time readers know that I loves me some cello, and Bruce whips out the bow to play some cello in counterpoint to his occasionally Leslie’d vocal line. The song is characterized by odd chords formed by diverging chromatic lines, basically – I think the 12-string guitar is tuned to an open D or something, so basically we have a drone with odd harmonies developing organically from the melodic lines rather than chord progressions as such.

The second track – Bruford’s “Gothic 17” – kind of reminds me of this first one, primarily in its cello-driven melody line that wanders into strange harmonic territories, even though we don’t have the drone to steady things. However, we do go back to an insistent, blatting synth discord cluster (the bit that opens the track), which cements the track and prevents it from floating utterly away into the ether. That same hammering chord provides a basis for Jeff Berlin’s farty bass soloing on the fade-out. Bruford (the band) is an odd little side note to prog, in that it began as essentially UK Mark II (with Bill Bruford and Allan Holdsworth splitting off from that band) and then quickly evolved into a more pop band with Berlin adding vocals to most tracks (as opposed to the primarily instrumental makeup of the first couple Bruford albums). Bruford then went on to the far more jazz-influenced Earthworks.

Cream “As You Said” (Wheels of Fire 1968)
Bruford “Gothic 17” (Gradually Going Tornado 1980)

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1 Comment

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One response to “prog-gnosis: cellos!

  1. yellojkt

    That is progophonic. I tried the whole Yes/ELP genere and it didn’t take. The only stringed instrument a rock band needs is a guitar.

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