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Steven Wilson

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Steven Wilson Grace for Drowning album cover
4.21 | 1939 ratings | 74 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Deform to Form a Star (39:41)
1. Grace for Drowning (2:06)
2. Sectarian (7:41)
3. Deform to Form a Star (7:51)
4. No Part of Me (5:44)
5. Postcard (4:29)
6. Raider Prelude (2:23)
7. Remainder the Black Dog (9:27)

CD 2 - Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye (43:26)
8. Belle de Jour (2:59)
9. Index (4:49)
10. Track One (4:16)
11. Raider II (23:21)
12. Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye (8:01)

Total Time 83:07

Bonus track on 2012 Kscope Japanese edition:
13. Fluid Tap (5:46)

Bonus CD from 2011 KScope Boxset:
- The Map (demos + out-takes):
1. Home in Negative (3:00)
2. Fluid Tap (5:45)
3. The Map (3:30)
4. Raider Acceleration (6:15)
5. Black Dog Throwbacks (2:30)
6. Raider II (demo version) (21:15)

Total Time 42:15

Blu-Ray disc from 2011 KScope edition / bundled in Boxset *:
1-12. Full album in HiRes both in Stereo & 5.1 Surround mixes
- Stereo bonus tracks:
13. Home in Negative (3:00)
14. Fluid Tap (5:45)

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven Wilson / vocals, keyboards, guitars, autoharp (8,10,12), bass (2,5,8,11), piano (5-7,11,12), gong (6), glockenspiel (7), programming (10), harmonium (11,12), percussion (11), producing & mixing

- Markus Reuter / U8 touch guitar (4)
- Trey Gunn / Warr guitar & bass (4)
- Steve Hackett / guitars (7)
- Mike Outram / guitar (11,3.4)
- Sand Snowman / acoustic guitar (11)
- Jordan Rudess / piano (1,3,11)
- Theo Travis / soprano saxophone (2,4,7,11,3.4), clarinets (3,7,11), flute (7,11)
- Ben Castle / clarinet (2)
- Nick Beggs / Chapman Stick (2,7,11), bass (7,11), bass solo (4)
- Tony Levin / bass (3,12,3.2)
- Nic France / drums
- Pat Mastelotto / acoustic & electronic drums (4,10,3.2), additional production (4)
- London Session Orchestra / strings (4,5,8,10)
- Dave Stewart / choir (5,6,11) & strings (4,5,8,10) arranger & conductor
- Synergy Vocals / chorus (5,6,11)
- Dave Kerzner / sound design -coda (11)

Additional credits:
- Andy Leff / Acme Music
- Alex Leeks / assistant
- Mat Collis / engineering
- Paschal Byrne / mastering
- Lasse Hoile / photography, film director
- Bettina Ejlersen / photography assistant
- Ray Shulman / Blu-Ray authoring

Releases information

Artwork: Carl Glover

2LP Kscope - KSCOPE818 (2011, Europe)

2CD Kscope - KSCOPE176 (2011, UK)
2CD Kscope - KSCOPE 177 (2011, Europe)
3CD+BD Kscope - KSCOPE510 (2011, UK) Boxset w/ 2 bonus discs: CD w/ demos & out-takes; BD w/ HiRes 96k/24-bit Audio,both in Stereo & 5.1 Surround mixes of entire album + 2 extra tracks *
2CD Kscope - IECP-10246 (2012, Japan) With 1 bonus track

BD Kscope - KSCOPE511 (2011, UK) HiRes 96k/24-bit Audio,both in Stereo & 5.1 Surround mixes *

* Blu-Ray also contains videos for tracks 7,8-10 & 12, and demo audio mixes for tracks 2-4,7,11 & 12

Thanks to Lerxst88 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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STEVEN WILSON Grace for Drowning ratings distribution

(1939 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(45%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

STEVEN WILSON Grace for Drowning reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Grace For Drowning' - Steven Wilson (10/10)

Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson has been one of the most celebrated figures in progressive rock of the past ten or twenty years. With his flagship band, his influence and impact goes without saying, but he has also made out with a number of side-projects and bands, largely in order for the man to explore different parts of his musical vision. Expanding his creativity onto a full- fledged solo career in 2008 with the 'debut' effort 'Insurgentes', Wilson met some fairly mixed criticism for this new work, with many stating their confusion for the challenging directions he was taking his music in. 'Grace For Drowning' is now the second full length album that Wilson has written, and it upholds this legacy of relative weirdness instituted by the first. Although fans of Porcupine Tree may have their doubts before listening, I have now digested the new album to the point where I can safely say that this is the greatest thing that Steven Wilson has ever done.

Much of the reason I think many didn't warm up to 'Insurgentes' was the fact that it was very un- Porcupine Tree-like; there were a handful of songs meant to lure the Porcupine fans in, but the album was meant to be a cross-section of everything Wilson was interested in expressing. That included noise music, drone, minimalism, improvisations, and virtually everything else the man has dabbled in lately. 'Grace For Drowning' continues this trend of multi-faceted music making, but it is much less a sequel than a reinvention of what he is trying to do with his solo music. This is a double album, with each 'half' comprised of forty minutes of music, and has enough guest musicians on it to man a military regiment. Wilson himself has even stated that this is the 'most important' thing he has ever done before. Like many likely did and even still do, I had the feeling that this hype generating was over little more than the fact that Mr. Wilson was releasing an album, and had little to do with the quality of the music itself. This man has never failed to impress me before though, and even after a single listen, I was pretty sure that this was the greatest Wilson record ever made; a bold statement coming from someone who considers Porcupine Tree to be one of his favourite bands. To explain this point, I will attempt to describe the music itself.

As I could have predicted for this project, here is a wide variety of different sounds at work here, but the ingenious thing here is how wonderfully that the elements have all been combined in order to create something coherent. The two halves of this double album contrast each other, but feel like different sides of the same coin. The second disc 'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye' is a darker, more experimental evil twin of the first; 'Deform To Form A Star'. Both of these companion pieces open with an atmospheric instrumental introduction. The title track 'Grace For Drowning' opens the first disc, with Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess soulfully playing the piano while Wilson overdubs himself with harmonized vocalizations. By 'Sectarian', it is clear that this is not Porcupine Tree music; there are jazzy saxophone solos, King Crimson-esque dissonance, and eerie choir-like synths to create this truly progressive sound for fusion.

The first disc then focuses on some more conventional tracks, being the sort of sounds that Porcupine Tree fans are likely more used to hearing Wilson make. 'No Part Of Me' and 'Postcard' are both beautiful melody-oriented tracks, with the latter being arguably the greatest 'pop' song he has ever done; an acoustic number wrapped in melancholy, heartache, and all of the things you would think Wilson had abandoned completely only a few tracks earlier. Then, to close out the first part of this project, 'Remainder The Black Dog' transports the listener back to the weird instrumental anxiety that we first heard on 'Sectarian'. Of special note is that classic Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett plays acoustic guitar here, although his appearance here is sadly too small to be worth much more than a name-drop.

As I have said before, the second disc here is a little darker, taking us deeper into the rabbit hole and deeper into Wilson's mind. 'Belle De Jour' is a simple and eerie intro; a fitting overture for the disturbing material to come. It is a short piece of music that could do well to score a scene in a film, but it is quickly dwarfed by the nightmare that comes. 'Index' is one of my favourite tracks from this album, as well as undoubtedly the darkest thing this man has ever done. Putting his love and mastery of the studio to good work; he samples electronics and creates this very dark trip-hop soundscape , with a string section and disturbing lyrics to match. Think 'My Ashes' from Porcupine Tree's 'Fear Of A Blank Planet', if that song suffered from PTSD and could not afford trauma therapy. By this point in the second disc, the second half of Wilson's opus has proven itself to go places that the first was a little too timid for.

'Track One' is a track that- along with 'Remainder The Black Dog'- was chosen as a 'single' to support the album. While I would have imagined that 'Postcard' would have been the best way to once again lure unsuspecting listeners in, 'Track One' does do a good job of showing how the variety of styles on 'Grace For Drowning' contrast each other. The first moments of this song develop as a pretty straightforward, if not quirky acoustic song, much in the vein of some latter-era Beatles tunes. Without too much morning then, all sense breaks down and the listener is left with this looming mass of what I might describe as being symphonic noise; a sound as dirty and chaotic as any, yet meticulously orchestrated, and even musical.

After that relatively short piece comes what may be the most anticipated moment on the entire record. The 'long' song, the 'epic', the 'fusion freakout'; whatever you want to call it, 'Raider II' has been peaking listeners' interest even long before the album was even released. For what I was predicting would be the total antithesis of Porcupine Tree, I was not surprised that this is by far, the most challenging thing on the record. It begins with minimalism at heart; a very dark soundscape where the eerie atmosphere is created by the lack of sound, the silence in between the long, gloomy notes. 'Raider II' builds into something quite looming, and it seems that this is where Wilson found it most suitable to throw all of his ideas into one pot. Here, we have a flute solo a la Jethro Tull, and even a short-lived segment where it sounds like Wilson has either conjured Satan into his studio session, or is using... death growls? Admittedly, not all of these ideas are as brilliant as Wilson likely imagined them to be, but it's easy to overlook that when it's realized how risky Wilson is being by throwing out all of these ideas into his music. As was promised by press releases, 'Raider II' ultimately breaks into this frantic jazz fusion longform, where I am hearing a cross between the latest King Crimson project, The Mars Volta, and even Van Der Graaf Generator. Here, we are treated to some wonderful saxophone solo work, courtesy of Theo Travis. This is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious things Wilson has ever done, although I hate to say that for me, this is the lowest point of the album. That is not to say that 'Raider II' is not brilliant- because it is- but it does feel that some of the twenty-three minutes here could have been shortened and cut out, whereas I consider the rest of the album largely to be about as close to perfection as its going to get.

After such an exciting and intense journey with 'Raider II', we come to the end of our journey on 'Grace For Drowning' with 'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye', yet another contrast that shows the album fade out with another song that could have closed any Porcupine Tree album beautifully since 'Signify'. It reminds me quite a bit of 'Glass Arm Shattering' from Porcupine's 'Deadwing' record in the way it is slow, brooding, full of feeling and hypnotic in the way it leads the listener out of the dream and back into reality. Of particular note here are Wilson's vocals, particularly when the harmonizes with himself to create this overdubbed choral effect. As the album's first run through ended for me, I sat motionless in utter admiration for a few minutes before I put it on again; even though there are quite a few songs here that are instantly enjoyable and accessible, 'Grace For Drowning' is one of the most challenging and deep records Steven Wilson has ever taken part in. As for which of these discs is better, it's really hard to decide. I could certainly say that 'Sectarian', 'Index', parts of 'Remainder The Black Dog', and parts of 'Raider II' would make up my most loved material on this album, but as a whole, it leaves an absolutely beautiful feeling in me. The first disc is certainly a little more immediate, and maybe sent a few more chills down my spine, but I cannot underrate the second volume of this work either. Although there has been some incredible music coming out lately, an album has not come out since 2009 that pulled me in and never let go. Although many albums that we consider 'classics' are now decades old, Wilson's 'Grace For Drowning' is one record that I am almost certain will be looked back at as one of the crowning prog rock albums of this decade.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars It almost seems silly calling this Steven Wilson's second solo album when he has solo projects like BASS COMMUNION and I.E.M.. Of course each project is different from the other, including this one under his own name. Steven has been quoted as saying that when he made "Insurgents" he was listening to a lot of 80's music such as JOY DIVISION and THE CURE and he felt that that style came out on the finished product. On "Grace For Drowning" Steven has been no doubt influenced by his re-mixing of such KING CRIMSON classics such as "Lizard" and "Islands" and that Jazzy flavour has come through here. In fact when he tours his band will feature a lot of Jazz musicians. I have my ticket for the Toronto show tucked away. I read an interview with Steven where he said he's kind of bored with making heavier music through guitars.There's very little of that on here, instead he gets that heavy flavour through horns, woodwinds, orchestration, keys etc. He talked about how ART ZOYD, UNIVERS ZERO and early KING CRIMSON achieved heaviness in this manner as well. This is a dark album, and it is a Rock album, but it's played for the most part by Jazz musicians.

"Grace For Drowning" is mellow with sparse piano and vocal melodies. A short intro track. "Sectarian" features strummed guitar which gives way to drums and electric guitar. It kicks in rather heavily after a minute.The heaviness is incredible a minute later as mellotron comes and goes.The mellotron certainly gives this tune and others a seventies vibe. A calm after 3 minutes then the keyboards echo as drums continue. It kicks back in heavily after 6 minutes as the mellotron again comes and goes. A calm with horns ends it. "Deform To Form A Star" opens with laid back piano as the vocals arrive for the first time on the album. A relaxed sound here. It's fuller with mellotron and vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. An instrumental break with guitar leads after 3 minutes.Vocals are back before 4 minutes. Again it's fuller on the chorus as themes are repeated. "No Part Of Me" has these intricate and fast paced sounds.Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. Some heavy guitar before 3 1/2 minutes then the drums get louder. It settles after 5 1/2 minutes to end it. "Postcard" opens with piano as reserved vocals join in. It gets fuller at times then settles back each time. I like the line "All that matters disappeared when I lost you". "Raider Prelude" is a short ominous piece with mellotron-like sounds. "Remainder The Black Dog" ends disc one and this one has Steve Hackett playing some guitar.The dark mood continues as processed, reserved vocals come in. Drums follow then the guitar makes some noise followed by dissonant sax. It kicks in around 4 1/2 minutes but not for long. It kicks in again after 6 minutes then settles again. It's quite psychedelic after 8 minutes with drums, flute and sax standing out.

Disc two begins with "Belle De Jour" a mellow but beautiful instrumental. "Index" was inspired by the John Fowles book called "The Collector".This is dark with drums and reserved vocals. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes then settles back as contrasts continue.Some strings too as samples end it.

"Track One" opens with reserved vocals and gentle guitar. It becomes fuller reminding me of THE BEATLES. It turns heavy before 1 1/2 minutes then settles late. "Raider II" is a 23 1/2 minute monster. It's minimalistic early on as almost spoken words come in. It kicks in hard before 3 minutes with mellotron.Vocals follow. Creepy lyrics here. Love the flute before 4 1/2 minutes. It kicks in again then we get an uptempo section after 8 minutes where they rip it up.The contrasts continue. I really like the dissonant sax after 19 minutes as they kick ass. It's insane before 20 1/2 minutes. It ends in a haunting manner. "Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye" ends the album with reserved vocals and guitar but it does get fuller with organ and drums. A calm 4 1/2 minutes in then it becomes spacey.

I don't think i've seen a modern album praised as much as this one has been. It's almost universal and yet it's taken me a long time to appreciate. I put it away for a couple of weeks after this review and here I am back in early November to bump it up to 5 stars. My first listen after those two weeks was the most emotional one I had with it. My appreciation continues to grow as I continue to not want to put it away. Brilliant is the word for this recording and it could go down as one of the all time greats along with those legendary seventies classics. We'll see. I still prefer "Insurgents" though.

Review by Isa
5 stars |A| One of the most diverse, brilliant, haunting, heart-felt, transcending, contemporary, daring, progressive, eclectic, creative, beautiful works of music I've ever heard.

I'll try to make this a shorter review, because otherwise it would be too long for anyone to read. A five star rating is a very significant thing from my expectations.

I supposed I should give a big THANK YOU to this website and the collaborators above me for giving this album a high enough rating to encourage me to check it out. I've never heard any of Steven Wilson's work before the past few days, so I honestly had no idea what to expect, except that it might sound something like Porcupine Tree. In fact I was somewhat skeptical, given the many fanboys this musician has that it was probably overrated. And I've definitely never been one of those, Porcupine Tree has always just been and "pretty good" band to me.

In this album, however, Steven Wilson demonstrates his uniqueness as a composer and his knowledge of prog and contemporary "classical" composition techniques at a level of such height that's it's almost scary to fathom that he's actually human. What I mean is the fact that this shear amount of music could have this amount of substance and be mostly his doing (depending on the contribution of the enormous list of musicians) is far more rare than it is common. Many of the heavier parts sound very much like Red, especially in Sectarian and Raider II. A lot of the softer, more reflective tracks sound similar to those in The Incident, only I would say this material is far more creative and well done. The eclecticism using contemporary classical and jazz music (especially with the incredible harmonies in the Synergy vocals, and the virtuoso saxophone and flute players) often reminds me of Maudlin of the Well. It is progressive in every sense of the word that a progressive rock fan could expect, cutting edge, artistic, or the whole "asymmetric time- signature, long songs, and virtuoso musicianship" package. Grace for Drowning has it all.

I sincerely believe that if Steven Wilson continues to produce music of this caliber for several more albums (as we can all hope for), he could potentially be considered the rock equivalent of Beethoven, as in the artist who's work first defined and then reshaped the entire landscape of artistic music. As a music educator and historian, I can say without any doubt or shame that most if not all of the material in this album exceeds the artistic level of much classical music, save perhaps the main composers of their respective eras.

God knows whether this will be considered a masterpiece for the ages revered by musicians in the future, or just another "prog" album that will fade out with the passing of several generations, or if it will end up a hidden jewel of music that slipped through the cracks of fame and is known only by a few people. My guess is it won't be the second scenario, but as with all art, time will be the judge of quality.

Every second of this album is so perfect and effective that I really can't describe it in words. The reader should just hear it for themselves, and hopefully just might be as enthralled and captivated by this work as I am.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Murder your darlings," wrote Arthur Quiller-Couch. That's the advice I would have given Steven Wilson if he'd asked. Grace for Drowning (an incredibly numinous and evocative title) shows a magnificent deal of promise, and then mostly disintegrates. Transitions make or break progressive rock; it is not enough to have incredible musical passages and merely piece them together with the string of silence, ghastly noise, or an abrupt wave of the hand. For me, the album is inconsistent. I would have edited this double album into one dependable disc- the album would have consisted of "Grace for Drowning," "Sectarian," "Deform to Form a Star," "Postcard," "Belle De Jour," and "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye (the first five minutes, anyway)," and not necessarily in this order. Not quite a modern studio's album worth of material, but a solid, coherent gathering of music. The rest of the album largely presents itself as a chore to endure for the sake of comprehensive listening; I have had to will myself to plod through the dirt to enjoy the jewels, as it were. The worst culprit comes in past the twenty-minute mark (which I have detailed below). I do wonder if the noise employed in his compositions is merely a crutch ("I'm not sure how to bridge these passages, so here is some thunderous white noise"). Another issue is the guitar tone: Like another multi-instrumentalist, Mike Oldfield, Wilson's electric guitar tone is horrendous. It is tinny and shrill for the lead work and blunted and lumbering for rhythm. This album is on par with The Incident- strokes of genius marred by inconsistency and unfriendly tones all packaged as a double album. There are numerous King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator influences present, so for fans of these two bands or Porcupine Tree, I recommend the album.

"Grace For Drowning" A wordless vocal and piano passage are here- a lovely introduction vaguely reminding me of Kirk McLeod's So Piano.

"Sectarian" This is an exciting piece of music, especially with the choral bursts, even if the transitions are not quite what they could have been. The tone midway through is terrible, although it gives way abruptly to agreeable jazzier fare. The clarinet is wonderful here.

"Deform To Form A Star" Jordan Rudess does a fine job on the piano, and Wilson's vocals are what one should expect from him- enchanting. This is a highlight of the album, and would charm any Porcupine Tree lover. I must remark that the lead guitar tone is grisly and painful over the otherwise beautiful music.

"No Part Of Me" I quite enjoyed the album up to this point. This piece is at best worthy of a Twilight soundtrack. Electronic drums and other sounds compete with Wilson's vocals. The strings do well here, though they cannot mask the poor drizzle of hi-hat. But midway comes the electric guitar, clapping, and awful lead instrumentation- it just doesn't fit at all with what the author was doing earlier. The climax to the song is regrettably worse.

"Postcard" This is a beautiful acoustic song full of piano and guitar and has a lovely string interlude, despite the usually somber lyrics, with gorgeous music toward the end.

"Raider Prelude" A choir piece with piano introduces the next track- decent, but peculiarly shoved in the middle here without context.

"Remainder The Black Dog" Uncomfortable piano enters with Wilson' vocal, which is heavily saturated with effects. That piano riff grows old, and I don't feel the drums and bass work well with it. The singing sounds like it is emitted from a speaker at a racing track. Ultimately, it's just a jam- the same riff runs through it. The electric guitars that come in later are downright nasty. The guitar tones in the second half are more than unpleasant- excoriatingly disappointing.

"Belle De Jour" This forlorn acoustic guitar piece accompanied by strings is beautiful. The nylon guitar is a true highlight.

"Index" This track makes no sense on this album to me. The song is less organic, with lots of electronic sounds. The lyrics depict a pack rat (as this album seems to depict a pack rat of sounds- unable to dispense with things that don't complement the room). The panning almost gives me a headache when I listen through headphones.

"Track One" This has Wilson singing over a simple classical guitar riff. With the gradual build of noise, the music becomes unfortunately noisy and irritating. Though it enters with no relevance to what came before, the electric guitar solo over acoustic guitar is a return to pleasantness. Where this could have been brilliant, the author ruined it with a strident and empty transition.

"Raider II" Here lies the album's most colossal flaw. The bass notes of a piano lead this plodding extended piece. The verse is just unappealing, containing a cringe-inducing vocal and growling. The wild flute and saxophone don't redeem it, and the parts are conjoined in a strange way. It gets jazzier, especially with the piano flourishes- had Steven Wilson set out to create Lizard, this may have been the outcome. The electronic beats and depressing, sarcastic lyrics seem like Steven Wilson is making a mockery of himself. The open note shredding seems a tad amateurish and doesn't progress anywhere really- it's just something to do during "the metal portion of our show" just before we awkwardly transition to "the jazz portion of our show." The second half begins with some disgusting noise- a guitar's fart perhaps- leading into minimalistic psychedelic tinkering. The springy bass during the end is quite all right and works well during the climactic part. That said, the song just has precious little flow and doesn't do anything particularly different than the rest of the album demonstrated (for better or for worse). But just when the epic of the album seems to have come to a natural conclusion, there is a bass postlude and some indiscriminate jazzy electric guitar notes.

"Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye" Luckily, the album ends on a positive note. The harmonies are what they should be, and the countrified guitars are stellar over the autoharp, bass and organ. Well done. However, the album concludes with three minutes of unnecessary synthesizer tones that eventually fade out.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars Sitting here as the storm passed through, fitting time to have another listen, and write a review.

This is the deluxe expensive picture book I have in my hands, so just for the record I'll review the package from that perspective.

I figured, what the hell and and blew $100 to get the damn thing. It took too long to arrive and the day before it got here robbers kicked in our front door but didn't get away with anything. Steven Wilson's albums sometimes coincide with bad things. The Incident arrived a few days a major house flood. Grace For Drowning arrived the day after the break in while a repair man was replacing our front door. This doesn't put me in fear of the next Steven Wilson release, it's just weird.

The book is designed like a personal journal with scribblings on the cover. The inside holds the disks inside the outer cover. Four in the set of course, two on each side. The meat of the book itself is housed between two vellums with handwritten (reproduced) track listings, credits, etc. In between the vellums, a bunch of glossy pages with pictures, lyrics, and musician credits for each track.

So I have here a four disc set, one a blu-ray of audio some video and bonus material. If you just sit and let the audio at the track selection screen play, there's an ambient audio track that goes on for quite a while before it repeats. A little Angelo Badalamentish. A video sequence accompanies it, a figure in black approaching a beach house that the viewer is inside. I fired it up again a day later and the disc starts off with another video sequence from the beach without any options for playing the disc. Unfortunately I quit it and now can't get back to it.

If you just play this thing for the audio only you miss the bonus material, all you get is the surround mix and a black screen with the song title when each track plays. The real meat of the DVD portion is if you go to the songs option. By the way, it's a bit unweildly to move around, so just have fun with it.

Click on songs option and you get options of photos, demo takes, videos for some tracks. The videos are also in surround sound. So it seem to get the maximum experience from this album you really need the DVD version. It also has the first two tracks from the third/bonus music only disc in the set with a static picture for each.

The music really suits a surround sound treatment, which you'd expect with Wilson having made a few surround sound mixes and re-mixes before.

The audio bonus disc has some songs that didn't get put into the album proper, but are still quite worthy.

The shame of it all is that for most people, if you're into this kind of music, you'll never be able to share it anyone as it requires people to sit down, stay, and listen. It's also often dark and heavy. There really isn't anything here departs far from his Porcupine Tree writings. Which isn't a bad thing, I think he's making a real personal statement, developing and compiling ideas he's expressed in music before. There is a story here though. Perhaps more well defined than In Absentia, but along similar lines. A character going psychopathic and then recovering, somehow.

Anyway, if people say this is a piece of crap or a masterpiece, don't value their opinonions. If you are a general fan of Steven Wilson's work you won't be disappointed and should spring for the DVD. Of course you'll need a computer or a home theater system with a nice screen, surround sound, and blu-ray capability. Steven thumbing his nose again at the i-pod generation. In the end masterpieces are best left to the judgement of time. I give this one a solid four.

Review by Zitro
5 stars Based on the album liner notes and artwork, it appears that Porcupine Tree leader, Steven Wilson, was in a state of melancholia, if not full depression, when he wrote this album. Lyrics, themes, and songwriting tend to share one common thing: depression. The artist has poured all of his feelings in addition to bringing highly talented musicians from King Crimson and other musical backgrounds to do what each of them do best, resulting in a diverse set of sounds that work together to form a musical masterwork that is both musically challenging as it is emotionally accessible. Tracks range from a mere few minutes to a gargantuan 20+ minute epic where even the shorter ones are as memorable and rewarding as the longest songs. The sound has the spirit of progressive rock while sounding quite different from the typical (or stereotypical) sounds of the genre. Therefore, people who gets turned off by the sounds of 70s symphonic rock (Genesis, Yes, ELP) may still find a lot to enjoy here.

Opening with sad floating vocal arrangements and sparse piano in its short title track, the music becomes angular and dissonant with "Sectarian" in its acoustic intro. A thick bass enters, a massive choral burst interrupts and it takes a disturbing turn into a loud avant- garde, reminiscent of 70s King Crimson. The composition is multifaceted, displaying some calmer sections before chorals and madness return. "Deform to Form a Star" has a beautiful title that might hint recovery. Music is highly melodic and somewhat more positive, carrying gorgeous vocal choruses, simple piano, and soaring wordless vocals by the closing of the song. It is one of Steven Wilson's best ballads.

The fast-paced soft, chiming, electronic rhythms that begin in "No Part of Me" introduces a new sound to the album. When the piano and lyrics come in, it carries both a pleasant, relaxing sound yet overly depressing lyrics delivered with strong feelings from a man who grew so much as a vocalist over the years. The second half of the song is dominated with harsh guitar riffs and increasingly dissonant instrumentation, sounding like a mental breakdown put to music. One of my personal favorites: this is as perfect as music gets.

The next track "Postcard" is much lighter and more harmonic, providing relief to the listeners. Lyrically, it appears connected to the previous track, explaining what he was dealing with: losing his father. Musically, it is short in duration and light in complexity, but its sincerity allows it to fit in the album. "Raider Prelude" is short-lasting as well, with an emotionally dense, eerie atmosphere.

The last song in the first disc, "Remainder the Black Dog", is in my opinion one of the best (if not the best) long compositions associated with Steven Wilson. It says a lot that a nine- minute song is the one used to promote the album. The song is generally carried by an eerie piano motif in 15/8 with natural dynamics and exciting changes in pace throughout the composition. The harshest section spotlights Steve Hackett (Genesis) playing a purposefully unpleasant guitar solo.

After a beautiful cinematic intro focusing on acoustics, the menacing industrial/electronic sounds from "index" make another highlight in the album. It is somewhat reminiscent of Porcupine Tree's "The Incident" but works better here. The use of strings make a surprisingly effective counterpoint to the disturbing electronics and vocals. "Track One" starts with delicate vocals and acoustics. Later, gorgeous harmony vocals and mellotron get pushed aside by a suffocating feel of hopelessness until pleasant acoustics finish the song.

"Raider II" is the longest composition and of clear interest to progressive rock fans. The song takes many risks and definitively requires more patience than the rest of the album. Due to highly adventurous songwriting and long duration, it has a couple of missteps and moments that could be shortened. Nevertheless, it is a brilliant track that begins minimalistic with an ominous feel. It gets heavy with sax riffs, massive choral bursts (like Sectarian in the first CD), even death metal growls. Variations of the melody in the intro get played in different ways. The pace fastens up, alternating guitar/synthesizer arpeggios very similar to each other but in different time signatures. There is also an impressive loud section that reminds of death metal band Opeth and a jazzy solo driven by a springy bass before the guitar arpeggios return. An ambient, eerie interlude that references back to the Raider Prelude on the first disc is surrounded by silence while the last section fades in, carry important lyrics, and develops into a monster riff with frenetic soprano sax marking the climax of the album. The album ends with a ballad repeating the phrases "breath in/out now" and ending with calm, ambient music, probably displaying the protagonist's recovery from depression.

These tracks feature top musicians that are unleashed when the music requires them to go wild. This is not an album that features egocentric extended solos interrupting the flow of songs. This is an album that uses first-rate musicianship to expand the feel of the songs. While some songs require patience and repeated listens to fully comprehend them, many of the songs had such a strong initial impression that I played them again instead of proceeding to the next song. The task of creating a 2-cd album that is nearly free of filler or missteps while leaving out bonus tracks that are of high-caliber is admirable. (Home in Negative has excellent melodies, Raider Acceleration is an inventive avant-garde track, others are also worthy of note). Let's celebrate a modern classic of progressive rock and wish Steven Wilson musical inspiration.

Highlights: Deform to Form a Star, No Part of Me, Remainder the Black Dog, Index.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars This is one of those albums where it seems pointless writing a review simply because it's going to be lost in a morass of other people's opinions and scribblings.

Ah, what the hell, I've started now - 'Grace for Drowning' is a superbly recorded and unusual album for 2011. However, It's not a masterpiece.

Literally every tune shows traces of Steven Wilson's influences which somewhat belittles it as you can't help thinking throughout ...'Well I never- that sounds just like Floyd' or... 'Blimey, there's some of that keyboard that Schulze used in '76 that only held a vocal note for 8 seconds' or... 'Crumbs, those off beat drums sound just like Gentle Giant'. etc etc.

More than any other artist, this is heavily Robert Fripp's 'Red' King Crimson territory . In particular 'Sectarian' which really kicks ass in a far more modern and bass driven and heavy way.

There are two very non-descript pointless tracks in the form of 'Pastcard' and 'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye' which the album could have done well without, which could have made it a single cd. Annoyingly, the latter is the outro.

Looking on the bright side, there are some absolute stonkers in here... 'Remainder the Black Dog' - is simply one of the best songs I've heard this year, even if there are a parts of 'Wish You Were Here', the 'Wall' and even some Binsen Echo Units from 'Meddle' used.

'Belle de Jour' sounds just like how the film should have looked with the untouchably beautiful Catherine Deneuve in the mid 60's.

'Grace for Drowning' has a real mish-mash of styles and sound that if taken as a whole could be the entire Prog Rock archive compressed into one edible chunk, with all genres investigated, bar 'Zeuhl'.

Of particular interest is the superb 'Index' - which really hits the mark through the lyrics, as I'm sure a lot of you guys would agree? I'm one of those 'weird' collectors Steve Wilson sings about!

There's something for everybody on this album, which is recorded in a very caring and precise way, and unbelievably includes blonde mop head Nick Beggs - bass player from Kajagoogoo! I always wondered what happened to him...

Inspiring... Just when I thought prog was dead...

Review by darkshade
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was looking forward to this album before it came out. Ive never been the biggest Porcupine Tree fan, but over the years Ive collected more than a few of their albums, and Ive enjoyed them all. I heard Remainder The Black Dog on youtube before the album came out, and it got me stoked. I picked this up on release day, along with a few other CDs. This wound up being my least favorite of the ones I bought.

The lineup on this album is great. Lots of great players, especially those from King Crimson and Dream Theater. While I find there are some absolutely fantastic moments on here, there are times when the music put me into a deep depression, which is not why I listen to music. If anything, the music should help heal any depression I may have.

I like that Steven Wilson has progressed his sound by incorporating some jazz elements, and trying to be heavy without relying on guitars for it; but some of this music is just gloomy and depressing, and not something I always want to put on.

However, I know this is a good album. Not as good as most people here have been raving about, but it's good anyway. If I'm in the mood for this music, it's easily a 4 star album. But as I find myself feeling down listening to some of the songs on here, I cannot give this album more than 3 stars. Sorry. I really wanted this to be a 5 star album for me.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been more then a month already since Wilson and his new gang of recruits totally blew us away in London's Shepherd's Bush. I was already very enthusiast about this album before the show, but hearing these songs in their full live glory was a revelation. The record doesn't always reach the level of intensity that some of the songs require but when played at a deafening loud volume it's a treat!

For "Grace of Drowning", Steven Wilson decided to let go of his ambivalent feelings with the Progressive Rock tag and openly indulges in his love for the dark fusion-prog approach of early Crimson and VDGG, especially on the album's masterpieces (or at least my personal favorites): 'Sectarian', 'Remainder The Black Dog', 'Track 1' and to a lesser extent also 'Raider II'. Those tracks have everything I want to hear in Prog: excitement, fluency, spontaneity, rock, surprise, interactive musicianship, intricate melodies, the works. Next to those mostly longer gems, there are also a couple of less proggy tracks ('No Part of Me', 'Index' ) where Wilson's love surfaces for electronics, pop, trip-hop and the occasional heavy guitar chord. Those tracks are the only ones that reminds of the goth-y style of the preceding 'Insurgentes'.

There are also a couple of short and peaceful tracks that balance out the intensity of the material I summed up so far, such as 'Grace For Drowning','Belle De Jour' and 'Raider Prelude'. Nice stuff. So far so good, and I wish this review could end here. But unfortunately the album also contains no less then 20 minutes of lame ballads that break the whole flow of this album. 'Deform To a Star' deforms indeed, be it into cheap sentimentalism, but it's not half as bad as the cheesy ballad-pop of 'Postcard', which sounds like a 13 a dozen Blackfield leftover. And the closing 'Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye' is Wilson's dullest album closer ever.

Those black holes excluded, this is a fine album full of sparkling stars, reconnecting with the essence of Prog but without sounding retro. It has that dynamic organic rock sound of the years before Prog became all gloss and polish; and at the same time it sounds entirely modern, using modern instruments and recording techniques. It's a unique approach and how it pays.

"Grace For Drowning" has become a very long album, consisting of material that ranges all the way from stellar to downright lame. My own 60 minute compilation of it is a classic! but in the 2CD format for which it was conceived it is merely excellent. Most importantly, this album offers the freely flowing creative that I missed in the tightly structured and riff-based output of Porcupine Tree in the 2000 decade. Wilson let the music flow again, offering a Prog counterpart for the kraut/space-rock he did in the 90's with PT and IEM. My personal preference still lies with the older work or with the dark songwriting of 'Insurgentes', but nevertheless this is quite brilliant as well. I'd give it 5 stars if it wasn't for those freakin' ballads.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Influences, imitations, and similarities be damned, this album is a psycho-sonic journey with few rivals in this 21st century. The problems are the length--i.e., the time necessary to immerse oneself into this music (and total immersion is where it gains its biggest impact) is considerable--the seldom-exciting vocals, the rather banal, straightforward lyrics, and the often felt 'disagreement' or disappointment I had/have with Steven's unexpected shift in music mode or mood or his choice of which instrument he chooses to introduce next. "Odd," I found myself thinking time and time again--usually two or three times per song. This being said, I do have a feeling that this album will come out in the long run being regarded as a great if not classic album of progressive music. It's just so intense and its power lies totally in its subtleties--of which the whole thing is: one big subtlety--except when he pops out from behind a closed door in one of those dark rooms of his mind to try to scare the [&*!#] out of you. Don't get me wrong: There is great beauty here; but it's more of the kind of beauty that people appreciate through the works of Edgar Allan Poe (sans Poe's poetic command of the English language--though Steven's music may be just as expressive as Poe's poetry). As for the fan favorite, "Raider II": I've never been a fan of "Lizard"; I am no fan of "Raider II."

Five star songs: "Deform to Form a Star" and "No Part of Me."

Four star songs: "Grace for Drowning," "Sectarian," "Raider Prelude," "Remainder the Black Dog," "Belle de Jour," "Index," "Track One," and "Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye."

Three star songs: "Postcard" and "Raider II."

Overall rating: 3.5 stars rated up for incredible production, sound, and effort.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars And so it's here, arguably the most anticipated album for 2011 (certainly the one most reviewed) and, as it is with Steven Wilson, album bringing big fan-base with it. The funny thing is that the more positive reviews were piling for this album, the less I was anticipating it.

However, it doesn't matter much, because the album was completely different than I was expecting it to be. There is still SW signature sound, something present on all albums he was present for last 10 years (possibly more), even though Sectarian quite shocked and confused me a bit, but after this, we are getting the usual mix of symphonic, or atmospheric music dominated by Wilson's signature vocals.

I was trying to make a review few times, but always failed. This time ? I'll just keep it this short. What more is there to say, fans will be pleased, haters will still hate (indeed, SW has this polarizing effect on people) and Steven will keep on doing music that slightly progresses more, but what's more important is that it is consistent (well not if you compare his first projects to his last, but a few following releases are of very similar sounds, talking about Porcupine Tree here). The problem I have with this album is its length. For these 82 minutes, there have to be fillers (and not a few of them), together with certain parts that are uninteresting to me, which are counterweighted by moments of clarity and perfection, I have to give - you know, poor man's rating.

Review by m2thek
5 stars While I've never been a naysayer of Porcupine Tree, I've never been one of their biggest proponents either. After never being in love with any of the PT that I've casually heard over the years, you could say that I was planning on letting Steven Wilson's newest album slide by without a second thought. However, with the ridiculous amount of praise that Grace for Drowning saw in the back end of 2011, there was no way I could ignore it and I'm sure glad that I didn't.

Grace for Drowning is a special album. Lots of styles, surprises around every corner, great flow, huge ranges in dynamics, and tons of emotion are just some of the things you'll find in the near hour and a half that Wilson has crafted. The full album is actually made up of two volumes titled Deform to Form a Star and Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye, respectively. Both volumes stand apart from each other with their own believable beginnings and endings, and contain enough strong material that they can be listened to separately. The only connection between the two volumes is track 'Raider Prelude' (a song on the first CD that is an excerpt to a song on the second CD) though I question why it was included at all if so much effort was made to differentiate the volumes.

Deform to Form a Star contains seven songs, all of which are under 10 minutes. They range from loud, dynamic full-on prog songs to shorter, softer and more traditional songs. The changes in styles between songs are huge, but always work and make musical sense. Changes within the songs can be drastic too, and I still find myself being genuinely surprised by the twists and turns that the compositions take. Throughout the seven songs I find myself thinking 'wow that was really awesome' and 'wow that was really beautiful' almost equally. The balance between interesting compositional and instrumental choices and emotion put into the music itself is striking, and is the strongest thing about the first volume.

Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye, on the other hand, only has five songs, and the focus is not on the entirety like the first volume, but on the 23 minute 'Raider II.' In my opinion, the song would be more aptly titled 'Raider (Lizard II)' and if we do a small bit of digging, we see that Wilson was working on King Crimson's Lizard around the same time he was writing Grace for Drowning. The influence shows in its use of loud horn sections, softer flute sections, and even the fact that there's a short coda after a gigantic climactic ending. However, with the inspiration showing through, not at one point does the song feel like a rehashing of the 40 year old piece. Like the rest of the album, it is totally dynamic and full of surprises, and is by far the standout track. That's not to take anything away from the rest of the volume, as the other 4 songs are just as good as anything on the first volume, especially the album's closer 'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye' which beautifully ties up the volume and the whole album.

I really have nothing bad to say about Grace for Drowning. The vocals remind me the most of Porcupine Tree (which I have never really enjoyed), but I find Wilson's mellow delivery very fitting with the music. The lyrics can be overly melancholic, but when Wilson finds the right words, they really hit home, like the longing for a lost loved one on 'Postcard.' There are a large number of guests which include Jordan Rudess on a number of tracks, Steve Hackett on 'Remainder the Black Dog' and Tony Levin on a couple tracks, but none of the performances are so distinctive that you'd recognize them without looking at the credits.

I normally don't take the packaging into consideration, but even the booklet that comes with the CD is wonderfully done. The credits are on handwritten sheets and the personalization by Wilson makes it feel truly special. The photographs of Wilson around the area that the cover was taken are beautiful, and the short dedication to his father is maybe the most important thing about the whole album.

Whether you're a Steven Wilson fan, a Porcupine Tree fan, or a fan of progressive rock in general, you need to hear Grace for Drowning. Just like the classic albums that he has been remixing the past few years, his own album feels like its pushing boundaries, and it is not one to be missed.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
5 stars 10/10

"Grace For Drowning" is the album that will give Steven Wilson the official title of Prog Rock Giant.

Steven Wilson in my book reached his peak, before 2011, with his band Porcupine Tree with "Fear Of a Blank Planet", an absolutely flawless masterpiece of modern Progressive Rock. It was against all odds that four years later he releases, as a solo artist, an album that potentially tops FoaBP: "Grace For Drowning" may just be the best album Steven Wilson has recorded so far, and it's great that such an album comes out from this man after more than twenty years of being an active musician. It feels that all of his efforts have really built up to this release. All the typical characteristics of Wilson's music, his sense of romance, his aggressive moments, his wonderful sense of melody, are all here stronger than ever before, making this album not only an extremely personal one but also THE Steven Wilson album.

Anyone who has listened to Porcupine Tree will find something in "Grace For Drowning" familiar; there is still a great chunk of romance and emotion and soothing moments (resembling the ones the band usually delivers), which are far more present than the aggressive ones. However, there is a great sound change overall: Steven Wilson picks up Jazz Rock and golden age Progressive Rock as well as little sparks of Ambient and Folk, mixes them all together to form something that, although has noticeable roots, is something that ends up being utterly original, a beautiful balance between old and new, that only the cynical person can say is too familiar sounding, or that it belongs to the wrong era. But there is a very strong 2011 feel in "Grace For Drowning", not only in the amazing production, but also in the various contemporary touches like Electronic beats here and there and even some Vocoder. Steven Wilson has always loved to mix different sounds together and to be eclectic, but here, he has more variety than ever: there is a great amount of sax playing, tons of flutes, and amazing synergy vocals effect that steals the show every time it comes in. Not to forget the amazing keyboards, which include some beautiful mellotron playing. The musicians playing on this album are all of immense talent, from old veterans like Tony Levin on bass and Jordan Rudess on keyboards, to new, great musicians like all the various drummers playing, all of them giving terrific performances and playing with plenty of soul. Steven Wilson then, aside from being a great musician, is also an extremely gifted songwriter, his songs so powerful and moving that it is hard to do anything else but to sit down and listen to him. Together with all these things, "Grace For Drowning" finds its musical side.

The atmospheres this album delivers are too a nice variety: the more aggressive ones, mostly instrumental, are extremely dark, eerie, but always extremely gripping and fascinating. Then, of course, there are the soothing moments, for the most part sung, sometimes mildly melancholic, but full of hopefulness and bright light, others feel depressed and helpless, but just as enchanting and magical. This was evidently a downer period for Steven Wilson: just recently, he lost his beloved father, to accentuate his state of perpetual gloominess. While listening to "Grace for Drowning", you feel his emotions so clearly, it is one of those albums that is truly a beautiful but sad example of the human condition put into music. These are the sufferings of a regular person, who deals with death and abandonment just like anybody, but nobody ever before has put them quite like this.

This 83 minute piece of music is divided into two discs, the first one entitled "Deform To Form A Star": after a wonderful, piano based intro, ("Grace For Drowning"), "Sectarian" is a punch in the face: the simple guitar riff, the intriguing synergy vocals effect on keyboards, the sax playing, the pondering structure, this instrumental song is basically perfect, violent, but also very mysterious and obviously highly Progressive. The melancholic "Deform To Form A Star" is one of the most beautiful songs Steven Wilson has ever written: the feel here is more than ever a perfect mix between a somewhat typical SW song and an old Progressive Rock one, but the melodies are absolutely enchanting, original, and just gorgeous: when you think it doesn't get better than that, "No Part Of Me" feels extremely sad and helpless to pain. The Electronic beats really make this a gem of Modern Prog, as well as the outstanding climax that brings this song to a chaotic, distorted ending. "Postcard" is another nice little gem, a much more melodic and memorable piano driven song, and after the interlude, "Remainder of The Black Dog" comes in much less emotional but still with a quite impressive burst of energy, the most lively we've seen so far: the enthralling leading piano gives a solid base to all the Prog storm that will hit the listener hard. One of the coolest songs here, ending the first disc.

"Like Dust I've Cleared From My Eye" is the second part of the album, starting with the brief but fascinating intro "Belle De Jour". "Index" is possibly the best song of the entire album, extremely dark in its mood and in the music thanks to the clever electronics: however, it ends with the one of most gorgeous ways to end a song ever. "Track One" is maybe the song that least succeeds, since it follows up a song like "Index"; it has however really interesting moments and a great melody, and it's just curious how actually this song was the single for the album. Then, comes the definite monster: "Raider II", a twenty plus minute extravaganza of Progressive, Jazz Fusion, Porcupine Tree-ish moments and others you will hear nowhere else: the atmosphere swings make this a wild but always gripping roller coaster ride that doesn't even come close to anything else a Prog Rock musician has done this year. "Like Dust I've Cleared From My Eye" is the closing, bright lighted track, this one resembling much of Steven Wilson's typical sound, but the ending Ambient minutes are once again a new side for the musician.

An album that will give Steven Wilson the official title of Prog Rock giant, an album that will be remembered as the magnum opus of the musician and, just maybe, it will get to the point where it can be considered a milestone of 3rd millennium music. I'm definitely liking this latter idea.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wilson's 5 star masterpiece has mesmirising musical beauty and a dark, chilling tale of desolation.

"Grace For Drowning" is a 2 CD magnum opus with an astonishing array of musicians, many of legendary status, and Steven Wilson is at his best in terms of compositions, musicality and overall concept. He is able to generate some of the most compelling music of his career, helped by special guest virtuosos and a cinematic symphony orchestra, and at the end of the album one is left with an overwhelming sense that they have heard something very special; transcending music itself it seems to creep into the system and you cannot get it out. I can never forget 'Index' for one track. This is an epiphany of Steven Wilson's career. Wilson stated in an interview that the album tried to capture the "spirit of psychedelia to create "journeys in sound" I guess you could call them. So without being retro, my album is a kind of homage to that spirit. There's everything from Morricone-esque film themes to choral music to piano ballads to a 23 minute progressive jazz-inspired piece" ( Critics have mixed reviews, one stating that the work is an "emotional journey from sadness through anger to acceptance." On every level, this is a powerful conceptual album that will really impact a listener if they allow themselves to be drawn into this haunting tale of a man who goes off the deep end and drowns in his misery, turning him into a sociopath. Another interpretation, the one that I wish to adopt, is that the man experiences extreme loss and it drives him over the precipice where he becomes a sadistic remorseless killer; he has many names to match his multiple personas such as Black Dog, Collector, Raider, the Butcher. Or it could just be an allegory of a sociopath drowning in misery and manic depression, your move.

The videos that are available with the special edition are directed by master of the macabre Lasse Hoile who revels in twisted Gothic disturbia, such as Opeth or repellent videos for Katatonia, but the imagery on this CD package adds to the full sensory experience and seem to concur with the serial killer concept. We see images of Wilson in darkened shadows with a skull flashing on his visage; the cinema verite of the darker self. There are images of a man wandering a lonely beach, a burning bush, an owl flying in to the hands of a goat masked wraith, perhaps death personified, and a man crawling on his belly towards a creek, ropes bind the man and he metamorphosis into a dark creature, perhaps the moment when the protagonist loses his mind, then he buries a heart in the soil, which could be literal or a metaphor of the man burying his cold emotions. A striking image of dead arms lying in a forest, is followed by Wilson staring up into the sun through the trees. All the characters gathering at the amphitheatre is followed by death walking to a dead tree, and the man's face is in bandages with the words "did you arrive at the place that you came from?" appearing on it. In other videos, the most unsettling, we see Wilson seated in a catatonic state with mannequins, the collector at work, and there are images of spiders, insects, bugs, a ghoulish collection. The killer then chops the limbs off the mannequins and burns the remains, though we could take that to mean the killer is collecting real limbs and discarding the rest of the victim by immolation. Key flashed images of a girl clawing at a window, and then her hands bound, are the clincher, and most potent, a girl being dragged away screaming by an unseen assailant into the shadows. In any case, here is how I heard the music after several listens.

'Grace For Drowning' has very graceful piano by Jordan Rudess and gentle vocal intonation to start proceedings to this oeuvre. 'Sectarian' begins quietly with a steady beat, and reverb guitar phrases, and then locks into a strong rhythm helped by Nic France's percussion accents and the keyboard motifs of Steve Wilson. The atmosphere is esoteric augmented by choral vocals and sudden outbursts of key pads and loud guitar. The keyboard chimes are beautiful, played with virtuoso skill by Wilson and these are embellished by Theo Davis' exceptional soprano sax and mesmirising clarinet by Ben Castle.

'Deform To Form A Star' begins with dreamy piano by Rudess. Wilson finally begins to sing and his voice is as flowing and crystalline as usual; "I learn how to smile, horses shadows, rain on stone." It seems like a collection of happy memories and introduces the protagonist forcing smiles and remembering better times. It could almost be the disembodied thoughts of a suicide victim, "the way we recoil return to the soil." The concept will open up like a flower as the album progresses. There is more clarinet from Travis, and the bass is well executed by Tony Levin. At this point on the album a remarkable tranquil atmosphere has been created. It is unlike Porcupine Tree with its bursts of metal guitar, instead Wilson's solo material is emotionally charged and melancholy. The serenity really resonates with me and I am entranced by the spellbinding beauty of the clarinets playing off against Wilson's chiming keyboard melodies.

On 'No Part Of Me' the musicianship is incredible, featuring acoustics by Pat Mastelotto, U8 touch guitar by Markus Reuter, Warr guitar and bass by Trey Gunn, and to cap it off a stirring score by the London Session Orchestra, arranged and conducted by the legendary Dave Stewart. The lyrics are poetic beauty though hold a dark concept of the sociopath struggling to tread water; "I feel worn out, there's no point drinking, there when life slows right down, and holds you up above the waterline, so sleep will never come." There is a heavier section that follows with very low distortion, and this is augmented by a scintillating saxophone solo by Travis, perhaps one of the most powerful passages of music on the album.

'Postcard' follows, dominated by the gentle vocals of Wilson mixed to the front. The protagonist is still feeling miserable and trying to make sense of his life after losing his loved one and consequently the will to live; "I'm the one you always seem to read about, The fire inside my eyes has long gone out, There's nothing left for me to say or do, 'Cause all that matters disappeared when I lost you." The music swells to a melancholy choir by Synergy and soulful string by the London Session Orchestra. The composition is moving with mesmirising and beautiful, powerfully arranged orchestration.

The angelic choral vocals continue in the intro of 'Raider Prelude' and it is rather a haunting atmosphere, very dark with the low bass drones. 'Remainder The Black Dog' ends the first CD with a killer track and the longest at this point at 9 minutes. The guitars on this are stunning and that is no surprise as the man behind them is the one and only Steve Hackett. Amazing to hear him on this album, and his presence makes a huge difference naturally. Multi instrumentalist Travis shines on woodwind playing flute, and clarinet, but he is especially exceptional here on sax. Soon the rhythm builds to a fast tempo and Hackett's brilliant guitar screams penetrate the wall of sound. There is an odd meter generated by Nick Beggs' bassline, and Nic France's drumming. This is a definitive moment on the album with stellar virtuosity and incredible emotional resonance.

CD 2 begins with 'Belle De Jour', with a nylon acoustic finger picking style from Wilson. The orchestra joins adding a lush atmosphere to the instrumental. The autoharp sounds angelic and the music reminded me of Pink Floyd. This is followed by 'Index', beginning with a low buzzsaw synth, and Wilson's estranged vocals. The story has developed now with the protagonist becoming obsessive compulsive and with dangerous intentions; "I'm a collector and I've always been misunderstood, I like the things that people always seem to overlook, I gather up and catalog it in a book I wrote, There's so much now that I forget if I don't make a note." The collector is becoming deranged in his thoughts though and taking his obsession one step further. I actually read somewhere that the song is about a serial killer who "collects" parts of his victims and keeps them as trophies and this makes sense, especially congruent with the video clip. The lyrics seem to point to this too "It isn't easy being me, it's kind of lonely work, my obligation to collecting is my only thirst." This is the thing that keeps him going but it seems he has regressed into the darkest recesses of human depravity. The 'index' of the title of course could mean that the collector is simply cataloguing his grim collection with an index of parts. It could also have the grim double meaning that one of his victims is about to have her index finger excised as part of this collection. Or have I seen too many serial killer movies? Think "Saw", "Se7en", or "Reanimator" for a start. This song can also easily be taken as a homage to collectors who hoard things others throw away, of which I am one of them, so this song was a little too close to home.

'Track One' features gorgeous acoustic and lead guitar tones like ribbons of gold adding to an atmosphere of solitude and desperate melancholy. This transition leads to the colossal jazz fusion piece.

'Raider II' is a 23 minute epic in the same vein as the 23 minutes of yesteryear that used to fill a whole side of vinyl. Wilson is clearly influenced by early King Crimson (he was working on the remaster of the album at the time). The musicians on this include Theo Travix on woodwind again, Jordan Rudess on piano and Mike Outram on guitar with Sand Snowman playing acoustic. All is accompanied by the amazing Synergy choir and of course Wilson's dexterity on instruments and vocals. The mammoth opus begins with low downbeat keyboard tones. A very sinister, ominous feel is created, as Wilson's phased vocals gently breathe out; "A fist will make you understand intention, to raise alarm is underhand, so I cut off the phone, I bind you up with tape and catch some TV." So the killer is now with his victim and awaiting the right moment to collect her parts. The song gets very creepy with King Crimson sax, as the serial killer is now at large and the police are on the hunt. Their search for the protagonist leads them to the scene of the crime and they conduct forensic investigation or autopsy and check "for fibres in the gaps between the teeth" and they are fingerprinting and dusting the whole area while the apartment is ransacked, "Check the fingerprints, go through the trash." Or is this the mind of the killer who is trying to reason out his obsessive cruel behaviour, "Maybe I just wanted some attention, Compulsion seeks its own way in rejection of the light", and he implies that he is about to end the life of his helpless victim in order to feed his insatiable fetish, "Every story needs to have an ending, we might as well give up all this pretending and clear the air." It is a terrifying notion but the album really transfixes with such lyrics and it is really open to interpretation.

Musically there is a lot going on. Mikael Akerfeldt enters the studio here and growls some incoherencies. The flute is Ian Anderson at his best, and that sax by Jaxon is Van der Graaf Generator back to form. Oh wait, I forgot this is Steve Wilson's album, got lost there for a moment in all this glorious music. Back to the story, is the whole thing in the protagonist's mind, is he fantasising, or is he really a sadistic killer? The lyrics are purposely vague and nothing is really given away as is the case with most Porcupine Tree material. The puzzle of the jigsaw can be solved piece by piece with the elaborate CD booklet, artwork, and videos of course. But I prefer to let the music do the explaining.

This chilling scenario is followed up by gorgeous flute from Theo Travis and organic swathes of keyboards envelop the rhythm of bass and drum. After a surge of electrifying musicianship, and a low groaning electrosynth noise, the track settles into an ethereal passage of eerie effects over grim silence. The choir is ghostly, reminding me of a Hammer horror movie from the 70s, and Rudess' piano is patient and unsettling. After a lengthy build up towards a disturbing conclusion, flute warbles with a very pretty melody, like a songbird breaking through the flames to escape. The stark vocals return and we barely hear; "A plague inside your home, I'm Raider, Defiling all you own, Raider". It seems that the killer is now finished his demented task and is warning us that we could be next. He is swallowed up in his own depressive delusional state and is indeed the "butcher and his prose". The music echoes the dark content with some sporadic dissonant sax blasts over an ascending staircase of guitar, keys and percussion clashes in 8 chords. The instruments compete wildly and suddenly go into an elongated frenzy to end this masterpiece. The chaotic effect defines insanity and the killers mind is collapsing; signified by a grinding effect. The soundscape is other worldly and alienating appropriately to echo the deranged mind of the protagonist. A piece of jazz guitar over a crawling bassline is followed by violining guitar swells to maintain a very creepy atmosphere at the end.

'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye' is an acoustic ballad, and the lyrics continue to try and wrap this opus up with some sort of conclusion. The lyrics seem to point that the killer is awaiting capture which is inevitable; "it won't be long now, til they're reeling you in, the same situation, the same disappointment you bring, so I hope you're happy, with the impression you made." It is too late now to change anything and the man "in denial" is ultimately doomed. "You're lost to me, like dust I have cleared from my eye, your words have no meaning", implies that all is lost as far as the protagonist is concerned, but who is speaking here, the killer, the victim or other? In any case, the shimmering organ is wonderful, and it brings the album back to the beauty that it started with. There are fantastic harmonies on the repeated motif; "Breathe in now, breathe out now." Is this to remind the subject that life still goes on and we just have to keep breathing and go on despite the rejection or pain that comes? Has the whole thing been a dream or nightmare? Or is the killer now wracked in guilt by his atrocities? Perhaps all and neither, the music is the main drawcard on this album and it ends with some fine musicianship, mostly played by Wilson on this last track. The final passage of music is Pink Floyd type guitar and an ambient keyboard shimmering and then a spacey texture fading, like the protagonist's life, fading to dust.

Nothing more to say about after all this exhaustive analysing. Masterpiece sums it up.

Review by Negoba
3 stars Simply Solid Modern Prog with a Pinch of Black

So ProgArchives has announced this work as its Collaborator Album of the Year 2011. As a casual Steven Wilson / Porcupine Tree fan, I didn't pick this up until the end of year rush to expose myself to the major albums of the genre. To be certain, I was pleasantly surprised on first listen. I ranked the album up with my favorite Wilson works, though still would not have marked this as a masterpiece by any means. Over time, however, I find myself gravitating to specific tracks and having a difficult time plodding through some sections.

The album open magnificently. The semi-choral opener "Grace for Drowning" is concise, beautiful, haunting, an ideal introduction to Wilson's world. Then comes my favorite song on the whole album, "Sectarian." This is a well constructed, intense, a prog feast mixing soaring mellotron and intense guitars, nasty sax that reminds of Ihsahn's AFTER. What really impressed me was the emotional bite that this piece has, which is something that Wilson sometimes lack. His skill as a producer sometimes doesn't serve him well, and I find much of his work over polished.

After that, it's very mixed quality for the duration. "Deform to Form a Star" is typical Wilson mellow ballad but a strong example. Wilson's wildly distorted guitar solo at 5:00 may be the most remarkable I've heard from him, the most evocative clip of a song with probably hundreds of individual takes and layers. "No Part of Me" starts with drum programming and then evolves into an almost 80's sounding over-orchestrated, over-emoted bore fest for the first 3:20. Then we get a more interesting instrumental, somewhat middle-eastern sounding bridge that doesn't really connect to the first half that much for me.

This is really the story of the album. Typical Steven Wilson interspersed with occasional experiments that end up being the only parts of the album I return for. "Postcard" is mopey navel gazing just when the album needed to rock. "Raider Prelude" is spooky and goth, bringing us back to an almost black metal ethic that I think would have served Wilson to stick with. Being depressed doesn't do that much for me. Instead, I prefer when he draws more on horror, that's something that quickens the pulse. "Remainder the Black Dog" attempts to turn this vibe into a fuller vocal song. Instead it's an overlong psych-prog jam with one fun intense section midway through.

Disc 2's opener "Belle De Jour" is another well composed, pretty interlude that serves its function well. "Index" is more solid but typical melancholy. Pleasant spacy textures that really don't go anywhere. "Track One" is based on a dry guitar vocal in 3 that does move a bit better and brings back the heavy black. (Yeah!!!) After a mid-song fade, there is a bluesy guitar solo clearly nodding to Mikael Akerfeldt's style. Probably my second favorite tune on the album. Then comes the monster, the 23 minute "Raider II." To be brief, this song hits both the strong and weak points of the album. Some eerie mood, some overlong meandering, occasionally proggy goodness. The album ends with "Like Dust I have Cleared from my Eye," which is clearly intended as a denoument. Aside from the autoharp, which had been an interesting texture previously but becomes grating here, the song is mellow and pleasant but quite forgettable.

It is very common for me to upgrade my opinion of a prog album when I put it under specific scrutiny for a review. Here, the opposite has happened. There are glimpses of real menace, danger, raw emotion. But for the most part this is just good old well polished depressive Steve Wilson. I listen to this album frequently as background music at work, and it does a very good job for that. Album of the year??? Not for me.

If you like Steven Wilson, you'll like this album. If you're "meh" about his other work, you'll be similarly neutral. I will say there are no lemon tracks or sections on this album. 3.5 stars rounded toward center.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Drowning in what? Drowning in the King Crimson back catalogue, it sounds like. The process of adding his skilled hand to the latest round of King Crimson remasters seems to have rubbed off on Steven Wilson, because on this double solo album he seems to reference the driving, heavy sound of their mid-1970s period - plus the gentler symphonic side they showed from the debut up to Islands - more than any of the other golden age of prog touchstones he revisits. Not that this is a retro-prog affair by any means - compositions like Index are pure, 100% 21st Century Wilson, man - but there's more of an overt updating and refreshing of classic 70s prog stylings here than on Wilson's work with Porcupine Tree.

Overall, a double album which most prog fans will enjoy and captures some great moments, but it initially didn't click with me. Eventually, I was able to see where Wilson was coming on through consideration of the longest track on the album - Raider II - which somehow bridges the chaotic intensity of mid-1970s King Crimson with the gentler aspects of the band's first four albums, crossbreeds it with substantially more pastoral prog visions (think the gentlest moments of Trespass-era Genesis or the Italian prog crowd) and then brings it together in an astonishingly sinister blend.

Now that I've reassessed, I would say that Grace For Drowning demand attention as much as any solo Porcupine Tree release. Wilson's skill as a multi-instrumentalist is particularly noteworthy, and with guest spots from everyone from Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, Theo Travis (whose sax and flute work puts me in mind of the role of both instruments in the earliest Crimson albums), a good chunk of the latter-day King Crimson (here's Levin, here's Mastelotto, here's Gunn), and more besides - there's even Steve Hackett on guitar at one point, and Dave Stewart of Egg, Hatfield & the North, and National Health helps out with the string arrangements. On one album, Wilson manages to assemble a true galaxy of prog heroes from the earliest days of the genre to the modern day - and it's a tribute to his own skills that it is unmistakably his musical vision which they are united behind here.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As I can see the later development of prog it is likely impossible to discuss about prog without involving Steve Wilson's name as his reputation has been widely recognized by many prog musicians - younger and older generation. Look at this album: you can find many heavy hitters like Steve Hackett, Jordan Rudess, Tony Levin and others. The good thing is whoever big names they are, this second solo album by Steven Wilson totally driven by the genius brain of Steven Wilson. You can't tell who the players are until you open the CD sleeves.

After my disappointment with debut solo album Insurgentes, this second one pays off as I enjoy the music, overall. The music is really atmospheric, dark, haunting and it blends various elements of prog you never imagined before into one cohesive whole. I can not tell you precisely track by track as tome, enjoying this album is like TOTAL experience that I dive in deeply into the music and enjoy it from opening to end of the album. As I know Steven core competence on sound engineering, I assure that you will agree with me that the audio and soundscapes qualities are all really wonderful. Composition-wise, this album has excellent melody even though at the outset I can see that this is not a song orientated composition and I must listen to it in its entirety to get total experience. There are some elements of King Crimson as well on the second track Sectarian that are blended beautifully with symphonic style. Yes, there are changes of style that happen smoothly as the transition pieces make them smooth.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection that you can hardly skip. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by rogerthat
4 stars If I could rate an album five stars just for production, this, Steven Wilson's second solo effort, would be one of the few that would come to my mind, leaving aside the obvious Dark Sides. Wilson has long since earned quite a reputation as ace producer. What's changed is he also remastered some King Crimson albums recently and fell in love with the more organic, improvised approach on those albums. Adopting that approach on a modern recording works wonders, to say the least. Somebody shared figures of dynamic range for several albums on the forum recently and, not surprisingly, Grace for Drowning boasts of a high dynamic range.

Just the sound of listening to Grace for Drowning is a wonderful feeling. The multitude of instrumental layers can be heard in crystal clarity and at the same time, my ears are able to feel the sounds rather than just hear them. There is excellence in the way this album has been put together and yet, there is also warmth. In short, it kicks ass. You might take that as a rousing endorsement, if you will, because I am not exactly a diehard Steven Wilson fan.

Having given it plenty of time before I decided to formulate my opinion on this album by means of this review, though, I am not sure the compositions make a resounding case for masterpiece class. There is not a single track that I felt irritated by, but there are some which I wouldn't particularly miss. Forgettable, unremarkable, in other words.

Before I elaborate on that, I want to talk about my favourite track from this album - No Part Of Me. This track strikes at the very heart of what makes Grace for Drowning an exciting proposition. Wilson's 60s and 70s influences creep into this album quite prominently while, on the other hand, he never completely lets go of his contemporary identity. On No Part of Me, this juxtaposition seemingly haunts the entire track. What starts out with Wilson in a pensive mood explodes into a heavy workout a la the Dance on a volcano coda. In under six minutes, Wilson covers seemingly the full spectrum, and very effectively.

Which brings me to the contradiction in Wilson's approach. Wilson appears to consider himself not so good at writing pop songs and has professed that his few attempts at writing something more accessible were with an eye on marketplace imperatives. But to me, his attempts at writing something short or catchy seem to be more effective than his epics.

There's one epic on this double album - Raider II. It initially holds my attention strongly but I cannot help losing track after some time. This composition seems to lack a certain overarching structure, within the framework of which the various themes could convey a more coherent impression. It also lacks substantial changes and tends to drift back to where it started from every once in a while. Perhaps appropriately, the epic fades away in an anti-climactic finish with an improv that I thought would build up to one more theme to conclude matters but it didn't.

Of the four long tracks, the more Porcupine Tree-esque Deform to Form a Star and Like Dust I Have Cleared from My eye initially struggled to make an impression on me but they eventually grew on me. Sectarian and Remainder the Black Dog sound very impressive at first, but Wilson doesn't seem to have fully realized these compositions. Once again, he falters a bit when he attempts to develop the opening themes and the tracks seem to meander, even if at pace, from one motif to another. And yet again, he balances this by avoiding any particularly daring twists that might prove more difficult to resolve.

In saying this, I may have hit upon the crux of this album. It is very solid and the execution is impeccable. The problem is, barring No Part of Me, it doesn't challenge me as much as it promises to. Maybe Wilson is more effectively able to challenge ideas in a pop-like format than in epics. Maybe he is not quite as great a composer as he is a top notch producer.

That's not for me to say, at any rate, but because the compositions fall a touch short of generating the same enthusiasm that I have for the production, I will stop at 4 stars. Nevertheless, a must have in contemporary prog.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Steven Wilson is the undisputed leader of the modern Art Rock scene in UK and one of the most recognizable rock figures worldwide.From his teenagers years with the Neo Prog band Karma and the Electronic outfit Altamont to his more recent activities as the leader of Porcupine Tree, No-Man and Bass Communion, he developed his musical skills as an instrumentalist and composer, scanning various different styles and sources of inspiration.In 2001 he started a collaboration with Aviv Geffen in the Blackfield project, while he even developed his knowledge as a producer and collaborated with an endless list of artists and bands, including Fish, Opeth and Paatos.But he also found time to release his debut album ''Insurgentes'' in 2008 in a kind of Ambient/Art Rock mood, followed by another effort in 2011, the ''Grace for drowning'' release on the Porcupine Tree-related KScope Records.

The original output consists of 2 CD's of about 40-minutes of length each and is of course driven by Wilson's impressive multi-instrumental offerings, but also includes a nice list of guest musicians: Jordan Rudess on piano,Theo Travis on sax, clarinet and flute, Ben Castle on clarinet, Nick Beggs on bass and Chapman stick, Nic France on drums and Tony Levin on bass.Musically I bet that ''Grace for drowning'' would be the best soundtrack of a future Steven Wilson autobiographical movie, delivering most of his career sights and sounds in 80 minutes of well-crafted music.The first part of the first CD clearly shows Wilson's Retro Prog inspirations with GENESIS, KING CRIMSON and even some light Canterbury vibes around, very dominant use of Mellotron, sweet and romantic vocals ala CRESSIDA and BRACLAY JAMES HARVEST and emphatic guitar textures in a ROBERT FRIPP way, creating grandiose, atmospheric and solid musicianship all the way with jazzy, psychedelic and Classical flourishes.As it progresses the CD becomes more and more flexible with modern-sounding orchestrations pompous symphonic soundscapes combine with jazzy interludes, led by electric piano, clavinet and sax.The music is very dramatic and often bombastic, although some ambiental breaks are often present to calm thigs down.

The second CD is a bit more one-dimensional and definitely as contemporary as it gets, at least in the first three tracks, which come as a mix of laid-back Symphonic/Art Rock and Ambient music.Mellotron strings shine through these pieces, offering a haunting mood during the orchestral lines.PINK FLOYD were among Wilson's cetain influences, but become more apparent at this point.It's exactly the same point where the English mastermind chooses to place the 23-min. grand epic ''Raider II'', propably the purest amalgam of his career as an artist.Combining the stylings of both PORCUPINE TREE's and NO-MAN's efforts, it explores a progressive sound akin to KING CRIMSON, colored by extended jazzy moments with sax, clarinet and flute in evidence, powered by breaks between slow motion soundscapes and fast/furious rhythmic deliveries and adding a loose feeling through its jazzy nature.Guitar work is simply outstanding, especially when accompanied by the powerful, orchestral keyboards, the lower point being the very mellow Ambient-like passages, definitely I can see them being added as balance factor during the process, but wasn't really fond of them.Anyway, this is overall a very strong piece of Prog music.The closing FLOYD-ian ''Like dust I have cleared from my eye'' is a decent, slightly psychedelic farewell with nostalgic keyboards and very GLIMOUR-like electric solos, quite attractive even if the last 3-4 minutes are pure Ambient explorations.

''Grace for drowning'' belongs among Steven Wilson's discography highlights.Diverse Progressive Rock with 70's and modern inspirations, offering some monumental themes among the generally well-crafted music.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Nobody fills almost every genre of progressive rock better than Steven Wilson, the busiest man in progressive rock today. Every album he has put out under his own name beginning with this up to the current day has been a masterpiece. The overall feel of his music is dark but that is what he does best, whether it's a soft quiet passage or a loud dramatic filled section, there is always a huge amount of emotion tied to his music.

SW says the golden era of rock music was the late 60s into the 70s because that is when music was album oriented and this allowed rock music to expand it's boundaries into both the classical and jazz realms by borrowing from the elements of those composition styles. Everyone knows, at least in the prog world, that he has had a huge part in bringing the classic progressive albums into the modern era by providing the best listening experience possible in the remastering of these albums. He was working on the King Crimson back catalog when he was writing this album, hence the heavy influence of adding brass instruments to some of the music on this album. You definitely hear shades of "20th Century Schizoid Man", "Lizard" and "Starless" in the music here, and I completely welcome this because I love how they are incorporated in the music. In fact, those passages that feature those instruments, along with the heavy guitar in some places, are the best parts of this album. The tracks "Secretarian", "No Part of Me", "Remainder the Black Dog" and "Raider II" have some of the best sections that include heavy guitar and brass together since King Crimson's "Red" album.

The other songs on here are also great compositions and all of the tracks feature amazing dynamics, from the softest murmurings to the loudest blasts of power, everything carries feeling unlike what most music can do. These songs are all well composed and thought out studies of emotion, sound, dynamic and orchestration. Although, SW plays most of the instruments here, he has also surrounded himself with amazing musicians like Tony Levin, Steve Hackett, Theo Travis, Pat Mastelotto, Jordan Rudess, Mel Collins, Dave Stewart among others. There is also many passages here with the symphonic sounds of strings and choir, each used in not an overabundance, but used when needed to add to the dynamics of the songs here.

There is so much to hear on this album, and everything is amazing. The only weak point comes early in the track listing in the song "Deform to Form a Star" which is a little too mediocre compared to the other powerful tracks on this album. Even the mostly acoustic interlude "Belle De Jour" is a lovely short instrumental that introduces the 2nd part of the album, and it has it's place and rises far above filler material.

There has been so much said about this album, and not everyone agrees with it being masterpiece material. I think a lot of the lower ratings come from the fact that a lot of SW's music is quite dark, some say it's too mellow while others say it's too loud. Well, it is all of that. I love the fact that there is so much emotion and dynamics in this album and I love that the songs fill all of the dynamic ranges from soft to loud, just like classical music does. I also love the addition of the jazz instrumentation, chord changes and other elements that are present from time to time. I also don't mind that he borrows from another favorite of mine King Crimson. No doubt that he has Robert Fripp's blessing in doing so, because he can do it in a completely believable manner.

To me, this is nothing but a masterpiece of beauty, dissonance, dynamics and emotion. But it incorporates large portions of progressive elements, which is the most apparent of all the elements here. Many people have reviewed this album, so there really isn't much more to say that hasn't already been said. The overall consensus is that it is a masterpiece, but so are most of SW's other solo albums. If you haven't heard this or any of SW's more recent albums, then what have you been waiting for, it's time to decide for yourself. If you have heard them, then you already know what I am talking about. Amazing music and amazing song writing. 5 stars without question.

Review by Wicket
4 stars It's really an inescapable stereotype isn't it? Steven Wilson's music is depressing, it's boring and it's unoriginal.

I'll let you have this, friends, it's not the busiest music around, and while listening to the opening ballad "Grace For Drowning", it seems to hold true, despite some beautiful playing by my boy, Jordan Rudess. But it doesn't take long before "Sectarian" kicks in, an instrumental ode to Morse-era Spock? Plenty of action here, but again, it really does seem a bit too lively to be conceived by Wilson. Then again, his solo repertoire differs vastly from his Porcupine Tree work, like (or believe) it or not.

I'll also concede the fact that it is a bit more depressing mood wise. "Hand. Cannot. Erase." is probably the happiest album Steven Wilson is ever going to release. But that's not entirely bad. Songs like "Deform To Form A Star" sound very PT, and thus, might be very boring, Wilson always keeps stuff happening. Overlapping harmonies from his vocals, the periodic guitar solo, Rudess' piano playing and the mildly interesting drumming from Nic France, and the addition of instruments like the sax and clarinet just add so much color and depth you never got from old Porcupine Tree albums.

And that I think is the brilliance of Wilson's solo work. It's still very much reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, but it just sounds more interesting. "No Part Of Me" could be constituted as another typical Wilson ballad, but with the little twinkling bell tone pattern that repeats in the intro, the electronic drums adding tension and drama and the excellent string section (not samples, so you know he's serious here). But then, just when he has you fooled, Wilson throws in some rhythmic claps ,and that's when you know it's going down for real (to quote some guy, think his name is Flo Rida?) The guitars pick up and the actual drums enter close the second half of the song in style behind a sick sax solo by Theo Travis.

But Wilson really does know how to create beautiful songs. "Postcard" is probably right at the top there, with "Raider Prelude" being another interlude filled with beautiful choir vocals and "Remainder The Black Dog" channeling Pink Floyd's down-tempo jams and jazzy, bluesy vibes, before diving into some distorted power chords and rocking out to some sick clarinet and sax solos, one of my favorites of the album.

This album really marks the culmination of Wilson's sound, to me, as "Insurgentes" sounded almost too like Porcupine Tree. There are some catchy songs there, more than any other Wilson solo album, but it also didn't feel like an original style. This album does.

The second disc isn't as good as the first, in my opinion. The acoustic main intro "Belle De Jour" is just sort of there, not really much substance or melody to carry my attention, and "Index" and "Track One" are more haunting atmospheric soundscapes than actual songs. "Raider II" is the jewel of the oyster, here. Soft soft, loud stuff, haunting melodies, technical prowess, this song has it all (And frankly makes me wonder why they couldn't have just made this a one disc album with this being the closer? It would've worked) "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye", while it's another typical, but beautiful Wilson ballad, I still feel like most of them are just B-sides to accompany "Raider II".

This album has its gems and misses, but it's the beginning of Wilson's own sound and style. Much more diverse than "Insurgentes", but not as complete as "Hand", in my opinion. Most of the songs on the second disc I think are just filler to accompany "Raider II", apart from perhaps "Like Dust". That said, it's still got some tunes, good for any Tree or Wilson fan.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Grace for Drowning stands out as among Steven Wilson's most challenging and experimental work to date. This is an album unencumbered by structure or appeals to the average listener's expectations; Wilson unashamedly crafts songs that drift between openendedness and improvisation to dark, bottom-heavy chugging that assaults the ear. The mood is one of falling asleep, with the songs becoming the the dreams and nightmares that stick with you until clearing the dust from your eye the next morning.

First thing to note, this is a double-album. In my experience, this leads to very good, or mediocre work. It takes a lot of ideas to sustain this much music. Wilson himself has said in interviews that he discourages people from listening to the two discs back-to-back, because the mental fortitude it would take to remain engaged is just beyond most listeners. I tend to agree with him in this case; the music on Grace for Drowning is often beautiful, but it is very hard to actively enjoy for extended periods... and this album would make for very schizophrenic background music.

The two sides of this album are complementary, but somewhat different in feel.The first side contains more of the "normal" music we'd expect to hear from Wilson: a combination of hot/cold tones artfully composed and excellently performed. I imagine this as Grace for Drowning's "waking" side; it's like a soundtrack that accompanies you through a sucky, depressing day at work and then at home as you "drown" through the day-to-day. The second half is more dreamy, almost ambient at times. To me, this is like falling asleep and letting the subconscious take over. Unfortunately for the sleeper - Wilson pretty much only creates nightmares. This is dark music, challenging music, that lacks memorable hooks, riffs, and even melodies. It's all about tones and emotion, like an expressionist painting that uses mostly dreary colors. Beautiful sounds shine through the dark at times, but you'll be left with mixed feelings by the end.

Both sides are exceptionally performed, with a host of guest musicians adding a lot to the palette of sounds we're given.

If you're coming to Wilson's solo work from Porcupine Tree or more accessible solo works like Hand Cannot Erase, be warned! You won't be tapping your foot or feeling those emotional surges get with "Trains" or "Three Years Older." If you're not much for Wilson's output because of the metal or crossover feel, then Grace for Drowning may be one for you.

For me, it's a fine album but too distant from my sensibilities to be one of my favorites.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
5 stars Steven Wilson has decided in his solo career to take a different approach than with Porcupine Tree. Instead of trying to tight up the structures of the songs as much as possible, he decided to let the things happen during the recording process which give more improvisations and Jazz to the music. The list of musicians here is impressive and brings so much beautiful textures to the sound of this release. I think my overall feeling about this one hour and twenty minutes of music was about like watching a movie and going on a journey trough different moods and atmosphere, but mostly of the dark and melancholic side. The use of acoustic guitars, many gentle piano lines is sharing the parts with some heavier guitars which is nothing new when we know what the man did previously in his career. Not only the mix of Metal, Pop, Ambient and Prog is taking the listener to different moods but even in those dreamy slow tempo passages, we can always feel some intensity growing sometimes with a sax or clarinet solo which are abundant here. Sometimes like in the song "Index", we are waiting for a blast of guitars, but it never does, we are left with a cool melody, some ambient vibes driven by drums, keyboards and the vocals of Steven. For those older listeners here, the use of flute and clarinets of Theo Travis will remind you of the old King Crimson sound of the 70's, especially brilliant in the instrumental "Sectarian" and the epic "Raider II". The complexity of the arrangements here and the overall sound of each instruments are impressive. The sound of mellotron can be heard, while i can't say that they use a real old one, but i know that Steven has played on a real one. "Belle de Jour" has some affinity with "Entangled" of Genesis. Also one more thing to notice, it's the good use the choir in some songs with arrangements that have been done by Dave Stewart. There is too many highlights here to go any further , you have to get this, especially in surround sound to live the full experience of great songwriting and sound.
Review by LearsFool
5 stars There's something about this Swilson solo outing. Where the others are much more facsimiles of older material both his and others, this one is fresher and more subtle about its '70's era influences. Whereas so much of his work is tight, overly perfectionist, and in more recent times rote, "Grace For Drowning" is looser, jazzier, and more eclectic. This is perhaps Steven Wilson's last truly great album, at least outside of Bass Communion.

Let's start about where it all ends up with "Raider II". Yeah, part of this sound hearkens back to pre-"Discipline" Crimson, if wonderfully since most of all it takes off of and pays tribute to "Lizard". It means great things since this kind of music was new for Wilson, and he never did it again. It's also a summation of his career, an epic suite bouncing between this new and sounds building off of Porcupine Tree, I.E.M., and Blackfield. And when I say that he builds his later work off of spare parts from earlier, I'm mainly talking about him disassembling this great success and using the creepy choirs for Storm Corrosion and "The Raven That Refused To Sing", and hollow approximations of the rest for the horrid "Hand. Cannot. Erase.". I guess "Raider II" is just that good, it had to be recorded a dozen times more.

Aside from that cut, and similarly longer and more fusion leaning cuts like the one-two punch of the title track and "Sectarian", there are of course the shorter ones. These fall into two categories; first, there are the macabre cuts that finish the shiny and new half of this record, with "Index" and "Track One" another mindblowing combo. Alongside these are tracks like "Deform To Form A Star" and "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye", longform pop prog cuts that put Blackfield and HCE to complete shame. Altogether, great use was made of the space Wilson allotted himself with a double album.

Where the rote part of Wilson's career begins, his golden age comes to a glorious end. This is a beautiful masterpiece, a lesson to himself in how to handle retro prog, crossover prog, and big darn concepts. If only he had taken his own advice...

Review by The Crow
3 stars After the unsatisfactory and a bit disjointed Insurgentes, which was like a compilation of Porcupine Tree unreleased tracks, Steven Wilson returned with Grace for Drowning!

And there he crafted a more coherent collection of songs, with a style which moves between the strength and power of Porcupine Tree and a much more jazz and psychedelic oriented sections. Sadly, this parts of the album are a bit dull and boring for me, making the listening of tracks like Raider II not really attractive.

Nevertheless, the album has enough good songs to be an enjoyable experience, and the lyrics are always interesting despite lacking a concept behind them like in Fear of a Blank Planet or the later The Raven that Refused to Sing.

Best Tracks: Deform to form a Star (the best track of the album, pure beautiful prog piece), No part of Me (simple, good written song) and Index (great lyrics and a very sinister tone)

Conclusion: Grace for Drowning is a better album than Insurgentes, but it does not reach the quality of the best Works of Porcupine Tree, having a lot of filler tracks and too much improvised jazz and psychedelic moments for my taste.

Nevertheless, the second Steven Wilson effort with his own name is a very competent and well-crafted piece of prog music which deserves to be heard at least a couple of times.

My rating: ***

Review by Meltdowner
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Steven Wilson's second album is such a fantastic listening experience, almost like a ritual for me. I always play it in Surround sound in a pitch dark room and let myself plunge into the music.

I find the use of dynamics and silence for dramatic purposes very well done and is particularly refreshing in these brick-walled production days.

There aren't many tracks that stand out from the rest, except maybe "Deform To Form A Star", since they work better in the context of the album. For me this album is like a journey where I find myself going deeper and deeper into the abyss only to find light at the bottom.

Compared to his other works, this album is probably easier to dismiss due to its brooding nature and length but it's incredibly rewarding on multiple listens.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars 'Grace for Drowning', the second solo studio album by progressive rock champion Steven Wilson, was released in the autumn of 2011 on the progressive music label Kscope, as a double disc, clocking in at round eighty-three minutes of playtime. This very interesting album comes after Wilson had released his debut solo effort 'Insurgentes' some three years ago, an experimental rock record full of unusual sounds displaying his various eclectic influences, that somehow did not establish an aesthetic far too different from that of Porcupine Tree, who went on to release their final studio album the very next year, thus allowing Wilson to focus entirely on his personal musical desires and ideas.

In all this context, it also has to be mentioned that this album serves as a part of a trilogy that features Opeth's 'Heritage', released in 2011, as well, an album that has been met with mixed emotions, and Storm Corrosion's self-titled release, which is ultimately Wilson and Akerfeldt focusing on their more ethereal and aloof influences, creating a very elevated and picturesque collage of sonic explorations. And then there is 'Grace for Drowning', a record that is quite different from both albums comprising this trilogy of kind. Another important element that could help us decode the sound of this album has to be the fact that Wilson had been working on the early 70s King Crimson albums at that time, and that influence is seriously prevalent throughout the whole 80-minute album.

A very bold, artistic, and extravagant collection of songs and compositions, that sees Steven Wilson venture into the realm of jazz, fusion, and improvisation, with a wink towards the 70s jazz fusion scene, certainly reminding us not only of King Crimson, but also of Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and maybe even Herbie Hancock and Van der Graaf Generator. To make things even more impressive, Wilson is joined by a stellar lineup of musicians from the progressive rock and fusion scenes, some of which include Jordan Rudess, Pat Mastelotto, Theo Travis, Nick Beggs, Dave Kerzner, Marcus Reuter, Trey Gunn, Steve Hackett, and Tony Levin - this really has to be his first grandiose love letter for the music of the 70s that he is so fond of.

Mind-blowing arrangements, masterful songwriting, pretentious lyrics, and grandiose musicianship on several occasions - these are some of the aspects that this record possesses, alongside the strongly emotive atmosphere that Wilson always manages to create through his music, this record contains very avant-garde numbers like the instrumental 'Sectarian', the bombastic 'Remainder the Black Dog', the ethereal 'Track One', and the big 23-minute fusion suite 'Raider II', certainly of the best achievements for progressive rock in the decade of the 2010s, some very strong songs that still have that touch of Porcupine Tree, and yet sound nothing like the then-extinct band, including 'Deform to Form a Star', 'Postcard', 'Index', and 'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye'.

Excellent from front to back, this is one of the top albums not only in Steven Wilson's catalogue but also of 21st century progressive music, with the British multi-instrumentalist showcasing his seamless ability to shift styles with each new record to some quite impressive results.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Hi fellow Prog rockers and music lovers. Steven Wilson, early into his solo career comes out with an album that has every bit of sophistication, imagination and production quality of the great albums we know and love from the golden age of prog rock with a slight sense of contemporary. Featuri ... (read more)

Report this review (#3050279) | Posted by Aussie_Philosopher | Friday, April 26, 2024 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Steven Wilson (SW) is a very well known man among the members of prog community. If you are not familiar with his works, here is some historical background. SW is best known as the founder of Porcupine Tree, has participated in/created numerous proGjects (pun intended), including No-Man, Blackfi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2919632) | Posted by sepia_blob | Tuesday, April 25, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Steven Wilson followed Insurgentes with Grace for Drowning in 2011, a huge double album that saw him branching off in some directions Porcupine Tree never took. Most notably, there is a not-insignificant amount of jazz flavor present. (Jazz in Porcupine Tree's music never went beyond brief interlude ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904186) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Certainly the most depressing and melancholic of Wilson's albums. The beginning sounds hopeless already. The dark, ominous Sectarian combines the extensive King Crimson and subtle Opeth's post 2008 traces. Opeth's influence comes up at various points on this album and that is no surprise since S ... (read more)

Report this review (#1948225) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, July 14, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My LP player is on my left and i'm trying to figure out which of these amazing albums should i review first. There are some magnificent albums there from Classical Prog world to Jazz and to UK underground rock scene. But, it's always good luck when you start your reviews with a personal favourit ... (read more)

Report this review (#1361065) | Posted by Genesis1973 | Tuesday, February 3, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am sorry to say that the first few listens of 'Grace for Drowning' was mainly an experience of disappointment and a sence of wanting more from a truly great artist that has proved his worth time and time again. There are a few special moments but on the whole I felt this album lacked any subs ... (read more)

Report this review (#1135966) | Posted by Kevman28 | Sunday, February 23, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 4.75 Stars. Graceful walking into the twilight zone GfD is the second of SW's solo albums and the first one that clearly spells out what his new musical direction is. The alternative and metal aspects of PT are stripped away and replaced with King Crimson inspired 70s Prog and a greater reliance ... (read more)

Report this review (#1047733) | Posted by LakeGlade12 | Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Although there are some people that don't get this album, I feel that within the next ten or twenty years, Grace for Drowining will be remembered as one of the strongest releases by a musician of this decade. In this album, Wilson gathers from his enormous palette of musical influences, and mu ... (read more)

Report this review (#920441) | Posted by ThumpinBass | Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 Kin ... (read more)

Report this review (#905371) | Posted by RedNightmareKing | Sunday, February 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I like Porcupine Tree. They make nice music. Wilson is obviously a big part of that. However, they have never once wowed me. Signify, In Absentia, Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet have all been enjoyable albums to my ears, but I would not consider any of them masterpieces. Now Wilson h ... (read more)

Report this review (#802278) | Posted by Lofcaudio | Thursday, August 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't know how he manages to keep doing it, but Steven Wilson continues to zig zag all over the place with sound and styles, yet the quality is always of the highest order, both in songwriting and sound quality. Grace for Downing harkens back to glory days of progressive rock (mellotron all ... (read more)

Report this review (#794442) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Grace For Drowning is one of my favorite pieces of music at the moment. It will continue to astonish me every time I decide to embark on its musical journey. Steven Wilson has been writing, recording, mixing, mastering, and producing for quite a long time now and has become my idol for doing ... (read more)

Report this review (#751839) | Posted by Progmuzak | Friday, May 11, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 p ... (read more)

Report this review (#751209) | Posted by Usandthem | Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I bought the cd and found it very interesting. is very listenable even though in many places I have found very anxious. steven wilson remains a very inspired singer for his solo project too. musicians who participated in this collaboration were very complete presenting various ideas that are very di ... (read more)

Report this review (#674584) | Posted by Aenima 2112 | Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I really respect Steven Wilson, his work as a producer and sound engineer remixing classic albums like Tull's Aqualung and KC's In The Court Of The Crimson King, Red and the (I hope) upcoming Larks' Tongues In Aspic with a 'fan' and even somewhat audiophile approach is something I'm very grateful ... (read more)

Report this review (#628817) | Posted by JackFloyd | Wednesday, February 8, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4.5 stars, really! I hated Insurgentes. The repetition, the white noise, the boring progressions repeated over and over and over and over again (I know, that's the same as repetition, but I'm trying to drive the point home here), the guitar solos that sounded like a kid still learning how to p ... (read more)

Report this review (#607816) | Posted by infandous | Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In 2011, Steven Wilson released Grace for Drowning, his second solo album apart from his main band, Porcupine Tree, or his various other side projects. Technically, this album is a double album, with the first album being called Deform to Form a Star, and the second album being called Like Dus ... (read more)

Report this review (#600727) | Posted by MoodyRush | Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Let me start this review by saying that I am a Progressive Metal lover, who tries to get outside his comfort zone on a fairly regular basis, and occasionally finds things he really likes in other sub-genres. This is NOT one of them. I am, obviously, a Dream Theater fan, but not so obviously a fan ... (read more)

Report this review (#594975) | Posted by dtguitarfan | Friday, December 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars While being a big admirer of Steven Wilson's previous work with Porcupine Tree, I just cannot seem to connect with this album. After reading all the extremely positive reviews on this site for this album I really tried to like it and to find what others seem to have found with it. So I gave it at le ... (read more)

Report this review (#591930) | Posted by Mexx | Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In a year that saw releases from Opeth, Dream Theater, Unexpect, Neal Morse, and Devin Townsend, Steven Wilson can still turn heads when he announces a double album. In more proper terms, Grace for Drowning is actually a set of two individual albums, titled "Deform To Form A Star" and "Like Du ... (read more)

Report this review (#584835) | Posted by Daggor | Thursday, December 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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