There is a new album of Steven Wilson that circulated some weeks ago. Has received, as it does for some years any work of the composer, different readings, but a very interesting it is that kind of hatred and animosity that convenes in a sector of the public in each new incursion.
In reality, the feeling of discomfort with the work of the guitarist comes from more of the fanaticism of its followers than of the music itself. Yes, there is an annoying legion of fans of Wilson for whom any production is immaculate, great, great… even before he appeared.
Perhaps, to get closer to this man who had given a new impulse to the progressive rock, the best thing would be disociarlo of their various projects. It is not the same his work with No Man, Black Communion, Blackfield, Storm Corrosion, or I. E. M. that his productions as a solo artist. Nor is it the same his work as a restorer of classic Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, or XTC, among others, and less similar to Porcupine Tree.
Probably the hate —or that sense of disdain and prejudice— is because, with increasing frequency, the musician takes hold of pop in their cd productions, a movement that is “about” to the masses, and far from purists and the orthodox, although, truth be told, it has not left the quality at any time, as can be seen in To the Bone (Caroline, 2017), the fifth album under his own name.
“The Same Asylum as Before”, one of the eleven cuts included on the disc is an example of that. The first part is very melodic, with a chorus and a chorus that could well become part of any romantic song and you even get to be mellow, but the bridge is aggressive and then it appears a short solo guitar with slight inflections of jazz, to return to the choir and finally giving way to the coda. The interpretation is flawless, the production is correct, pristine, spotless.
If you are looking for is a certain rawness, she rummages in the wrong place; because since a few years ago, Wilson has shown himself as an aesthete of high perfection. This is perhaps one of their “weaknesses”. A few years ago to the date, the guitarist has been obsessed by the use of the technology and thus has probably left aside the spontaneity, to deliver meticulous work of production.
The best explanation of why the work of Wilson sail on the independence, aspires to the majors, and flirts heavily with them (“Permanating” is sickeningly radiable and contagious, which if it were a cut of what Fleetwod Mac?; “To the Bone” for the funk, world music, pop and is absolutely convincing;“Detonation” has a funky that then drift to the merger note any band recently) gives it to himself in an interview I did a couple of years ago and in which he spoke of his musical training: “I don’t like the music because it belongs to a specific genre, I like the one that has a strong personality and can be anything from extreme metal to country or progressive. The sounds with which I grew up were the eighties, I was a fan of The Cure, the Smiths were very important to me.That music was the determining factor because it is what I listened to when I grew up with my friends and that was all around me.”
A foot of Wilson is in the progressive rock of the seventies, via the influence of his older brother; the other is in the eighties, in which he sang in the street, he heard on the radio and shared with his friends. Songs of Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, or Style Council, music that was far from progressive, but arose on the basis of this gender, but also with eagerness to accomplish their own voice.
To the Bone should read as well, as the testimony of a composer of his time, which redefines progressive rock through the incorporation of pop. Has been cross-Wilson to reconcile worlds look disparate; I don’t think this album has reached the synthesis sought for, but has been very close.