As the release of Steven Wilson’s new album To The Bone becomes imminent, the Prog world holds its breath. The man that has perhaps done the most for reinstating post Progressive Rock credibility in the 21st century, looks like he may be flirting with….Pop! Agggh! This is to Prog fans what Dylan going electric was to Folk fans in the sixties. Judas!!! A betrayal of fundamental principals, going over to the other side, abandoning the intricate and the complex, contemplating the dreaded simplicity, questioning the need for virtuosos, considering 4/4 instead of 11/7. Why? How could he? What did we do to make him angry? We promise to repent, just please return to – the same old ground that you’ve covered till we all die, unified in repeating ourselves forever.
Steven Wilson is a guitarist singer/songwriter. Critics don’t like his voice, they don’t think he sings well enough, not distinctive and if you don’t like those long spiraling musical excursions then he’s not for you – or the mainstream. This seems to bother Wilson and although I sympathize with his desire to expand his musical interests, I wonder why he cares about expanding it to the Guardian? What’s most worrying is where it will take him once the Guardian readers are aware of him. Although it seems that Bowie was a household name as early as when Ziggy strutted the stage, it wasn’t until Let’s Dance (1983) that he moved from the theatres to the stadiums and after a dozen incredible albums he totally lost it with his two worst albums – Tonight (1984) and Never Let Me Down (1987) – which he did – terribly.
Involved in countless musical projects, Wilson is of course not just a singer/songwriter and guitarist in a Progressive Rock band. He’s a talented producer/engineer to whom various and diverse groups go to for revamped versions of their catalogue. Namely and obviously Progressive acts such as King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Yes and Gentle Giant but also new wave Pop heroes XTC, eighties mega hit makers Tears For Fears, seventies glamsters Roxy Music, electronic Oz band Pendulum where he co-wrote and sings on a track – the others as a remixer in straight or 5.1 surround sound versions.
His work with Porcupine Tree has seen him investigate Floydy moods, catchy Pop, Metal and melodic electric and acoustic journeys. He is a member of Blackfield with Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen, a member of No-Man with Tim Bowness, a member of the Ambient Bass Communion, a collaborator/producer with Mikael Åkerfeldt’s epic metal Opeth, that inspired their Storm Corrosion project and on the subject of Sweden, Wilson loves Abba and that brings me to one simple question – who on earth could imagine that this talented eclectic musical madman would stick to Progressive Rock forever – Bollywood anyone?