Is post progressive a new way to reinvent avant-garde and kitsch? MoonJune Records’ mission on #neuguitars #blog
In his book “In The Flow” the German philosopher Boris Groys talks about Clement Greenberg’s essay entitled “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” where the author argues that the European avant-garde is a specific way of continuing the great European artistic tradition, praising it to be a form of continuation. For Greensberg, unlike many of his contemporaries, avant-garde does not represent an attempt to create a new society and a new human race, but rather an “imitation of imitation” of the great European art. According to Greensberg, the good avant-garde tried to reveal those techniques that the masters of the past used to produce their works. In this sense the avant-garde artist was a very prepared artist, not so much interested in the subject of a single work, but in the artistic technical means used. The avant-garde does not take into consideration the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. I have often wondered if these ideas that Greenberg had matured about the relationship between avant-garde and popular art, then developing them in kitsch, could work as a different interpretation of progressive, or better of post progressive music, so effectively proposed by the independent label MoonJune Records.
For years, MoonJune seems to have been engaged in a courageous mission: to recover the progressive rock champions from the most authentically instrumental matrix and carry on their music, developed around the 80s, making it known to new generations of musicians. His seems to be a full-blown artistic program. A real mission. In recent years I have often thought of progressive as a form of kitsch, as an excessively self-compliant musical form often devoid of content, but the music that MoonJune Records offers has both content and form. Not only. MoonJune Records also takes care of looking for other musicians in the world, with the same technical and artistic characteristics.
Post progressive seems to have become a niche for true enthusiasts, where the common traits are found in an extraordinary technical ability and musical virtuosity. From this point of view they are very close to the ideas of Clement Greenberg. They are artists who continue a path that has already begun and traced. Let’s take for example two recent records: “Naurora” by Dewa Budjana and “In the electric universe” by Mohogany Frog. They are albums full of musical virtuosity, characterized by excellent compositions, all of instrumental music only.
Mohogany Frog is a Canadian band that epically blends splinters of improvisation, psychedelia and high-strength experimental music, and they are no rookies, this is their seventh studio album. They have experience and you can feel it: the arrangements of the music are well done and well organized, they know how to stop when needed and are neither pompous nor repetitive.
I Dewa Gede Budjana is an Indonesian guitarist, songwriter and composer. Struck by the styles of John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, John Abercrombie, Chick Corea and Weather Report he collaborated, as well as with Indonesian musicians, with international musicians such as Vinnie Colaiuta, John Frusciante, Peter Erskine, Jimmy Johnson, Antonio Sanchez, Joe Locke, Gary Husband, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Levin, Jordan Rudess, Bob Mintzer and Guthrie Govan. We find several of them in this recent “Naurora”, the last records of his large discography, which demonstrates his ability to combine not only jazz and rock, but also the traditional Balinese style.
Both albums show a cosmopolitan vision, full of references, quotes, but at the same time a reworking of themes extended to a broader vision of music and recent technologies, and progressive loves to abuse technologies. There are no revolutions, but a slow, stubborn work of improvement, of grafting new ideas, of reinterpreting the past. An almost circular movement. Certainly a lot of good music.