Steven Wilson -The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories). (KScope)
This is the third album from the Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson & although it errs rather heavily on the side of a proggy concept album Ed Jupp finds he quite likes it.
The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) is produced by the legendary Alan Parsons, the album is made up of six songs, all of them based on stories of the supernatural and three of them are over ten minutes long. Oh, and the bass player on the album is none other than Nick Beggs, the Kajagoogoo man…
By now, you’ve probably realised that it’s fair to say that indie purists need not apply. However, there was a time when that could well have applied to this writer, and I’ve learned to overcome my prejudice. Because… Yes! This is a concept album! Yes! There are time signature changes! Yes! There are solos…and you know what? It’s actually rather good (and that’s coming from someone who used to view anything remotely ‘prog’ with suspicion).
The thing is, whilst it may be billed as a solo record (and Wilson has worked as part of a number of acts as well as Porcupine Tree), it plays like a group record where all the players have an input into the record. I’ve not really connected with the stories involved with the concept, but there’s a sense of ‘blimey!’ as it all flows together. The title track, which closes the album, is a gorgeous piano ballad and may be the most straightforward way to begin for some, but there is a sense of tracks like ‘Luminol’ and ‘The Holy Drinker’ have plenty to enjoy and appreciate. And it generally avoids self-indulgence, which could be off-putting to both the aficionado and the casual listener.
The point of being ‘Progressive’ as opposed to ‘prog’ has long been debated – you can probably lose years researching it on the net – but there is a sense in which twenty years into his career, Wilson is continuing to explore and progress. And if someone like yours truly can feel the urge to investigate further, that has to be a commendation…
All words by Ed Jupp. More of Ed’s writing on Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive here.