Thursday, December 4, 2008

Steven Wilson - Insurgentes (2008)

Steven Wilson
November 26, 2008

Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson claims his new solo album is “Different from anything I’ve ever done before”, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered. Insurgentes, Wilson’s first true solo album, is all that and more. Combining his musical past of progressive rock with drone, noise and post-punk shoe gazer music like Joy Division and The Cure, Wilson’s long coming solo project opens up new doors in the musician’s heralded career.

Wilson has done it all in his ever-growing career. He’s seen as one of the progressive rock masterminds of the modern era. He is to Porcupine Tree as Robert Fripp is to King Crimson. Wilson’s career spans the genres as he’s tackled all types of progressive rock with Porcupine Tree, an ambience-flavored type of drone with Bass Communion and an art rock collaboration with Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen. This is why Wilson’s brand new approach to his newest album comes as no surprise to fans.

Insurgentes, as Wilson himself describes the album, is an eclectic mess. It’s the good kind of mess though. It’s the kind of mess that you make but turns out to be a brilliant discovery. Except that Wilson made this diverse collection of sounds on purpose. Wilson recorded Insurgentes over a long period in many different countries. The project spanned from December 2007 to August 2008 as Wilson recorded during his busy schedule wherever he could. In fact, title track “Insurgentes” was recorded in a church in Mexico on a church piano.

The album opens with the harmonious Harmony Korine, a title definitely referencing the art house film director of the same name. This track sets the eternal tone for the album. It’s a true blend of Porcupine Tree-inspired rock with the shoe gazing influence Wilson himself mentioned. The second track on the album, “Abandoner”, introduces the dark, almost horror film soundtrack inspired drone and noise portions of the album. The final minute of the track is a barrage of grinding atonal sounds.

The time and distance spent recording Insurgentes has paid off for Steven Wilson. I was two songs into the album when I picked it as my album of the year. After listening to the full album and the bonus disc I realized I hadn’t jumped the gun too soon. Insurgentes is what music is all about. Wilson experimented with all his influences, abilities and styles to create an album he himself would love to listen to.

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