Review Summary: Have it, pop music!
Ah, the fine art of inventive poetry. A progressive musician should never be synonymous with creative drought and Steven Wilson is, as always, boiling with impatience. Not long after having dwelt into the mind’s eye of the most ambitious record of 2011, closely followed by an odd collaboration with Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) there was already plans to set sail for yet another horizon. I sincerely hope people are aware of how delightful living in 2013 is from the perspective of a curious listener. Experimentation is encouraged, not only by a critical audience that frowns upon tasteless clichés. An artist has lots to live up to. Plagiarism, even if by an unconscious act is a deadly sin in a world where scenes have already bloomed. We’re doing quite a good job so far, thank him for that.
Produced under the watch of none other than Alan Parson, The Raven That Refused To Sing
is the third installment in Steven Wilson’s solo catalogue. So what would one expect to hear from a man who promotes innovation, creative thinking and curiosity? Well, pretty much just that. Its novelties are frequent and many in number; you get mostly anything you could ever ask in favor of progressive rock that truly progresses. And though bloated with diligent King Crimson worship (Lizard
, specifically) it’s undeniably Steven Wilson, still probing and still dripping with talent. Featuring an elite ensemble of skilled musicians and everything from adventurous mellotrons to soaring saxophones and woodwind instruments, this is not the kind of music you absorb in a single sit. Better make yourself comfortable.
Regrettably, it’s not quite as refined as the precious Grace For Drowning
. Writing progressive music is following a wildcat scheme and the particularly diverse façade of Crimson’s back catalogue has indeed encouraged Wilson to strive for audial variety. This is a model that the predecessor clearly embraced, and to a full extent. Whereas Grace For Drowning
showcased a unique sense of unity between genres not limited to progressive rock, this one settles on a slightly meeker tone and never quite tries to be as bold as its sibling. Gone are the electronic elements, the industrial singer/songwriter touch and the engaging effort to marry odd genres. The result is a slight lack of depth and character, but only truly in contrast to a masterpiece. Criticism aside, this is just as lush and splendorous as any type of top notch music. Guthrie Govan in particular shines with fantastic guitar solos and the vocal work is on par with anything Wilson ever sung on.
In the No-Man’s land of Porcupine Trees, Storm Corrosions, Bass Communions and Blackfields - quality is of central value. Their languages speak with strident tongue; the creative principle is no mere flash in the pan and a thesis that has yet to be compromised for Steven Wilson. Akin to music from a time out of mind in unity with brick-wall imagination – The Raven That Refused To Sing
is a thrilling venture. Any devotee of experimental music will find something worth staying for here. It’s however not a revival of intellectual or artistic achievement and vigor… oh, sublime wit. It’s the curious outcome of an inspired mind! No words necessary, everybody knows that Steven Wilson has high standards. Have it, pop music!