For all the big talk by musical theoreticians about the alleged indulgences of '70s prog, the most egregious lie is that it was musician's-musician music made by eggheads with gigantic egos. The truth is that, for all its faults, prog as a genre is about the submission of the musician's ego to the supreme will of the music, as the personalities of those who create the sounds melt into the intricate tapestry like the fractal edge of a smoldering plume of dry ice.
If the best prog is always shrouded in mystery, then the two new full-lengths by Crippled Black Phoenix most definitely tip the prog-o-meter. Ostensibly centering on former Electric Wizard drummer Justin Greaves, Crippled Black Phoenix is a loose congregation of various musicians who can shade the often lengthy compositions with waltzy Tom Waitsy sea shanties one minute and delve into "One of These Days"-y Pink Floydian bass throb the next, with occasional treks into Alan Parsons-esque retro-synth fugues of inspired madness.
The nearly twenty-minute Night Raider opener, "Time of Ye Life/Born for Nothing," will weed out the weak of will and closed of mind, and so will the gauzy veil of The Resurrectionists' "Song for the Loved," but those open to exploring this cave of musky prog-rock tropes will be rewarded with one of the most accomplished song cycles to appear in many moons. (Invada Records)