In his work with the English band Porcupine Tree, singer and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson has definitively earned the title of progressive rock’s most ardent latter-day acolyte. From its jokey origins as a legendary lost psychedelic band with an extensive invented history, Porcupine Tree evolved through chopsy prog, blissed-out trance and crunchy metal on its ten studio LPs, five live albums, clutch of EPs and assortment of collectible bonus offerings.
Alongside all that activity, Wilson has juggled several additional projects, including prog-pop outfit Blackfield and ambient-metal duo Storm Corrosion. Demand for his recording-studio prowess has mounted steadily, and his revelatory remixes of King Crimson’s back catalog prompted similar assignments from Jethro Tull; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and other vintage acts. But since 2008, Wilson has increasingly focused on forging a career under his own name, a venture that accelerated when Porcupine Tree went on hiatus in 2011.
The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories), Wilson’s recently issued third solo LP, is among the grandest statements of his convictions yet. Not quite a concept album, the disc mixes dreamy prog-rock grandeur and airy fusion-jazz flash in a cycle of elaborate original ghost stories; Wilson even coaxed Alan Parsons out of semiretirement to coproduce. Played by a well-seasoned touring group that includes veterans of Asia, U.K., Kajagoogoo (!) and Miles Davis’s ’80s electric bands, Raven proves that fondness for the past doesn’t have to mean living in it—Wilson’s vitality and authority are firmly of the moment.—Steve Smith
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