Prog dip?

I recently read that a number of colleagues spoke about the lack of good and essential albums in our beloved genre, they even talked about a prog dip. Wow that's intense I thought and I immediately thought about my feelings about the 2023 releases so far. Strangely enough, I think it's a great year.

I myself keep a kind of list throughout the year and therefore it is very easy to produce an annual list at the end of the year. This is still a remnant of my time as an employee of IO-Pages because here we were always asked to submit a top ten. This was often around this time, so it often happened that some titles were missing that came out in November or December.

For several colleagues, this was always a hassle and a puzzle. Not for me and sometimes it was even difficult to name ten albums and I had to complete my list with albums that I thought were reasonable.

In my columns I have regularly explained how my system of valuation works, so here is a very short version. Albums that get a rating of 55 to 79 are good enough to buy but don't make it into my annual list. Only albums with a rating of 80 or higher appear in my annual list. Strange, I know but that’s me.

That means that sometimes I have a year list with eight albums, but it can also contain ten or twelve. So I don't necessarily keep a top ten. So a year with more than ten albums is already a good year for me.

At the moment I already have fourteen albums on my list of 2023 and that is quite  exceptional and I expect at least another one that will make the list. (hurry up Pallas) So already a great year for me and certainly not a prog dip.

Back to the question of why this is. I'll start with an old cliche but an undeniable truth. Tastes differ! For some this is not an argument and they think that a class album should be recognized as such by everyone. It doesn't work that way for me. Example; the last Porcupine Tree album Closure/Continuation is a top album for many and I saw it in almost all year lists at high positions. It doesn't do a thing to me and that's fine, right?

The other way around is of course also possible. Example; the album The Lightmaker by Nine Skies is really the surprise of the year for me and I can't imagine that there are prog lovers who don't like it. Still, there will be people who don't think it's special and that's fine too. It's a shame because this band deserves more attention. You see, I do it too.

I also think that people who talk about a prog dip often get stuck in the 70s or 80s. I read that from the lists of best albums ever because there are invariably the albums of Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd in the highest places. Of course I understand this, but so many good albums have been made since that would at least fit in perfectly. In my case, these albums don't even appear in the list because I think better ones were made since then. Even Mr. Waters agrees with me, he clearly thinks that Dark Side of the Moon could do with a makeover. In this case I don’t agree though.

I'll take it a step further. I dare to speak of a prog hype. There are so many more albums coming out today than in the so-called golden times and the offer is almost endless. Of course, not everything is equally good and the share of progmetal is disproportionately large, but there is still a lot to discover. New music from all corners of the world is just very accessible, partly due to all the new techniques and social media and fortunately there are a lot of beautiful releases buried in there just to be discovered.

Also, bands that have been in hibernation for years come back with new material after decades and that is sometimes of very high quality. Unitopia for instance.

As prog lovers, let's be happy that there is so much to choose from and if there is less for you, then something beautiful will come your way next year. If we open up to new music, we'll be fine.

Long live the proghype!