STEVEN WILSON

(UNITED KINGDOM)

GRACE FOR DROWNING

(2011)
LABEL:

KSCOPE

GENRE:

PROGRESSIVE ROCK

TAGS:
Jazzy, Opera-Rock
"Too long, too uniform, and especially too wise: Steven Wilson didn't know how to integrate the madness of jazz into this "Grace For Drowning"."
ABADDON (19.09.2011)  
2/5
(0) opinions (0) comment(s)
Two years after a rather successful "Insurgents", Steven Wilson is now giving us his second solo effort. If "Insurgents" had slightly detached itself from the previous productions of the master thinker of Porcupine Tree, No Man and other Blackfields, by its even more atmospheric side and slightly psychedelic scents, "Grace For Drowning" tries to answer another question: is jazz soluble in the atmospheric progressive?

Steven Wilson started from a simple observation: if the progressive knew its age of unbridled creation in the 70s, for all that the style, if there is one, was rarely inspired by jazz, nevertheless a great field of inventiveness. And if groups like King Crimson or Mahavishnu Orchestra have taken the path of jazz, they remain very rare exceptions. From there, Mr Wilson surrounded himself with well-known artists (Jordan Rudess on keyboards, Tony Levin on bass), or less known but from the jazz sphere. 

"Grace for Drowning" is thus a tribute to the 70's whose inventiveness he tries to regain, while keeping the atmospheric side of his previous creations. However, the two styles are almost opposite: the atmospheric often relies on a great economy of means, reducing the melodic lines to rely on atmospheres and sounds. Even if Steven Wilson is considered a master in this field, this simplification may have been one of the major criticisms of Porcupine Tree, with his critics claiming that the combo's music was becoming more and more hollow (personally, I think PT often achieved an almost miraculous balance!). Opposing the tenuous character of the atmospheric to the harmonic and rhythmic abundance of jazz was therefore a big challenge.

But there is unfortunately little question of abundance here.... The excellent musicians are not to blame (even if Gavin Harrisson is absent, his replacements ensure excellent scores). The production is as usual irreproachable. On the other hand, the pieces stretch dangerously, the jazz side appearing especially for free but digressive sequences, getting lost in languid meanders. Steven Wilson uses much less the contrasts of intensity on this album, so the listener gets lost in the lengths, like the organ of 'Sectarian', the sax of 'Remainder the Black Dog', the guitar of 'Track One' or the long hovering passage of 'Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye'. 

The result is a regrettable finding of boredom. For many bands, "Grace For Drowning" would have been an honorable album. Coming from Steven Wilson, he is judged more severely, the album (double) appearing too stretched and musically too thin to maintain the listener's attention, especially in a particularly dark general register and therefore not conducive to demonstrations of enthusiasm. Harmonic impulses ('Belle de Jour', finely orchestrated,'Deform to Form a Star', very quiet PT) or contrasts ('No Part Of Me') are too rarely present to win support. Too long, too uniform, and especially too wise: Steven Wilson didn't know how to integrate the madness of jazz into his universe - too bad!
- Official website

TRACK LISTING:
101. Grace For Drowning - 02:06
102. Sectarien - 07:41
103. Deform To Form A Star - 07:51
104. No Part Of Me - 05:45
105. Postcard - 04:29
106. Raider Prelude - 02:23
107. Remainder The Black Dog - 09:27
201. Belle De Jour - 03:00
202. Inder - 04:49
203. Track One - 04:16
204. Raider Ii - 23:21
205. Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye - 08:01

LINEUP:
Jordan Rudess: Claviers
Mike Outram: Guitares
Nic France: Batterie
Nick Beggs: Basse
Pat Mastelotto: Batterie
Steven Wilson: Chant / Guitares / Basse / Claviers
Theo Travis: Sax, Flûte
Tony Levin: Basse
Trey Gunn: Basse / Warr Guitar
   
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