Some said it couldn’t be done, but, finally, it has. Wire and The Stranglers both had a good stab at it in the late 70s. But, we are now seeing what happens when you cross-breed two seemingly incompatible musical genres.
It started in 2021 with Black Country, New Road‘s debut album For the First Time. It was a Post-Punk album with clever arrangements and striking contrasts. It was closely followed by Squid‘s debut album Bright Green Field. This was arguably more Post-Punk than Prog, but the extended instrumental sections begged to differ.
Black Midi, who had been getting a name for their blazing rapid-fire controlled explosive music and Mercury Prize nomination, finally harnessed their full potential, and dropped Hellfire! on an unsuspecting public.
Their third album is a dizzying whirlwind of genre-hopping, face-slapping, sprinting thrash-laden, crooning horror. It’s an eloquent, masterful album, with equal measures of raw power, Dadaist technical brilliance and Zappa-esque humour. The first time I played the album, I couldn’t listen to anything else for at least an hour, my senses had been so assaulted.
Struggling to follow this up in 2023, I eventually stumbled upon the Motorbike EP from 2022, by another young band called Blue Bendy. A bit less Post-Punk and a bit more Progressive, their music is bristling with ideas, condensing a huge array of sounds, rhythms and emotions into their songs.
Blue Bendy’s music is so dense, it might be a difficult listen for some people. But it is saved by their sweet and delicious sounds, which reward the listener with new layers with every play. I have played this at least once almost every day this year, making it a clear winner of my ‘album’ of the year, without either being an album, nor released this year.