Irving Babbitt and the Crisis of Nationalism, 1915 ~ The Imaginative Conservative

In the 1910s, one of America’s greatest humanists, Irving Babbitt (1865-1933), surprisingly decided to dive into the realm of political theory and, to a lesser degree, practical politics in his many writings. Up to this decade, Babbitt had written literary and cultural criticism, defenses of the liberal arts, and explorations of Chinese philosophy and religion, but little to no politics. This changed with the advent of World War I, and Babbitt decided to apply all that he had done prior to the decade to the political philosophies of Nietzsche, of internationalism, and, especially, of nationalism. In a series of articles in The Nation in 1915, Babbitt perceptively analyzed the world, its recent past, and its most likely future. Indeed, if anything, Babbitt’s words were deeply prophetic and should have been heeded by all.

All modern European history began, Babbitt declared, with the French Revolution. Though it had proclaimed a sort of radical internationalism, it had devolved very quickly into a brutal and violent nationalism, with “Viva la nation!” becoming its unholy war cry.

Infected by the ideologies and “isms” first propounded by the French, modern Europe had, too, devolved into particular chaoses of national units. “Europe is to-day less cosmopolitan in any genuine sense of the word than it was at almost any period in the Middle Ages. Moreover, the type of internationalism that has broken down so disastrously, as well as the type of nationalism that has overthrown it, are both of comparatively recent origin. ‘The sentiment of nationalities,’ says Renan, ‘is not a hundred years old.’ And, he adds that this sentiment was created in the world by the French Revolution,” Babbitt explained. The so-called brotherhood of the Jacobins, Babbitt reminded his readers, was not so much one of universal love, but rather an alliances of “Cains, men whose hands were stained with blood and who looked on one another with incurable distrust.” The French, Babbitt continued, moved from universalism to particularism to “bestiality.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/01/irving-babbitt-crisis-nationalism-1915-bradley-birzer.html

Echo and the Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant has a prog secret!

Echo and the Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant has released the first installment of his memoirs recalling his days leading up to the release of Echo and The Bunnymen’s first album. In this Reverb.com interview he shares some great nuggets, including his interest in some of the classic progressive rock of the early seventies.

The Flower Kings–A Million Stars

The Flower Kings launch new single “A Million Stars” from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’Photo: Lillian ForsbergProg icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for March 4th, 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the second single from the album “A Million Stars”.

Roine comments: “Never to shy away from simple melody, this is The Flower Kings at their more accessible end, but still with a trademark TFK sound and symphonic textures.”

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/k0RiSF1Lwac‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting
1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 
2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 
3.Blinded (7:45) 
4.A Million Stars (7:11) 
5.The Soldier (5:23) 
6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 
7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 
8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 
9.Revolution (5:59) 
10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 
11.Letter (2:25) 
12.Evolution (4:47) 
13.Silent Ways (5:01) 
14.Moth (4:31) 
15.The Big Funk (4:39) 
16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 
17.Shrine (1:08) 
18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 
 
‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak,
as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album.
 
You can pre-order the album now here:
https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecree

Listen to the album’s first single “The Great Pretender” here:
https://youtu.be/03NFABil4yoThe band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
 
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
 
Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
 
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA
11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada
12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada
14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway
4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK
 THE FLOWER KINGS online:
https://www.roinestolt.com/
http://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings
https://www.instagram.com/roinestolt8112/
https://www.facebook.com/pale.rider.127

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Toundra’s El Odio

TOUNDRA – release 3rd and last single “El Odio. Part III” of the “El Odio” trilogy

Premiere of “El Odio” short film on Jan 10th

 Photo by Sergio AlbertToundra are enchanted to be releasing “El Odio, Parte III”, the third and last part of their 22-minute-long piece “El Odio” off of their new album “HEX”. For the video of “El Odio. Parte III”, the band once more collaborated with Asturian director Jorge Carbajales again.

Watch the video here:
https://youtu.be/_knouen7nMQAnd the band is just as excited to be announcing the launch of the full short film “El Odio” on January 10th (1PM CET) via Youtube. Stay tuned for more info.
 
“HEX” is available as Ltd. Edition CD, 180g Gatefold LP (incl. the album on CD) and as Digital Album. Click here to pre-order the album now:
https://toundra.lnk.to/Hex
 
Toudra “HEX” (45:25):
1. El Odio. Parte I (8:07)
2. El Odio. Parte II (6:44)
3. El Odio. Parte III (6:53)
4. Ruinas (5:01)
5. La Larga Marcha (5:50)
6. Watt (7:50)
7. FIN (4:57)
 
“HEX” will be released on January 14th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic.TOUNDRA online:
http://toundra.es/
https://www.facebook.com/toundra
https://www.instagram.com/toundra/

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
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InsideOutMusic.Store
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Spirit of Cecilia Radio Progcast 1

This is the first of our Spirit of Cecilia Radio Progcasts, episode one–featuring music by Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, Galahad, IZZ, The Bardic Depths, Kevin McCormick, NAO, No-man, Wobbler, and The Tangent. All songs used by kind permission of the artists/labels.

And, with the fiery and enthusiastic commentary of Dave Bandana, Brad Birzer, and Tad Wert.

Among our topics: how much we miss David Longdon (RIP); if the Flower Kings are diverse in their musical offerings; if disco can be prog; just what the number 42 is about; if The Tangent simply rocks; what kinds of instruments Wobbler uses; how McCormick, NAO, and No-man owe something to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk; and just how much we love prog.

Enjoy!

The Best Albums of 2021

As much as I am happy to see 2021 fade away in my rear-view mirror, it was an exceptionally good year for music. Wait, let me qualify that – 2021 was an exceptionally good year for some genres of music. In broader cultural terms, music streaming services continued their ascendance as the preferred choice of consumers. Spotify, Apple, and Amazon are steadily erasing the idea of the “album” as a listening experience. People can now create their own playlists, mixing artists and genres to suit their personal preferences. In some ways, the compact disc was its own worst enemy. Instead of an album taking 35 to 45 minutes of a listener’s time, artists began adding more and more subpar songs to their releases so as to fill out the 75-minute capacity of the CD. While the extra available time is a perfect fit for progressive rock, classical music, and jazz, it definitely doesn’t work for pop music.

Speaking of which, pop music itself has degenerated into a homogeneous olio of auto-tuned, computer-composed dreck that is as lasting as cotton candy. There are no longer any artists that attract a broad audience that spans ages, cultures, and tastes. Taylor Swift might come close, but her sales (if that concept has any meaning these days) are a fraction of what a 1970s Fleetwood Mac or Elton John achieved. Radio is a spent force, and most teenaged music consumers get their tunes via TikTok and other social media. The days when one could turn on the radio and hear The Beatles, a Motown masterpiece, a Burt Bacharach ballad, some Lee Morgan hard bop, and The Who on the same station are long gone.

However, in 2021 progressive rock continued to champion the album as the preferred musical package. With that in mind, here are my favorite albums of last year. It was such a bountiful crop that I can’t limit myself to a Top Ten; it was hard for me to whittle the list down to fifteen!

15. Arc of Life

arc-of-life-album

This is a side project of Yes-men Billy Sherwood, Jon Davison, and Jay Schellen, who are joined by prog-genius Dave Kerzner and Jimi Haun. While Yes’s album, The Quest, got all the attention, I found myself enjoying this one more. It’s poppier and tighter, with terrific production. Also, the optimistic and uplifting lyrics lightened the dreary early months of 2021.

14.Gary Numan – Intruder

Numan Intruder

From the light of Arc of Life to the darkness of Gary Numan. His previous two albums, Splinter and Savage were tremendous efforts, and Intruder continues in their synth-heavy style. There’s not a lot of hope in Gary’s outlook on life, but you can’t deny his compositional gifts. Every song satisfies on a gut level.

13. Kevin Keller – Shimmer

Keller Shimmer

One of my favorite contemporary composers, Keller solicited suggestions from his fans and incorporated them into this collection of songs. At times minimalist, other times unabashedly romantic, Keller’s music in Shimmer is always a treat. This is one that will never grow stale.

12. Transatlantic – The Absolute Universe

transatlantic

An unprecedented release from this prog supergroup, and one of their best ever. It came in three versions: the single-CD Breath of Life, The two-CD Forevermore, and the Blu-Ray Ultimate Version. All three are different albums with unique character. If pressed, I prefer the Ultimate Version, but I have really enjoyed immersing myself in each one.

11. Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk – Eight Fragments of an Illusion

Schnauss Munk

I’m such a big fan of Schnauss (Tangerine Dream, Engineers) that I will buy anything he puts out. This is his third collaboration with guitarist Jonas Munk, and, and it is excellent instrumental electronica. Highly recommended for fans of Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, and American Dollar.

10. Evership – The Uncrowned King

Evership

Nashville proggers Evership continue to impress with their third effort. This is a concept album based on an allegory by Harold Bell Wright. This is great prog in the style of classic Kansas or Queen.

9. Leprous – Aphelion

leprous Aphelion

With a name like Leprous, you might think this is extremely dark, growly metal. However, vocalist Einar Solberg possesses some of the most impressive pipes in music. This is a set of songs that are uplifting and thrilling. Leprous is on the verge of breaking into a huge phenomenon.

8. Richard Barbieri – Under a Spell

Barbieri Spell

Barbieri’s previous album, Planets + Persona, was my favorite album of 2017. Under a Spell continues his unique musical creations – part jazz, part samples, part rock, all great. Spooky and comforting at the same time, if that makes sense.

7. NMB – Innocence and Danger

NMB Innocence

The Neal Morse Band is now a full-fledged collaborative group, and this 2-CD set is their best yet. No concept, just terrific songs. The 31+ minutes long Beyond the Years is one of their greatest epics. The only fly in the ointment is Bill Hubauer’s annoying nasal vocals, but they aren’t distracting enough to ruin the listening experience.

6. Big Big Train – Common Ground

welcome-to-planet

A wonderful collection of songs that cement BBT’s status as the most creative group making music today. The loss of David Longden was one of the most tragic events of 2021.

5. Glass Hammer – Into the Breach

Skallagrim

Glass Hammer reinvent themselves once again, this time as ferocious prog rockers. New lead vocalist Hannah Pryor is the perfect person to carry these powerful songs. Messrs. Schendel and Babb never cease to amaze with their endless musical ingenuity.

4. Styx – Crash of the Crown

Styx Crown

I never thought I would be raving about a new album from veteran rockers Styx, but this is the real deal. Tommy Shaw has never sounded better, and there isn’t a single piece of filler in this album. Fifteen songs clocking in at 43 minutes, this an impeccably crafted set that was the biggest surprise of 2021.

3. Downes Braide Association – Halcyon Hymns

DBA Hymns

The fourth album from DBA is their best yet. Chris Braide is a terrific singer, and this is a great set of melodic gems. Each song evokes a pastoral paradise, providing relief from an anxiety-laden 2021. For most of the year, when I couldn’t decide what to listen to, Halcyon Hymns was my go-to album that never failed to satisfy.

2. Lifesigns – Altitude

Lifesigns Altitude

What a tremendous album, full of gorgeous twists and turns. The title track and Last One Home are two of the finest songs of the year. I listened to this one more than any other, excepting….

1. Frost* – Day and Age

Album_Cover

The title track is my favorite song of the year, featuring a killer hook from Jem Godfrey and ferocious guitar and vocals by John Mitchell. A perfectly sequenced album, with musical themes resurfacing throughout, Day and Age is a towering achievement for Frost*. The production is unbelievably crisp and reveals new details with each listen. Hands down, the best album in a year of truly outstanding ones.

I hope my list piqued your interest in some artists you may not have heard before. Here is a Spotify playlist that samples some of the delights contained in these wonderful albums.