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Steven Wilson - Insurgentes CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

3.82 | 974 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars Insurgentes is fueled by an intense and dark internal fire. It has a life of its own. A strongly atmospheric and rather personal exposť, it comes across as vivid and naked in its urgent, intense delivery and truly stands out in comparison to what I've previously heard from the man.

Skillfully combining various atmospheric and texture-heavy types of music like ambient, shoegaze, post-rock, noise rock and industrial with progressive and alternative rock is what we're dealing with here. And a fair bit of experimental aptitude in putting all these disparate influences together and making it all feel cohesive and valid. I find it appealingly hard to generalize and summarize. It's a fractured, eventful experience, but connected by broad brush-strokes of shared moods and instrumentation.

Waves of soaring melancholy and gritty frustration collide with a strangely melliflous and appealing sense of sorrow on Insurgentes. It comfortably juggles bleak introspection, intimacy and isolation with more direct and expressive outbursts, but always remains firmly rooted in the darker, more conflicted part of the emotional spectrum. You won't find a lot of happiness here. Instead the warped, near-dystopian urban alienation and isolation would find a perfect physical companion in a cold drizzle over your smoggy, disintegrating industrial wasteland of choice. Gloomy. But never dehumanized. There's immense passion (and longing!) that lie just beneath the surface, ready to come to the surface when given an opening. The stark contrast just makes it all the more heart-wrenching and cleansing when it shines through.

Luscious, bitter-sweet delicacies from a distantly ringing, picked guitar and a fragile piano, musical box, glockenspiel or other contraption generate soundscapes of childlike innocence and nostalgia. Atmospheric synthesizers mystify and set the scene. Suddenly everything erupts in lashes of triumphant guitar glory. A shimmering, vibrating wall of sound, striving for the light. Primal, screechy mess meets tender melodiousness. A wash of processed noise over a trip-hop rhythm segues into a more ambient and melodic electronic voyage. Snarly, repetitive bass riffs and dexterous, fluid and fiery guitar soloing and some disciplined, angular guitar riffs. Strings! All of a sudden there are lush and beautiful strings! An indistinct fusion of soaring guitar and electronics next to abrasive, industrial noise that grows into vortexes of insanity. Back to a mellow and melancholic ballad, with a gifted mix of pop hooks and atmosphere. Some scathing, heavy guitar passages that recall King Crimson, complete with nervous and slightly ominous keys as contrast. Dreary and oppressive background noise buzzes and hisses under a plaintive, minimalistic piano and some vague, fractured and screechy guitar. Thundering, lingering chords hang doom-like over anxious, ever more invasive floods of jarring electronic drones.

A potent, but possibly toxic brew.

Additionally, I adore how structures fall apart, dissolve and expand into texture and ambient brilliance rather than conform to Wilson's characteristic stop/start, mellow/heavy, dark/light, spacey/riffy dualisms. They're still there, but borders are blurred and composition freer, choosing to expand and bring forward more tangential sounds and colours that otherwise would have been confined to a background role. It's a freer, more organically evolving group of compositions. The attention to detail is stunning and everything feels like it's in its right place, but it never comes across as planned, calculated or expected. And that goes for the moods and emotions on the albums as well. They come together in nuanced, complex and often contradictory ways that perhaps more than anything add to the sprawl and emotional impact of Insurgentes.

5 stars. Some serious stuff.


LinusW | 5/5 |


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