TF Archives

'Progressive Obsessive: Defining Progressive…Obsessively Pt.2' by Dean Millson

Author: Dean Millson
Sunday, August 20, 2006
From a production point of view, one artist that is a great example of this progression is certainly Minilogue. Their classic track In A Deeper Motion (released on Baroque around 2000) is an excellent example of the sound that was deemed progressive at the time. It's a beautifully dark and extremely chugging piece, drawing on some of the more atmospheric elements of music that preceded it. Yet it contained a relentless tribal element which was definitely a reflection of the times. Come 2006, Minilogue are still producing classic music for their 'genre', but these days it's intricate and melodic, with obvious minimal techno influences.

Another, more obvious, example is of course James Holden. In fact, in my opinion, his 'Balance 005' CD compilation from a number of years ago is as much a seminal moment in the history of progressive dance music as each of the 'Northern Exposure' CD's or John Digweed's 'GU:19 Los Angeles'.

While Digweed's LA mix heralded the beginning of the darker, drugged-out sounds that were to flood the boxes of the majority of the progressive DJ's around the globe, it was Holden's mix that was the catalyst for much of the techno influence that can be heard in the record boxes (well maybe CD Wallets) of many of those same progressive DJ's today.

So we're definitely at an interesting juncture as we head past the half waypoint of 2006. Currently I am finding more interesting music now than ever before. However, I get the feeling (mainly from participating in some of those forum communities mentioned in Part 1) that there are also those who are more disillusioned than ever. Having only really had an interest in progressive dance music since around the turn of the century, this is indeed the first time I've noticed such a polarization of opinions on the matter. But I'd be almost as sure that a similar situation will (and has) come around every five or so years as new DJ's & producers experiment with and introduce new sounds and ideas to push things forward.

Those of you with an affinity to a particular 'sound' will ultimately be disappointed, however others will find it as exciting as I do.

I must say that a few years ago I was beginning to get a little disillusioned myself (not that I was going to admit it to anyone at the time). Sander Kleinenberg, one of the first DJ's that I was introduced to, had just released his first 'Everybody' compilation and I was very disappointed with it. I felt that the sound he was starting to push was venturing too far into what I would deem to be straight-up 'house' or 'electro'. Most of the records being produced around this time were starting to feel a little 'neither here-nor-there' for me. With the exception of 'progressive breaks' at the time, which was experiencing a renaissance, it started to seem to me that people were running out of ideas.

As progressive dance music started to sound more generic, and more commercial (which is always a sign that people are running out of ideas), an interesting shift began to occur. New sounds and ideas began to cross-pollinate from other genres as the truly progressive DJ's and producers began digging deeper into their crates (and their heads) for some originality. While others continued to attempt to cash in on the new commercial aspect of the sound, the underground kicked in (I wish there was a better term but there isn't) and over the last few years, in my opinion, new producers & sounds have emerged to breath life back into 'progressive' once again.

So I guess the point of me sharing these observations of mine is to urge the punters out there (and DJ's and producers for that matter) to have an open mind. Don't worry, it took me a while also, but it's only been over the last twelve months that I've truly understood what progressive really means, and it's made the journey all the more fulfilling. If I had a dollar for every time I've read somewhere<