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STEVEN WILSON

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Steven Wilson biography
STEVEN WILSON, perhaps most widely known for his role as the frontman for the popular act Porcupine Tree, is an artist from the UK who, through his various side projects, has spanned a vast number of musical ideas and concepts. Some of the styles he has been known to utilize are heavy prog, psychedelic, electronica, post-rock, ambient music, drone, metal, and art rock. Furthermore, WILSON is intensely focused on production values, dynamic mixing and mastering, and all other sorts of building albums that sound best in high-quality systems. In short, WILSON has always been an artist that appeals to audiophiles and fans of meticulously produced music. This shows up strongly in each of his bands and projects, but it plays even more of a role in his solo efforts.

Though some of his earliest musical recordings were demos that predated even Porcupine Tree, his solo releases did not truly start appearing until his "Cover Version" singles began in 2003. Essentially releasing one a year, each "Cover Version" contained a particularly unconventional song that WILSON chose to reproduce and one original song by WILSON. Also, in 2004, WILSON put out his experimental electronic album "Unreleased Electronic Music Vol. 1." Neither the "Cover Version" singles nor "Unreleased Electronic Music" feature any other performers, aside from some input from THEO TRAVIS on the latter.

That trend changed at the end of 2008, however, when WILSON released his first full-length, proper solo album, "Insurgentes." Featuring, among others, PORCUPINE TREE drummer Gavin Harrison, Prog bass legend TONY LEVIN, current DREAM THEATER keyboardist JORDAN RUDESS, and saxophonist/flautist THEO TRAVIS, "Insurgentes" proves rather quickly that it is not simply another ambient or electronic release. Toying with many of the styles that can be seen in PORCUPINE TREE, "Insurgentes" is a mature, laid-back album marked by less metal and more noise than PT's later albums. WILSON has stated that the album draws a lot of influence from shoe gazer, post-punk, and drone music.

Essentially, before "Insurgentes," WILSON used his solo moniker for a final catch-all for some of his music, making it difficult to draw comparisons to other bands. Nevertheless, "Insurgentes" makes it possible to site some bands with similar sound. Of notable similarity or inspiration are RADIOHEAD, JOY DIVISION, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR, THE MARS VOLTA, and other WILSON projects such as BASS COMMUNION and PORCUPIN...
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To The BoneTo The Bone
Caroline International 2017
Audio CD$12.62
To the Bone [Blu-ray]To the Bone [Blu-ray]
Caroline 2017
Blu-ray$17.01
Hand.Cannot.EraseHand.Cannot.Erase
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$9.95
$13.31 (used)
The Raven That Refused To SingThe Raven That Refused To Sing
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$8.24
$7.99 (used)
Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Blu-Ray + MP3/FLAC Download Codes)Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Blu-Ray + MP3/FLAC Download Codes)
Blu-ray
Kscope
Blu-ray$14.62
Grace For DrowningGrace For Drowning
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$10.18
$34.04 (used)
4.54.5
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$9.94
$37.19 (used)
Transience ( Cd )Transience ( Cd )
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$9.02
$5.89 (used)
InsurgentesInsurgentes
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$9.17
The Raven That Refused To SingThe Raven That Refused To Sing
Import
KSCOPE 2017
Vinyl$23.92
$22.99 (used)
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STEVE HACKETT Genesis Revisited II UK 21-track promo test 2-CD Steven Wilson USD $32.46 [0 bids]
1 day
Stand Up (Steven Wilson Remix) [VINYL] USD $36.19 Buy It Now 1 day
JETHRO TULL Benefit CD European Chrysalis 2015 15 Track CD Steven Wilson 2013 USD $10.18 Buy It Now 1 day
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Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) USD $14.75 Buy It Now 3 days
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STEVEN WILSON-RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING-JAPAN CD F56 USD $25.50 Buy It Now 3 days
STEVEN WILSON Happiness III 2016 UK 7" VINYL SINGLE IN PICTURE SLEEVE NEW BOWIE USD $18.17 Buy It Now 3 days
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JETHRO TULL A Passion Play 180g LP gatefold w/ booklet (Steven Wilson Remix) USD $22.49 Buy It Now 3 days
Index The art of Steven Wilson's music Lasse Hoile Carl Glover Book 2015 new USD $220.00 Buy It Now 3 days
Steven Wilson Tourbook The Raven That Refused To Sing Tour 2013 new 28 pages USD $90.00 Buy It Now 3 days
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STEVEN WILSON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEVEN WILSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 923 ratings
Insurgentes
2008
4.21 | 1578 ratings
Grace For Drowning
2011
4.30 | 1769 ratings
The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
2013
4.28 | 1214 ratings
Hand. Cannot. Erase.
2015
3.57 | 340 ratings
4 ½
2016
3.35 | 17 ratings
To The Bone
2017

STEVEN WILSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.36 | 173 ratings
Catalogue/Preserve/Amass
2012

STEVEN WILSON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.49 | 134 ratings
Insurgentes - The Movie
2010
4.61 | 282 ratings
Get All You Deserve
2012

STEVEN WILSON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 105 ratings
Nsrgnts Rmxs
2009
3.13 | 98 ratings
Cover Version
2014
3.32 | 55 ratings
Transience
2015

STEVEN WILSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 39 ratings
Cover Version
2003
3.59 | 37 ratings
Cover Version II
2004
3.69 | 39 ratings
Cover Version III
2005
3.55 | 45 ratings
Unreleased Electronic Music
2005
3.86 | 35 ratings
Cover Version IV
2006
3.40 | 39 ratings
Cover Version V
2008
4.49 | 67 ratings
Harmony Korine
2009
3.64 | 51 ratings
Vapour Trail Lullaby
2010
3.55 | 42 ratings
Cover Version 6 plus full collection bundle
2010
3.43 | 7 ratings
Demos
2010
4.11 | 46 ratings
Postcard
2011
3.95 | 19 ratings
Cut Ribbon
2012
3.98 | 104 ratings
Drive Home
2013
4.50 | 6 ratings
Happiness III
2016

STEVEN WILSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Insurgentes by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 923 ratings

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Insurgentes
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Before the breaking-up/hiatus of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson released his first album under his own name giving us an enjoyable but not really memorable experience.

Wilson managed to reunite a bunch of great musicians to help him recording this album. The legendary Tony Levin on bass, the habitual Theo Travis, the gifted Porcupine Tree's drummer Gavin Harrison, Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess... Impressive, just like the great sound of the album achieved by Steve Wilson himself.

But the problem is that despite the undeniable quality of the album and production, the music does not reaches the great level what Porcupine Tree was achieving at this moment. After things like Deadwing and Fear of A Blank Planet, Insurgentes just can't compete. But let's talk about the songs!

Harmony Korine must be a Porcupine Tree leftover because it has the band's trademark, despite being a little too repetitive. A good song anyway. But Abandoner is some kind of downfall... An electronic base, a good work of Theo Travis, but nothing more. Just dull and not surprising at all.

Salvaging is darker and ominuos, and also better. The second half of the song is psychedelic and ambiental, till the drums appear again to end the song properly. Veneno para las Hadas is another ambiental tune, with good melodies but utterly intrascendent. But No twilight between the courts of the Sun is another highlight. Long, dense, great drums and maybe another Porcupine Tree's leftover.

Significant Other brings excellent vocal melodies and another wall of sound towards the end of the song. Only child is my personal favourite here with its strong bass line. Unfortunately Twilight Coda is another pointless song, just a transition to Get All you deserve, a very melancholic song with a strong No-Man feeling wich also gains intesity towards the end. I think Wilson uses this formula too much in this album... A song that starts in a mellow and interesant way wich gains in decibels in the last minutes. A lot of songs have this structure on this album and the result is a bit foreseeable in my opinion.

Insurgentes closes this album beautifully, in a very intime way.

Conclusion: Insurgentes has its flaws. In my opinion too many to consider it an essential addition to any prog collection. But the followers of Steve Wilson will surely be very pleased with an album that collect a lof of ideas and direction that this great musician had till the publication of this album 2008.

It lacks a clearer direction, proggression in its songs and a bit of hook, but Insurgentes it's nevertheless a good album.

Best Tracks: Harmony Korine, Salvaging, No Twilight Between the Courts of the Sun, Only Child, Insurgentes.

My rating: ***

 Catalogue/Preserve/Amass by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Live, 2012
4.36 | 173 ratings

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Catalogue/Preserve/Amass
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I'm surprised there's no written reviews for this one yet. The music here is taken from the European tour for the "Grace For Drowning" tour, in particular this was recorded in October of 2011. I saw this same tour but in Toronto at The Opera House. When I went to that show I went with my daughter who is a huge fan and her husband who is a big Country music fan. He's a good sport though and I heard him saying "My God!" a few times while watching Marco Minneman and I have to say that his performance on the kit was the best I've seen live and I hate to say that being a big Neil Peart fan but man Marco blew me away. The whole show was incredible though and to get a taste of that again with this album has been very meaningful to me.

My two favourite Steven wilson albums are the first two which is what is represented here. There are two songs from "Insurgents" and the rest from "Grace For Drowning". Oh and just to emphasize how much I love these two albums I gave "Insurgents" album of the year in 2008 and "Grace For Drowning" was my album of the year for 2011. The album's title "Catalogue/Preserve/Amass" is taken from the chorus for the song "Index".

"No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun" has a sinister vibe early on with the bass and drums as the electric piano joins in. Some nice guitar expressions follow then flute. It kicks in hard at 5 1/2 minutes. So good! A calm with vocals follows then it kicks back in but with vocals this time. Incredible! Love the mellotron section that follows along with the piano.

"Index" is that creepy song about the collector. Fairly relaxed overall but check out the brief power before 2 minutes. "Deform To Form A Star" is one of my favourite Wilson songs of all time. Just a gorgeous track, especially the chorus with the mellotron and soaring vocals. This one got stuck in my head at work this past week many times.

"Sectarian" opens with drums and some cool guitar expressions before the heaviness arrives. Check out the sax and mellotron after 2 minutes. A change around 4 minutes with electric piano, drums and bass leading the way, oh and check out the mellotron as well. Back to the heaviness after 6 minutes. "No Part Of Me" opens with drums, keys and atmosphere as almost spoken vocals join in before 2 minutes. Nice bass before 3 1/2 minutes then it kicks in heavily with riffs. "Veneno Para Las Hadas" is slow moving with plenty of atmosphere as laid back vocals join in. Flute 3 minutes in as the vocals step aside until after 4 minutes when they return. This one is laid back and melancholic.

"Raider II" ends it and as Steven says while introducing it, it is the centre-piece of the new album. He goes on to say that it's long(25 minutes) and complicated so silence please. Ominous is the word to start but man I like when it kicks into gear with mellotron before 3 minutes. Vocals join in and they do get passionate. I like the flute playing over the heaviness. A calm follows that I really like then we pretty much get Prog-Metal after 8 minutes. A sax solo before 10 minutes as it settles back. The heaviness returns 11 1/2 minutes in before another atmospheric calm a minute later. More flute then vocals. It's building 17 1/2 minutes in as the vocals step aside. Some crazy sax expressions after 19 minutes then a big finish except it's not over despite the roar from the audience 21 minutes in thinking it is. It ends in an ominous manner just like it began.

Great sound quality, great track list and an amazing performance by all involved makes this a 5 star album and one of my favourite live albums period.

 Insurgentes by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 923 ratings

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Insurgentes
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars While Porcupine Tree effectively began as a STEVEN WILSON solo project skirting along for a while pumping out the latest Pink Floyd 2.0+++, the mastermind behind the successful project desired to create band dynamics by collaborating with similarly inspired musicians but by the time 2007's 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' was released, WILSON was beginning to feel the band's creative edge waning and fulfilled his desire to return to a solo career only this time under his own name. He spent a great number of hours in many studios across the globe ranging from Israel and Japan to Mexico City which is where he found the name for his debut solo release INSURGENTES derived from Avenida de los Insurgentes which is the longest avenue in all of the Mexican capitol city. After a taste of total control once again, WILSON would join his former bandmates for one more final album before embarking on his own musical journey. INSURGENTES is the point where he began to expand beyond the Porcupine Tree sound and incorporate more disparate influences into the mix.

While clearly rooted in his Porcupine Tree space rock days, WILSON's debut release takes more liberties and find new ways to express his unique stamp on space rock by adding post-punk elements as well as shoegaze as well as the expected Pink Floyd elements that had always been one of the main driving forces. With Joy Division type riffing and fuzzy haze effects remnant of My Bloody Valentine, WILSON found a new way to unleash his signature detached atmospheric branch of melancholic progressive rock complete with all the addictive melodic hooks you would expect from a STEVEN WILSON release. INSURGENTES delivers all the goods that any Porcupine Tree fan would come to expect and then some with heavy guitar riffs that reel you in and let you sink into a deep depressive atmospheric bath of synthesized contemplation about life's existential quandaries all dressed up in some of the most polished production and symphonic elements that exist in modern rock music.

INSURGENTES is a beautiful musical journey through the heavily dissonant, melodically engaging with pleasant symphonic attractions suddenly bursting into a terrifying drone and noise segment (such as the superb track 'Salvaging.') as well as rueful ballads trading off with angular guitar freak outs that reverberate to the heavens and back. This debut shows WILSON in a contemplative and reflective mode as he traverses through the sonic web of sound that he weaves so skillfully somehow knowing exactly how to juxtapose every note with the correct tones, timbres and performance dynamics. INSURGENTES is one of those albums i can truly get lost in as it makes me feel like it is a sound cloud that has engulfed my very essence and i'm a part of its existence while it's playing, a quality very few other releases can achieve. The atmospheric ratcheting up of emotions that result in deftly developed crescendos displays WILSON's perfectionist tendencies. Each and every little detail seems to have been ruminated upon for its most sublime effect. This is one that is best experienced very LLLOOOUUUDDD!!!!

 Grace For Drowning by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.21 | 1578 ratings

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Grace For Drowning
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

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...

 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1769 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

2 stars Oh Wilson, why didn't you make an entire album in the vein of Luminol: 4/10

When I look at great albums - you know, those with 4.4 ratings - and I see people who give them one or two stars because of reasons, it boils my blood. Why the hell would they rate acclaimed masterpieces such a low score? I feel like it's their duty to explain themselves. After all, not only they're giving an unpopular opinion, but they're tarnishing an otherwise flawless artist's curriculum. Eventually, this situation came to me. And - oh boy - to one of the prog community's most cherished darling: STEVEN WILSON.

THE RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING just stale and overall uninteresting. The focus on lyrics and the exaggerated attempt of melancholia repel me, as well as generic modern rock with progressive elements that WILSON offers. His endless homage & influence... rather blatant in many cases... to 70's prog bands is observable on every song.

The exception is the magical "what-if [this was better]" Luminol.

The first four minutes is a showcase of various instrumentations - such as the plethora of keyboards, a flute-busting solo, and guitar licks - blended together under the sturdy work of a sax/violin & bass & drums riffing. Once those first four lively minutes are over, you're given a minimalistic section where STEVEN does his singing, followed by a respectable slow jazz piano piece. Then, at last, the song transitions its entire atmosphere into something terrifyingly similar to In The Court of the Crimson King (hence why so many people call it a rip-off, folks). Needless to say, it's a good part. So there you go, a great introduction for an ungreat act.

In fact, this album is not entirely bland - I can actually pluck a few good passages here and there - but generally speaking, it's dull. As a fan of fast-paced music with perceptible, excited instruments, this is a big turn-off. Perhaps in the future, I'll give this a more thoughtful listen. So for all symphonic, metal or general uptempo proggers out there, beware: WILSON probably isn't your style either!

 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.28 | 1214 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Biff Tannen

4 stars The consistency Steven Wilson manages to maintain from record to record is pretty staggering, and Hand Cannot Erase (periods omitted on purpose) is no exception; it's another stellar effort from the man. I like the mixture on this album, as you kind of get a little bit of every kind of music he has done over the year at some point, while never going too overboard with any one style. If you want the catchy shorter tunes, you get the title track or Happy Returns. If you want some prog, you get Ancestral or 3 Years Older. If you want the tunes with melodies that will crush you, you get Routine. If you want to get up and dance a little, you get Perfect Life. If you want to rock, you get Home Invasion. If you want some instrumental goodness, you get Regret #9. If you want folksy, acoustic stuff, you get Transience.

I don't love this record quite as much as SW's two previous solo albums, Grace for Drowning and The Raven That Refused to Sing, but it's still a 4.5 effort. I gave it 4 here since only the true 5 out of 5 records get rounded up to 5.

 4 ½ by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.57 | 340 ratings

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4 ½
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Well we're five studio albums into Steven Wilson's solo career and I'd rate this one as the third best after my favourite "Insurgents" and "Grace For Drowning". "Insurgents" and RIVERSIDE's "Love, Fear And The Time Machine" were influenced greatly by the darker music of the 80's which clearly is my thing. The last three albums by Wilson have their more commercial side but that sad melancholy is always present thankfully as it is here. All but one of these tracks were adapted from either live songs or songs from an album session that were not used at the time. The one that wasn't either of these is "Vermillioncore" a lights out instrumental.

"My Book Of Regrets" has a cool little guitar intro as Steven comes in with vocals and soon everyone is playing. This is catchy with meaningful lyrics. The chorus is more powerful than the versus. Check out the instrumental break from 2 1/2 minutes to 5 1/2 minutes. That section starts with strummed guitar before Beggs comes in with some huge bass lines and the drums help out as well. Some nice guitar work before it settles right down and the vocals return. What a beautiful contrast with these warm vocals and that drifting sound with the earlier instrumental bombast. This is so uplifting even after Steven stops singing. It starts to pick up again before 8 1/2 minutes with vocals.

"Year Of The Plague" is a short instrumental that recalls PORCUPINE TREE with the keys that echo in this dark and ambient soundscape. Intricate acoustic guitar replaces the keys. It's simply gorgeous after 2 minutes and the piano returns late. This is all Steven Wilson by the way except for the piano by Holzman. "Happiness III" opens with the sound of traffic as strummed guitar and reserved vocals take over. Some outbursts before a minute and the vocals become stronger. Man it's so uplifting 1 1/2 minutes in then it picks up with organ and more. Love the soaring guitar from Guthrie 3 minutes in and the prominent bass. Some vocal melodies from Wilson as well.

"Sunday Rain Sets In" opens with keys that echo as flute joins in. This is very mellow until the drums, bass and piano come in around a minute. Laid back guitar before 2 minutes then we get more depth of sound. Beautiful stuff. Some sweeping mellotron then some outbursts 3 minutes in but they are brief as it calms right down with flute, keys and sparse guitar sounds. "Vermillioncore" is where they hit us with some complex, bombastic music with a strong jazz flavour. Yeah this is impressive. Beggs plays Chapman Stick too. This is a nice change from the rest of the album, these guys have chops.

"Don't Hate Me" is a PORCUPINE TREE cover(gasp). When I saw the song title before I listened to it I was hoping it wasn't the song from "Stupid Dream" even though I like it I just have never been over the moon about it. Well it is that song and they nail it! They've Steven Wilsoned it I suppose. It's still very sad but we get a complex instrumental section plus Ninet Tayeb guests singing on the chorus each time to great results. So much atmosphere to begin with then the drums start to beat and Steven comes in vocally. Again Tayeb comes in on the chorus and she's so good, what a unique voice. Check out the jazz instrumental break starting before 3 1/2 minutes. Love the fender rhodes here and the drumming. When the electric piano stops it turns very psychedelic, so much atmosphere here. The vocals are back before 8 minutes, Ninet to be exact. Love the guitar after 8 1/2 minutes to end it.

Yeah I'm a massive Wilson fan, his voice and his sad, melancholic music will always be my comfort place.

 Cover Version by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.13 | 98 ratings

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Cover Version
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by torvald

4 stars Steven Wilson's solo career in the aftermath of Porcupine Tree, has been a mixed bag to me. Despite retaining the poise and ambition evident in everything he's done since his earliest days, much of his more recent output occasionally seems laboriously constructed and self-consciously targeted at the neo-prog audiences, almost name checking specific tropes and influences that are by now routine business for Wilson and co. Even in terms of pure musicality, the limber touch of PT, the more abstract electronica that gave his earlier releases a truly innovative edge and especially the experimental streak running through much of his work outside of his well known projects, seem to have gone missing in favor of more bombastic, virtuoso playing and formulaic proggy arrangements and compositions that never manage to top his earlier, more tongue in cheek and slightly detached postmodern fascination with prog as merely one idiom to be toyed with amongst others.

Not so with Cover Version, which wears its disparate influences quite literally on its sleeve and made this release a very pleasant surprise indeed, if not one of his most unexpectedly satisfying and creative efforts in years, despite being a compilation of sorts. Both the cover versions themselves, as well as the original tracks that have all been lying around for ages in single version or other media, manage to cohere with remarkable grace and occasionally complement each other quite well. The instrumentation is predominantly acoustic, veering between guitar and piano with the occasional trademark mellotron hue or electronic texture providing ambience, making the whole album feel like a very intimate and personal singer/songwriter project, something strikingly missing from his other solo output.

The mood is almost uniformly sombre and melancholy, which might make this heavy going for anyone expecting something chirpier or more varied, and is perhaps my only point of relative criticism. Not that Wilson's music ever strays far from darker moods of course. There is simply a certain lack of much differentiation in mood or instrumentation here, that renders the whole rather too homogeneous; then again, it was never really meant as an LP so such issues of tracklisting are perhaps to be expected.

The two most remarkable tracks remain the most decidedly funereal ones anyhow: his mostly a capella version of the traditional tune ''The Unquiet Grave'' with multitracked vocals providing a wall of resonance undescoring it being amongst the most experimental tracks he has ever given us, almost sounding in the vein of his ambient work in Bass Communion or Brian Eno's similarly voice based tracks in Music for Airports. Equally stunning is ''An End to End'' ,which takes some skeletal melancholy piano chords resounding against a wall of choral textures to create a truly haunting cinematic ballad.

Alanis Morissette's ''Thank U'' becomes a heartaching bit of acoustic balladry, with Wilson playfully changing a lyric at one point ''because it doesn't make sense'', a reminder of how iconoclastic and eventful he can be when he's not pandering to his usual audiences, but going for more idiosyncratic ends. The Cure's ''A Forest'' is one of the few more kinetic songs in the list, a subtle electronic pulse and rare bit of electric guitar solo animating its murky mood, while Prince's ''Sign o the Times'' is probably the weakest moment, playfully reinventing a pop tune with a heavier edge towards the end that has been far better handled in its full band version for subsequent live shows, especially in tribute to that musician's recent death. Abba's ''Day before you came'' becomes a stately acoustic lament of daily inanities in anticipation of emotional revival, while Momus' delightfully ironic ''Guitar Lesson'' follows in similarly melancholy confessional mood, its poetic lyrics retaining their power intact and in some ways perfectly complementing an earlier PT track such as ''Piano Lessons''. A rare moment of psychedelic folk follows in Donovan's ''Lord of the Reedy River'', while the piano based ballad ''Please Come Home'' that could've graced any Blackfield album to date and ''Well you're Wrong'', a retro ditty in the vein of PT's ''How is your life today'' conclude the tracklist.

All in all a very satisfying collection of moments in time, which though slow burning and not as grandiose in scope as Wilson's band based efforts, manages not only to offer some of his most intricate offerings ever, but also allows both his talent and love for the more unexpected or disparate sources and musical influences to shine through much more directly and meaningfully than anywhere else in later years. Long term fans of the totality of his oeuvre should find this to be amongst his most interesting song based efforts, even if his more prog minded fans are destined to be disappointed. I personally consider it the most personal of his solo records since Insurgentes and far more satisfying overall than much of his later work, but to each their own undoubtedly.

 4 ½ by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.57 | 340 ratings

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4 ½
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In my time writing reviews here on Prog Archives I've shared my thoughts on Steven Wilson's various projects that have taken mostly the form of gushing, enthusiastic praise, though there have certainly been a few works that have sunk into the 2-star territory for me; usually it's one or the other extreme. With 4.5, Mr. Wilson has inspired me to a new level of feeling, one that fits completely into the 3-star description of "good but not essential." This album is fine; it's not great, not bad, just fine. I'm not sure if this would be taken as criticism by Steven, if he were to read this, but for me, 4.5 is one of least challenging records he's yet released. However, it's far from a bad album, and doesn't diminish his overall trend of producing excellent music.

Basically, this short album is a collection of approachable songs played in his band's contemporary style (meaning, sounding a lot like moments from Hand.Cannot.Erase). It's highly instrumental, busy, and likeable. "My Book of Regrets" is a varied and dynamic song that features the whole band jamming nicely to a dramatic sequence of tempo and tonal changes. It works well, and is probably the best track of the record.

Three of the four other songs are instrumental, and are nice experiences though disconnected and sound more like ideas that completed works. One can't objectively criticize the musicianship of Wilson and his collaborators; they're simply stellar, and exceptional at playing to the high's and lows of dynamics that Wilson has used throughout his career to create emotion in his music. This is especially heard in the heavy and complex "Vermillioncore." This guys are freaking great, but the end result feels incomplete.

The revisited "Don't Hate Me" is a nice treat, being a forgotten gem from Porcupine Tree's earlier catalog; unfortunately, it showcases how much sharper and interesting Wilson's writing was during that period of his career - at least when juxtaposed to the other songs on 4.5. The lyrics especially show Wilson skimming the surface of his skills as writer and storyteller. It sort of sums up my feeling of this record as a whole, as undeniable talent that, in the end, makes something that's just OK.

For fans of Wilson's work, I recommend this album as a fun diversion that you can play at parties without making people wonder what the hell kind of music you're into. If you're a casual fan of Steven Wilson, you'll probably enjoy this record, but it may not convince you to explore his discography more. If you're a Steven Wilson hater, keep on hatin', because 4.5 is mostly more of the same.

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

 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1769 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars I love this album, and yet in 2016 it tumbles in my head, a portent, a plagiarist's opus, a guilty pleasure. For it I've invented the term "popcorn prog", a distillation of a lot of what makes its genre great into a satisfying if unhealthy sonic snack. It's well done, it's wonderful, it's not a true masterpiece. I turned it over in my mind whether to round up or down from 3.5, in light of my unceasing enjoyment, but I decided to be harsh.

After three years and 85 reviews so far, you have a basic idea of what I'm going to say about the instrumentals, but the puzzle goes further than that. The sound is of course indebted to Crimson and Genesis to an amount far above its own GDP, but it's also the endgame of a lot of the sonics of Porcupine Tree and Swilson's early solo career - notably "The Holy Drinker" and "The Watchmaker" mixed together '70's Crim, "Deadwing", and Storm Corrosion. There is a truth that states that this album could only have been made circa 2013, but that's mainly because its creator was revving deeper and deeper into a rut that started five years prior, picking apart earlier successes for spare parts. Many listeners were able to tell with what would otherwise be psychic foresight exactly when and what instruments would come in and what they would play, a sign of cliche. It's cliche done far better than any other retro prog, though, with the driving, dour, epic instrumentals grabbing you by the ears and never letting go. There's virtuosity and at least some soul there, and in the moment most listeners, such as I, can't possibly complain. Plus, while "Luminol" bear hugs you, and "Drive Home" and the title track melt your heart, the aforementioned "Holy Drinker" really stands out as by turns enjoyable and spine-tingling, the SC elements put to fantastic use. Even this recycling still, perhaps for the last time, works.

The real saving grace, however, are the lyrics. Lyrics generally aren't Wilson's strong suit, but they turn out excellently here. Fancy words uniquely anchor beautiful stories of mysterious musicians, jetsam of the mind, and ghosts and demons. It goes a long way to making this record so good.

But of course, while I love this piece of prog pabulum, time has really shown it to ring a little hollow, one last hurrah on the road to "Hand. Cannot. Erase."'s mediocrity, paved with tropes, staleness, and perfectionism gone wrong. In hindsight, "The Raven That Refused To Sing" sticks out as a warning and an important part of a downward trend for Wilson's career, if still a fun listen.

Thanks to Dean for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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