The Raven That Refused to Sing
(And Other Stories)
When it comes to Steve Wilson,frontman of acts like Porcupine Tree,Blackfield and No-Man the word genius barely does justice. The UK-based musician has been at the forefront of progressive rock for the past several years and has worked with almost everyone of note in the genre.
Apart from being a superlative vocalist,Wilson is a virtuoso at a musical shop worth of instruments,from the conventional (piano,guitar,bass,flute,harp) to the modern (sampler,mixer) to the unusual (hammer dulcimer,mellotron).
In his third solo album,Wilson demonstrates his superlative skills in all of the above.
From the very outset,The Raven.. stands out. A concept album,each of its seven tracks are built around a supernatural story,in the style of Edgar Allan Poe. On its release,the album was accompanied by a 128-page book of lyrics by its songs and ghost stories.
So if the opening track,Luminol,takes inspiration from a busker,a street performer,who in Wilsons words is a ghost in life,the title track is about an old man who gets regularly visited by a raven he believes is his dead sisters ghose. The tracks in between all have their own erily esoteric storylines.
Sometimes,there comes an album which needs to be listened to,not written about. Sure,there is some stellar riff work on the guitar. The piano work is mesmerising and evocative. The drumming is gentle,only used where it needs to be. And then there is the mellontron,Wilsons pet instrument its cadences flowing through the instruments. Over all these Wilsons vocals shape the ebb and flow of the music. More than an album,The Raven.. is an auditory experience,with Wilson and his musicians taking you across soundscapes,a sort of sonic séance. Once the last chords of the last song fade away,theres only one thing to do. Press play again.