Steven Wilson has been a very busy man lately since working on the new stereo mixes for the King Crimson catalog and also with Caravan’s In The Land of Grey and Pink, and the upcoming 40th anniversary remix of Jethro Tull’s masterpiece, Aqualung. Even though he’s been working really hard on the King Crimson catalogue and Porcupine Tree taking a long vacation, it proves that he’s not just a solo artist, but a true visionary in the 21st century of Progressive Rock reviving out of the dead and coming back to life in a new life and a new beginning in the 2010s.
He once said to Classic Rock Presents Prog in February of this year, “I wanted to create a musical journey, hold it in my hand and say, ‘I made this.’” And he does to make the progress work step by step and seeing how the work is done including fixing it, if it doesn’t work, start all over again. The concept of going into a darker era has shown much in Wilson’s new follow up to Insurgentes and that has taken a haunting course that’s very retro and beautiful at the same time.
One of the most perfect examples on Grace For Drowning is Deform to Form a Star. It has some beautiful Floyd-like guitar solo and a melancholic piano introduction done by Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. You could tell that Wilson has a love of the early Floyd material from 1968 to 1972 (pre-Dark Side) and a touch of the mellotron makes you feel like this track could have been recorded in 1970 and almost recorded in a dark and cavernous cave.
Going into the ballad mode is not from what you hear from the mastermind of Porcupine Tree, but the acoustic melody, Postcard, is very much one of the touches of Thom Yorke’s songwriting that Wilson influences on his writing for a touch of electronic and orchestral rock that has been around the frontyard. One of the most mind-blowing songs that Wilson does here is Remainder The Black Dog as it starts off as a ‘70s space rock homage to Eloy with Steven speaking through a leslie speaker as it goes into a dramatic sinister Crimson mode that brings a dosage of Fusion and Frippertronics combined together.
Then we go into the scary mode. You got to admit, Steven Wilson has a love of the darker side as its shown with his touches on his admire on Radiohead’s experimentation’s on Index , an evil piece that deals with a collector who’s been misunderstood while Track One, almost could have been a sequel to Paranoid Android into disturbing and dangerous territory. But it’s where he begins to go into the epic mode with the 23-minute piece, Raider II.
With a touch of jazz gone haywire, an homage to King Crimson’s Lizard-era, and dooming mellotron beauty to make you get ready for a touch of melodic hell, Wilson really is the mad scientist of doing an epic so beautiful that its almost could have been recorded for the graphic novel, Batman: Knightfall. With a touch of sinister electric guitar passages, pound cake drum sections, and an explosive flute solo from Theo Travis, this is a powerful epic that is about to become a live favorite among PT and Prog fans to go ga-ga over this.
You might be familiar that some of the people with names you might recognize who worked with Wilson on Grace For Drowning like Steve Hackett, Trey Gunn, Tony Levin, and Pat Mastelotto to name a few, is quite an understatement for Steven to give them the OK. Grace For Drowning is one of the most dynamic and explosive albums for a musician to push the envelope and blowing the door down so hardcore, that you won’t come out alive. Steven Wilson makes some haunting and evil pieces of music that would give the so-called mainstream music scene on the top 40 the middle finger. The product and reception means it’s a must have to have Wilson to go beyond the dog fence and see which direction he goes to.