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Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.29 | 1928 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars There was once an album called The Incident, by a band called Porcupine Tree, a band above all others I regarded as being at the vanguard of the latest wave of quality progressive rock, taking the genre into the new millennium and beyond. It was an album that I loathed, and felt, well, pretty let down. It was derivative, and one long tangled mess, in my opinion. The love affair was at an end.

As it happened, this was the last PT album released. I purchased Wilson's Insurgentes, the debut solo release, and found it quite excellentat the time, although, tellingly, it has not been played for a long time. I did not bother with the follow up. The love affair was most certainly at an end.

However, when some pretty respected people on this site rated this as a masterpiece, with Tony R stating it was the best prog album of the past 40 years, and when more than a couple of friends whose opinions I rate highly, mailed me to insist that I got The Raven........simply because it was awesome, well I could not resist. This is the joy of this site, that sharing of opinion and influencing buying patterns.

I took my time. This album was released in 2013, and made several critic's album of that year. The accolades are well and truly deserved, and, in fact, the only confusion I have over reading the myriad reviews are those questioning Wilson's motivations in making this album. Aside from being sweet nothing to do with us mere hacks, I believe the answer is fairly straightforward. The motive was to make a fantastic album which not only sounded rich, took his band forward, but also took into consideration the number of influences garnered from being deeply involved in remastering classic prog albums, and blending them with the modern rock movement of which Wilson is such an important part of.

Opener Luminol is a track that has those influences right there in your face. It is so Crimson that it even utilises the Mark II Mellotron that belonged to Uncle Bob and cohorts. It is a track that features sumptuous use of said cranky old machine, and delicious flutes, sax, and clarinet from Theo Travis, who would surely have recognised the Fripp influence from his work with the great man. Also, a special mention here to the thumping bass par excellence by Nick Beggs, who excels throughout. Here, surely, is a man who, above all others, has well and truly escaped from his musical beginnings.

Luminol sets the scene for all else that follows. Not in the influences, per se, but in the sheer breathtaking excellence of a group of musicians who lovingly back their leader's vision of a collective of clever, intricate, and sumptuous musical pieces. Take the second track, Drive Home, staggeringly described as boring by another reviewer. Well, if a delicious ballad, featuring wicked guitar lines and sympathetic vocals delivering a song of redemption is boring, then give me boring any day. I regard it as being quite exceptional, a word, by the way, which amply describes the incredible guitar contribution of Guthrie Govan.

Those are the opening delights. I am not going to deconstruct each and every track, because to do so would, I feel, really take away the whole point of this album, a collection of interesting, really rather introspective, and, above all, intelligent songs that demand listening to as a whole, and burying yourself in the wonder of sounds that range from the symphonic, lush, early Crimson period, through to the jazzy, hard fusion of later Crimson, to some of the rather lush melodic PT sounds which drew me to that band in the first instance, and thence to very classy, and pounding, heavier passages. Most of all, though, this is the vision of a unique talent, one Steven Wilson. No two tracks sound alike. Contained within each track are passages which utilise the vision and myriad influences at play, and, it is fair to say, make this an album which demands careful listening, and repeated listening which brings its own reward. Naturally, of course, the production is top notch. Simply listening to the beautiful, Mellotron soaked, lush feel of the marvellous The Watchmaker's early instrumental passages on my brand new sound system, and every single note from every single instrument is so crystal clear.

This is an album which should be in the collection of every single reader of this review who considers him or her self to be a progressive rock fan, because this album, quite simply, is the epitome of how this genre should sound in the second decade of the 21st century. A fusion of the best of the old and new, but tellingly unique, and a collective of great individuals at the top of their game.

I love it. A masterpiece, fully deserving the full five star review. The love affair is back on, with a vengeance.

Now, then. What was the name of that bloody album I really did not like too much.......?

lazland | 5/5 |


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