As people showed lots of enthusiasm to me for my previously written article, some of my close friends insisted to write more on this stuff on Progressive music. After the first article I wrote, I thought of writing new. While thinking I lay on my bed and I remembered a 50-year-old British dude named “Steven Wilson”, a former frontman of the band “Porcupine Tree” and a great figure of modern Progressive Rock. I reminded myself that why shouldn’t I write about this guy; he’s a muse of my poetry. Then I turn on my laptop and wrote this…
He is known for his melancholic music and a poetic lyrics with an imaginative artwork. He made the listeners’ soul filled with sadness with his depressing music, despite all his music, he is also a cinephile and he compiled a story about loneliness, depression, abandonment, etc. And he narrated it through conceptually, and some through tracks.
Through this article/blog, I’ll explore more about his work, side projects, and solo albums. I will also compile some of my post I posted before through some social media; which is my reviews and songs description. And above all, my exploration of his greatest album “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”; which happens to be my favorite album of all time. And the excitement of witnessing him performing live at Shillong.
About discovering his music, it was in the year 2013, my best friend made me listen to the song “Lazarus”. For the first time, when I listen to it the piano arpeggios, it amazed me, during that period I didn’t understand the lyrics. However, with the tunes, I easily fell in love with the music, soon after that, perhaps a few months later, my best friend found out his solo project and he then made me listen to “The Raven That Refused To Sing”.
Ah! “The Raven That Refused To Sing”, how will I describe it? When I heard it for the first time I didn’t understand anything, it was just boring. As I have known music through every genre I found out it was just an amazing artwork, and it impacted so many people. The song paralyzed the listeners’ hearts with full of emotional feelings. The music video does melt it too, with an artistic work from Jess Cope the music video narrates a story about an old man at the end of his life who wants to die. He thinks back to a time of his childhood reminiscent when he was incredibly close to his older sister. She was everything to him, and he was everything to her. Unfortunately, she died when they were both very young.
This is a song which has a chilling sense of sadness, and it is also accompanied by the wistful calm of Wilson’s voice. And the heavy sob of Guthrie Govan’s solo brings back the sorrow and memories – of a night spent with one’s head buried in the pillow – letting loose in a stream of emotions – flooding the pillow cover by the tears. This song is one of the Steven’s best work so far… it is a form of medication for a wounded soul. One of the finest track I have ever listened. And I’m very sorry that I couldn’t describe the music video.
Half-Light by Porcupine Tree.
Every human who knows music fell in love with Pink Floyd’s Coming Back To Life, because of the opening guitar tunes with an ambiance. It turns out to be a mainstream music and lost the power of emotions that comes with the song. But, don’t worry, there’s a good song which I would call “The Perfection of Melancholy Music”. The song Half-Light tells a story about a mother who just lost her child – the mother yearns for her child’s shadow when darkness engulfs the midnight vigils. Through the half-light, the murky shadow comforts her loneliness. In my experience with this song, I cried when I missed my mom – missing her so badly that I needed her to hold me(It was during her journey to some other state). However, let me shorten it up, this is another piece of beautiful art.
Now it comes to the part of my favorite album. “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”
I think I couldn’t be able to find the words to describe this flourishing album. This stylistically, moody concept album. It narrates a story of Joyce Carol Vincent, a real-life incident of a girl whose skeletal remains was found in her flat with her TV still switched on. The concept was loosely borrowed from the documentary film “Dreams Of Life”, Steven showed it and he wanted to turn it into his work. Well, thankfully he did it.
Beautifully written with a devastating story behind, the album captures the feelings of a young and charming girl about a solitary life she lived. The tracks have up and down moods, a conflict between happiness and sadness, or perhaps a life living between light and dark. Furthermore, it explores the irresistible imagination and the grand vision of lonely life.
I’ll just add three songs from this album.
The music video was loosely adapted from the Australian film “Picnic At The Hanging Rock”. It depicted with a character of two young siblings who once had a great and joyful life and mysteriously the older sister get lost leaving without any trace. Musically, there are rhythmic beats of electronic percussion with a soft voice of a woman narrating a story, piercing the listeners’ ears with tunes of melancholy coming out of nowhere making the listeners remembered their past life. Eventually, this song is not just a music, instead, I would prefer it as a masterpiece work of an art.
Routine was a fifth track from the album, “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”. And there has been some twisting story inside of it. The song was literally the most depressing song he has ever written, Steven himself said it. And here’s the statement he spoke about the song at one of his interviews.
“Amongst the hundreds of songs I have written over the years Routine has a very special place. It’s a deeply sad story of loss and denial, but at its conclusion the clouds lift and there is acceptance at least. Having worked with her on 3 previous videos, I knew as soon as I wrote it that it was perfect for Jess to do something amazing with. Even then nothing prepared me for the organic beauty and power of the film she made, a painstaking labour of love that took her months to produce. When we play the song live I look out into the audience and see people swept away with emotion at the combination of music and animation. To find poetry and beauty in sadness is a wonderful thing I think.” – Steven Wilson
Before portraying the song, I will add some few words, we all accept that all human being suffers. The pains and sorrows are real, it’s a big part of the reality we exist -‘Routine’ starts with a piano notes commingling with a wistful voice of Steven, adding with a voice from Ninet Tayeb, the guitars plucking, and piano mingled, creating a deep longing melancholy tunes. The song pulls out the distraught and painful emotions of the listeners. The music video shows a lonely woman in an animated version; cleaning, rubbing, washing and most of the daily household work. Leisuring her time to forget about her loss. The song ends with an enchanting poetic lyrics…
“The most beautiful morning forever
Like the ones from far off, far off away
With the hum of the bees in the jasmine sway
Don’t ever let go
Try to let go”
Super-catchy song! A super-genius song, remarkably breathtaking. Brilliant in every sense. I will not describe it fully, I will simply say that this is the song the put on to repeat mode.
Aside from his solo project and Porcupine Tree, Steven works differently with his other experimental projects. An alternative band like “Blackfield”, an ambient-electronic project named “Bass Communion” and most importantly a collaborative music project with Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, experimenting a music with dark-ambient and psychedelic folk.
I’ll list some few Blackfield songs, which I find intriguing. Perhaps the best ones…
“Pain” by Blackfield
With a vibe of the alternative music, Steven collaborated with Isreal artist Aviv Geffen. This is a soulful song and an astonishing piece of music.
Taken from their fifth album…
“Thank You (Alanis Morissette cover)”
The opening was almost similar to ‘Half-light’, even if it was a cover song it was definitely better than the original version. Maybe it was because I’m so much into this guy.
Bass Communion is a dark-ambient music project by Steven. It has an artistic soundscape created by noise from the musical instruments. It is somewhat dark and gloomy and the sound they produced was some kind of horrifying sound.
“Drag Rope” by Storm Corrosion
The song conjured up the darkest depth of plaintive emotions, musically, the song starts to sing with a voice of Mikael Åkerfeldt later added with Wilson’s voice, and ends with a cinematic score-like orchestral violin music, making it a perfect music to fall asleep. The music video has a creative screenwriting like Tim Burton’s films. It was dark and gritty.
His latest album “To The Bone” (2017)
“To The Bone” was a fifth solo album of Steven Wilson. An album mostly based on the idea of postmodernism. The album narrates how our modern technologies affect our lives, of our modern world where we are so consumed by the social media, in which we discussed what is right or wrong. Some about terrorism, etc. Like always Steven tells the most perfect stories. Even though it was less conceptual.
Musically, Steven focused more on Pop tunes, not of modern pop music, but an old pop song. Still, there are some progressive tunes, tracks like “Refuge” and “Detonation” have good progressive elements. His music is changed, yet I still found his ambitious sound, the melody and melancholic tunes, and extension guitar solos.
Personally, I find this album so intriguing, and there’s a strong sense in his songs like when I listen to it I felt like he’s telling a story of my daily life.
Being the first single from the album, the tracks “Pariah” is the best song if I have to choose one. The song well describes exactly how modern technology affect our mind, about being dull and lazy. Comforting ourselves with a sense of alter ego created through social media, yet in reality, we are all lonely. With simple guitar chords, Steven sang it with catchy melodious vocals of Ninet. In this particular song, Ninet’s voice sang with a very intense high range vocals, making the listeners pierced their heart out with full of sadness and melancholy. The lyrics were so beautiful that it really touches my lonely soul.
“I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself
Well being alone now
It doesn’t bother me
But not knowing if you are
That’s been hell you see”
“Song Of I”
The track “Song Of I” sounds more like his “Porcupine Tree” days music and it is literally a mash-up of his previous songs “Sleep Together” and “Index”. It was a song about lust, about our temptation towards pornography and sex.
Steven described this song as a song that is very much influenced by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. It was written from the perspective from space…
Well, this is a very entertaining song, and it is the happiest music he has ever written. With an influenced by the 80s Pop band “ABBA”, the song brings back the reminiscent of their greatest hit “Mamma Mia!”. From his travel in India, he was enamored with the Bollywood cultures of India. In this music video, the dancers’ dances in a style of modern Bollywood songs, spreading colors depicting an Indian festival of Holi. Throughout his carrier, with his decades of being a musician, he never smiles in his musical work. Well, in this video, he did smile a bit. This is the most catchy song from him…
“Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
As a tribute to legendary musician Davie Bowie, he sang with beautiful Ninet Tayeb at one of his concerts…
I would love to add more songs, but I’ll end here. There are lots of good songs that I didn’t add here. I will come to the part of my experience about his concert.
The picture above is my simple collections of his artworks.
“Steven Wilson live at Shillong (NH7 Weekender 2016)”
Remembering my experiences will be little hard, and I might not be able to put all the details of my planning and my travel, or might forget to add the names of people who had had help me.
In the summer of 2016, while scrolling my Facebook page timeline, NH7 Weekender announced that the major headlining band will be “Steven Wilson”. Seeing the image of an announcement I was a little bit excited but after a second thought tear runs down my face thinking if I could afford to travel for the concert. I was absorbed with a bit of sadness, thinking, “Ah! Not again, why do I even born in this state which doesn’t have a good taste in music?, Will I be able to go?”. Soon after I told my best friend about the good news, and he said, “Well, he’s a fucking God and why shouldn’t we go? let’s just travel and see him”. I was bit excited because of his enthusiasm.
I asked my Mom that if she could give me some money to travel, Mom said, “I think I could be able to give some, but I’ll need some time.”. While waiting, the plan seems to fade away. Though my loving best friend can’t wait and see the possibilities of canceling, so, he just took out the money from his pocket and we booked the flight. (I did return the money, but still, I’m very thankful to you, my dear best friend.)
The very saddening thing that happened was that my best friend had to stay back due to some serious sickness. It was just a pain, but he would want me to go. So I went without him.
It was October 20, 2016, I took a flight and landed at Guwahati and stays at Bro M place and Bro B helps me with everything at my travels(Still, Thankful to both of you).
Ticket for the concert.
I’m not much of a travel blogger, so, I couldn’t be able to write in details. I’ll just shorten it up.
We travel at Shillong by taxi, I put on my favorite album while traveling the long road. We stayed at a cheap hotel, everything just went well.
Billboard of the concert, I took this from the hotel I was staying.
The event was for two days, on the first day, we took and cab and rode to the place of an event. When we reached the venue, I was surprised by the people gathering around and the five big enormous stages. We went to the counter to check-in the tickets we hold. The venue was filled with headbangers, musicians, beautiful girls, people from various places, it was huge. The loud soundscape everything, I felt like I was in heaven.
Picture took at the venue(I look like some kind of Hobo)
Anyway, the first band I saw performing was “Vertical Horizon”. Not much of their fan. I only knew their song, “Best I Ever Had” and thankfully, they sang it. Throughout the day, I gallivant around and meet up with people and talked about music and so on. Later I met up with brothers and we rode back to the hotel.
The following day(The greatest day of my life), I woke up, roam around the street took a breakfast, spent the day at the hotel waiting for the event time to arrive.
Same as the other day, we rode, enter the venue, get lost in the crowd, and I was very much excited because it was my dreams becoming reality.
While waiting for Steven to perform on stage, I wandered around and watched other bands performing. One band that got me was an Experimental Post-Rock band named “aswekeepsearching” and I was thrilled by their music. While watching them I never got a chance to witnessed Steven very close.
Well, comes to the part of King of Prog music taking the stage.
As a big fan of his music, I had a rewarding experience, if I have to say. And here I plan to write all about the event that I remember.
The crowd was thrilled when the light put off playing a music at a background, and shouted, “Steven! Steven! Steven!”. For minutes the crowd shouted. I was in the middle of a crowd. The light put on and the God himself took the stage playing the song “Ancestral”. I had an epiphany, a weird feeling of happiness. And I can’t imagine myself witnessing him with my own eye, it was not on screen, but my own naked eye.
The performance was an act of five-piece band. Along with Wilson on the guitars and vocals, there was Dave Kilmister on lead guitar, Adam Holzman on keyboard and synth, Craig Blundell on drums and Nick Beggs on bass guitars. The sound quality of the performance makes the crowd feel as if they were listening to a high-audio through headphones.
The setlist of the performance are:
- Hand. Cannot. Erase.
- Lazarus (Porcupine Tree song)
- Home Invasion
- Regret #9
- Happy Returns
- Ascendant Here On
- Harmony Korine
- Sleep Together (PT song)
- The Sound Of Muzak(PT song)
- The Raven That Refused To Sing
It was such a magical experience, and of course, everybody in the audiences was crazy too. I completely lost myself there. The performance was spectacular. Everything just felt like a dream.
The clear image of him.
(I look forward to going back to his concert if he comes back in India. I really, really loved his music.
To Steven Wilson, I know this will never to reach him. But, Mr. Wilson, Thank you for dedicating your life to music. Thank you for your wonderful lyrics, and above all thank you for accompanying thousands of lost souls (including me). Your music is such an inspiration, your music is my hope. May you live long and create more good music.
Lastly, I would love to give my thanks to my wonderful Mom, for making her only son achieving his dreams, for all the budgets of my travels. To my best friend, for showing enthusiasm and for making it a success(and for introducing his music). And to those of people who traveled with me and help me through my journey. And most importantly, to my readers. If you haven’t read and appreciated my previous article/blog. This would not have been born. Thank you, if you have read this, and if you satisfied with my writing feel free to share it with your friends or any social media. Who knows? If you share this it might reach to Steven himself. Thank you!