MENU
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Steven Wilson - To The Bone CD (album) cover

TO THE BONE

Steven Wilson

Crossover Prog


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
5 stars Wilson has done it again. And the album is just what he said it would be: a celebration of the great art pop albums of the eighties and nineties. Let's do a song by song analysis.

- To the Bone - It starts off with a female voice, American accent, about the fact that everybody has his or her own perception of Truth. Trump would approve of this song! Lyrics for the entire song are courtesy of the great Andy Partridge of XTC-fame. After this introduction a guitar strum kicks in that "echoes" Pink Floyd (pun intended) and then Steven's clear voice comes in. A wonderful start of of the album which makes you crave for more. The lyric "Rain down on me" preludes on the forthcoming Refuge. Or does it hark back to Radiohead's Paranoid Android? You never now.

- Nowhere Now - The first "poppy" song of the album. Still proggy enough for me. Would have fitted perfectly on the Porcupine Tree albums Lightbulb Sun or Stupid Dream.

- Pariah - The song where Ninet Tayeb lends her voice to a song that ends in a marvelous hair raising crescendo. And in the end these chilling words sung by Steven: "Don't you worry, don't worry about a thing, 'cause nothing really dies, nothing really ends." Steven's first nod to Peter "So" Gabriel (Don't Give Up featuring Kate Bush, anyone?): a man and women duet about a society outcast.

- The Same Asylum as Before - Another PT era song, this time more in the vein of let's say Deadwing.

- Refuge - The opening sounds make you instantly think Peter Gabriel is going to shout out "Red Rain coming down" any moment now, but Steven keeps us in suspense. It is not until 2:39 that SW really bursts into full Peter Gabriel mode. And although he is not singing PG's words, the lyrics carry more or less the same message. Finding a shelter from modern day disturbances. The song is supposed to deal with refugees, but my interpretation dares to be deviant. Kind of blend between Red Rain and Gabriel's San Jacinto (esp. the chord structure).

- Permanating - The ABBA/ELO/Beatles song. Upbeat and uplifting. A well crafted popsong, but, with the SW touch which makes this a standout song after all.

- Blank Tapes - Early Genesis mellotron and guitar open this lovely quiet song about a love that's lost. Somehow reminds me of the Robert Fripp song Mary on his 1979 Exposure album.

- People Who Eat Darkness - The third PT song on the album. I would say Fear of a Blank Planet era. Another sonic treat. Fabulous U2-like guitar solo!

- Song of I - Sophie Hunger lends her voice to this one. Not the gritty quality of Ninet Tayeb's voice, but much clearer. Perfect fit for this song. Second hint at Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush with the lyric "Give it up" as opposed to "Don't give up"?

- Detonation - SW starts off in Radiohead mode. From 1:19 to 1:30 the reference to Thom Yorke is more than obvious. But it's not like a rip off of any kind. SW has this special way of borrowing from other musicians without becoming cheesy or a complete clone. Influences from King Crimson have always been blatant in Wilson's work, but in this track he seems to have amalgamated Radiohead, King Crimson, his own Porcupine Tree and a whiff of Tears for Fears. By far the "proggiest" track of the album with an epic length of 9:20.

- Song of Unborn - The album's closer sounds like It would have fitted perfectly on Wilson's Hand.Cannot.Erase album. A lovely finale to a contemporary progpop album. An instant classic if you ask me.

The "dirty" harmonica in several of the songs adds a bluesy touch that gives these songs this extra uhmpf. And in places it reminds you of Supertramp, which was supposedly the idea.

I'm probably biased, but it seems I am just unable to dislike anything Steven Wilson keeps churning out. I've known his musical output since 2005, watched him three times live and God knows what this man will be releasing in the future. There's just no end to his genius and inventiveness. He keeps baffling me with his ideas. Takes a new turn with every album and never fails to astonish me.

As I already pointed out, Steven's musical influences are very clear from beginning to end, but in his hands it never gets a total rip-off. He managed to turn this album into the new "OK Computer", twenty years after the release of that seminal Radiohead album.

Well done Steven! Keep it up.

Report this review (#1765674)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Less can be more when given the right frame of mind. Popular melodies are not to be given disrespect, and simple phrases are sometimes the longest lasting mind catching linear feelings. This is Steven latest attempt to be commercial and he has gained a larger following based on his innovated approach to the rock genre. No one has the ability to make a sad song like this man, and infuse his thoughts and emotion in such a way as to leave a lasting impression on the listener. Don't you worry, don't worry about a thing. Nothing really ends. I would give this record 4.5 stars because it attains what it sets out to do.
Report this review (#1772268)
Posted Thursday, August 17, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Much to my surprise, Steven Wilson pre-released five of the eleven songs from his latest album To The Bone. This appears to have been part of the marketing campaign which seeks to maximise discussion and exposure prior to release. Personally I am not convinced that this has been effective but time will tell.

Sadly there are no songs of the scale and calibre of Luminol or Ancestral from the last two releases and the longest track is just over nine minutes. Unlike the last two albums, this is not a concept album. Wilson describes the album as "progressive pop", something he has never attempted before as he tries to emulate the albums he loved from the 80s which include Peter Gabriel's So and Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love amongst others.

Like other songwriters this year, Wilson has chosen to comment on topical issues such as post truth. However the messages don't come over as strongly as they do on the IT, Roger Waters or The Tangent releases this year.

The album opens with the title track To The Bone. This is a pacey, toe-tapping rocker which is further brightened by an excellent harmonica solo.

Nowhere Now is more melancholic with a minimalistic intro that builds in tempo.

The third track Pariah was an early pre-release. The song is a duet with Ninet Tayeb who sang so wonderfully on HCE. I enjoyed Pariah when I first heard it and I am growing to love it the more I listen to it. It is a beautiful ballad that grows into a wall of sound in its final quarter.

The fourth track, The Same Asylum As Before, was another pre-release and is another rocker with a catchy tune. Wilson initially sings falsetto but then returns to his normal range.

The fifth track, Refuge, was also pre-released and returns to a melancholic theme with an atmospheric introduction that picks up tempo as the drumming develops and intensity builds to a wall of sound like Pariah but returns to a more ambient sound at the close. This track is the highlight of the album. Beautifully crafted.

Permanating is the sixth track and was also pre-released. Wilson describes the song as "what ABBA and the Electric Light Orchestra would sound like if produced by Daft Punk". This is certainly the most up-tempo of all the tracks and is considerably more excitable than say Meantime was when released by Porcupine Tree. Meantime was quite a surprise at the time and this one really did surprise me. Of the pre-releases, I disliked this one the most but now that I hear it on the album I am tolerating it but it will probably be the first to be deleted from the album playlist.

Blank Tapes also features Ninet Tayeb but the song appears less well suited to her vocal range. This is the shortest track on the album at just over two minutes. This is quite a restrained melancholic song but the melody does not stand out for me.

People Who Eat Darkness is another rocker but, as a song, doesn't do a lot for me.

Song Of I was the fifth pre-release from the album. The song uses some interesting pauses to good effect and develops an almost cinematic sound mid-way through.

Detonation is the tenth and longest track at just over nine minutes. This is one of the few tracks where the theme is developed in a way that allows for solos.

The final track is Song Of Unborn which is a more typical Wilson ballad and again uses pauses to interesting effect. A beautiful melody is further enhanced by a choir arrangement in the middle part.

I am one of Steven Wilson's most devoted fans and I admire him for what he is trying to do in progressing his music. Personally I don't feel that he has come anywhere close to the brilliance of Peter Gabriel's So but this is an interesting album with many good songs and I believe is worthy of a four star rating.

Report this review (#1772574)
Posted Friday, August 18, 2017 | Review Permalink
rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars When we heard that Steven was making a Pop album, people were skeptical. Did he sell his soul to the devil? How can this artist that has a reputation to make some "serious Prog Music" can go in that direction? And then when we listen to the album we realized that he was probably already making music that contains some Pop in it, his Blackfield project is another example. What makes Steven Wilson a great composer is his talent to absorb all his past influences to create his own music. So, this album is not that different than it's previous solo album, sure it's less jazzy, experimental and metal, except for the longest track "Detonation" who has all the Wilson trademark."Pariah" is this gorgeous ballad brighten up by the voice of Ninet Hayeb and ending in an intense post-rock atmosphere. In the "Same Asylum Ase Before", he can go to a catchy chorus to a short Porcupine Tree heavy part.In the song"Refuge" the melody is developed slowly before the drums that remind me Manu Katché starts to bring the pace up to let the guitars and the harmonica take the lead in some intense playing. "Permanating" is the real Pop song of the album, enjoyable and placed carefully in the middle of the album to change the mood. "People who eat Darkness" could have been a Porcupine Tree song. "Song of I" show his influence for Kate Busch and Peter Gabriel but with some ambient soundscape, and with a little bit of middle-eastern music at the end. So, this is not a radical change in the solo career of Steven Wilson. I did find the similarity in his songwriting style with all his projects, and no he has not sold his soul to the devil, he is still the half-god half human we all know.
Report this review (#1774718)
Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 | Review Permalink
1 stars ...and here's the next stage of personal evolution of Steven Wilson as a solo artist. From a boldly experimenting musician of widest creative range and full creative freedom - to a prudent, almost pre-programmed artist who knows very well what his audience expects from him, and does nothing but what's expected. Stage one, 2008: Insurgentes. Sounds somewhat bashful, as if the musician hadn't yet used to consider himself a solo artist and was constantly glancing behind his practice in Porcupine Tree. Stage two, 2011: Grace For Drowning. A masterpiece for all times, a true chef d'oeuvre, really an encyclopedic concept album of highest level and amazing diversity, maybe better than any Porcupine Tree release. Stage three, 2013: The Raven... is just an excellent album, not as profound and thrilling as Grace For Drowning, but an unquestionable achievement. Stage four, 2015: Hand. Cannot. Erase seems to be mostly pre-composed by Wilson's fans though has a few interesting and 'risky' moments (Perfect Life for example). Stage four-and-a-half, 2016: nice, nice, very nice. And nothing essential, nothing deserving a discussion. And finally, 2017: since To The Bone, no more risk that some day the artist will deceive his audience's expectations. Nothing is new, nothing is surprising, nothing is experimental and/or explorative, everything is self- repetitive and approbated in the previous releases (despite all attractive phrases about 'fusing futurist rock' and 'gloriously dynamic Modernist Pop' in the distributor's advert). Well, in brief - there's no genuine Steven Wilson in Steven Wilson's new work. Is the album To The Bone good? Yes it is. It's flawless. It's perfectly composed, built, arranged, performed, produced, engineered and recorded. Is the album bad? Yes it is! It's musically empty. It's withering. The only spring of fresh water in this harmonious desert is Permanating, not due to its musical merits but just because late 1970s disco tunes are not typical for Wilson. All the rest is... no, not silence of course, but if the current tendency in Wilson's career will continue, perhaps silence would be better.
Report this review (#1780598)
Posted Saturday, September 9, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Selected thoughts about selected songs

To the Bone: Interesting sounds sometimes, engaging enough and well-produced, has its moments but a bit repetitive; microcosm of this album in some ways.

Permanating: fun to listen to and surprisingly hasn't gotten old yet. Hope though this is a one-off experiment with a new sound and not a first ode to commercialism and mass appeal a la Asia and Genesis at their worst.

Detonation: and the progarchives community sighs a collective sigh of relief; ah yes there is one truly hard-hitting and progressive song on this sometimes hard-to-categorize album. Hard to describe the moment of surprise and release when the prog-metal-esque riff takes off like a starter's pistol has been fired, letting up for only a few brief respites for the rest of the runtime. Plays out as a series of engaging variations and undulations on that one core riff for an overall effect that, although lighter and less daring than Ancestral and similar unforgettable career peaks, still resolves into a unique jazzy smoothness this track can call all its own.

Song of Unborn: had to listen to this one a few times but it really grew on me and now hits me hard every time I listen to it. Unquestionably the most beautiful song on this album, capping everything off finally with an incredibly hopeful and moving sound and message, building and building in a series of choruses that become more ornate and more heartfelt as the song goes on, and as you listen to it again and again.

Report this review (#1781376)
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Before anything else, I think I should write that I consider myself as a 'fan' of Porcupine Tree, but not Steven Wilson as a solo artist. I have all the albums he released either with Porcupine Tree or Blackfield and his solo releases as well. When I heard the first rumours about his new album To the Bone, I must say that I was surprised. Steven Wilson will be releasing a Pop album? How is that even possible? Well, everything is possible you know, especially when some gifted and talented musician is fed up, and wants to try something different. That's not bad in my opinion, especially since he keeps his usual high quality standards intact. Many people rushed to 'bury' him, but I don't understand why. David Bowie for example, was praised by doing the same thing. He never stood still, and for that reason he was called the 'chameleon' of Rock music. He played many different styles, he changed his image I don't know how many times, and he was worshiped for that. So, why are you accusing Steve Wilson for trying to do something like that? (I am not trying to compare these two musicians, I am trying to set an example). So, To the Bone is it really a Pop album? The answer is no! Is it a Prog album? Again, no! This time Steven Wilson tried to combine many different music styles, including Pop, Rock, Prog, etc. And the result is this really enjoyable album, easy to listen to, which includes some really fine moments. There are songs here, that will remind you his days with Porcupine Tree, some others that sound like Blackfield, and some others that doesn't sound like anything Steven Wilson did before. But they do sound like Peter Gabriel of the 80's for example, or even Abba! As you can probably understand, To the Bone is a music 'salad' which is including some fine ingredients in it. A very enjoyable album in my opinion, but not recommended to the 'devoted' Progressive Rock fans. All the others will definitely find something(s) that they will like in it. Favourite songs: To the Bone, Pariah, Blank Tapes, and Song of Unborn. My rating 3.5 stars (but I will rate it with 3.0, since I can't rate it with 3.5)

Report this review (#1781939)
Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Nothing like a little controversy to draw some attention to yourself. Steven announces his new album and how it's in the poppier mode and well let the discussions begin, as they have. The album cover is so immature and I'm not sure of the reason for that other than it's more controversy. Lots to like though over the one hour of music here, and much of it sounds familiar reminding me of PORCUPINE TREE and past Wilson solo albums. It does feel like a re-hash of sorts but there's some new ideas here as well but unfortunately they don't save this album for me.

"To The Bone" opens with spoken female words giving us Steven's kool-aid. It suddenly turns powerful with plenty of atmosphere and harmonica too. It becomes more open sounding when the vocals arrive a minute in. It picks up as the vocals continue. Lots of beats in this one and an extended guitar solo during the instrumental section. It's okay. "Nowhere Now" has reserved vocals and piano before it turns powerful a minute in, then it picks up with vocals. Catchy stuff.

"Pariah" is easily my favourite thanks to Ninet Hayeb's gorgeous and moving vocals. And that's the thing with this song it really moves me. "The Same Asylum As Before" has these expressive guitar melodies and a beat as these really high pitched vocals from Steven arrive(haha). When he sings normally this song turns into something that's really good. Like something off of "Stupid Dream" or "Lightbulb Sun". I like when it turns powerful before 2 1/2 minutes. Back to the chorus 4 minutes in before kicking back hard late.

"Refuge" opens with piano and fragile vocals. There's those high pitched vocals Steven seems intent on doing on this album. Yikes! I like when it kicks into gear following this and check out the harmonica too. followed by a guitar solo. Reserved vocals and piano end it. "Permanating" is my least favourite song by far. A catchy beat with drums, piano and mono-toned vocals. When it kicks in Steven uses his newly found high voice. And this does not work here at all.

"Blank Tapes" is a short laid back piece that's pretty good. "People Who Eat Darkness" reminds me too much of "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" once it kicks in after the "F" bomb in the intro. Yes this sounds amazing but it's too familiar. "Song Of I" has percussion and a dark mood as reserved vocals join in. An electronic vibe to this one, lots of atmosphere halfway through. Some ethreal female vocal melodies later.

"Detonation" is the longest track at almost 9 1/2 minutes but it's far from the best track. Electronics as relaxed vocals join in with plenty of atmosphere. It kicks in surprisingly hard before 2 1/2 minutes. The vocals return as it stays uptempo. Some nice guitar after 7 1/2 minutes during the catchy instrumental section. "Song Of Unborn" is the mellow closer in the Steven Wilson tradition and it's one of my favourites from the album. The chorus is beautiful with vocals, piano, a beat and atmosphere. It does turn more powerful which I really enjoy.

A good album but there's too many things that I don't enjoy to offer up that fourth star.

Report this review (#1783460)
Posted Sunday, September 17, 2017 | Review Permalink

STEVEN WILSON To The Bone ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of STEVEN WILSON To The Bone


You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives