Steven Wilson is a prolific artist within the world of progressive & psychedelic rock but by no means limited to such colossal restraints. His latest exploit sees him return to the recording studio with several other musical legends; Guthrie Govan & Marco Minnemann to name just two. Coupled with Steven’s ingeniousness and the band’s incredible virtuoso abilities they have created one of the most inspiring albums of each of their careers. Whether you’re here for the man himself, or for Theo Travis’ flute solos, you are in for more than a treat. If you have been waiting for this album, you wished for a toy and were granted the keys to the whole shop. A wide expanse into Steven’s musical world that stretches from the hive mind of progressive rock towards the more accessible works of Porcupine Tree, and reaches back to the disturbing and haunted creatures amidst Storm Corrosion.
Album opener ‘Luminol’ is a track most Wilson-Fanatics will already be familiar with. A progressive rock anthem that opens the album perfectly. Like an overture explores various elements at the start of a symphony, ‘Luminol’ grants a tasteful view of Guthrie’s guitar solos, Theo’s wondrous woodwind and brass interludes, Nick Beggs’ destructive bass sound (producers, this is how a bass should sound), Adam Holzman’s mastery of the keys and last but not least Marco’s incredible knowledge of the drum kit. The roller-coaster ends, leaving you thinking ‘how mad can this get?’ when ‘Drive Home’ and ‘The Holy Drinker’ relieve you from the storming instrumentals, but only for a moment.
‘Drive Home’ opens to much softer instrumentals that lead into dynamic verses and choruses. Immediately, in just the second track, you are thrown from Steven’s vicious attack into much stabler territory. In a sense this song is similar to the album closer’s eponymous track, whilst at the same time two completely different adventures. Guthrie’s guitar solo is something to marvel at; a wonderful majestic mastery of the fret-board, truly one of the greatest guitarist that has ever lived. ‘The Holy Drinker’ is situated in slightly darker and more quirky territory again, oddly a return to norm for the album. Guthrie’s fantastic guitar phrasing is explored in this once more and is accompanied perfectly with the horn and keys.
Whilst these middle four tracks (‘Drive Home’, ‘The Holy Drinker’, ‘The Pin Drop’ and ‘The Watchmaker’) are all beautiful songs, the track that really shines is The Raven That Refused To Sing. A song believed to hold much more of a personal meaning to Steven Wilson than the others lead on.
All in all, this 54 minute adventure is such an enjoyable and warming experience it must be enjoyed multiple times. Each song has it’s own highlights that set it aside from the others, thus making it incredibly hard to pick one favourite. ‘The Pin Drop’ seems to have many of these hidden qualities, more emotion and easier to listen to than the others at times. There’s definitely something for everyone on this album. If you consider yourself a fan of music you have to give this album several listens to. This is a great started for aspiring prog fanatics, and a refreshing take on the genre for those already familiar with it. Beautiful hybrid of the flowing dynamic of Pink Floyd, and the technical wizardry of Rush, and stopping at Genesis and so many more somewhere along the way.
If you can’t find something beautiful in this album, you haven’t opened yourself up enough.
Steven Wilson has employed some of the biggest names in rock on his third solo adventure. The exploration of the solo project is grounded by the other musicians, yet it’s peaks still reach higher than any place on the planet. This combination of artists and ideas produces a beautiful piece of art that shall be kept safe for many years. A fresh album in today’s age, an example of what people can create if they know their instrument, live and love music, and have a message Though all the performers are miles ahead of the average human, the songs are accessible for mere mortals and are demonstrations of the perfect craftsmanship of Steven Wilson. This is truly one of the most beautiful albums you may listen to, and isn’t bordering on the insane for your average music listener. Guthrie’s soloing and Marco’s familiar drums provide well known listening ground in the middle of Theo and Adam’s instrumental majesty. Everyone truly shines on this album, Nick’s bass sounded exactly how a bass should. Steven’s voice is as ever calming as ever, underrated as a vocalist. He has written, performed and produced one of the best things of his career and this is still only a fragment of what this musical warrior is capable of. A knight in shining armour, someone all musicians should look up to.
Score – 5/5 stars