Home > News & Reviews > Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning (Album Review)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 Written by Ben Bland
Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning (Album Review)

It would be easy to write this album off as a prog rock indulgence. At over eighty minutes in length and stretched out over two discs, there is no doubting that 'Grace for Drowning' is an epic in an era in which albums beyond fifty minutes or so in length are resolutely unfashionable. However what has always marked out Steven Wilson’s work from many of the classic prog artists, and indeed what has distinguished his band Porcupine Tree from many other modern prog bands such as Dream Theater, is his lack of willing to engage in unnecessarily lengthy bouts of musical virtuosity. In fact, despite its extended running time, 'Grace for Drowning' arguably proves this point better than any of his other works. For a work so defiantly widescreen in its intentions as this it is truly remarkable that there is nothing that could, or rather should, be accused of being filler or being over the top.

ImageThe album has always been the ultimate art form in the eyes of many and 'Grace for Drowning' is certainly a work of art. The gentle, lullaby-esque title track begins the first disc, 'Deform to Form a Star', in a disarmingly tranquil fashion before the riffs of instrumental 'Sectarian' twist and turn in a style that would make Robert Fripp proud. The piano led 'Deform to Form a Star' is genuinely beautiful and the metallic trip-hop of 'No Part of Me' makes for a bewildering detour. By the time the first disc closes with the double header of 'Raider Prelude' and 'Remainder the Black Dog', the album is veering into progressive jazz territory with delightful results. Yet despite the menagerie of influences and genres present nothing feels out of place. One criticism that could, fairly if incorrectly in this reviewer’s opinion, be levelled at Wilson’s first solo record, 'Insurgentes', was that sometimes elements could be seen as somewhat counter-productive and strained. There is no danger of that here.

Although there are occasional moments of genuine heaviness, this is not a heavy record. Whilst some of Porcupine Tree’s recent albums could easily be filed in the metal section this is an album that uses heaviness as a tool only sparingly, making it doubly effective. The second disc, 'Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye', again starts off gently but progresses into disturbing territory on the creepy 'Index' and into full on avant-garde jazz land on the mammoth twenty-three minute 'Raider II'. By the time 'Like Dust I Have Cleared from My Eye' closes the album completely Wilson has managed to lure the listener in not just with incredibly atmospheric soundscapes but also the odd genuine hook or two, and of course some incredible musicianship.

This is not an album that will appeal to everyone. It is hard work at times and it takes a good few listens to fully appreciate, but the reward of perseverance is astonishing. Don’t expect Wilson to break into the mainstream with this record but if this doesn’t gain him praise from even the most hardened of critics then it is a travesty. Without doubt this is one of the best records produced in many, many years and in years to come it should, with any justice, be remembered as a landmark release by one of the world’s few true ground-breaking artists.

'Grace for Drowning' is released on 26th September via K-Scope records. Steven Wilson plays London’s Shepherds Bush Empire on 31st October (his only UK show). Stereoboard plans to feature both coverage of the show and an interview with Wilson. Be aware that 'Grace for Drowning' is available in numerous different formats and that the limited deluxe edition is running low on stock.



Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!




Related News

Steven Wilson Sets Up North American To The Bone Tour
Tue 31 Jul 2018
Steven Wilson has added fall dates to his To The Bone tour.
Steven Wilson Announces Third Royal Albert Hall Show
Tue 19 Sep 2017
Steven Wilson has added a third London show to his tour plans.
Steven Wilson Posts Permanating Video
Fri 21 Jul 2017
Steven Wilson has released a video for his track, Permanating.
No Wrong Answers: Russian Circles Delve Into The Making Of 'Blood Year'
Thu 05 Sep 2019
Brits know how to deal with the rain. We carry umbrellas all year round and scoff at those who are ill prepared for the inevitable deluge. We’re also painfully aware of the risks that come with attending summer festivals in the UK, and accordingly we arm ourselves with wellies and unflattering plastic ponchos as a matter of routine. 
Extensive Pink Floyd Collection 'The Later Years' To Arrive In November
Thu 29 Aug 2019
Photo: Dimo Safari An extensive Pink Floyd collection is on its way.
Muse Announce Support For September UK Arena Shows
Fri 23 Aug 2019
Muse have announced the support act for their September arena dates.
Goo Goo Dolls Share New Single Indestructible From 'Miracle Pill'
Fri 09 Aug 2019
Goo Goo Dolls have shared a new single.
R.E.M. To Reissue 'Monster' For 25th Anniversary
Wed 04 Sep 2019
R.E.M. have announced a reissue of their 1994 album 'Monster'.
 
< Prev   Next >