I’ve come to compare the name of Steven Wilson to that of any big gaming corporations nowadays. You have many franchises (Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield etc.) which, overall, offer a great deal in terms of musical variety, yet they’ve all come to a point of stagnation. Such is the case with this latest solo release (I don’t get why they call it this way, there’s practically a full band behind it): polished to the core, incorporating different elements with the precision of swiss engineering, ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’ runs the gamut like a well-oiled machine, delivering the sound of a tightly calculated jam session. But it didn’t impress me in any way.
With only six tracks that stretch close to one hour, what we have here is something closer to a Porcupine Tree album. Gone are the experimentations of the first two LP’s, the songs now have their precise identity within the whole, contributing to the larger image rather than focusing on themselves.
With ‘Luminol’, a strong opener, we are taken through a suite of ups and downs only to culminate with the subdued calmness of the title track, which is where we find the true monster behind this album. Whereas most of the running time what we get is straight up ‘prog’ playing, it is only on the last two closing minutes that we are treated to something that I’ve never thought I’d see on a Steven Wilson album (either that or it’s never been pushed to the front so bluntly), namely post rock style tremolo picking. And that single moment is what makes me deeply curious about what comes next, because it’s been a long time since a revelation.
To conclude, I’ll have to resort once more to a comparison like the one mentioned in the beginning of this article: you know the base formula, you find that expectations are met (but not exceeded), yet you play it anyway, nod in approval, then take your place in the sofa and wait calmly for the next release in the franchise.
Which may, or may not, bring something new and interesting to the table.