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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.90 | 16 ratings

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4 stars Adele Schmidt and Jose Zegarra Holder have released a 95 minutes documentary that features several prog rock bands and label/studio owners. This is not so much a story of current progressive rock, as it a small survey of several bands and the USA North East coast fests. The Film features these bands and musicians and their take on Prog Rock, how they deal with the struggle to create and release music and their attempts to reach the fans of the genre.

The bands/musicians featured are: Cabezas De Cera, Deluge Grander, Cheer Accident, La Maschera Di Cera, D.F.A, Karmakanic, Oblivion Sun, Qui, Gentle Giant, Rob Martino, Gary Green, Phideaux, Roine Stolt, Paul Sears.

It's great seeing the shows and performances by Deluge Grander, D.F.A., Cabezas De Cera and the rest of the bands; it makes you want to attend these shows and be part of the scene and experience the atmosphere and spirit of these events.

There are some very interesting insights from the musicians on their music, how they create it and on Prog Rock in general (Particularly, Rob Martino, Gary Green, Dan Britton, D.F.A, Cabezas De Cera, La Maschera Di Cera) and on the struggles of prog bands (Cheer Accident, Dan Britton, Paul Sears). They also talk about how the prog fests can be a huge boost to the career of these bands. Also, I liked the fact that not only bands are interviewed, but also Mike Potter owner of Orion Studios and Steve Feigenbaum owner of Cuneiform Records and Wayside Mailorder, which give their side of the business. It's fascinating listening to Mike Potter as he guides us through Orion Studios and showing the rehearsal places and the performing stage, while also sharing his view on the current prog scene and the prog fests and how his place offers an alternative to the bigger fests. There are also some Prog fans appearing in the film that give their take on the matters at hand. Cheer Accident gives a good distinction of one of the major clashes in current prog (the so called "Retro-prog" vs. "true" progressive rock), when they say that some bands try to sound as if it's 1975 and others try to genuinely do something progressive with their music.

There is a nice segment describing Prog Rock history, how it came about and developed up until our days (though people will surely debate how accurate and expansive it is).

I didn't sense any strict order to the film; while there were no sections that were devoted to a subject and the movie seems to flow from one band and fest to the other, there were topics that came up and were discussed by several bands/individuals. But there is no sense of a plot moving forwards towards a point. Because there is no real point, as the object of the movie, as I understand it, is to describe a current state of international diverse prog rock and USA North East prog fests; to give prog fans a glimpse into the current prog scene and some of the individuals involved in it. The film is a descriptive movie that strolls around between the people and bands interviewed. It seemed to flow freely between the bands, people and fests featured, alternating between each individual band story or comments. Cabezas De Cera features prominently in the movie, telling about their history and their shows in the USA in 2009 (and there's some footage of these as well), as well as talking about their music. The same goes for Dan Britton of Deluge Grander (and Birds & Buildings) as he describes his past briefly and one of his current bands, Deluge Grander and their albums and their Prog Day show in 2009 (there is footage of that as well as some of the story behind it). Mike Potter does a nice job of showcasing his Orion Studios and what happens there. Steve Feigenbaum shows a bit of his Cuneiform/Wayside operation, how he started in this business and describes a few of his label's releases.

Another issue I have with the film is that there are interesting subjects that come up throughout the movie but those aren't develop and are left as fast as they came up. For instance the question of why is there such an abundance of Prog Fests on the East Coast of the USA (not that the West Coast doesn't have any). There is also the subject of internet prog forums brought up by Paul Sears, and for some reason a huge logo of Progressive Ears appears on screen but no mention of this great website otherwise (nor of any of the other wonderful prog dedicated websites). However, it just ends there and nothing more comes from it. They also go very briefly into Internet illegal downloading, mentioned by Roine Stolt, but again this is immediately dropped (it is mentioned along with Steve Feigenbaum's talk about Cuneiform's low sales and the incessant reissues of old Prog "masters" mentioned by Dan Britton). Another interesting issue that wasn't developed enough was the prog rock radio shows, and two radio hosts were featured, but there was no going further into their story and view of the prog scene and how they act to promote the prog bands. And lastly, the issue of why there seem to be less women who are fans of prog rock. I realize there is a limit to what you can include in the movie, but then I would question why include this short comments to begin with, or why not cut other sections and expand on these. But then again, the film brings up these matters and though it doesn't deal with them (and doesn't intend to), it does plant the idea in the viewer and lets him think of it.

Who is this movie not for? The way I see it, not for people who have no idea about Progressive Rock. Perhaps for those who are interested in getting to know it more, but do have an idea of what it is already. Otherwise it can completely bore them or even discourage them, particularly when hearing DFA saying that you need 20 listens of their album to grasp it and in the meantime you don't listen to anything else.

Who is this movie for? I personally feel It's for people who are connected with the current scene (for instance internet prog forums members and fests partons), people who are fans of the bands appearing on the dvd, people who are interested in seeing and hearing more about progressive rock musicians and promoters and how they struggle to ge their music out there to people who would listen to it.

The bottom message I get here from the bands and musicians is that the music is out there for the potential listeners to look for, to explore and give a shot to the abundance of bands that release progressive music these days. These bands operate mostly underground, so to speak, unknown to the masses and most of them do the work of promoting their music themselves or through their independent labels.

I for one enjoyed the movie (as did my wife) despite its weaknesses and have watched it several times. I enjoyed hearing from the musicians about their music, their struggles, the way they compose, seeing them rehearse and perform. This movie may very well encourage people who are unfamiliar with bands features, to try them out. It may very well entice people to attend one or more of the prog fests in the north east of the USA.

avestin | 4/5 |


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