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Steven Wilson - To The Bone CD (album) cover

TO THE BONE

Steven Wilson

 

Crossover Prog

3.59 | 407 ratings

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DominicS
4 stars I admit that when I first listened to some of the tracks from this album, I was sceptical due to how its more mainstream sound greatly contrasted with his two previous jazz influenced albums, 'Hand.Cannot.Erase' and 'The Raven That Refused to Sing'. However, I now come to regard this album highly in the Steven Wilson catalogue as it is a clear example of what prog rock is all about: developing or 'progressing' the sound of music. Like most of his albums, this one has its own new and unique sound which is exciting and makes a refreshing change from his previous albums ? he has progressed his own sound. Therefore, while the album may sound less progressive, the fact that Wilson has chosen to do something different makes this album stand out in the progressive world.

It is unfair to label this a pop album, like a few fans sometimes do, as that is an immature way of looking at it. The most obvious point to make is that the album features a nine-minute song called 'Detonation' ? not many pop albums include a song of such length. While this would probably please many prog fans, for me this is not the strongest song on the album. Many of the ideas in the song are repeated at different dynamics and textures which at times is highly effective and sounds awesome. However, this repetition is excessive for a nine-minute song and it would have been nice for one or two other sections to have been introduced to add a greater variety. There are definitely stronger songs on the album such as 'Song of I'. This again is not pop like at all, it is more prog due to its ambiguity and atypical three-part structure. The climax at 2:16 is a thing of sheer beauty, almost like an explosion of bottled-up emotion, featuring a beautiful string section that creates occasional dissonance against the other instruments. This then returns to how the song begun, texturally bare and full of tension ? such a fantastic contrast. Other songs from the album do a similar thing, such as 'Pariah' and 'Refuge' ? two of the strongest songs that build an atmosphere in slightly different ways. 'Pariah' follows the conventional verse-chorus structure that showcases Ninet Tayeb's angelic voice perfectly. What makes this song so impressive is the moment at 3:29 when the listener is suddenly hit by an unexpected but glorious wall of noise. It is so overwhelming, and I can't help but smile with joy when I hear it. 'Refuge' has a similar effect on me yet differs from 'Pariah' in the respect that we can hear it building to a climax throughout which succeeds in filling the listener with a strong sense of anticipation. My favourite bit of the song, however, comes at the end when all that can be heard after this immense guitar solo are these harmonically rich piano chords accompanying a harmonica and then Wilson's voice to end ? such a magical moment.

Wilson cleverly balances the album out with more upbeat and rockier songs in order to counteract the many songs on the album that are more mellow and atmospheric. 'People Who Eat Darkness' is very catchy and energetic, displaying the main overdriven guitar tone used on the album ? a superb tone that is an example of an overdrive that is clean and crisp if that makes sense. My favourite bit is the chordal transition from the verse into the pre-chorus as it is an unusual chord change that is unexpected and sounds very cool indeed. The other most obvious upbeat track on the album is 'Permanating' which seems to have divided Steven Wilson fans the most due to many believing it to be a cheesy pop song. This is an unfair judgement; yes, it is a pop song, but the chords used are not typical of many modern-day pop songs, especially the descending intro chords ? I find this interesting rather than problematic. I'm not ashamed to say that I like this song, I admire Wilson's bravery in including such a divisive song but after all he is doing what he wants to do and not allowing himself to be directed creatively by his audience's desires and tastes. I think this is fair to say about the album as a whole, he has gone in the direction he wanted to pursue despite what listeners might think. Although an album such as 'Hand.Cannot.Erase' is a masterpiece start to finish, if Wilson had created a copy of this album I personally wouldn't be as interested in listening to it because it wouldn't be anything new to listen to. Despite what people may think, 'To the Bone' is a new and exciting album with few flaws in it and much to analyse. It is a shining example of what prog is all about: developing and creating new sounds which Wilson has successfully done within his own body of work.

DominicS | 4/5 |

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