Steven Wilson — Grace for Drowning
(Kscope 177, 2011, 2CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-04-01Steven Wilson's sophomore solo effort includes 12 tracks across two disks (assuming you didn't spring for one of the umpteen other editions or formats available) and the consensus opinion is that he hit it out of the park on this one. Grace for Drowning is definitely an improvement over the ambitious but uneven Insurgentes (2008) and is arguably the strongest thing Wilson has produced since 2002's In Absentia. Besides Wilson — who is heard mainly on vocals, guitar, and keyboards — the album features the contributions of King Crimson alumni Tony Levin, Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto, but that's not the only Crimson Connection here. Grace for Drowning was hatched immediately following Wilson's work remastering Crimson's early-mid 70s albums and the impact here is undeniable. When Theo Travis lets rip a squalling alto solo on "Remainder the Black Dog" it's hard not to be reminded of the free form jazz passages on Lizard (1971), and especially when Jordan Rudess evokes the off-kilter improvisations of Keith Tippett on the epic "Raider II." Wilson has lately become a champion of Lizard, and it was apparently the main impetus for employing jazz musicians to help bring these songs to life, including former Nucleus drummer Nic France. With all this talk about free form jazz, those hoping for reminders of Wilson's work with Porcupine Tree may be getting nervous, but there's no need for concern. Loads of gloomy Mellotron, melancholic piano, and fatalistic lyrics crop up all over the album, and Wilson's amazing penchant for turning music inherently dreary and morbid into something amazingly beautiful is heard from start to finish. Grace for Drowning really is a stunning effort and it clearly marks a step forward for Steven Wilson. It's no wonder that the prog world's anticipation for his next solo effort is off the charts.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more