Steven Wilson

The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)

Written by: BV on 23/06/2013 19:45:07

Steven Wilson is a name known to many, due in part to his work with Porcupine Tree and, to some extent, his two previous solo albums. This, his third solo album, “The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)” will by no means lessen his reputation. Wilson is known for his grandiose and thematic approach to songwriting and this particular album really isn’t a stray sheep in that context. On “The Raven…” the theme is, as it always seems to be, carefully thought out so as to give off an impression of absolute coherence – making it pivotal to listen to the album in full, never really being able to pinpoint that one song that is ‘more important’ than the rest, even though there will, naturally, always be the standout tracks.

As the album opens with “Luminol” the listener is brought into an extensive track that reaches a runtime of near 12 minutes. I’ve often found myself highly ambivalent towards long runtimes – loving them when the jams are evolving and such, hating them when repeating the verse/chorus/verse form over and over again. On “Luminol”, there is a high risk of both going on, as the eerie synth and keyboard soundscapes tend to become relatively ‘showy’ at points. Nonetheless the track evolves seamlessly as the minutes progress and Wilson’s tendency to mix the beautiful aesthetics with the slightly heavier material shines through in abundance.

When the first sweet sequence of notes starts playing on “Drive Home” I find myself eagerly anticipating; what exactly is to come? – despite the fact that I have already listened extensively to the album. Why is that? Well, as with really progressive rock, and by that I mean truly progressive rock, there are always new layers of sounds that have been previously overheard that are just waiting in the soundscape, waiting for that moment of discovery. As Wilson’s mellow vocals enter the soundscape supported by those smooth, eerie and most of all beautiful mellotron sounds I find myself ‘falling in love’ with the sheer vibe of the soundscape as I close my eyes and just listen to the music, trying to grasp every fleeting moment of these carefully orchestrated, vastly beautiful tones.

As the album nears a close, the title track gives off a massively melancholic vibe that I have come to find strangely fitting for an album ending – a bookend to these marvelous stories, if you will. With the simplistic piano parts, the low-key melancholy of Wilson and the sheer grandiose soundscape that the song eventually evolves into, I cannot comprehend how it has taken me so long to actually ‘find the time’ for this album – what a foolish mistake that was, as this is quite clearly a progressive masterpiece that clearly stands up to not only Wilson’s prior work, but also to progressive legends King Crimson, and to some extent the legacy of Pink Floyd. Had it not been for the far too ‘playful’ and bewildered attitude of the opening track, this would have been a near flawless release. However, I’m still quite confident in rating this as one of my absolute favorites of the year.


Download: Drive Home, The Raven That Refused To Sing, The Holy Drinker
For The Fans Of: Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, King Crimson

Release Date 25.02.2013

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