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Steven Wilson - Unreleased Electronic Music CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

3.42 | 61 ratings

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3 stars This album is an official Steven Wilson release of his experimental and electronic music recorded between 1990 ' 2003. What you get here is a collection of music that Wilson was messing around with for different purposes, none of it was originally supposed to be released to the public. Of course, since there is a demand for anything 'Steven Wilson' it has been collected for those of us who are curious about anything he does.

The music here is quite experimental and leans towards his musical explorations of the early days and his experimental project 'Bass Communion'. There is quite a variety of sounds and styles throughout this music, because the songs were never intended to be put together on any album originally. So, you can expect the unexpected here, but don't expect to hear anything that sounds like the mainstream progressive sounds of Wilson or any of his bands like 'Porcupine Tree', 'Blackfield', or 'No-man'. Just remember, you've been warned (Blue Oyster Cult reference not intended).

Most of these tracks don't have a lot of information attached, so it's hard to have explanations for many of the songs here, which most times helps to shed light on what the background is for each of these experimentations. I find it helps me to appreciate each track better when I have some background on it. But, I will provide whatever info I can find.

'King of the Delta Blues' (1998) starts off the album. This song was part of a collaborative project Wilson was undertaking with Chris Lewis of Crashing Time that never got finished. It starts with a subdued rhythm that gets interrupted by a short voice track and returns much louder. The sounds are quite industrial with heavy, dark electronics and a snippet from an occasional Robert Johnson blues song interrupts every so often.

'Observer Commercial' (1998) is the music Wilson wrote for a 60 second TV advertisement in his early musical days to help pay the bills. It is quite a catchy and jazzy trip-hop track that goes by quickly. It has a St. Louis sound with little blurps of brass among a slightly dissonant background.

'Dub Zero' (1993) follows next and clocks in at over 8 minutes. It is a remix of a Chris Wild track. This one starts with repeating echoing effects and quickly establishes a trance beat. The beat starts and stops and is surrounded by nice electronic flourishes. It later turns to a bass and drum beat. It's pretty much just an experiment into trance style music, there is no melody or solos here, just dance music.

'The Toboganist' (1997) is an electronic tune that was intended for another Wilson project that was going under the name The Toboganist. It has a cool, bouncing sound that increases in speed really fast and then slows a bit to establish the rhythm, then it takes off in a fast percussive drum and bass loop with blips and beeps, short drones, and other sounds. This one is also quite trance-like.

'Shortwave' (1996) is a Bass Communion like track which has an interesting percussion track and a slow moving, descending melody and other effects. Halfway through, you start hearing voices as if being transmitted across airwaves and these come and go with different effects. The vinyl version of this album follows this with a remix of this track, but I haven't heard it.

'Telegraph Commercial' (1996) is kind of a short cool track with different vocals and effects that start to spell out the alphabet, but it soon gets all mixed up. It has a sort of industrial Aphex Twin sound. The advertisement was for 'The Daily Telegraph' which is a UK newspaper, but it was never used.

'To Wear a Crown' (1998) is another industrial style track that was part of the project started with Chris Lewis with heavy percussion and metallic effects. There are squeaks and squeals, and some lower electronic sounds interspersed for a dark and heavy sound. The static crackles that are often used to sound like a scratched record are actually condensed here to produce the percussion to make a real cool effect.

The source material for 'Nuclear Head of an Angel' (2003) is apparently all taken from an acoustic guitar and processed to make a very nice and soft interlude which is placed in the tracklist as a break from the heavy and fast electronic beats. This one is extremely beautiful, especially those metallic sliding sounds which produce the melody in this track. The lack of any percussion is welcome now and those otherworldly scraping/sliding sounds from the guitar are just so awesome.

'Nailbomber' (1997) features a crazy saxophone from Theo Travis and some subdued percussion all buried under strange rumbling noises. The beat is quite rapid again, and is a strange contrast to the previous track. I'm not a big fan of this one.

'Slut 1.4' (1996) is an unsettling and dark soundscape, again very similar to Bass Communion. A mid tempo trip-hop beat gets established after a minute of electronic effects. Volume increases a bit and the effects get more intense as percussion shifts a bit. Higher pitched effects are introduced in the 2nd half and tend to get a little more chaotic as short low drones continue to ebb and flow. The repetitive percussion makes this one seem to go on forever, and probably would have been better without that trance-like beat.

'Apres-Mortes' (1990) is the 12 minute closer for the album. This one seems to be inspired by Tangerine Dream. An electronic arpeggio establishes the basis for the track and drives it forward while other chords and patterns are played around it. No melody is established as this one just shimmers away and with very minimal percussion, can still put you in that trance-like state.

This album will probably not appeal to the masses that do not like the experimental music of Wilson ala Bass Communion and I.E.M. There are some really great tracks here, but they are watered down by the long tracks that don't have enough change in them to keep them interesting. As a person that likes some of the experimental music of SW, I find about half of these tracks do not hold a lot of appeal to me over time. I believe it is because there is a more extensive use of repetitive drum loops here that I find distracts me from the other things that are going on. I would be happy with half of the tracks here combined with some of the earlier SW projects, the better ones at least. The album is not a total wash, so I can give it 3 stars for the stronger tracks and for the historical value of the album since I am just fascinated with everything Wilson does. Anyone interested in Trance music will enjoy this.

TCat | 3/5 |


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