Sound — 9
I am a relative recent fan of Steven Wilson. I got into Porcupine Tree about 3 odd years ago and therefore am more familiar with his PT catalogue, this is my first experience of his solo work and I must say I'm completely blown by it. I will not give details on songs as most of the reviews have covered the songs pretty well. I will give an over all feel of the album from the perspective of a PT fan listening to Steven's solo work for the first time. Though not as mainstream as the PT albums in respect to the riffs or the vocal consistency there are elements in this album that reminds one of PT (the slower ballads). That said, this album is far greater in breadth and depth and though a casual listener may not be able to appreciate this album much any investment of multiple listens will give the listener pleasure as great if not greater than the more popular PT releases. The intricacies and depth of some of the songs is mind boggling. Small twists and build ups with classic melody and instrumental passages at times slow that work towards atmosphere creation with keys, Synths (not being a musician I may be a bit off track here) guitar and background vocals and at other times jazz/70's influenced passages. The first CD is more mainstream, the second is darker and far more experimental with the exceptionally brilliant 23 minute "Raiders II", a slow snail paced start to a fantastic instrumental build up with flute (or flute sounding instrument) and quite a few twists and turns. If you are willing to put the effort and give time to this song it will more than repay you with many listens with ever changing favourite parts for you. I disagree with some posts stating this song is too long and would have been better if shortened. To me this could be amongst the real great 20 minuters ever. All in all this album needs a few listens to grow on you as any good progressive album should. Steven Wilson has not disappointed and has made a gem, the production of the album is fantastic a forgone conclusion given that Steven is at the helm. Opeth's "Heritage" is also a great record to come out at this time and comparisons between the two is bound to happen considering the close association of Steven with Opeth. I personally feel that this album is more fulfilling than "Heritage" as it is keeps the listener guessing all the time and flows better. Overall wonderful stuff, very rare to get mainstream musicians bringing albums of this quality on personal releases. I feel this will be a classic in the days to come. A fantastic effort by Mr. Wilson.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrics are quite personal. Steven Wilson recently lost his father and the lyrics convey loss of family and loved ones like in "No Part Of Me" where love is equated with security. The lyrics are deep and quite dark. I must also state that there are limited lyrics on this album as there are far more instrumental passages.
Overall Impression — 8
Compared to other albums by Porcupine Tree the album is more mellow (CD-1) and far more experimental (D 2). Overall progressive power album which requires one to spend time listening to get to really get the feel of the music. "Raiders II" is the classic track on this album spanning 23 odd minutes starting slowly and growing into a monster musical journey inparts reminding one of Suprtramp and Floyd. I already have two copies of the album a Deluxe edition as well as a Blu Ray edition.