Do I have geographical preferences?


After writing the review of Moon Safari, and the (expected) mixed reactions to it, I wanted to see if the country of origin says, or maybe predicts, something about my appreciation for bands. That's mainly because I noticed that there isn't one Swedish (or Norwegian) band among my 50 favourite bands, while quite a lot of prog related bands come from there. The same goes for Italian bands, despite the fact that there are 2 of them among the fifty.

I first looked at my 50 favourite bands but soon discovered that this trend can also be seen in all the other bands that I like and of which I have albums at home. As explained in other columns, I am someone who buys easily but also sells very easily. I'm definitely not a collector with racks full of CDs that I don't play anymore and certainly after a number of moves I only have what I still like. This means that of the thousands of CDs I've bought in my life, I now only own about six hundred. But what a treasured possession! Not to mention LPs, I don't have them anymore, all of them given away. What a shame I hear you think. Perhaps, but a tidy house and tidy CD drawers at least create a tidy and free mind. Moreover, it is easier to move if you have less stuff. Decluttering is a popular activity in our home and my wife is also busy with this. Perhaps that has something to do with our age? Who doesn't know the disbelief when you discover how much stuff you actually have when you are going, or have, to move. (We moved three times in the last twelve years and always to a smaller house)

Back to music because that's what this site is for. Is there an explanation for the fact that I often like music from certain countries better than others or is that just a coincidence? And how do you research that? Are there any similarities between the music of bands from a certain country or is a larger country automatically a guarantee for more favourite bands? If the latter were true I should own a lot of music by American, Russian or even Chinese bands, but I don’t.

About 38% of all my albums on CD come from the United Kingdom and that is not surprising given the origins of "our" genre and you could therefore speak of a historical foundation of prog  (and pop) in general. As stated in other columns, my preference lies mainly towards neoprog and for me the founders of this are Marillion, Pallas, IQ and Pendragon, so British. Of course, this was only in the 80s.

The origins of prog rock, or symphonic rock, lies of course a lot earlier and without wanting to discuss what exactly falls under this genre, we can say that Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Camel, King Crimson and a number of other "greats" from that era are the founders. Despite the fact that these bands are quite different from each other, the fusion of these styles is the basis of prog. All British (!) but also in other countries the movement started to gain more followers.

Is it true that every country has its own cultural heritage and that bands from all over the world incorporated a mixture of prog and folk music into their music? As a Dutchman, I have always had the feeling that "our" prog was different from the British one. Bands like Finch or Focus had their own style that you can easily recognize. You do recognize a song from Kayak immediately, don't you? But is that really "Dutch" or is it an attempt to give your own twist to the music of the great examples, or is that actually the same thing? And does this also apply to other countries because a country like Italy really has a very lively prog scene with often music with a recognizable signature. (Rock Progressive Italiano) Germany had its krautrock and in the United States bands like Kansas and Styx came up with their own sound. Can you safely say that prog bands from the U.S.A. always produce that somewhat smoothed-out and sometimes over-produced sound because it fits in with the American character of the pursuit of perfection? Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely a fan of early Kansas but I've discovered that only 2% of my current collection originates from America. On the other hand, Canada is quite well represented and some of my absolute favourites come from this beautiful country. If you ask an American and a Canadian if they are alike, they will deny it with great certainty. A Belgian feels very different from a Dutchman and despite the fact that Scotland is still British, they will also indicate that they are different from the English.

I know that this will go against the beliefs of many who think that a united Europe will make us all feel and think the same. That is not the case, people do differ (sorry mister Hogarth) by where they are born and grow up and it is utopian to think that we will ever become one in our pursuit of happiness. And that does not have to be a bad thing, maybe even a good thing, because it gives us differences in all expressions of art and certainly also in music. This means that (almost) all of us are in the fortunate circumstance that we can choose for ourselves what music we like to make and appreciate.

All in all, I don't know the answer to many of the questions in this column and I would have to do much more and more thorough research to be able to give a well-founded opinion. Moreover, others have already tried this and the conclusions are quite divers.

One thing is for sure, my musical preferences are influenced, to a considerable extend, geographically and that's fine as long as I'm open enough to all the music that is released worldwide and listen to as many bands as possible and give them a fair chance. As much as I struggle with Spotify, it is useful for this. Sure, the quality is crap and the musicians are treated like shit but to judge whether an album, not single songs for me, is worth buying it suits. And everything I really like, I buy on cd anyway. (most bands just need this)

I am very grateful that apparently a number of people read my scribble and then come up with a number of suggestions that I should listen to. Thank you, always welcome. Of course there are bands I don't know, but I think I've heard the vast majority of what's on offer at least once. However, I may be too quick to dismiss music that doesn't immediately appeal to me. But yes, even though I might have more time than many others, there are only 24 hours in my day and luckily there are some people and things that also deserve my attention.

Well, come on Sweden, you win the Eurovision Song Contest so often, surprise me with an unparalleled album that earns my 12 points! So far Introitus and Opeth (in their more proggy period) have been closest for me.