At the beginning of Timeshift, which looks back at the golden age of British prog rock, narrator Tommy Vance declares, “Progressive rock is the music that time forgot.” The film does a good job of explaining why. Featuring bands like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, the documentary explains the genre’s emergence as a perfect storm. Styles and influences coalesced to reject “simple” pop music in favor of unbounded virtuosity, often girded by a bucolic folk foundation.
Several key musicians make appearances. So do John Peel, Bob Harris, and Charles Shaar Murray. Timeshift: Prog Rock also juxtaposes the genre with its supposed nemesis (punk), showcasing harsh critics denouncing prog’s pomposity and pretentiousness. In fact, it would be precisely this inaccessibility, both in technical and practical terms, that eventually dictated its downfall. “Prog musicians,” Tommy Vance concludes, “went from musical royalty to dinosaurs overnight.”