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Steven Wilson - Grace for Drowning CD (album) cover

GRACE FOR DROWNING

Steven Wilson

 

Crossover Prog

4.20 | 1150 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

RedNightmareKing
5 stars When I first encountered Steven Wilson, I was starting to delve into 70's symphonic progressive rock. I was constantly listening to Yes and ELP. I also started to get deeper into Pink Floyd's catalogue (ie Atom Heart Mother, More, Piper), and made my first visit to the Court of the Crimson King. A friend of mine in NJ sent me this album about two months after it was released, and just kept raving about it. I had heard of Porcupine Tree once back in 2007 when I was skimming a Modern Drummer magazine that had an article about Gavin Harrison's work on Fear of a Blank Planet. I really disregarded it. Boy, do I regret that. I popped in the album, and took off onto one hell of a journey. The titular track is such a great way to start off this masterpiece. Steven's soothing vocals and Jordan's relaxed piano really set the tone. Mournful, atmospheric, and moody. Great stuff. This explodes into the second track, entitled Sectarian. This track was the first song I sampled off of the album via YouTube before I received the album, and I was blown away. Consider this the second overture, with the first track being the soft overture and this being the louder, more aggressive overture. A nasty saxophone solo really accents this song, and adds so much Crimsonian character. The last part mellows out quite a bit, and ends the piece on a high note. Very cool. Deform to Form A Star is one of my favorite Jordan Rudess works. Quiet piano starts this beautiful ballad off. Steven's lyrics are very strong here, but he seems to love to rhyme the word "coil" a lot. Doesn't detract, just kind of noticing. Anyways, there are always some buildups in the chorus with some very nice mellotron and flute sounds. Almost the polar opposite of the preceding track. Second best song on the album in my opinion. No Part of Me has always kind of stuck out like a sore thumb for me. It's very light in the beginning, and the keys bring out this kind of uptight melody, but it's enjoyable anyways. Near the end of the song, things start to get a little heavy. This isn't a normal song, we can all tell. But my god, if you want Steven Wilson's style brought out in one song, this little nugget is the one for you. Postcard is Coldplay-gone-prog, but it's really a great pop tune. Kind of a reprieve from the uniqueness of the rest of the album. One may consider this filler, but I think it's a very valid track. Beautiful, and sad-ish lyrics about a breakup (which are a little different. Get off the kitchen floor?) accent the piano, guitar, and mellotron choirs. Raider Prelude shuts off the light Postcard turned on and shone on everyone. The dark and ambient atmosphere runs awry here, and those now-famous piano chords scuttle over the brooding landscape. We all know something huge is going to come from this. Remainder the Black Dog is wonderful. The piano is so ominous at the beginning, signaling a brief journey through the twisted minds of Stevens Wilson and Hackett. The processed vocals are sometimes indecipherable. The Raider theme is brought into play here a little bit, and some nasty sounding guitar comes from the Genesis master. Some electric piano kind of adds in the atmosphere, and the closing fadeout leaves the listener shuddering a little bit. Very, very awesome. Belle de Jour is masterful. You can truly see Steven's influences from movie soundtracks here. I always picture a man walking through the rain away from his problems and pains with this playing in the background. This song is like being picked up by the Ferryman on the River Styx, and the rest of the second CD is the fabled river of death. Just waiting desolately, knowing your incoming fate. Index starts out with a pretty cool drum pattern. Steven's vocals are very creepy, and go practically exactly with the ominous lyrics about a person cataloguing, preserving, and amassing. Really unsettling, but pretty awesome as well. Track One. I first thought this would be a ballad, with beautiful guitars and Steven's angelic vocals bringing up the first half. But the second half, turns very dissonant. The LSO brings in the wall of sound technique perfected by the almighty experimental group Swans, and creates a terrifying atmosphere that would be touched on a lot more on Storm Corrosion's debut. After the orchestra is done, the real fun begins. Admit it. You saw the fabled 23-minute length. It's the magic number. I mean, look at Lizard, Supper's Ready, Echoes, and Octavarium. Every proghead loves the number 23. Raider II is now among the ranks of the Almighty 23-Minute Epic Club. It starts out with those ominous piano notes that we encountered in Raider Prelude and Remainder the Black Dog. Steven's muted vocals come in, and set the scene. Recurring themes fly everywhere in this song. Sectarian's themes and structures come back into play, and a wonderful flute solo flies into the mix. Mel Collins would be proud. The quieter sections put the listener on edge. Try listening to this in a darkened room with big headphones. It'll blow your mind. Steven's closing vocals bring out the true intentions: robbery. Only the great Mr. Wilson could create a 23-minute song about a home burglary, and create such a terrifyingly beautiful atmosphere. Easily one of my favorite progressive rock songs of all time. Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye is semi-predictable. Many PT albums had a quiet closer. In Absentia had Collapse the Light Into Earth, Insurgentes had the title track, and The Incident had I Drive the Hearse. Steven's ambient influences from his project Bass Communion come into play, closing the last 4 minutes of the album with Aphex Twin's SAW2-like ambiance. A good closer to an amazing album. 5 stars can barely do this justice. A true sign that prog isn't dead, but is really evolving into a modern art form.
RedNightmareKing | 5/5 |

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