If you are drawn to this album because it’s been made by Porcupine Tree’s frontman Steven Wilson, stop right there. Wilson, who has been writing and producing music for exactly 20 years now, has been focusing on his own solo career of late. With this, his third album, he proves that he belongs among the top rank of musicians.
For those familiar with his work with Porcupine Tree, the first song, ‘Luminol’ shows that he’s got something else in mind for listeners. There’s an unmistakable mark of his band’s prog rock style in the 12-minute opener but with much more instrumentation and painstaking regard for composition.
Wilson paints the most surreal, dreamy psychedelic soundscapes with just piano, guitar, bass and drums. In the shorter (seven and a half minutes) ‘Drive Home’ Wilson sneakily changes the tempo, adds an off-time signature for just a few seconds.
There’s more of a jazz vibe on songs such as ‘The Holy Drinker’, one among the six tracks that you could walk into the room and listen to with undivided attention. ‘The Watchmaker’ is held together by acoustic guitars; a haunting 11-minute epic that makes you feel more like you’re at a concert arena than in your own home. A headphones experience or home theatre listening is the best way to hear The Raven That Refused To Sing. Songs such as ‘The Pin Drop’ and the title track ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ stick out for being too diverse compared to the prevalent sound on the album, with saxophone solos and Wilson’s R&B-esque vocals over dreamy synth notes.
The Raven That Refused To Sing (and Other Stories) packs in a few surprises, but is essentially for any fan of Porcupine Tree or Wilson’s previous work, all of which contains the psychedelic, progressive, fusion rock sound on this album.
Bottomline: Headphones or home theatre is the best way to listen to this.
The Raven That Refused To Sing (and Other Stories); Steven Wilson, Kscope, £9.99