Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Record label: Kscope
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Neo-Prog, Prog-Rock
Since embarking on a solo career that has liberated him from his band Porcupine Tree's occasional stylistic restrictions, Hemel Hempstead's widely revered prog-rock polymath has been revelling in the genre's limitless possibilities. Emboldened by the presence and powers of bassist Nick Beggs and woodwind maestro Theo Travis, Wilson's third solo album covers a bewildering amount of ground. Based on a series of self-penned ghost stories in the tradition of Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Machen, The Raven That Refused to Sing explodes into life with a stripped-down art-rock thud before morphing seamlessly into all manner of wildly evocative soundscapes, melodic crescendos and mellotron-drenched fever dreams.
Review Summary: How much do you like '70s prog?Being an avid admirer of vintage progressive rock, it was of no surprise to anyone that Steven Wilson's latest solo album would present itself as a formulated collage of his various influences within the genre. Musically, The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) is a collection of songs that offer typical flaunts of exuberant instrumental virtuosity, atmospheric passages, and melodious ballads. Each song even encompasses its own lyrical tale of supernatural fantasy, which adds a sense of thematic storytelling to the listening experience.
Over the past decade, Steven Wilson's relationship with prog rock has grown increasingly intimate. He previewed a killer new band on the live album Get All You Deserve -- woodwind/multi-instrumentalist Theo Travis, keyboardist Adam Holzman, session bass and stick player Nick Beggs, drummer Marco Minnemann, and guitarist Guthrie Govan -- put a diverse, sophisticated face on Wilson's 21st century brand of the genre. The Raven That Refused to Sing and Other Stories is their first studio outing.
Since the esteemed prog rock group Porcupine Tree, led by English musician Steven Wilson, embarked on an unspecified hiatus following the release of their 10th studio album, 2010’s The Incident, Wilson has wholeheartedly committed to a solo career with his wilfully experimental, diverse and daring take on progressive rock and fusion based composition. His previous solo album Grace For Drowning saw Wilson indulging himself in classically tinged jazzy rock. The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories), his third solo album, is similarly experimentally minded but here the sonic experiments are aligned to far weightier lyrical themes.
When Steven Wilson released his first “official” solo album, Insurgentes, in 2008, it felt like a massive breath of fresh air. Wilson, whose multi-project career ranges from the ambient/drone of Bass Communion to the prog pop/rock of Blackfield, has long been pigeonholed as a “prog” musician, due in large part to the global popularity of his most well known band, Porcupine Tree. But while progressive rock has always been a part of his musical vocabulary, stylistically he has never been exclusively tied to the genre.
When Steven Wilson gave us the majestic Grace For Drowning in 2011 it seemed like an unquenchable outpouring of stylistic experiments that still coalesced into a whole. While hard to love, it was a towering achievement. This follow-up is a more restrained six songs across 55 minutes (though there are a number of formats available, including a 2-CD, DVD and Blu-ray box set), with Wilson focusing on Victorian horror stories, taking inspiration from the works of Edgar Allan Poe and the Welsh supernaturalist Arthur Machen.