New Music Wednesday – 03/06/2013 (my birthday!)

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March 7, 2013 by Daniel

Say, how do you feel about extended flute solos? What about odd time signatures? Drum fills that last several bars? Atmospheric Moog synthesizers? How about multi-part, ten-minute-plus epics? In short, how do you feel about 1970s progressive rock?

If, like me, you feel pretty damn good about it, you need to go out and buy Steven Wilson’s new solo album The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) right goddamn now.

I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily be surprised. You may know Wilson as the brain behind Porcupine Tree, who is probably the best modern progressive rock band around, at least since they cemented their lineup on 2002’s In Absentia. And while Porcupine Tree has been getting progressively more, um….progressive, with every album since then, they’ve never hit the absolute 70s worship that Wilson goes for here. This stuff is vintage, with the kind of atmosphere, musicianship, and song structures that you would expect to hear from a classic Yes or King Crimson record; and yet, as per Wilson’s standards, it’s all so tasteful. This is an album with one foot in the past, but another very clearly in the present, with all of Wilson’s smooth vocals, layered textures, and that super-clear yet oddly mysterious production style idiosyncratic of the prog rock master. The Raven Refused to Sing is bombastic but modest, explosive but reserved, aggressively beautiful, and deserves to be heard by anyone with the slightest affinity for old-school prog craziness.

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