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Steven Wilson - Grace for Drowning CD (album) cover

GRACE FOR DROWNING

Steven Wilson

 

Crossover Prog

4.20 | 1156 ratings

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Any Colour You Like
Prog Reviewer
5 stars This year has been a haven for Steven Wilson followers. The man is quite simply a machine when it comes to writing, producing and performing music. Before we even consider his latest mammoth solo release, Grace for Drowning, you have to remember that he's also released a Blackfield album this year; mixed the latest Opeth album, protected earth form the demons of the underworld, rescued cats from trees and attempted to solve the riddle of world peace. There's no stopping the man. Unfortunately, this kind of over saturation, has in the past clouded my perception of his new music, some of which was beginning to sound dangerously too much like a stylised version of himself.

So what does Steven Wilson do? He reinvents himself by creating a double-album, that takes all the influences and styles developed in his past, and fuses them with newer and exciting edges. The first thing that strikes you about Grace For Drowning is the scope. It's essentially two albums in one, including the 22-minute behemoth, curiously named Raider II. There's much more of a jazz influence in this release, this is especially noticeable throughout the extended (and sometimes eerie) ambient movements. Like the latest Opeth release, there's a tangible King Crimson vibe to a lot of these sections. Extended mellow refrains feed off the more chaotic and chromatic up-tempo sections, blurring the line between structure and discordance. There's everything from delicate piano runs, to noise influenced electronics, complete with delicious time signature changes. Indeed, it's been a long time since any of Steven Wilson's compositions have seemed so organic and powerful.

Grace For Drowning doesn't feel as forced or clinical as perhaps Porcupine Tree's 2009 album, The Incident was, or even Wilson's d├ębut Insurgentes. However, while the album is altogether more experimental than anything Wilson's done in the previous ten years, there's still enough structured song writing that will not completely eschew the listener. Indeed, there's such a masterful balance in this album, that one often forgets that's all this music was created by the same man, on the same album. Lyrically, Grace For Drowning hits most of the right buttons. It's still fairly dark, but it's a little more ambiguous and challenging than I remember Wilson being. I applaud that. However, I firmly believe that the brilliance of this album lies in the fact that it isn't afraid to be a little dark, a little subversive and ambitious. One listen of 'Remainder The Black Dog' should be proof enough that Wilson's put his heart and soul into the album. Combining his vision with the talents of guest musicians like Steve Hackett, Theo Travis, Tony Levin, Jordan Rudess and Nic France; it's no wonder that the album remains as eclectic as the final product proves (of course there were others I haven't mentioned here as well - the guest list is rather extensive).

Grace For Drowning is exactly what Wilson's discography needed. It's a grand statement of intent, that immediately indicates aspects of his future musical direction, whilst acknowledging his past, and the past of the music that inspired him. There's literally so much to absorb with this release, that multiple listens are mandatory. While it doesn't completely deconstruct the rule-book, it definitely gives it a playful twist. I'm still somewhat taken aback by this release. Sure, it's possibly a bit long and requires some patience. But it's far more rewarding than one may initially expect. Bravo.

Any Colour You Like | 5/5 |

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