Don’t look now, but progressive rock is mounting a major comeback. Artists working in other styles have borrowed elements of its sound, imitated the structures of its most famous songs, and aspired to the daring of its most passionate practitioners. A network of believers has kept prog alive, staying true to its aesthetic while honoring its spirit of constant innovation. Hidden Beams is an act like that – one bravely carrying the flag for progressive rock into the 21st century. Principal songwriter Carlos Argon is a student of the classics, but, true to the demands of his chosen style, he’s an experimentalist, too. With Hidden Beams, he’s developed a mesmerizing sound – one that suggests innerspace explorations, journeys to new conceptual territories, deep and probing thought.
Consider “Animals,” his latest single. Echoes of the masters – early ’70s Genesis, Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Allan Holdsworth and UK, Bowie at his spaciest, and experimental composer Henry Threadgill – are all apparent in the track. But progressive rock demands that musicians working in this style take chances and develop their own singular voices, and Argon has been faithful to that mission. His distinctive melodic signature is unmistakable, as is his peculiar sense of rhythm and his knack for stacking chords in novel ways. Each Hidden Beams song is a journey, and this one is his most audacious departure from expectation yet.
“Animals” follows “Hidden,” a song that established Argon and Hidden Beams as the heir to the orchestral, ambitious pop-rock tradition. Like “Animals,” it managed to be winsome and searing simultaneously; it was a dimensional gateway of a song, a celebration of illusion and reality, and an invitation to slip into a parallel world. Argon matched “Hidden” with a clip that played like a fable: an animated adventure, an artful, moving love story, and a subtle message of resistance. Behind the visual is Yoshi Sodeoka, who has done videos and concert visuals for Tame Impala, Max Cooper, and many other notable artists. The hypnotic “Animals” clip takes us even further into the ether. The video presents Argon as a wizard, commanding a swirling field of color that shifts, pulses, and mutates as he sings. It’s a visual metaphor for his composition’s sorcerous quality and the very real altered states that it generates for listeners. Waves of energy explode from his fingertips, and simple movements of his limbs become incantations in action. It’s the work of a composer secure in his power – one capable of sending out reverberations radical enough for the whole world to feel.