Steven Wilson — The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
(Kscope 242, 2013, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-12-14Prog wunderkind Steven Wilson seems to have finally found his happy place. After years of guiding Porcupine Tree into what became a stifling democratic institution, and then producing two albums as a sole proprietor (albeit with talented guest stars), here he takes a page out of Frank Zappa’s book. Wilson often name checks Zappa, so it comes as no surprise that on The Raven That Refused to Sing he has assembled a crack group of musicians including Nick Beggs (bass and vocals), Adam Holzman (keys), Theo Travis (reeds and woodwinds), Guthrie Govan (guitar), and Marco Minneman (drums) to serve as his personal orchestra in bringing the songs to life. And what songs they are. Conceptually organized around the theme of ghost stories, Wilson has produced six of the strongest individual pieces of his already impressive career. He’s largely rid himself of the King Crimson bug seen on 2011’s Grace for Drowning and plies a more varied and personal path here. The results span the Yes-ish prog rock of “Luminol” to the orchestral ballad “Drive Home” to the pastoral “The Watchmaker.” Each song bears Wilson’s melodic and harmonic fingerprints, plus his penchant for immaculate production and engineering (Alan Parsons was even recruited to give the recordings a more organic vibe). It all culminates in the gorgeous title track, a masterful blend of melody, emotion and tension that easily ranks as one of Wilson’s best compositions ever. It’s easy to see why The Raven is making most prog fans’ Best of 2013 list.
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
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more