With the February 25th release of Steven Wilson’s third solo LP The Raven That Refused to Sing (and other stories) approaching, PopMatters looks back on Wilson’s storied career to pick out ten of his strongest recordings, ranging from beautiful works of ambience to transcontinental art rock.
As this Between the Grooves series concludes, we finish with “Stop Swimming”, one of Steven Wilson’s favorite Porcupine Tree songs. Stupid Dream's jazz-tinged closer is drenched in the mood of disillusionment and the apathy of being apathetic.
A groovy and at times thrashy jam whose roots date back to the title track of Porcupine Tree’s 1993 release Up the Downstair, “Tinto Brass” shows what happens when four brilliant musicians get together and just play. What this has to do with a Italian erotica director, however, I still don’t know.
The second single off of Stupid Dream, "Stranger by the Minute" is one of the album's most endearing songs, a tongue-in-cheek mash of psychedelic lyrics and radio-friendly rock. It's also unusually chipper for these usually melancholy proggers.
Stupid Dream's eighth track, "Baby Dream in Cellophane", is a unique little experiment in that it merges Porcupine Tree's early psychedelic sonic with Steven Wilson's love of Beach Boys-styled vocal harmonies.
"This Is No Rehearsal", one of Stupid Dream's most radio-friendly moments, is a concise demonstration of the heavy/soft balance Porcupine Tree has come to master, as well as a retelling of a horrific tale.
The British art-rock duo No-Man, consisting of Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson, has long toiled in semi-obscurity. But thanks to the success of Wilson's other band, Porcupine Tree, No-Man is finally beginning to receive its proper due on the eve of its new release, Love and Endings.
Concluding the Unrequited Love Trilogy in a state of despair and hopelessness, "Don't Hate Me", the best song on Stupid Dream, is most memorable for the instrumental interplay that comprises the latter half of the track, featuring some of Porcupine Tree's best musicianship.
With this second song in the Unrequited Love Trilogy, the realization of rejection has now fully hit our narrator. Listen as what hints of optimism were present in the track before this one bleed away into a dark, obsessive determination.
This installment of Between the Grooves looks at the beginning of Stupid Dream's "Unrequited Love Trilogy", the whimsical "Pure Narcotic". The unnamed narrator's first glimpse of unreturned love is the calm before the storm that inevitably follows.
"Piano Lessons" is a masterful satire of pop music, taking on a music industry obsessed with catchy, four-minute singles with the power of a catchy, four-minute single. It encapsulates an argument by the band that has since spanned over a decade, simultaneously demonstrating Porcupine Tree's original take on pop music while also remaining entirely progressive.
The members of the band Marillion aren't millionaires, but they do call themselves Marillionaires because of their profitable relationship with their family of fans. Singer Steve Hogarth talks about his new album collaboration with Porcupine Tree's Richard Barbieri, Marillion’s groundbreaking business model, and the band’s imminent first tour of North America since 2004.
PopMatters' newest Between the Grooves series explores the often overlooked 1999 masterpiece by progressive rock legends Porcupine Tree. The album's opening track, "Even Less", still stands as one of the band's finest epics, and signifies a shift away from the eccentric psychedelia and moody Krautrock of its early work.
Would Steven Wilson really want to roll the dice and insert himself back in a time when the prospects were a hell of a lot less salubrious for unorthodox and unsigned bands? Today, there are illimitable sources of opinion, and taste making is as democratic as it’s ever been, in part because of the abundance of voices and agency.