Welcome to the fourth installment of The Elite Extremophile’s Top Prog Releases of 2022. We’re starting off with the Top Prog EPs of 2022. The two-part Top 50 Albums list will be posted in the coming days.
I’ve never settled on a firm number for this list, but the last three years have all been Top Fives. This year, though, I listened to many more short releases than usual, and there are nine in particular that I want to highlight.
The difference between an EP and a short LP can often be murky. A number of these releases could have feasibly been included in the Top Albums list (and at least two initially were). However, upon thinking it through, I’m comfortable with this list. Aside from being fairly short, I don’t have firm criteria for differentiating LPs and EPs. It’s very much an “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it” situation.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into the list!
#9: Creek – Bluestone | Progressive rock, Jam band | Bandcamp
This Australian quartet does a great job writing focused songs with complex, layered composition. Flavors of post-rock and Southern rock are evident in the guitar lines, but these songs avoid those genres’ tendencies to sprawl and meander. Overall, this six-song EP is a great little dose of sunny, smart, fun prog that I’m sure leaves plenty of room for expansion in a live setting.
#8: Lesoir – Babel | Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This 20-minute standalone track has a slow, dreamy opening, but the mood shifts as the song progresses. There are moments of jittery jazz and bombastic cinematic music, and the whole piece is quite lush. Parts remind me of ‘90s Pink Floyd, and others draw heavily from post-rock. When blended together, all these influences converge to make a unique song.
#7: Jambinai – Apparition | Post-rock, Korean folk | Bandcamp
The four songs on this EP are slow-building and emotive. The Korean instruments pair beautifully with Western rock instrumentation to create distinctive and striking soundscapes. The weighty guitars and drums are impactful, while the folk instruments most often lend a more delicate touch.
#6: Uiv – Frigus | Black metal, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
Frigus is a five-song collection of icy, scourging black metal that is full of odd chords, unorthodox riffs, and surprising structures. Brass is deployed on a few occasions for an arresting effect that adds to the gravity of the music. Uiv’s Icelandic-style black metal also weaves in impressionistic post-metal influences, which make for lovely contrasts with the more chaotic sections.
#5: That Which Sleeps – That Which Sleeps | Math rock, Progressive rock | Bandcamp
The debut EP from this Virginian trio is jam-packed with oddball, angular, and disorienting riffs. Metrical and melodic changes come at the listener thick and fast, and fans of King Crimson’s later output in particular will probably like this release, as the band is clearly indebted to Robert Fripp. The three songs here, though, have a unique character to them. The twisting, barbed riffs fly by at a quick pace, making this release quite digestible.
#4: Gob Ribbons – Imparted II: The Delian Driver | Progressive rock, Space rock | Bandcamp
Imparted II is the second half of Gob Ribbons’ previous release this year, Imparted I. Part two is the stronger half, but it expands on thematic and sonic themes from the first half, which makes the two halves fit together very well. This release has ample jazzy keyboard lines and spaced-out passages, and the band reminds me of Riverside during their heavier moments. The drama and tension here build smoothly, and it’s all resolved in a fittingly powerful climax.
#3: Gospel – MVDM | Progressive rock | Bandcamp
This one massive track from Gospel was their second release in 2022, following a 17-year period of quiet from the band. Much like their full-length release from this year, The Loser, MVDM blends the energy and aggression of post-hardcore with the structural complexities and sound palette of classic prog. This cut is enthralling and exciting, and it helps scratch that itch that The Mars Volta couldn’t satisfy with their more recent output.
#2: Bekor Qilish – Throes of Death from the Dreamed Nihilism | Progressive black metal | Bandcamp
Bekor Qilish is a one-man avant-garde black metal project from Italy, and their debut release is a striking, powerful collection of six songs. The riffs are exciting and unpredictable, and the drumming is propulsive. Lush synth pads do a wonderful job of fleshing-out the sound and allowing for quick, seamless shifts in tone.
#1: Cró! – Buah! | Progressive rock | Bandcamp
The music on Buah! has a fun, loose feel to it, but the music is meticulously crafted. Each cut on this album feels unique, but these six songs somehow manage to cohere as a whole. Dashes of electronica, post-punk, Spanish music, and more have all melded with progressive rock to form an incredibly unique release.