Quite an enjoyable reading this magazine is for those who feels passion to all things proggy. As it's the first time "Background" makes this site, there's a need to make some overall view on the issue.
The mag hails from the Netherlands, the only place in the world where progressive rock feels at home nowadays, so the editors and contributors know their business good and do their best to keep this music alive.
The first thing the reader hooks on is the features presentation. With all the standard "live reports - interviews - reviews" rubrication it's easy to navigate through the pages because not only the three aforementioned genres intersperse but also the massive reviews blocks bear the titles like "File Under Symfo", "Neoprog", "Krautrock" or "Big Names & Legends". The latter's the first and it's understood, isn't it? ATOMIC ROOSTER, YES and the like are classics many go for. Maybe, it somehow explains the "Retrospective" page dedicated in this issue to 1972, but how many prog listeners out there need to be reminded it was that year when "Thick As A Brick" and "Ziggy Stardust" were out - the facts distracting from really curious notes about ARP synthesizer's new models produced back then. OK, let it serve a guide for beginners in the field with the mag's staff being the experts to cast the "Jury's Verdict" on four albums each. The problem is the reviewers' names absent from the portraits. Well, the reader may take it as a challenge to guess who's who as the writing style of each guy differs extremely - some of them really catch the gist where others seem not to accept anything that's beyond progressive as they see it.
Reviews en masse are competent to do the trick and recommend (or not) what's essential - although it's quite strange to see there a collection of Tommy Bolin's working tapes. Sometines there's no rating as such - and if, in Bolin's case, the reason may be his place outside prog, YES' "House Of Blues" not rated seems strange. What's irritating it's almost every review tending to contain the name of every key player on a certain album, even when a band's rather unknown. It may compliment and encourage each of them while for readers the text becomes difficult to drag through.
Live reports are of brilliance, indeed - you might not follow CAMEL on their trip across Holland and at the same time imagine yourselves being there, as Maurice Dam analyses the band's live set and all the changes throughout the tour. Report on GENTLE GIANT's fans' gathering can prompt readers to dust off the band's albums for one more spin before joining the appreciators' ring. And while reviews on ARENA and SPOCK's BEARD concerts are in abundance elsewhere, don't miss the opportunity to read more in "Background" and find some fresh thoughts for you to share.
Interviews make a different story. ARENA piece augmenting by conversation with Clive Nolan is an interesting one. That's the main point for an interview - to be interesting no matter you're a fan or never heard about the interviewee. And from this point, talk to ACCOMPLICE proves just flat, while WHITE WILLOW's Jacob Holm-Lupo, in his turn, comes up with some strange terms and comparisons like "very heavy kind of 70's symphonic doom rock, like BLACK SABBATH meets RAINBOW" - it's about his side-project. What about "Heaven And Hell" then?
All this doesn't mar the good impression, but what does is layout odd in places, where you feel amused about what part of the text has to be read next. That's why the SOLARIS special, great as it is, loses something.
Yet who doesn't? The one doing nothing, never loses. So keep on losing and go forward - so prog will never be background music.