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Steven Wilson - Get All You Deserve CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.60 | 298 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 11.5/15P. Mr. Wilson's most organic solo outing. A real treat, but not without the stubborn and often overly academic riffs.

First of all - this BluRay/DVD/CD release is pretty up to date by the time I am writing this review. This results in the problematic situation that my review is of a more preliminary kind and possibly subject to some up- or downgrading in the near future.

Steven Wilson for sure is one of the most prolific musicians of the art rock realms in our times. Lots of compositions, quite some production and remixing work of progressive rock classics in the last few years, lots of different projects. And although some material is less captivating than other material he has not even one appalling album in his huge discography.

I do admit that I have some major problems with Steven Wilson's output. He is constantly authentic, but his music has a sense of apathy and darkness which is often hard to bear. Even his pop songs shine in levels of grey, as the Porcupine Tree records of the early 2000s prove.

This particular recording makes a slight but noticeable difference, most probably due to the presence of some excellent musicians who bring in their own personality and replace the frequent film soundtrack borrowings we know from Grace For Drowning with a tighter and more organic sound. The music definitely retains its icy and gloomy substance, but it becomes more immediate, be it the National Health-inspired Canterbury keyboard and flute soloing in the previously unreleased Luminol, the muscular bass riffing in No Twilight Within The Courts of Sun and Harmony Korine or the ambient woodwind-keyboard outro of Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye. This music is composed thoroughly, the material is performed in an immaculate way, and it even contains an emotional and personal component which most of the more mathematic composers often forget.

I'm not yet sure which other aspects I'd like to highlight, but the music feels incredibly right and promises to grow on me upon further listens.

Nonetheless there are certain things which bother me - aspects which aren't details of the specific compositions, but patterns in Wilson's whole discography, patterns which only become obvious when you compare this work with classic albums of the 1970s, for instance National Health's first albums. Firstly Steve Wilson often uses the predominant analogue keyboards and riff structures as effects. In nearly every piece there are the occasional Mellotron lines and the retro-sounding organ sounds playing a weirdly syncopated riff. I'm pretty sure that Wilson doesn't copy any existing riff of another band, but some of the parts simply don't feel absolutely essential to the respective piece.

Secondly the musicians tend to play too perfectly at certain places. I know that Wilson's compositions are technically demanding, resulting in the situation that only professionally trained musicians can be considered as suitable backing musicians, but guys like Dave Stewart and Phil Miller doubtlessly stood out as musicians with a distinct voicing. Maybe his band musicians have a unique style as well, a uniqueness I haven't yet perceived, but I believe that a collaboration of Wilson with different musicians on the same level would be a fruitful project.

Thirdly I miss the ferocity and spontaneity which many of the excellent progressive rock bands had. Wilson tries hard to get and revive the essence of King Crimson and ELP music, but the compositions frequently turn out too stiff and strict. There are heavy riffs and jazzy solos in almost every track, but still something doesn't feel completely right from time to time. All the while Wilson runs and looks around the stage on the DVD, taking control of everything he is possibly able to control. He is totally focussed on the music, but he rarely floats in the waves of sound his band creates.

Some might argue that these arguments of mine reveal a pessimist attitude towards modern music, an attitude which elevates 'old' progressive rock over recent progressive rock on principle. This, by the means of logic, would implicate that I couldn't find a modern album which succeeds in the things which albums such as this one do not achieve, and which albums like Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here in turn were perfectly capable of. And that's entirely wrong! I only need to mention Sigur Rós' work in the early 2000s, the contemporary indie/folk rock bands Junip and Fleet Foxes or the electronic output of my landsmen Fritz Kalkbrenner and Sascha Funke. All of them were able to record devoted albums with lots of different emotional layers. They might lack the entertaining complexity of Mr. Wilson, but when both aspects may be realized separately, why shouldn't someone combine them? Recording a masterpiece was as difficult in the 1970s as it is now. Steven Wilson has the knowledge and talent to produce such a masterpiece, but he still hasn't reached his big destination, and it seems that the harder he tries, working himself relentlessly to masses of projects, the less satisfied he is going to be.

There is a video of Mr. Arthur Brown leading the Hamburg Blues Band, a loose line-up of musicians (including Clem Clempson of Colosseum) who tour around Europe at the moment. In that video the band covers the pop classic Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, and as Clempson contributes a magnificently moody and sincere guitar solo Arthur Brown simply stands in front of Clempson and listens, ostensibly feeling the solo and moving along with it. I wish Mr. Wilson the calmness and empathy to do similarly, and meanwhile I try again and again to approach Wilson's vision more than I am able to do at the moment. This set, however, is highly recommendable and one of the stand-out releases of this year. An essential addition to the collection of anyone who wants to know what progressive rock means today!

Einsetumadur | 4/5 |


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