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Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.21 | 1653 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Steven Wilson is without a doubt a genius. He is the leader of respected bands as No-Man, Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, Bass Communion, recently Storm Corrosion... He worked with artists like Opeth, Robert Fripp, Anathema, Marillion, Fish, OSI... His talent is recognised by many people (at least, in prog world) and an album as "Fear Of A Blank Planet", for example, (by Porcupine Tree realesed in 2007 for those who didn't know...) shows all his capacities as a musician, a songwriter and a vocalist.

Aftter remastering King Crimson classics from 1969, it's undeniable that Fripp's work had an influence on "Grace for Drowning". I think it's not an accident if Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin and Trey Gunn all appear on this album.

The musicianship is very impressive: in addition to the artists quoted, Theo Travis (fron The Tangent, Gong and Robert Fripp) on wind instruments, impressive, reminding the great David Jackson, Mel Collins and Didier Malherbe; Nick Beggs (from Steve Hackett, Iona, Troy Donockley...) on bass and stick, inventive as never; Jordon Rudess ( from Dixie Dreggs, Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment) on piano, very delicate, not trying to show his virtuosity (don't take it as an insult DT's fans!); Nic France (from David Gilmour) on drums, very precise; Steve Hackett himself (from Genesis) on some guitars; and Dave Stewart (from Khan, Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health and Bruford) on conduction and arrangements of strings parts, bringing a new dimension to the music. Steven Wilson focused a lot on the keyboards, piano, bass and vocals work, letting less space to his electric guitar playing. But in fact, it is no so shocking, because the music is not so "guitar based".

There is something which influenced the music too. It is wrote on the sleeve: "Dedicated to my father Michael George Wilson (1938-2011) without whom..." I think this means everything: Steven Wilson was more than saddened by the loss of his father who made him discover music. That's why the atmospheres are dark...

As we start the first CD, the opening title track illustrates this perfectly. The subtile piano by Rudess and the wordless 40 tracks vocals (!) provided by Wilson, create a gloomy and mysterious environment. And this is beutifully done.

"Sectarian" is an instrumental track and could have been written during the "Lark's Tongues in Aspic"-"Red" King Crimson. In fact, the differences of musical landscapes, the angry guitar riffs, the almost free sax solo by Travis and the ending electric piano part are very "crimsonic". But there is somethng modern in this song...

"Form To Deform a Star" is a very beautiful melancholic song. It sounds more accoustic and could remind a little "I Talk To The Wind" by KC. But Steven Wilson's voice is far different from Lake's one, trying to express his sadness. There are two poignant guitar solos in this song.

"No Part Of Me" is a more experimental song. Yet it stays a very melodic tunes, far from disharmony. It features a good electric percussion work by Mastelotto, which brings a kind spatial feeling. SW's vocals sound very "atmospheric" totally in the mood of the song. The vocals part ends with a bass solo by Nick Beggs, before Travis goes with his incredible sax play with an overdrive guitar background in the spirit of VDGG.

"Postcard" is another beautiful song which was edited in single. It is once again beautifully sung by SW The Strings by London Session Orchestra and the Choir brings a romantic feeling to the song.

"Raider Prelude" is a somewhat frighting song even it's very short. The choir and the organ brings a very dark sound landscape which annonces "Raider II".

"Remainder The Black Dog" is an impressive epic track. It opens with dark piano melodies and anxious SW's whispers. Then, it is only instrumental. The very sustained guitar played by mister Steve Hackett brings a special climate. The sax and clarinet provided by Travis is totally free and adds a disturbing feel mixed with the killer rythm section Beggs- France. Some parts become violent and sond experimental. The track ends with Hackett guitar melodies, more quietly. Great song (in my opinion)!

The second CD starts with "Belle de Jour" a nice instrumental tune. The accoustic guitar work is very melodic and the autoharp is very well played adding a classical feel to the whole song.

"Index" is a song influenced by SW's work on electronic music. But, don't be scared: once again it is more than listenable, even the similar work on "Sleep Together" ("Fear Of A Blank Planet"...) seems extreme (so don't worry). And once again, Mastelotto provides some electric drums. Steven Wilson's vocals express a lot of sadness and the Orchestra brings a melancholic side to the song. This is a really unusual song, as in fact all the songs from "Grace For Drowning".

"Track One" begins with beautiful vocals harmonies, guitar melodies and nice percussion, remainig something from The Beatles or Syd Barrett. Suddently, a violent organ sound breks the song and brings the listener in a darker landscape, supported by heavy drums. As it becomes quieter, Steven Wison ends the song with his electric guitar harmony.

Then comes the nerve of the whole album. "Raider II" is just a gorgeous track. This begins with few piano notes, then joined by SW singing and flute harmony. Suddently, a powerful riff take us from this atmospheric climate supported by the strong musicianship of the album. The lyrics are very rare in this epic but it brings something very enthusiastic to the whole which couldn't have succeded without. As it becomes quiet, we can hear a nice accoustic break between Travis and Rudess on piano. In fact, the whole song is based on that kind of contrast, between crazy sections and more appeased ones. I can understand someone who don't like this song because it is too varied. But, in my opinion it is a strength because it synthesizes all the influences of the album: psychelism, folk, jazz, space, electronic... And this is really well done. Travis deserves once again a special mention for his work on flute, sax (whixh sometimes as a guitar!) and clarinet. Steven Wilson shows at three or four times his guitar soloing creativity and creates lush atmospheres with keyboards.

"Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye" is another beautiful song which ends the album into a serene spirit. SW's voice is as always excellent in this folky landscape. The song fades into organ harmonies for one or two minutes.

Steven Wilson delivers a very creative strength and the excellent which is "Grace for Drowning". It could be seen as a come back to more "traditionnal" prog music and an abandonment of hard prog (which was in fact not so heavy compared to other bands).

But if you think Steven Wilson try to sound like bands as King Crimson, VDGG, Pink Floyd, Genesis or Soft Machine which are his influences, you're totally wrong. SW owns his strong personality and it can be clearly heard.

I hope he would continue to produce great albums like "Grace for Drowning"!

Usandthem | 5/5 |


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