on October 4, 2011
With Grace for Drowning, Steven Wilson has undoubtedly reached his highest level of creativity and sensitivity. Creativity because of the way he masters the art of creating creepy but incredibly beautiful moods and atmospheres, along with peaceful ballads and jazzy pieces. Sensitivity because of Wilson's touching voice, which feels particularly personal on this record, and with the poignant and powerful choirs. I think Grace for Drowning is more complete than Insurgentes, which by the way is a beautiful record too. It's more subtle, yet powerful at the same time, and the jazzy elements that were used add colors and very delicate textures. Indeed, the sound on this record is truly amazing. In a strange way, you feel the music. Grace for Drowning really is worth buying. 5 stars.
Grace for Drowning dépasse toutes les attentes que j'avaient envers cet album. Certes, Insurgentes était excellent ; Grace for Drowning le devance de loin. Steven Wilson a, je crois, atteint son paroxysme en tant que musicien avec cet album. Il a encore une fois réussi a créer une ambiance sombre, mais tellement belle, émouvante et puissante. Les choeurs contribuent de manière exceptionnelle à créer cette ambiance hors-du-commun, tout comme les assonances affolantes propres à Steven Wilson. En intégrant en plus beaucoup d'éléments de jazz, comme dans certains albums de King Crimson notamment, Wilson nous transporte dans une ambiances des groupes rock-progressifs des années 70, mais avec une touche extrêmement délicate, mais puissante à la fois. La sonorité sur cet album est incroyable. Texturé et subtil, il nous fait vibrer, il nous transporte dans les mélodies, tant dans les ballades que dans les pièces plus rythmées. Bref, Grace for Drowning vaut vraiment la peine d'être acheté et mérite une écoute attentive. 5 étoiles.
Steven Wilson has to be the busiest man in music right now. He records music in four different bands, he puts out solo albums and he is the king of 5.1 mixing. So how after doing all that he had time to make his second solo outing a double CD is beyond me. The harder thing to believe is it's good. Don't get me wrong this is not "Fear Of A Blank Planet" but it's not far off. Parts of this collection of songs remind me of king crimson, some remind me of Miles in his fusion period (not his heavy stuff but the songs miles let breath) but none of it sounds like him trying to be them. Steven Wilson has a real gift of taking other people's sounds and shaping them into his own. Kind of like Bowie in the 70's. This Blu ray does take another step in the evolution of his music and as always the 5.1 mix is as good as they get. He seems to be getting better as a singer with each record as well. He has always had a nice sounding voice but he can do more with it now. The vocals at the beginning of the disc almost have a David Crosby / Graham Nash feel to them. If I have anything negative to say about this Blu ray is that without the division of the two discs that the CD version has this recording does go very long. But I feel that way of all double albums. Then again that's why we can program our players! This is a worthy addition to his already great body of work.
on October 4, 2011
This must be one of best record I've ever heard! Astonishing production with great musicians and a very high level of musical creativity. I'm still totally blown away by the vocal harmonies. Steven's voice seems to get warmer and more beautiful with each new record. Perfect mix of rare beauty and eclectic-jazz-prog parts that just never can bore you. The atmosphere is dark, filled with sensibility and ambition.
Seriously you just CAN'T MISS that one!
on October 4, 2011
In Steven Wilson's second full solo offering, we are treated to the work of a man who may well be at the height of his musical powers. Grace for Drowning is a massive work of astonishing inspiration and musicality; it clocks in at somewhere over 80 minutes, and sprawls over two 40-minute-give-or-take CDs of similar structure but rather different moods. Anyone who expects to get the hang of it and be singing along after a couple of listens had best look elsewhere.
The several layers of Wilson genius are on full display here: His uncanny ability to assimilate and reformulate diverse influences and present them as something fresh, his apparently limitless melodic instinct, and an unerring sense of song sequence. The familiar tricks and tropes are recognizable, but offered up with a level of accomplishment and assurance that elevates Grace for Drowning above even the brilliant Insurgentes, his first solo album. While the main influence is the jazz-fusion prog-rock of Lizard-era King Crimson, and his guest musicians are a thoroughbred mix of jazz and rock artists who play as if this album were their very own, the work is without question Steven Wilson's: melody is never forgotten, the dark themes predominate, and even during the most free-form of the improve-like sequences there is a sense of tight control over the entire enterprise.
There are rare lapses of judgment on this album, the conventional and Blackfieldesque "Postcard" being one of them. The highlights of the album include the achingly beautiful "Deform to form a Star" and the terrifying "Index". And towering above it all is the massive, 23-minute "Raider II", a monster of a piece, the dark and brutal soul of the entire album. If there is anyone left who is unsure of Wilson's unsurpassed command of the "prog epic", this piece alone should remove all doubt.
Grace for Drowning is a remarkable achievement, a huge, complex, and sophisticated album that demands and rewards careful and repeated listens. Long anticipated by fans, it does not disappoint, in fact it surpasses expectations. If you need to be challenged by your music, don't pass it up.
Four and a half stars, rounded to five.
on October 12, 2011
Steven Wilson's newest solo album since 2008's Insurgentes, Grace for Drowning, is simultaneously unexpected and familiar. While it is something that sounds totally "Wilsonian" to those that know his work, it is by no means boring or conventional. With 2 discs of approximately 40 minutes of music each, this is an epic album to say the least. However, Wilson has stated in interviews that these 2 discs should not be listened to one after the other. I agree, they can be treated as separate entities. Though they relate to each other and have similar moods, they are not clones. They each have different names "Deform to Form a Star" and "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye", as well as differing personalities, maybe we can call them twins raised apart. Long story short, digesting one, taking a break, then delving into the next is recommended from my point of view.
For those who have listened to Insurgentes, let me say that this album doesn't share much with it. The overall sound and mood of each are completely different. Also, where Insurgentes took longer to grow to love, I felt more of an instant connection with Grace for Drowning. Again, that's not to say that everything on this album is on the surface, as that is also hardly the case. This album maybe feels a little less experimental for Wilson. While this isn't a copy of a Porcupine Tree/No-Man/Blackfield/Bass Communion album, it has a sound unique to Wilson that I feel he really now "owns" on this album. He knew what he wanted, he composed it, inviting guests and recording sounds appropriate for each piece, and the recording came out amazing. This is the impression I get on this album: Mr. Wilson doing what he does best. As such any fan will enjoy this album, while still getting something out of the ordinary. We hear similar lyrical themes that Wilson has explored in the past as well, and obviously enjoys: notably loneliness and serial killers. I think this album is closer to a Porcupine Tree album than the eclectic Insurgentes ever was. This may be a good or a bad thing for some. As I love both Insurgentes and Grace for Drowning for different reasons, it's hard to say.
For the songs themselves, the first disc, "Deform to Form a Star", begins with a short instrumental that is also the overall title track of the album. The songs on this disc seem a bit more lyrically driven as the album continues. Whereas on Insurgentes, the lyrics weren't always clear, as stated by Wilson himself, the lyrics on Grace for Drowning are much more polished in my opinion (a lyric book is even included this time around). This to me is a good thing, as not only are lyrics important to me, but one of my favourite aspects of Steven Wilson's song writing are his lyrics. However, if you aren't a fan that's not to say that the album is filled up with Wilson singing. There are quite a lot of instrumental portions and songs. The first single, "Postcard" also appears on this disc. I find this a very strong song, lyrically and musically. Nearing the end of the first disc we come to "Raider Prelude", another short instrumental and a foreshadowing for the next disc.
To start off disc 2, "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye", we hear another short instrumental entitled "Belle de Jour", and you aren't quite sure where Wilson is going to take you next. This heads into "Index": Possibly one of the best creepiest songs I've heard. A sample lyric being: "If I collected you and put you in a little cage I could take you out and study you everyday". Kudos to Wilson and Lasse Hoile for also creating a frightening video to go with it, matching the mood and lyrics of the song perfectly, one of the few videos I've seen that also inextricably connects to the song for me. Rarely are music videos that memorable. On this disc also, we hear "Raider II", the full song of what we got a taste of earlier. At 23 minutes long, it is quite the commitment, but it doesn't feel that long, which is a good thing! A great epic masterpiece of a song that is difficult to describe, so you will have just have to hear it for yourself.
It is impossible to sum up this album in a review, as each song is a stand out song to complete a great album. The bottom line is that if you like Steven Wilson: buy this. You will like it. And if you've never heard of Steven Wilson or Porcupine Tree, and you're a little adventurous, buy this. This isn't just a good album if you like Steven Wilson and his work, this is an amazing album that should be heard regardless.
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on October 19, 2011
It's very rare to find an album, let alone musician whose music is a timeless piece of art and creativity. With the second solo release from Steven Wilson, I am nothing less than impressed with his ability to create and layer sounds that I would never expect, or have ever heard before on an album. He has a unique skill to be able to put emotions in to each chord, and each note that comprises a song and album as a whole. This album can be listened to countless times over and what makes it most special and separates it from most music today is that it can be listened to as a whole without having to skip a song, or just play your favorites. Greatness does not even begin to describe how well put together and what pure genius this album is. Buy it. Enjoy it. Share it with everyone you know!!!
on October 8, 2011
Great songs delivered with passion and dynamics as only SW knows how to deliver---raider II could do with a slimdown tho' as it is a tad over-indulgent----the musical peaks and valleys never strain and providing a double album of this quality after the incident and PT tour makes it clear SW is the current rock genius few can touch.
on July 1, 2014
I first have to qualify my review by stating that I am a fan of Porcupine Tree, and Steven Wilson; with regard to his solo work, I purchased in the order of 'INSURGENTES' (heavy, excellent album), and then "The Raven That Refused to Sing' (great album) - both of those bodies of work feel alive and moved you, something that this earlier album wasn't able to do for me.
on January 4, 2012
When I first heard this recording I liked it but thought......so what!! There was nothing new and, mistakenly, I thought the writing was not up to some the more inspiring Porcupine Tree material.
After attending the live concert, I revisted the CD (mainly to see if I could recognize any of the material) and was blown away. The CD has grown on me like no other and, I belive, it is because of the writing. Postcard, Index, Track One, Deform to Form a Star and No Part of Me deserve particular mention.
Wilson clearly shows his roots on this CD. Robert Fripp must have smiled when he heard Raider II. The King Crimson album, Lizard, came to mind when I heard this. In addition, I heard references to ELP and Pink Floyd. The CD is a homage to his influnces but he "ups" the level. The lyrics are "down"......suffering and dispair but they stab at the human condition. Wilson is a studio master, he understands textures and nuances that reveal themselves with each listen.
So if you like early King Crimson, Echoes era Pink Floyd and modern progressive sound, this is the CD for you. Steve Wilson contiues to show his versatility in all forms of music.....metal, progressive, jazz, ambient and ballards.
on October 20, 2011
Steven Wilson (known from bands such as Porcupine Tree, No-Man and Blackfield) states that this is his biggest project to date. But does time and passion necesarilly end up in a successful album? In Wilson's case; yes.
In my opinion, Wilson's music has, from the start, grown from good to better - and with this album, best through the years all the way back from the start with Karma and Altamont. I honestly think this is Wilson's best work to date.
If you're new to SW I must admit that this ain't the easiest diggestible album he's made, but with time and if you can afford good sound, you will start wondering how your music collection could do without it.
Spending the last year and a half in the studio, Wilson has made stunning results in the form of an album, which actually consist of two albums: "Deform To Form A Star" and "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye".
Both albums take the listener on a journey through stunning soundscapes, haunting atmospheres and Wilson's different styles through the years. When the journey is over, the album hopefully has found its way to your heart and your collection.
An elementary addition to any musical collection.