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Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.21 | 1653 ratings

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3 stars Steven Wilson is the undisputed leader of the modern Art Rock scene in UK and one of the most recognizable rock figures worldwide.From his teenagers years with the Neo Prog band Karma and the Electronic outfit Altamont to his more recent activities as the leader of Porcupine Tree, No-Man and Bass Communion, he developed his musical skills as an instrumentalist and composer, scanning various different styles and sources of inspiration.In 2001 he started a collaboration with Aviv Geffen in the Blackfield project, while he even developed his knowledge as a producer and collaborated with an endless list of artists and bands, including Fish, Opeth and Paatos.But he also found time to release his debut album ''Insurgentes'' in 2008 in a kind of Ambient/Art Rock mood, followed by another effort in 2011, the ''Grace for drowning'' release on the Porcupine Tree-related KScope Records.

The original output consists of 2 CD's of about 40-minutes of length each and is of course driven by Wilson's impressive multi-instrumental offerings, but also includes a nice list of guest musicians: Jordan Rudess on piano,Theo Travis on sax, clarinet and flute, Ben Castle on clarinet, Nick Beggs on bass and Chapman stick, Nic France on drums and Tony Levin on bass.Musically I bet that ''Grace for drowning'' would be the best soundtrack of a future Steven Wilson autobiographical movie, delivering most of his career sights and sounds in 80 minutes of well-crafted music.The first part of the first CD clearly shows Wilson's Retro Prog inspirations with GENESIS, KING CRIMSON and even some light Canterbury vibes around, very dominant use of Mellotron, sweet and romantic vocals ala CRESSIDA and BRACLAY JAMES HARVEST and emphatic guitar textures in a ROBERT FRIPP way, creating grandiose, atmospheric and solid musicianship all the way with jazzy, psychedelic and Classical flourishes.As it progresses the CD becomes more and more flexible with modern-sounding orchestrations pompous symphonic soundscapes combine with jazzy interludes, led by electric piano, clavinet and sax.The music is very dramatic and often bombastic, although some ambiental breaks are often present to calm thigs down.

The second CD is a bit more one-dimensional and definitely as contemporary as it gets, at least in the first three tracks, which come as a mix of laid-back Symphonic/Art Rock and Ambient music.Mellotron strings shine through these pieces, offering a haunting mood during the orchestral lines.PINK FLOYD were among Wilson's cetain influences, but become more apparent at this point.It's exactly the same point where the English mastermind chooses to place the 23-min. grand epic ''Raider II'', propably the purest amalgam of his career as an artist.Combining the stylings of both PORCUPINE TREE's and NO-MAN's efforts, it explores a progressive sound akin to KING CRIMSON, colored by extended jazzy moments with sax, clarinet and flute in evidence, powered by breaks between slow motion soundscapes and fast/furious rhythmic deliveries and adding a loose feeling through its jazzy nature.Guitar work is simply outstanding, especially when accompanied by the powerful, orchestral keyboards, the lower point being the very mellow Ambient-like passages, definitely I can see them being added as balance factor during the process, but wasn't really fond of them.Anyway, this is overall a very strong piece of Prog music.The closing FLOYD-ian ''Like dust I have cleared from my eye'' is a decent, slightly psychedelic farewell with nostalgic keyboards and very GLIMOUR-like electric solos, quite attractive even if the last 3-4 minutes are pure Ambient explorations.

''Grace for drowning'' belongs among Steven Wilson's discography highlights.Diverse Progressive Rock with 70's and modern inspirations, offering some monumental themes among the generally well-crafted music.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

apps79 | 3/5 |


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