Friday, March 15, 2013

Steven Wilson: "The Raven that Refused to Sing"

   About a month and a half ago, Steven Wilson (known from his long career with Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, and numerous other activities), presented his latest album with this weird title. I’m a fan of Porcupine Tree since their first albums. I have about 10 records of them, all 3 records from Blackfield, and a couple from No-Man. (Another project of Steven Wilson). But this is the first record I have from his solo career. (And this one is his 3rd). 
   I wanted to write this review almost right away, but I decided to wait some time before doing so. The reason? All these reviews I read about this album! I read about a “masterpiece”, about a “rare Jewel” etc etc…
(I believe that in our days the word 'masterpiece' is used very easily, and I don't really agree with this). Those critics and reviews made me listen to this album over and over again. And finally I think I’m ready to write this piece.
   The “Raven” contains 6 songs, and half of them are over 10 minutes long. The overall time of the record is about 55 minutes. So far so good. The production of the record is excellent, the musicians that surrounding Steven Wilson are very good, and the overall result is satisfying to say the least.
   But there was something that always bothered me, and I couldn’t figure out what it was!   
And then I read that Steven Wilson was working in the studio  re-mastering all the albums of King Crimson about a year prior to this album. And then it hit me! King Crimson! YES! That was the thing that was bothering me. Many parts of the songs resembling the bizarre and difficult sound of King Crimson, a band I never really liked. (With the exception of their first 1-2 records).  Another thing that bothered me was the many jazz influences here and there during the songs. (Not a fan of Jazz music either).
   Let’s go to the songs now… First track, the almost 14-minutes-long, “Luminol”. It could be a great piece of music but it contains ALL the ingredients I mentioned before. Although is a wonderful song in some parts, there are some other parts that annoys me. But the overall feeling is good. (Steven Wilson used Robert Fripp’s personal Mellotron in this song in order to give a ”retro” polish). If this song was 2-3 minutes shorter, leaving outside all these King Crimson Jazzy influences, it would be the best in the record by far! (For my music tastes and likings of course)
Next song is “Drive Home”. A song that could easily fit in any Porcupine Tree album. A 7-minute long slow song, that closes with a beautiful guitar solo. My favorite song from the record so far.
Third song, “Holy Drinker” has all the same ingredients I mentioned for ‘Luminol”. Maybe the most Jazzy song of the record. Great at some parts, weird and difficult in others. But even with these, it is maybe the second best song here.
The “Pin Drop” that follows, again it could fit in any Porcupine Tree album easily! Very catchy melodies, and short in length it is a nice song and it doesn’t make you tired while you listen to it.But I think is the weaker song in this album.
“The Watchmaker” that follows it reminds of Genesis older stuff in some parts, and although this could be a “plus” for me, it isn’t. I can’t explain it, but this song didn’t “fit” well in my ears.
And the closing piece is the “Raven”. Nice song, with very beautiful melodies, but there is something missing in order to become superb!
Finishing this really long review, I want to mention that all these things you read are my personal point of view and nothing more! You should definetly listen to the album yourselves and have your own opinion. You should need a minimum of 4-5 times before you have a clear picture.
As an overall result, I think “The raven that Refused to Sing” is a good record, that it contains so many different music styles and melodies, that everybody will find something that he/she will love here!
If I had to put a mark, it would be something between 3 and 4 stars.
Thank you for reading it!