Artist: Steven Wilson
Title: The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Genre: Progressive Rock / Jazz
Release Date: 1st March 2013
With the other main project PORCUPINE TREE being currently pushed to the back seat and all members being busy working with other projects, STEVEN WILSON can channel all his energy and creativity into his solo efforts. Frankly, it surprises me that the third album is finished already. To me, it just feels like yesterday when 'Grace For Drowning' dropped. 'The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)' is in all respects a progression. For the first time, the songs were initially composed for a band setup and the album recorded throughout 2012 with the band, as evident on the various YouTube excerpts. The band has great chemistry and my hope was that would somehow transcend into the new record, which is inspired by and devoted to ghost stories, a fascinating subject matter to me. I wish that I could already elaborate on the artwork, but as I'm writing this I've seen no more than you. The cover however reveals enough surrealism already to make an educated guess about its nature.
So, this is the point where we get to the musical virtues this album has to offer, the first one of which being 'Luminol' that widely received praise already upon its live sneak peak during the last tour. Here unfolds what I had hoped to hear on record already. The chemistry between all the actors matches and it is for all to see on this track, which is largely instrumental and every member of the band gets a few minutes in the spotlight. Seasoned musicians are at work here, at the top of their game and still having the fire inside them not to let this become a show-off. 'Drive Home', this is where I think many will agree with me, is a very typical song for STEVEN WILSON, yet those songs never cease to amaze with that they offer to the listener. While being moody and introspective throughout, it gives away its emotional content almost unconditionally. It is in those moments of utmost poignancy, when the strings and acoustic sprinkles surround the vocals that those words reach inside our souls where they originated in the first place.
'The Holy Drinker' goes way beyond the traditional, something that you need time to wrap your mind around completely. Clocking in at about 10 minutes, it is packed with elaborate sections, motifs re-appearing in alternate forms, a vibrant drum foundation that is more than just a little incentive to rock out as the bass hums do somersaults and the flute starts dancing on the path they paved for it. On 'The Pin Drop', Wilson steps on new territory vocal-wise, getting to the top end of what the chords can achieve, never stretching it too far. It is a mild, mellow texture surrounding him until the full band joins in with momentum. Another change of scenery occurs on the chorus invoking a sense of drama with liquid streams flowing weightlessly around elaborate strings. It is just as if there was a switch flipped, or to stay in context a pin dropped that set off the alarm. With 'The Watchmaker' we're already getting closer to the album's end. An intangible feeling of loss inhabits this track, though it is never explicitly expressed therein. WE hear the story of a man who's a obviously a genius at what he does, and who's dedicated his live to it. Frequently, this results in alienation with everything around that we consider normal or healthy
Being a melange of two things, a deep, emotional ballad on one end and offering meticulous complexity on the other end, 'The Watchmaker' will definitely take its toll on the listener as the story keeps unfolding - It melds two of the core strength of STEVEN WILSON to perfection in my opinion. Unlike many of you, I've heard the song before I actually watched the video to the title track, and in a way it confirmed something that I had guessed already. The theme it has reminded me of something, and a notion started forming in my mind, about a sentiment so profound that there is only insufficient ways to put it in words. A liaison between grief, loss and relief and piece. It send me back to when i last watched 'The Crow'. The theme backing Sarah while walking up to the graves one last time, is the perfect picture of what this song means. It all concludes figuratively with one phrase like “It can't rain all the time”....
02. Drive Home
03. The Holy Drinker
04. The Pin Drop
05. The Watchmaker
06. The Raven That Refused To Sing
Steven Wilson - vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, mellotron, keyboards
Guthrie Govan - lead guitar
Nick Beggs - bass guitar, Chapman Stick, backing vocals
Marco Minnemann - drums, percussion
Adam Holzman - keyboards, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, piano, Minimoog
Theo Travis - flute, saxophone, clarinet
http://stevenwilsonhq.com/ / http://www.facebook.com/StevenWilsonHQ
Total: 8.5 / 10