King Crimson vocalist and guitarist Jakko Jakszyk shared his thoughts on the current state of prog music, saying the genre became much less unpredictable and much more “self-referential.”
The musician reached the whole topic while discussing the “stigma” given to prog rock after the explosion of punk music, telling UCR:
“I think the trouble with [prog back then] was it became a caricature of it, which was kind of unfair. It was based on aspects of one or two bands, then everybody got labeled with it.
“At the time, it wasn’t even called progressive, it was just underground or art rock. The progressive epithet came some years later, I think.
“I guess the bands that the punks kind of had anger with were the likes of Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, where it had appeared to have become incredibly overblown, playing stadiums, and they got this light show, pianos turning upside down.
“But the trouble with anything like that, you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And unlike any other categorization of music, you do know what you’re gonna get.
“There is a certain kind of harmonic progression, a certain kind of lyrical attitude, certain kind of phrases – you know what you’re getting.
“But in what is referred to as progressive rock, you could play tracks off half a dozen albums that certainly don’t sound like the same band or in the same genre, because you’re listening to Gentle Giant where the keyboard player studied Elizabethan music at the Royal Academy.
“But that doesn’t sound anything like the banshee howl of Peter Hammill [of Van der Graaf Generator], which doesn’t sound like… you know what I’m saying.”
Touching on modern prog, Jakko added:
“One of the things about the kind of modern prog, or neo-prog or whatever they call it, is that the music at the time was from people from incredibly diverse musical backgrounds, just messing with the form and trying to stretch it and see where it would go.
“Which is how you ended up with such disparity of styles and approaches, whereas the kind of neo-prog thing is kind of self-referential.”