Thursday, 14 March 2013

Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories)

I will admit to being a fan of Steven Wilson's work since the early days of No-Man back in the mid 90's. He does seem to have the midas touch in whatever he does, either as musician, composer, producer or remixer. I think this new solo album is the best showcase yet of his talents. There is a feel that everything he has done in the past has led to this album. Everything slots into place perfectly. Though Porcupine Tree is a great vehicle for his songwriting this new band is something really special. Theo Travis is the sax/flute man to have as was Mel Collins back in the 70's. It should be remembered that Adam Holzman was Miles Davis's musical director/keyboardist in the 80's. Miles didn't play with just anyone! Nick Beggs again through his work with Iona, Steve Hackett and on the recent Lifesigns album is ahot property as is mega drummer Marco Minnemann. But it's new boy Guthrie Govan who gives us one of the best moments on the album. Just listen to the guitar solo at the end of "Drive Home". Absolutely sensational!
One of the interesting aspects about the album is that it hasn't been mastered in the normal way. The album is a flat transfer from the masters. Wilson isn't a big fan of compression and EQ. I have a few of those Japanese SHM-SACD editions and they are all DSD flat transfers. Also when the Brian Eno catalogue was reissued a few years back they were all DSD masters produced from flat transfers of the original analogue tapes. Does make you think about all this remastering malarky!
Lastly, kudos to Wilson for keeping the art of album packaging alive. He does always strive to deliver a well designed product. The deluxe edition of this album is another beautiful hardback book affair. Another two fingers to the download generation.

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