Aclaración...

Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).

martes, 1 de noviembre de 2016

Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing (2013)


Para algunos una genialidad y para otros una obra mediocre pero nunca indiferente, sea como sea el señor Wilson marca su estilo y lo lleva a los confines de la imaginación, un disco inspirado en cuentos de fantastas,un disco que ya es un ícono del rock progresivo, una tapa representativa de un estilo y de una época. Aquí, un disco con historias de fantasmas, pero sobretodo otra exploración sobre las emociones del alma humana y los confines de la buena música. En definitiva, otro disco de Steven Wilson.

Artista: Steven Wilson
Álbum: The Raven That Refused To Sing
Año: 2013
Género: Crossover Prog
Duración: 54:03
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. Luminol
2. Drive Home
3. The Holy Drinker
4. The Pin Drop
5. The Watchmaker
6. The Raven That Refused To Sing

Alineación:
- Steven Wilson: Voz, mellotron, teclados, guitarras, bajo en tema #3
- Guthrie Govan: Guitarras
- Nick Beggs: Bajo, Chapman Stick en tema #3, coros
- Adam Holzman: Teclados, órgano Hammond, piano, sintetizador
- Marco Minnemann: Batería y percusión
- Theo Travis: Flauta, saxo, clarinete
Músicos invitados:
Jakko Jakszyk: Voz adicional en tema #1 y #5
Alan Parsons: Solo de guitarra en tema #3
Dave Stewart: Arreglos de cuerda, interpretados por la London Session Orchestra






Empecemos por metal, psicodelia, art rock, electrónica, krautrock, jazz fusion, post-punk y ambient. Luego, pasemos por una variedad de instrumentos que van del piano y la guitarra, al arpa, el sampler y el banjo. Ahora, terminemos con bandas como Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Storm Corrosion, IEM, Bass Communion, Continuum y Blackfield. Lo que aparece, como esos dibujos que se arman siguiendo puntitos numerados con el lápiz, es una silueta finita, con anteojitos y pelo largo, casi una versión oscura del famoso doodle de John Lennon. Es otro inglés: se llama Steven Wilson, tiene 45 años y es el último genio progresivo del rock (y no del rock progresivo, etiqueta que él desconoce).
Así empieza su descripciòn la revista Rolling Stone, y lo describe bastante bien.
Inquieto, prolífico y polifacético, ha incursionado, mezclado y borrado los límites de todos esos géneros desde todos esos proyectos musicales, tanto arriba del escenario como en su rol de productor e ingeniero para otros artistas (ah, también hace eso). Pero, posiblemente, sea más conocido como líder de Porcupine Tree, el celebrado cuarteto capaz de reunir lo narcótico de Pink Floyd, la riqueza de King Crimson y la potencia del Rush más perverso con temáticas "conceptuales" críticas de los medios masivos y el consumismo.
Aquì con el tercer disco solista, que es (como no podía ser de otra manera) conceptual, muy emotivo y multefacético, con canciones inspiradas en cuentos de fantasmas, quienes conforman los protagonistas en la lírica y atmósfera de esta obra.


The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) —en español: 'El cuervo que se negó a cantar (y otras historias)'— es el tercer álbum de estudio del músico británico Steven Wilson, lanzado el 25 de febrero de 2013 por Kscope Music Records.1 Escrito entre enero y julio de 2012, incluye 6 temas basados en distintas historias sobrenaturales, 3 de los cuales con más de 10 minutos de duración. El ingeniero de audio fue Alan Parsons, previamente envuelto en la grabación de The Dark Side of the Moon de Pink Floyd.
El álbum vendió más de 100.000 copias a dos años de su lanzamiento, transformándose en el mayor éxito comercial de toda su carrera hasta ese entonces.
La canción homónima del disco cuenta la historia de "un hombre viejo al final de su vida que está esperando para morir. Él piensa en un momento de su infancia cuando era increíblemente cercano a su hermana mayor. Ella era todo para él, y él era todo para ella. Por desgracia, ella murió cuando ambos eran muy jóvenes". El hombre se convence de que un cuervo, que visita su jardín, es algo como "un símbolo o una manifestación de su hermana. La cuestión es, su hermana le cantaría siempre que se sintiera con miedo o inseguro, y ella era una calma para él. En su ignorancia, decide que si puede lograr que el cuervo le cante, será la prueba final de que este es, de hecho, su hermana quien ha vuelto a llevarlo con ella hacia la otra vida". Wilson declaró que es la canción más hermosa que ha compuesto en su carrera.
Wikipedia


Un disco que contó con el legendario Alan Parsons ¿lo ubican? como ingeniero de sonido, es porque ponen todo el asado en el asador. Si los dos trabajaos solistas anteriores del señor Wilson: "Insurgentes" (2008) y "Grace for Drowning" (2011) apostaban algo más por el tratamiento de la atmósfera en su particular estilo, este trabajo apuesta por un tratamiento mucho más setentero e incluso virtuoso en su estilo, pero sin abandonar los climas y la atmósfera emotiva y nostálgica.


Mientras componía el álbum estaba leyendo muchas historias de espíritus y cuentos sobrenaturales de autores británicos como M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood y toda la escuela de principios del siglo XX. Me gustaron y me encontré escribiendo algunas cosas que, incluso instrumentalmente, parecían que estaban tratando de contar algo, como que tenían una especie de narración. Y las dos ideas se juntaron: usar esa música y tomar los cuentos de fantasmas como inspiración para escribir las letras.
Steven Wilson

El trabajo abre con un plato fuerte, "Luminol", un aire setentero a la par que contemporáneo inunda el tema, con duelos flauta-guitarra, la base rítmica con sus cambios, y unos coros de corte muy clásico, la sucesión de riffs hilados por Wilson y Govan, las partes de teclado, las mezclas entre partes intensas y melancolía setentera con mucha atmósfera salpican al tema de riqueza. "Drive Home" apela más a la emoción y al clima, y con mucha fuerza en su concepto, se basa más en los arreglos y una atmósfera hipnótica que en virtuosismo. "The Holy Drinker" es un tema menos típico en estructura, hay excelente arreglos de la batería y el bajo, así como destellos de virtuosismo de todo el grupo, donde se apuesta por una estética más desquiciante y oscura en un excelente tema. "The Pin Drop" es el corte más accesible, más delicada dentro de una pieza muy ornamentada y muy bella. Luego viene "The Watchmaker", quizás donde el nivel decae apenas un poco pero porque en los otros temas estuvo demasiado alto, un track de más de 10 minutos basado en lindos pasajes acústicos, muy instrumental, con cambios de intención, muy buenas incursiones de flauta, y mucha alternancia entre momentos calmos y pesados. La alternancia entre períodos largos de paz y partes más poderosas es una constante a lo largo del tema. El disco cierra con el tema homónimo, que va en crescendo, comienza con líneas vocales muy lastimeras y poco a poco va ganando en intensidad, especialmente al final.
El disco suena fresco, inspirado y lleno de ideas. Entre nostálgico y virtuoso, los caminos por los que nos hace recorrer Wilson son muchos, y quizás haya gente que no les gusta que le den tantas vueltas, o que algunos de los tramos no les gustan, pero sea por lo que fuera creo que este no es un disco para todos. Pero si te gusta la buena música, es una parada que no podés dejar pasar.

Vamos con algunos comentarios de terceros, a ver qué es lo que dicen ellos sobre este trabajo.


Cuentos de fantasmas, aparecidos y de cómo uno de los genios contemporáneos del rock progresivo firma nuevamente una gran obra
Existen músicos y bandas que hacen inspiradísimos trabajos en sus inicios y con el tiempo van decayendo y mostrando falta de creatividad o repitiéndose a si mismos constantemente. Otros, en cambio, a medida que van pasando los años van alcanzando una madurez musical y de ideas que les permite ir creciéndose y mejorando en cada nueva obra que facturan.
Tal es el caso de Steven Wilson, líder de Porcupine Tree, aclamado productor y también parte principal de proyectos como Storm Corrosion, No-Man y Blackfield. Esta vez hablamos de su tercer álbum en solitario 'The Raven That Refuses to Sing (and other stories)'.
Hace apenas año y medio que se publicara el aclamado 'Grace For Drowning' donde ya se dejaban ver unas influencias de jazz acompañadas de una gran fuerza melódica y a la vez canciones bastante potentes. Todos esos factores los encontramos nuevamente en 'The Raven...', pero a ello le sumamos algo que ha hecho Steven por primera vez en toda su carrera (no sólo en solitario), que es lo de meter a todos los músicos en el estudio y grabar los temas “en directo', que quiere decir todos tocando a la vez y no lo habitual que es ir grabando cada instrumento por separado, utilizando habitualmente un metrónomo y luego juntar todas las pistas.
La idea, según el propio Wilson, era recrear el espíritu de espontaneidad de muchas de las grabaciones de los años 70, como el 'Lizard' de King Crimson, el 'Bitches Brew' de Miles David y el 'Birds of Fire' de la Mahavishnu Orchestra, por ejemplo.
Y se nota, ya que en 'The Raven...' puede sentirse ese ambiente de directo y el aire de improvisación. Para llevar a buen puerto semejante empresa Wilson tenía que contar con un experimentado ingeniero, y para ello ha fichado a Alan Parsons, afamado productor, en cuyo catálogo figuran importantes obras como el 'Dark Side of the Moon' de Pink Floyd.
Grabado en los estudios EastWest de Hollywood, Wilson ha contado con la banda que le ha acompañado en su última gira: Guthrie Govan (guitarra), Adam Holzman (teclados, piano), Theo Travis (saxo, flauta), Nick Beggs (bajo) y Marco Minnemann (batería). Grabaron siete canciones en 7 días, pero una de ellas 'The Birthday Party' no acabado en el disco, pero si que será incluida como bonus track (al momento de redactarse esta nota no aparecía en ninguna de las ediciones disponibles)
La temática general del disco son cuentos de muertos, fantasmas y aparecidos, reiterando la afición del músico a las historias sobrenaturales y oscuras, e influenciado como él mismo reconoce por las series de TV de los 70 y por autores como Edgar Allan Poe, M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood, y Arthur Machen.
Y pasando a comentar los temas, 'Luminol' abre el disco de una manera directa y potente con un riff de bajo y batería, donde se van incorporando poco a poco el resto de los instrumentos. Todo lo contrario a las intro “in crescendo' que suele registrar el músico inglés en la mayoría de sus obras. A destacar en general los teclados y piano 'jazzy' con aire retro y la flauta. Cuenta la historia de un músico (malo) de la calle que al morir, su espíritu continúa allí en el mismo sitio tocando dónde lo hacía cada día. La música es como la banda sonora de una película, los primeros minutos son muy enérgicos y vivos, pasando a una parte intermedia lenta que representa la decadencia y horas bajas del músico, para luego de golpe anunciarnos el desenlace fatal, que el personaje decide (quizá inconscientemente) ignorar, y así continuar tocando repetidamente las mismas canciones desafinadas y mal aprendidas...
'Drive Home' es un tema de una belleza sólo comparable con la tristeza que emana. Es la historia de un hombre cuya mujer fallece en un accidente de tráfico. Los años pasan y los sueños se entrecruzan con imágenes de aquella persona que amó y cuyo sentimiento de culpa no le deja vivir tranquilo, negándose a reconocer la realidad de su soledad. Los instrumentos de viento, el piano y unas preciosas guitarras acústicas nos van llevando de la mano por el triste camino a casa del personaje, y cuyo emotivo solo de guitarra final solo hace acentuar el dolor y el sufrimiento…
'The Holly Drinker' es quizá uno de los mejores cortes del álbum, destacando de manera soberbia el potente ritmo del dúo Minnemann/Beggs, los teclados y el esquizofrénico y rasgado saxo que recrea de manera perfecta los muy tensos momentos vividos por el hombre que decidió retar al mismísimo demonio a una competición a ver quién era capaz de beber mas. ¿Quién ganó? Con la música de los últimos minutos os daréis cuenta perfectamente!.
Es posible que un tema sea bello, conmovedor y a la vez inquietante y que te de escalofríos? Pues eso es 'The Pin Drop', el relato sobre el aparecimiento del espíritu de una mujer que fue asesinada por su propio marido. Grandes riffs de guitarra y teclados y unos coros de miedo que te hacen evocar la imagen de la mujer cantando y flotando sobre el agua...
'The Watchmaker' es un cuento sobre un relojero que después de 50 años con su pareja, a la cuál nunca en realidad ha querido y que se suponía que iba a ser algo temporal, decide matarla y enterrarla debajo del entablado de su taller. Lo terrorífico es que ella decide volver y jurarle que nunca podré librarse de su compañía. Este es otro de los grandes momentos de esta obra, con un inicio con guitarras acústicas donde delicadamente se van incorporando la voz, el piano, la flauta y unos coros de voces sublimes que luego dejan paso al resto de instrumentos. En la parte intermedia el piano acompaña el canto de arrepentimiento y de confesión de verdades. La “tensión' va aumentando hasta el revelador final que arremete con la fuerza de las mas atormentadas y desgarradoras pesadillas.
Cierra el disco el tema que da nombre al mismo 'The Raven that Refuses to Sing', un precioso medio tiempo donde Wilson se muestra a nivel vocal como nunca antes. Un viejo, amargado y solitario hombre nunca ha podido superar la muerte de su hermana mayor cuando apenas era una niña. Un buen día un cuervo sobrevuela su casa y para él representa el espíritu de su hermana fallecida. Solamente falta una prueba; que el cuervo cante. La música te transporta a la triste existencia del personaje y la muy sinfónica y orquestal parte final cierra con broche de oro este grandioso trabajo. Unas solitarias notas de piano nos despiden de este mundo... ¿de sueños?
Calificación: 10/10
Engelbert Rodríguez

Si lo llaman el gurú del prog es por algo
Dando las gracias a esos piratones que habitan en el este de Europa, un servidor ha podido escuchar y analizar, con mes y medio de adelanto, uno de los discos más esperados para este 2013. El ‘nuevo-viejo’ gurú del prog ya está aquí de nuevo y viene, a golpe de martillo sobre ipod, dispuesto a reafirmarse como la mayor figura del rock progresivo actual. Si esta review crea hype en vosotros, ya sabéis que tenéis que ir a la Madre Rusia a quejaros.
Porcupine Tree: crónica de una muerte anunciada
Steven Wilson ha estado este pasado 2012 a punto de generar un cataclismo en la fuerza prog tras el anuncio, al menos por mí esperado, de que Porcupine Tree iba a entrar en un periodo de stand-by del cual Wilson no nos garantiza que vaya a salir al menos en un corto plazo. Lo que para muchos supuso la peor noticia que el mundo del prog podía darnos el pasado año, para mí fue probablemente la mejor, ya que a mi entender la fórmula de Porcupine Tree llevaba agotada un par de lanzamientos y se hacía más que necesario un ligero parón.
Obviamente mi alegría por esa noticia no radica en la falta o ausencia de Porcupine Tree (Roger Waters me libre), sino en que la carrera en solitario de Steven Wilson (a decir verdad Porcupine Tree era casi un proyecto en solitario pero con otro nombre) iba a tomar un mayor impulso, considerando obviamente que, al menos desde mi punto de vista, Porcupine Tree ya tenía poco que ofrecer en comparación con la carrera como solista de Steven Wilson.
Todo esto que os comento viene a ser corroborado por lo que ‘The Raven that Refused to Sing (…and other Stories)‘ nos ofrece, disco que desde ya cuenta como candidato claro a disco prog del año 2013.
Mismas armas, misma fórmula
Es bastante obvio que la carrera musical de Steven Wilson va a verse afectada por el deceso de Porcupine Tree, banda que le dio a conocer y en la que ha ocupado más de 20 años de andadura artística. Sin embargo, tras el magnífico album con el que nos obsequió en 2011, Wilson nos dejó claro a todos que se había quitado un peso de encima, que se había librado de los corsés que Porcupine Tree y la coherencia en el sonido del grupo significaban para la libertad y experimentación creativa del músico. Así fue como en ‘Grace for Drowing‘ Wilson logró combinar la tranquilidad y las oscuras atmósferas de ‘Insurgentes‘ con la inmensidad conceptual de ‘The Incident‘, dando a luz probablemente a su mejor obra, o la más completa, desde tiempos de ‘In Absentia‘, y sin contar la actual.
Esa combinación de elementos también sigue presente en ‘The Raven that Refused to Sing‘, pero con unos ligeros cambios. Mientras que ‘Grace for Drowing’ fue un álbum mastodóntico, a imagen y semejanza de ‘The Incident’, donde era muy complicado no desconectar en algún momento ante la avalancha de detalles con la que Wilson nos seducía, en este nuevo disco todo está mucho más cohesionado y articulado de una forma mucho más coherente y armoniosa, logrando que la áspera experiencia que supuso el primer contacto con ‘Grace for Drowing’ se torne en una placentera escucha en este último disco ya desde el primer momento, constituyendo un viaje que se pasa en un auténtico suspiro, lo cual, habla y muy bien del trabajo realizado por Steven Wilson.
No es un viaje a los 70, es pertenecer a esa década
Como se puede entresacar de lo que os he comentado antes, ‘The Raven that Refused to Sing‘ no supone ninguna brecha en lo estilístico en comparación con anteriores lanzamientos de Steven Wilson. Sin embargo, sí que hay algunos matices que es conveniente destacar pues pueden marcar el camino futuro a transitar por el músico inglés. El comienzo con ‘Luminol‘ deja muy a las claras que los años 70 no se marcharon jamás y que con gente como Wilson en activo jamás lo harán. Mientras que en la obra de Porcupine Tree o sus dos primeros álbumes en solitario los años 70 no eran más que un recurso a utilizar pero manteniendo una personalidad bastante más moderna, en este último disco los 70 son el punto de partida, son la única y verdadera razón de ser.
Así, la estructuración de los temas o el sonido más clásico que Wilson ha imprimido a sus nuevas canciones, desterrando los ramalazos drone que tan frecuentes han sido en los últimos tiempos, dejan claro que la intención de virar hacia un sonido más clásico es más que notoria. Ya no se trata de homenajear a King Crimson como en discos anteriores, sino de convertirse en un igual, en sonar tal y como sonaba la banda de Robert Fripp o Genesis con todo lo que ello conlleva. En ‘The Holy Drinker‘ queda bastante patente esto que afirmo, ya que el espíritu de la experimentación aparentemente anárquica de King Crimson convive de forma clara con composiciones que perfectamente podrían haber salido de la mente de Peter Gabriel y la guitarra de Steve Hackett en la época más art-rock de Genesis. La inclusión de instrumentos como la flauta o el saxofón, los cuales ya estaban presentes en ‘Grace for Drowing’ pero con menos protagonismo, no hace sino reforzar la anterior reflexión.
Referencias que no se pueden dejar pasar por alto
Aparte de todo lo anterior, es imposible hablar de este álbum y no hacer referencia a la participación de don Alan Parsons, quien ha sido responsable de las mezclas del álbum y ha actuado como un factor más a añadir a las razones de peso para que este disco no sea un homenaje a los 70 sino un disco de los 70 propiamente dicho. Sin embargo, sí que hay cierto homenaje en la obra, ya que es más que patente que este ‘The Raven that Refused to Sing‘ tiene como referente claro a la obra maestra que Alan Parsons ofreció en 1976, ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination‘, el cual también tuvo como referencia literaria a la obra de Edgard Alan Poe.
Huelga decir que el tener como referente letrístico a escritores románticos como Poe u Oscar Wilde es obvio que la oscuridad y la recreación de lóbregas atmósferas jueguen un papel fundamental en el disco, tanto en el aspecto sonoro como en el temático. Es en este punto donde se encuentra otro de los principales aciertos del álbum, ya que Wilson es capaz de conjugar con maestría el sonido rock clásico con la inclusión de elementos y arreglos sonoros destinados a dotar a la obra de una oscuridad que el rock progresivo de los años 70 no tenía en esencia. Así, las transiciones entre desarrollos progresivos, solos efectivos aunque nunca virtuosos y la recreación de todos esos elementos orientados a trasladarnos a la imaginación de Wilde o Poe son conjuntados de una forma tan armónica y coherente que dota al album de una homogeneidad en la que reside parte de su grandeza.
Steven Wilson, el ejecutor
En manos de otro artista la suma de elementos que significan temas como ‘Luminol‘, ‘The Watchmaker‘ o la homónima ‘The Raven that Refused to Sing‘ habría supuesto un compendio de muy buenas intenciones pero pobre ejecución. Sin embargo, con Steven Wilson al frente, estos elementos, a priori dificilmente combinables, son ajustados con una increíble maestría que dota de la naturalidad y cohesión que he destacado en varias ocasiones en esta crítica.
The Raven that Refused to Sing se erige como la obra definitiva de Steven Wilson, la más completa y coherente, donde ha logrado dar con la fórmula correcta para alcanzar la inmortalidad y subir al olimpo del prog junto a sus ídolos Robert Fripp, Steve Howe o Peter Gabriel. Quizás no cuenta con singles tan claros o temas tan destacados como en sus dos anteriores lanzamientos, pero el conjunto brilla bastante más al ser este disco mucho más comedido en algunos aspectos y equilibrado en otros. No sé si alcanzará para ser el mejor disco prog del año, pero de momento sí que es el mejor disco de Wilson en casi 10 años (mejorando a su anterior obra), que no es moco de pavo.
9.2/10
Edén Félix Nieto

Echando la vista atrás, es increíble el legado discográfico que a día de hoy ha dejado el británico STEVEN WILSON, compositor inquieto donde los haya, yendo practicamente a disco por año, ya sea en solitario o con cualquiera de las muchas bandas donde milita, colabora o produce. Si el año pasado rubricara un sobresaliente álbum junto a Mikael Âkerfeldt en el proyecto conjunto denominado Storm Corrosion, en 2013 edita su tercer trabajo en solitario, fruto de su inagotable inspiración tanto a nivel creativo como ejerciendo de productor.
El presente disco es una colección de seis temas, la mayoría de ellos de larga duración, donde Wilson da rienda suelta a su lado más intimista, recordandome en cierta manera a los Porcupine Tree de "Up the Downstair" y "The Sky Moves Sideways". Las letras están formadas por relatos fantásticos de la índole más dispar, teniendo casi todas en común la relación del mundo de los vivos con el del más allá (explorando más en ello en la edición deluxe en la que se profundiza en estas historias fantasmales), acompañados por una música tan triste como melancólica.
Su carrera en solitario le permite además la colaboración con distintos músicos, todos de primera línea por supuesto. Ahí tenemos esa enorme base rítmica que hace suyo la primera y última partes de "Luminol", donde Wilson da rienda suelta a Marco Minnemann y Nick Beggs a la batería y el bajo respectivamente, dando poco protagonismo a su guitarra e introduciendo tímidamente el mellotron y la flauta (genial Theo Travis a los vientos durante todo el álbum), con cierto sabor a los primeros Camel. La segunda parte del tema es más calmada para volver y terminar tal y como comenzó.
"Drive Home" es una preciosa historia de un señor conduciendo a casa sin saber que el fantasma de su fallecida esposa viaja sentado junto a el. Se trata de una balada llena de matices y arreglos que atrapa al oyente en sus más de siete minutos, dando paso a la psicodelia de "The Holy Drinker" aderezada por cierta dosis de jazz sobre todo en la base rítmica, otro de los momentos donde Wilson deja a sus músicos brillar con luz propia, fuera de cualquier encorsetamiento y una buena muestra es su parte central con los simultáneos solos de piano y flauta, mientras bajo y batería hacen maravillas por debajo.
Dejando de lado la complejidad, "The Pin Drop" es, en sí misma, una clase magistral de composición sobre cómo sacar partido a una progresión de sólo tres acordes, arropada por otra desgarradora historia cuyo leit motiv sería cómo las relaciones personales se pueden deteriorar que hasta el ruido de una aguja al caer es motivo de irritación, degenerando en el drama.
"The Watchmaker" es otra larga pieza, de casi doce minutos, que se toma su tiempo, comenzando como una balada con un sabor The Beatles 100% y evolucionando en un tema de rock progresivo donde de nuevo la psicodelia se apodera del lugar en un momento central lleno de complejidad (increíble el solo de Guthrie Govan) sobre un sencillísimo arpegio de guitarra como base.
"The Raven tha Refused to Sing", tema título, es el colofón final adornado por una tristísima melodía al piano y Wilson desgarrando su voz mientras grita "cry" en el momento más sentido del disco.
Estamos, pues, ante uno de esos trabajos que gusta de disfrutar con luz tenue, auriculares, ideal para los que somos amantes del formato en vinilo, obra de un incansable genio que sigue congratulado con las musas, un pequeño rey Midas de nuestros días que transforma en oro toda aquella partitura que pasa por sus manos.
J. José Jiménez

Steven Wilson colaboró con Alan Parsons en la producción de su tercer disco acreditado como solista al margen de sus múltiples proyectos paralelos (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield…).
El disco, que cuenta también con arreglos de cuerdas de Dave Stewart (conocido por su etapa con Eurythmics), pretende ser un álbum de rock progresivo estilo finales de los 60 y comienzos de los 70 con ecos de Pink Floyd, King Crimson, ELP, Yes, Camel, Jethro Tull, los Genesis de Peter Gabriel, Rush… Aunque muestra virtuosismo instrumental, el álbum no tiene interés en sus textos, en sus historias (todas moviéndose de forma vaga en un plano romanticismo gótico lejos de las mejores narraciones de su posible inspiración, Edgar Allan Poe, sobre memoria nostálgica, recuerdo del amor perdido, psicopatía, soledad, apariciones fantasmales…) ni entusiasma melódicamente ni en sus estructuras. Sus canciones no trascienden, parte de sus tramos son aburridos y palidece ante las obras (incluso menores) de sus maestros.
“Luminol”, canción centrada en la rutinaria vida de un solitario músico ambulante, es una apertura prog rock con trazos funk en mezclas rítmicas-melódicas sin repercusión más allá de mostrar la profesionalidad de sus músicos.
“Drive Home” es una pieza más lograda con un agradable tono escapista, ensoñador, fantasioso, de evocativa guitarra y dulces voces con base folk rock en un cruce entre King Crimson y Camel.
Tampoco es despreciable “The Holy Drinker”, presunta sátira de la hipocresía del fanático religioso en un encuentro con el diablo a lo Fausto de Goethe. El estilo, con un enfoque más oscuro que el corte previo, es jazz rock y contiene, con resonancias de Keith Emerson, la usual alternancia entre plácidos sonidos acústicos y estadillos eléctricos.
Folk psicodélico a lo Led Zeppelin en “The Pin Drop”, obsesión amorosa-criminal con un hombre que echa de menos a su mujer (puede que asesinada por el propio hombre). No está mal esta balada con suficiente hondura emocional.
Jakko Jakszyc aporta voces en las armonías de “The Watchmaker”, historia lírica de un relojero con juegos vocales finales sunshine pop y una base prog rock folk a lo Camel con influencia también de los primeros Genesis.
El disco, en clara conexión con Poe (“El Cuervo”), termina con la pieza homónima “The Raven That Refused To Sing”, nostalgia sinfónica y melancólica con piano dramático y violines. Corte lento escuchable pero sin la repercusión sentimental que pretende su respetable autor.
Antonio Méndez

Para finalizar, algunos comentarios en inglés, hay muchos, asi que copio solo algunos, verán que no todos estàn de acuerdo con su apreciación:

8/10
The Legacy Of Progressive Rock.
"The Raven That Refused To Sing (and Other Stories)", released in 2013, is the third album by Progressive Rock artist Steven Wilson, most poplar for being the frontman of Porcupine Tree, esily one of the best Prog Rock acts of the last twenty years or so. After a few side projects such as Blackfield, and a few collaborations with other artists, Wilson started a solo career, and released "Insurgentes" in 2008. But it is with "Grace For Drowning", in 2011, that Wilson stepped up his game in a way nobody expected, and crafted one of the most beautiful and personal Progressive albums ever made. Some might consider such a statement far too much of an exaggeration, but this man, without being afraid of showing his influences, mixed the past with the present in an outstandingly sophisticated way; it's not an album that is destined to be an important point in musical history, but rather one that represents a complete portrayal of an artist, a swan song of his own.
"The Raven That Refused To Sing" comes a year and a half later. Steven Wilson seems to have already expressed his emotions in the best and most complete way possible, so it is only natural that this new album doesn't have the touching melodies and the haunting, roaring emotions of "Grace For Drowning". Even though Wilson does tend at times to repeat his sound throughout his albums, he does have the common sense not to repeat them too often. Instead, "Raven" stays as distant from his inner feelings as possible: this is the tribute to vintage Prog Rock some fans were waiting for, and others were hoping not to hear. It is by far the Jazzier, musician-oriented album yet from this artist. The songwriting is more studied and a little more distant, but it is exactly what Wilson needed to do. He unleashes on "Raven" all the love he has for Progressive music, without even looking within himself. Although it does sound like a bad premise, the songwriting, song structuring, and musicianship are so, so good, that there isn't really much that feels missing. Everything that needs to be in such kind of album is here in the most complete way. It is, in other words, a fun record for whoever is a fan of the genre, and a not-so-good record for those who are not fans enough to love Progressive Rock in any form, of any era.
What sticks out the most probably is in fact the musicianship: Steven Wilson surrounds himself with some outstanding players, including drummer fiend Marco Minnemann, bass player Nick Beggs, keyboardist Adam Holzman, flute and sax player Theo Davis. This ensemble all playing together do miracles, and Wilson himself has improved so much in both his vocal harmonies and guitar playing. With such a punch of virtuosity to the music, traces of Porcupine Tree's sound are at the minimum, unlike previous works by SW.
With six tracks, three of them above ten minutes, the other three under ten, the Porcupine Tree frontman structures his work with great sophistication, making these two kind of tracks alternate, starting with eleven minute "Luminol", easily one of the best Wilson songs ever: the opening minutes are mouth-dropping, Jazz-rock influenced passages, while the core of the track softens a bit, until slowly the song picks up momentum until it closes stronger than how the track started. The several melodies and hooks repeated themselves at the right pace, at the right time. Same thing can be said for the third track, the even Jazzier and vivacious "The Holy Drinker", that with its frequent organ usage has somewhat of a Hard rock edge to it. The last of the long songs is "The Watchmaker" perhaps the weakest of them, because of its terrible resemblance, structure-wise, with Genesis' "the Cinema Show", but it's still a great track that boasts gentle, acoustic verses that give a perfect musical variety to the album's whole. Now, the songs that divide up these three titans: the second track, "Drive Home" is a nice and calm song that has some great solos and good songwriting, while "The Pin Drop" has one of the greatest hooks of the entire album, and some of the best musicianship as well on behalf of Wilson's playing. The final track, the title track, is for sure the one that sticks out the most of the shorter songs, for its little amount of drums and incredible atmosphere that closes the album with a vibrating tension you wouldn't expect to hear.
"the Raven That Refused To Sing" is an excellent example of a modern Prog Rock album that tributes the past with newer, more elaborate sounds and great, lush production. Steven Wilson skeptics will be, for sure, multiply after this album, because of its nature, on the other hand, it might turn on some that never really were into Porcupine Tree, because almost all traces of the band's sonic characteristics are gone. Steven Wilson seems to be maturing, abandoning his roots more and more, straight towards a brave, new direction.
Nick

Reading some of Steven Wilson's comments to his fans here ans at other sites, I get the feeling that he has never been too comfortable with being labeled as a prog musician. And that feeling causes me to wonder if on this album he is making or making fun of prog.
We all know that Wilson has spent much of his time the last few years making remixed versions of classic prog albums by some of the greats, including King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Jethro Tull. It could be that here he is just paying homage. If so, it is fine homage. If not, it makes me think of Mark Wahlberg's character in the film "The Other Guys", where he becomes very good at all sorts of artistic endeavors (such as ballet dancing), just so he can show the other kids "how stupid it is".
Don't get me wrong, just like Ian Anderson's thumbing his nose at the genre with "Thick As A Brick", Wilson has managed to create an excellent album of original music. But some of the influences sound a bit too cliched to my ear, and almost gratuitous.
Luminol, the opener, is a gem of a track, blending old school prog with modern prog metal. It has a fantastic funky bass line, and uses Robert Fripp's own Mellotron for that retro effect. Drive Home is slightly reminiscent of Moonchild from the first King Crimson album. The Holy Water has some organ playing that borrows from Keith Emerson's history. All of these have fine flute and sax riffs that bring classic Mel Collins to mind.
The Pin Drop is the weakest song on the album. Instead of looking back at classic prog, it sounds to me more like Wilson's Porcupine Tree efforts, that have way too much of the alt-rock sound for my tastes.
The Watchmaker sounds like a nod toward Genesis, with some light opening verses that would sound very much like the aforementioned group if Wilson sang with a thin, nasal Gabriel/Collins-like tone (luckily, he does not. The middle section of this tune reminds me of King Crimson's One More Red Nightmare, before a Tony Banks-like arpeggio brings back the Genesis feel, but with some Yes (South Side Of The Sky) and even a Rush lick thrown in.
And the title track at the end is a good, but not overwhelming crescendo for this album.
There are a lot of parts of this album that bring to mind very specific pieces of classic prog, and some that just capture the spirit of those bands. But even so, Wilson has managed to come up with a wonderful collection of music.
Steven, if you read this and I am wrong about your intentions, I'm sorry. But I still love the album.
Scott Evolver

3.5 stars
Just about every review thus far for Steven Wilson's "The Raven That Refused To Sing" has been praising the album as a progressive rock masterpiece; as essential prog fare for 2013; and so on and on. While I do not disagree that this wonderful album deserves a spin by every true prog fan, I'm not sure I can call it a masterpiece.
Wilson outdoes himself in this album with an amazing sound mix. He truly is a wizard: The 70's vibe that he portrays here is masterfully mixed and well written. Indeed, I really love the concept of an album all about ghost stories. I think Wilson knocked that concept out of the park. Not only that, but the musicians really amazed me. The musicians are very tasteful and restrained here, but can shred when they need to do so. The bass player and drummer especially amazed me with their unique approaches, instead of trying to just drown out everyone else. And, as always, Wilson's vocals are above average.
Yet, I cannot slap a 5-star rating on this album. I feel that Wilson tried hard to write plenty of instrumental passages (maybe trying to impress progheads? Not enough lyrics? Who knows.), but they usually come off as wandering and pointless. Take, for instance, the first track, "Luminol". This track begins with an amazing bass line and instrumental portion. Yet, it is the best instrumental portion in the entire album! It is to-the-point and groovy. But, as the song progresses, Wilson loses his focus. I feel that way about almost every song; too much filler.
That said, this album is very well done. The title track is already in my Top 5 songs for the year, for words cannot describe how masterful it is. You see, Wilson's composition is focused, emotive, and spell-binding on the title track; something he just missed in most of the other tracks. If the entire album had been as amazing as the final track, I feel we would already have the album of the year. As it stands, this is a great album; yet I think it will be forgotten relatively soon.
Jason Spencer

With The Raven That Refused To Sing And Other Stories (2013) I decided to finish my hate affair with this musician. I don't like Steven Wilson's music, period. I tried far too much with many Porcupine Tree albums and now in his solo carrer. And that will not change with The Raven That Refused To Sing And Other Stories (2013), his new album.
What everyone else seems to praise in his music I find annoying, derivative, boring and very, very average. And I'm still trying to understand why he's considered a great mind in the 'New Days Of Progressive Rock'. And if he is, we're definitely screwed.
To begin with, I find his voice annoying and his composing dull most of the time and all seem to be too derivative. Everything was done before... and better.
I must admit that Nick Beggs, the bass player, is someone to pay attention to, especially on the first part of 'Luminol', the opening track. But soon his playing is buried under Wilson's music. There's a bunch of nice flutes here and there, but Wilson ruined it with lots of ridiculous keyboards and a fake drum sound. And they call him 'genious of sound', I still wonder why!
The opening track is the only exception of good moments in The Raven That Refused To Sing And Other Stories (2013) And it's quite obvious that Steven Wilson wrote this album while he was doing the 5.1 versions of King Crimson albums, that's for sure, cause it's almost a copy of their work, as with others of his albums. Solo, with Porcupine Tree or whatever he records.
There are some nice moments here and there, but all in all the album is so... empty. There's nothing IN it. It's only an empty shell, it's only... posing. All for show. It's like Wilson was sitting with his notebook making a list while recording: - Mellotron - checked - Minimum 10 minutes lenght - checked - Late 60's atmosphere - checked - More mellotron - checked - Epic ending - checked
A VERY average album, and of course will not change my mind about Steven Wilson A forever average Joe in Prog World to me.
But you cannot argue with one thing, Wilson is an amazing... seller. He'll sell his fans an empty box and they'll buy with a big smile on their faces.
Diego Camargo

8.5/15P. This album leaves me helpless. So many decent ideas and so much talent here, but why does it all need to be so straight and perfectionist that even during the concerts the video clips are perfectly synced to the music?
I still remember clearly most of the moments which defined and shaped my life. And I'm grateful that I don't only remember them, but that I'm also aware that these situations had a distinct impact on the course of my life. These situations include social ones, experiences connotated with different places, and - which is why I am here - confrontations with music I didn't know before, or music whose qualities I didn't know until a variable number of listens. For instance I attended a multimedial show in a planetarium when I was a child, a show in which they played back Pink Floyd music while presenting films made in space. The effect which this little show made on me is invaluable in retrospect. Many years later, in 2011, I first listened to the debut album by Caravan, and the massive organ carpets suddenly catapulted me into a higher dimension - or, to put it more factually, into a different understanding of music. At a different time I - having bought and decently enjoyed a lot of albums of that genre before - listened to Steeleye Span's Lowlands of Holland on one summer evening somewhere in the fields. I had listened to this piece many times before, but on this occasion it opened the whole world of folk music for me, converting the unknowing enjoyment into a kind of spiritual connection to these sounds. Just as if I had been walking up a mountain in misty weather a thousand times, wondering why the people make such a fuss about mountaineering, then until one clear day when I finally see mountains at a distance of more than 200km. I also had a similar experience in February 2013 when Junip released their single Line of Fire, which kept me confident that transcendental music did not die in 1977, but rather transformed itself into a different style along with the huge changes in society which occurred since then.
Just looking at the credits and the artwork of Steven Wilson's Grace For Drowning in 2011 I knew that this album could be a huge cornucopia of good ideas. Still, after a lot of listens, I cannot really manage to view and estimate that album as a whole; but especially the electronic parts, which remind me of Steven Wilson's early trip-hop excursions, and the ambient parts with Wilson's restrained multi-instrumental works (dulcimer, autoharp, harmonium etc) always keep me motivated to listen to this album again and again, each time hoping to find something new.
I was pretty excited about The Raven That Refused To Sing when I pre-ordered it in vinyl at Burning Shed. Get All You Deserve, and especially Holzman's inspiring keyboard madness in Luminol, maybe didn't appear to me as a genuine musical masterpiece, but definitely as a step in the right direction - in a musical genre in which most of the time every step you make is a step into the past, a step closer to artistic insularity and musical fundamentalism.
COMMENDATIONS... Let's start with the positive aspects of this albums - and there are quite a lot of them. Again, the maniac electric piano work by former Miles Davis collaborator Adam Holzman, stands out on Luminol. The electric piano is fed through distortion devices and a ring modulator, and in the end the intensity of this stuff equals Dave MacRae's (Matching Mole) and Steven Miller's (Miller/Coxhill) more furious solos. The bass work by Nick Beggs is similarly convincing - especially the tritone-laden solo riff is quite a treat. Okay, the 'key chords' of the song are slightly derivative of Soft Machine's Pig, but I don't really mind this. At the latest, the Porcupine-Tree-ish mid-90s breakdown with the strummed electric guitar and Govan's jazzy lead guitar is able to put the same kind of big smile on my face as The Moon Touches Your Shoulder once did.
Govan's lead guitar in general is pretty good; he orients himself a lot towards Steve Hackett in terms of technique, but he might be the man in the band who puts the biggest emotion in his playing. He helps making the ballad Drive Home, which wouldn't be out of place on Porcupine Tree's The Incident, being a perfectly good listen at least over the first 6 minutes - afterwards it tends to become a bit overlong. Many critics highlight this track as the least convincing track of this album, but it grabs me as a pretty great piece of wistful alternative rock - the genre Wilson (until now) had the greatest artistic success in. The second half of The Watchmaker heads into a similar direction and is similarly successful. In retrospect, The Incident was a pretty good album after all!
The title track, a sparsely instrumentated neo-classical piece with grand piano and dense string arrangements, subtly builds on the cold atmosphere which was already conveyed on Grace For Drowning. The accompanying music video, an unusually sinister and insightful cartoon, is able to add a new dimension to the story which depicts a topic which the whole album actually reflects: aged people looking back on a life of losses, lost chances or wasted time. Former Hatfield & The North keyboarder Dave Stewart is again aboard as the arranger, and although his work is harmless and quiet compared with his eccentric Northettes choir arrangements, the orchestral work is tasteful and well-conducted. In the finale of the track, performed by the whole band, the strings really cumulate and rise and create something like an uplifting coda of a mainly cold album.
Alan Parsons' production is warm and absolutely good, but it ain't exactly imaginative. It's subject to the compositions - like quite a lot of aspects of this album. Although I enjoy Stewart's arrangements quite much, they mostly have the quality of film music. Don't get the album for Dave Stewart's participation, however, if you expect something like Mumps - he's more or less a studio musician here; no keyboards performed by him, of course.
OBJECTIONS... In spite of these good (and sometimes great) moments, the first listens of the The Raven That Refused To Sing album, both in the studio version and in Wilson's Cologne live concert, however, were a bit disappointing. It's neither that I would call this album boring - boredom occurs when a musician has a lack of ideas, and this ain't the case here. Nor am I annoyed by the neo-prog plagiarism phenomenon - there are some moments which fit into this category, but Wilson has too much knowledge of progressive rock and craves too much for creating something of his own to simply copy an idea by a different musician.
The problem rather is that I feel too comfortable in the consistently safe fairway of this album. When you listen to the tense Gilmourish introduction to The Pin Drop you know that some verses into the song Wilson is going to break into another tritone-filled dissonance, most possibly with fat guitars, mellotron or backing vocals. And, voila: at 1:14 the surmise proves true. I maybe would have expected this part to be mixed more differentiatedly (it's a bit of a mayhem), but whatever - it was pretty clear that something like this would come.
The same case in The Holy Drinker. When I saw that the song turned to quietness about two minutes before the end of the song, I knew that it was time for the big finale with metal guitars, dissonant counterpoints and busy drums. Go to 8:32 and listen to what happens. It's a biological fact that an immediate loud keyboard chord after a period of silence is a surprising moment, but too often it's hardly more than an effect here. Genesis' The Musical Box, for example, had a mighty finale which acted as the end of a big arc of suspense. I don't find this suspense on The Raven That Refused To Sing - here it's more a kind of 'arc of structure' or (expressed a bit unfairly) 'arc of predictability' which keeps the pieces together.
You might wonder why I have never mentioned Theo Travis in this review until now. Well, that's because he rarely attracts a great deal of my attention during the album. Not because he ain't able to do this - in fact, his tiny little flute lick in The Sky Moves Sideways, Phase Two is frequently swirling through my head. As a part of the Steven Wilson Band Theo Travis is a part of the arrangement, subject to the songs and their structure. The same issue with Adam Holzman: a passionate jazz pianist with his rare glittering outbursts on electric piano and Moog - not only in Luminol, but also in The Holy Drinker (0:28 onward, great) - but most of the time playing block chords and the occasional Hammond organ, the latter (sadly quite often) sounding like it always does on retro prog albums.
I cannot count out that my way of listening to music is too arrogating - maybe Wilson's music isn't addressed to fools like me who raise foolish predictions how the next part of the respective song could sound. And I firmly believe that real musical progress is always bound to technical progress - this is how rock music came into being. At the moment, there's no current invention like the first synthesizer or the first electric guitar. Hence it definitely would be arrogating to say that only revolutionary music is good music. And definitely this ain't how I perceive the nature music either.
Those of you who have read some of my reviews may have noticed how much I like (mostly British and Celtic-based) folk music, which is arguably the most minimalist music ever in terms of composition. There might be songs which are sung a capella, and they might be absolutely striking and beautiful - without complex chords, without instruments, without any arrangements. With just a voice and a melody sung to the endogenous metre of the lyrics. What brings sparse (and often ancient) pieces like these to live is first and foremost the delivery, the performance.
And this is the last aspect I'd like to point out about this album and my opinion of it - perhaps it's just a folly of my thoughts, but perhaps it's also a hint for some to listen to this record in a different way. A possible, and in my opinion plausible, explanation for my ambivalence towards Wilson's work is that he himself is an ambivalent musician. An emotional composer on the one hand, a cool performer on the other hand. The melodies and chord progressions themselves are absolutely inspired and filled with true sadness, anger and an occasional bit of hope. But, especially seeing Steven Wilson live as a performer, it seems he excludes the emotions as much as possible from his playing and singing - at least when these feelings threaten to disturb the structure of his work. I've already pointed out which aspects I complain about the music itself - but when played live the music is played in exactly the same way as in the studio (apart from some parts of the solos), perfectly synced with the music videos which are played in the background.
The guitar playing on certain bits and pieces, for instance, slightly resembles Anthony Phillips' guitar work - arpeggiated 12-string-guitar chords, most clearly to be heard on The Watchmaker. I don't really hear a clear hint at the Trespass material, but more likely an appreciation of his solo work (Private, Parts & Pieces etc). But, again, I don't really care about this - the guitar playing is just fine. But the playing defines a certain mood, that special Victorian sound which Genesis later combined with the dark British horror stories. Wilson also has a horror story to fuse with this song, a story of an old man who kills his woman after many years of marriage. But when Steven Wilson's really smooth and clean voice sings lines like "though all the cogs connected with such poetic grace, time has left its curse upon this place", it feels too smooth and pathetic - especially when Nick Beggs' similarly clean voice provides the harmonies.
SUMMING UP... My simple understanding of the development of Wilson's compositions is the following: Wilson's lyrics are stories of human imperfection. Stories which are later set to music and stylistic devices deducted from the (originally alternative and radical) progressive rock genre. The resulting music is then performed flawlessly, technically perfect and strictly according to Wilson's demos. Maybe the songs already determine how the finished album is going to sound before the members of Wilson's band have even gotten to know them.
The first two steps are authentic - everything's alright until here.
But this last step, the way of performing the music, clearly is the major inconsistency between Wilson's approach to music and my personal expectations. As I was standing there during Wilson's Cologne concert, in some moments I waited for some kind of variety, maybe even for some kind of revolution. I asked myself why Wilson doesn't do what all of his heroes did at some time - simply jamming and improvising around occasionally. His whole band would be able to do that. Many Canterbury Scene concerts of the 1970s seemed to be totally spontaneous (especially when Richard Sinclair was involved), with lots of lengthy improvised parts and unexpected guests. King Crimson used to mix up a setlist of strictly composed pieces (such as Fracture) with different jams - some of which ended up in a mess, and some of which proved successful later on. Moments in which one band member just turns around, briefly stops playing and smiles because he's so moved by what another band member plays.
But Wilson's band? It's in top form everyday, doing always the same (carefully set-up) setlist, the same encores, the tracks always in the same length, always professional, always tight, perfect timing. But seldom a moment of intense joy in any musician's face, rarely a cathartic moment, never a song in which the musicians subject themselves to their current feeling, to the feedback of the audience, to the state of mind which the musicians and the listeners share when they decide to spend an evening together in concert.
I don't want to claim that Steven Wilson is an all-dominant band leader. Everyone who has seen Wilson working in the studio with the band or with Akerfeldt finds that he is a pretty cool guy during the sessions. But he is a perfectionist, and the musicians who surround him are more than sufficiently versed in terms of playing abilities to cope with his ideas.
But maybe I still haven't found the key to this kind of music, just like it was the case with Steeleye Span - who I also would have rated 'good, but non-essential' a few years ago. Irrespective of how good this album is, it's quite unlike everything Wilson has conceived before. Instead, it gets closer to The Flower Kings, The Tangent and all the other bands from the retro prog realms. I'll surely give this album (and, of course, the more eccentric Grace for Drowning) more than just a few more spins, but I doubt that The Raven That Refused To Sing will ever enter the top40 of my personal favorite albums - contrary to the top40 of the ProgArchives which it has already entered by now (03.2013), just two mere weeks after its release.
Max

After what appeared to be an ambitious personal 2-CD album, a happier Wilson decided to go deeper into the progressive genre and write fictional stories involving the paranormal.
Luminol might be Wilson's homage to the genre of progressive rock, particularly Yes and King Crimson. You have an energetic overture, extended instrumental acrobatics, retro production, an epic mellotron solo, and so on. What's great about it is that it's very coherent and remains highly interesting throughout its 13 minute duration. Holy Drinker is a fantastic song as well. It opens with a vibrant jazz-fusion jam, leading to the main portion of the song, which has a 70s hard rock vibe with a great usage of mellotron. An ambient, eerie section introduces a hellish heavy metal section with dissonant arrangements. The Watchmaker is my favorite with a storybook structure to it. It emphasizes melody but offers plenty of dynamics to keep it going. The sinister ending may be an acquired taste but I find it essential to the song's balance between light and dark elements.
The shorter songs are of the highest caliber as well. Drive Home might sound familiar, but the melodic choruses and the passionate guitar solo are still highly enjoyable to me. Pin Drop may be short, but it has a powerful drive to it and offers great hooks and instrumental workouts. The moving The Raven That Refuses to Sing is the most minimalistic song in the album and is quite the tearjerker.
It's unbelievable how someone can have the talent to produce music this close to perfection. This album reaches the quality of the finest 70s progressive rock albums.
Zitro

Steven Wilson is arguably a modern genius of the prog community along with Mikael Akerfeldt, yet when they both came together for the Storm Corrosion project it had little impact on me. Wilson however as a solo artist has become intensely passionate about his music, and his solo albums are incredible masterpieces, especially 'Grace For Drowning' that floored me to the point where I had to obtain the deluxe version. Having to follow up such a brilliant album is not an easy thing but somehow Wilson has done so with a flourish that has heralded in the 2013 year in admirable style. Alan Parsons was on board to engineer this album so one would have to expect a high quality sound and it doesn't disappoint.
The album cover is like a rash all over the net with the astonished moon looming full and iconic in the darkness. The artwork is simple but embeds itself into the conscious easily and thus does its job to gain attention. The rest of the artwork in the Deluxe Version booklet consists of line drawings, some colourful paintings of the dishevelled looking kid in dense locations, a miserable man looking into a beer glass, later drinking a shot, some disturbing scratchy drawings, darkened stairwells and window frames, creepy faces staring out, images of a house, a tree and the scrawny watchmaker at work as his wife looks on, frames from the 'Raven' video clip with snow falling down in the forest, and the shivering old man pursuing the elusive bird. The booklet is extensive and arty as one might expect, and ends with an amusing drawing of the band playing looking like thin men with Wilson headbanging away. The artwork on the CD is the Raven looking mystical and enigmatic, and of course if you did get the Deluxe package you also have a 7 song demo to indulge in and the album in 5.1 sound on a blu ray and a DVD thrown in with all the clips and interviews.
'The Raven That Refused To Sing' has been promoted with film clips hovering about on the internet way before its release date and the film clip images that accompanies the title track are extraordinary. Wilson has reinvented himself again on this album, discarding the darkness of 'Grace For Drowning', and embracing a sound more akin to Porcupine Tree, oddly enough. The title track is masterful, and as it was the first track I heard initially I will start here. It is laced with beautiful keyboards and a pretty melody masking the downbeat lyrics that focus on the man's dead sister, that haunts the storyteller like the raven, and he misses her terribly and dreams of her to return to him; 'Just because I'm weak, You can steal my dreams, You can reach inside my head, And you can put your song there instead.'
Lyrically the poetry in the song has a melancholy edge. The images on the clip of an old man in a forest encountering a raven and then pursuing it finally capturing it and then dying, have a profound symbolic resonance. According to Wilson, the songs have classic Gothic ideas interspersed with suggested dread, regret, loss and the fear of mortality, or impending death, thus the omen of the Raven. It is these ideas that create a very unique atmosphere on the album. The raven essentially becomes, in the mind of the old man, a reincarnation of the old man's dead sister, and in his own delusion he believes if he can capture the raven and hear him sing he can recapture the life of his dead sister. The music is stripped back at times to a piano reverberating in the stillness. Wilson knows how to build on musical ideas and surpasses himself with such tracks, the mesmirising and haunting beauty is superb.
The album opens with 'Luminol' with a delightful pulsating bassline and reverb wah wah guitar splashes. Musically the album is faultless and the flute enhances the quality. There are some wonderful Yes-like multilayered harmonies for a moment and then the extended musical break dominates, with an odd time sig, an intense spectrum of bass, pounding percussion, floating flute, and Mellotron sounds. The electric piano runs have a 70s vibe especially when it builds with a shimmering soundscape, and utilising distortion devices and a ring modulator to good effect. At 4:35 it settles into a minimalist rhythm guitar and Wilson's vocals, in his reflective mood, with references to pop culture, 'the songs he learned from scratched LPs, stops in mid flow to sip his tea.' The lyrics centre on a protagonist who has died even in death continues to discover answers through reminiscing on the past or reflecting on a life that has faded; 'He strums the chords with less than grace, Each passing year etched on his face', is a reflection on how one might feel as we are 'born into a struggle, To come so far but end up returning to dust.' This ghost is a metaphor of fear and our obsession with mortality, according to Wilson in his online interviews.
Wilson doesn't labour on grim themes or death however throughout, and this album has more rays of hope than the shadows of despair found on previous releases, and leaves one with a profound sense of fulfilment. The music is uplifting and energetic, infused with passion throughout and progressive ideas using all the musicians at Wilson's disposal. The flute playing of Theo Travis is exquisite, but I am a real fan of that grinding organ by Adam Holzman, and the way the guitar interplays creating those endearing melodies. 'Luminol' is a masterpiece of the album and a promise of things to come.
Next is 'Drive Home' that opens with a sweet Neo-Classical melody that sounds partially like 'Castle In The Clouds' from 'Les Mesirables'. When Wilson comes in on vocals, the signature locks into a steady measured pace. All is held back like the old days of Porcupine Tree or the 'Deadwing' era. There is a remarkable beauty that emanates from the Mellotrons that sound like violins. The chorus is Wilson at his most melancholy with thought provoking lyrics; 'You need to clear away all the jetsam in your brain, And face the truth, Well love can make amends, While the darkness always ends, You're still alone so drive home.' The instrumental break is stripped back to a nice fingerpicking guitar motif, like Steve Howe, and Travis's achingly beautiful flute is layered over. The lead guitar break of Guthrie Govan that follows is incredible, soaring emotionally and adds so much depth to the overall atmosphere.
'The Holy Drinker' is a glorious throwback to the eclectic prog of vintage King Crimson meets Van der Graaf Generator, with elements of jazz fusion and mind blowing dissonant saxophone blasts. It opens with the wavering keyboard sound heard on Van der Graaf Generator's 'A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers', then breaks into a cacophony of sound like a jazz shop exploded. Theo Travis is master at the sax helm and Wilson is the commander as he constructs this disharmony of musical instruments. I adored this on first listen and it soon became the quintessential track of the album for me. After this outlandish intro, the song finds some semblance of structure and Wilson sings some odd lyrics that I don't want to think about too deeply; 'With shaking hands and blackened heart, The glass he pours, this time it's also the last, In rapt communion with himself, The Holy Drinker is going straight in to hell.' On cue the song breaks into extended soloing with some wonderful organ and chirping flute taking centre stage. I love how the organ has that Keith Emerson 'Tarkus' sound at 6:25, but a special mention goes to the sporadic drumming of Marco Minnemann and Bass of Nick Beggs that are always on target and played to perfection. The song settles into Wilson's echoing gentle voice at about 8 minutes in, but it feels ominous as though the jazz fusion will break out at any moment. Then a grinding Van der Graaf Generator organ sound growls viciously with a downbeat tone, joined by odd rhythmic guitars. This feels like the coda of VDGG's 'White Hammer' and it is ferociously off kilter enough to jar the senses to their most awakened state. AlI in all a furious blast of masterful music and one to seek out for those interested in checking out the best on the album.
Thus far the album is astonishing, nothing less than brilliant prog, so I was looking forward to the next half. 'The Pin Drop' is the shortest song at 5.03, and has Wilson on his highest register tone singing; 'Carried away by the river that passes through bulrushes on to the sea, Dragged by the current to rest on the stakes of the breakwater shaded by trees, Beginnings and endings, love intersecting a rift that will break us apart.' The return of the sax is so welcome, and Travis lifts off with massive runs and haunting squeals of jazz ecstasy. The song moves into a Twilight Zone like atmosphere melodically, and feels again like vintage Porcupine Tree. The layered harmonies are exceptional and create a wall of sound, and all is augmented by the accomplished lead guitar solo of Govan. All this in 5 minutes, simply incredible work from Mr Wilson.
'The Watchmaker' is another of the album's epics, and showcases Wilson's poetry in the lyrics; 'The watchmaker buries something deep within his thoughts, A shadow on the staircase of someone from before, This thing is broken now and cannot be repaired, Fifty years of compromise and aging bodies shared, Eliza dear, you know there's something I should say, I never really loved you but I'll miss you anyway.' The music is appropriately like a music box chiming, very Gabriel-era Genesis in fact, and is enhanced by dreamy flute embellishments. There is a glorious lead guitar solo, perhaps the best on the album with Govan taking on speedy licks effortlessly and the squeaky sax joins in and it suddenly reminds me of Pink Floyd. The song takes on a new format then with piano runs and Wilson's voice emanating thoughts of the Watchmaker who reminisces on a dark deed involving the murder of his wife who has returned from the grave; 'But for you I had to wait, Until one day it was too late.' The music and harmonies become more romantically intertwined utilising old school 'do do do's' and then finally it breaks out into an odd time sig and some glistening piano sparkles, a booming bass solo reminding me of Rush's Geddy Lee. Finally the next phase of the music becomes dissonant with weird off tones in a 7/8 meter, being used where they should not, creating a disquieteing effect. This is a complex piece of music and perhaps the darkest track on the whole album, more like the 'Grace For Drowning' themes than others on offer.
It ends of course with the beauty of 'The Raven That Refused To Sing' and we are left with an astonishing album of dark haunting power as only Wilson knows how to create. This is certainly a different creature than 'Grace For Drowning' and did not impact me like that masterpiece, and yet this latest release is mesmerising on every listen. It is an album to listen to with unwavering focus, as is all of Wilson's work; music designed for headphones. It is hard to rate this album as everything is so well placed and perfect; Wilson throws in so many ideas that it is impossible not to enjoy this if your ears are attuned to experimental progressive ideas. It did not measure up to 'Grace For Drowning' for me, but still is a masterful album presented in a compact form of less than an hour. If you want more, the Deluxe version is ample enough though did not add that much musically, but more artistically. The experience is sheer joy when an album comes out that embraces all that is great about prog. The sax, the organ, the lead guitars, the rhythms; all are played to perfection. Wilson's voice is faultless and his ideas are poetically conveyed to precision.
Perhaps it is too perfect and too calculating for some listeners and I can understand how this can be off putting, and why it has received mixed critical reactions. However, Wilson is nothing short of passionate about his music and every note is placed to generate a congenial effect to enhance the overall experience. This is a series of stories, as the album titles states, and each story has its own atmosphere and style though there is a consistency in the thematic juxtaposition of music and vocals. It is a far superior album to some of the earlier Porcupine Tree albums and indeed Wilson's debut solo. I would rank it easily among his greatest triumphs, and certainly it is going to be one of the albums of the year. An album this bold and inventive deserves full recommendation and thus far it is the best release in 2013, so 5 shining stars to a modern musical genius that continues to produce prog at its highest caliber.
Scott Tuffnell

Hay muchos otros comentarios pero me cansé.
Como vieron si leyeron todos los comentarios, el disco tiene muchas opiniones diversas, sòlo queda ver cual es la tuya.




No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario en la entrada




Lo más visitado...

Lo más visitado en el mes

Lo más visitado esta semana