Friday, September 07, 2012

Steven Wilson: "Harmony Korine," "Index," and Get All You Deserve

I can't get enough Porcupine Tree these days. They've vaulted up to third on my list of all-time favorite bands, after Pink Floyd and The Beatles.

Really, though, I can't get enough Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree's founder, lead singer, lead guitarist, and songwriter, who is also, among other things, one half of the wonderful Blackfield (with Israeli star Aviv Geffen), one half of No-Man (with singer Tim Bowness), and, more recently, a solo artist (with a great backing band that includes Porcupine Tree's drummer, Gavin Harrison, also of King Crimson).

Wilson spreads himself around, to be sure, and yet each project reveals different sides of his musical inclinations. Porcupine Tree is neo-prog (for lack of a better term to describe the brilliantly indescribable) at its finest. Blackfield is more pop-oriented, with shorter, catchier tunes. And No-Man is diverse art-pop, mixing such styles as rock, jazz, and ambient.

And his solo work? His first solo album, Insurgentes (2008), is very much like Porcupine Tree, and it's exceptional, if lacking in the broader texture of the best Porcupine Tree (e.g., The Incident, released a year later).

His second, Grace for Drowning (2011), is more personal, more experimental. A fascinating double-album, it is, as he has said, "a kind of homage to that spirit [of the late sixties and early seventies, when the album became the primary means of artistic expression, when musicians liberated themselves from the three-minute pop song format, and started to draw on jazz and classical music especially, combining it with the spirit of psychedelia to create 'journeys in sound']. There's everything from [Ennio] Morricone-esque film themes to choral music to piano ballads to a 23-minute progressive jazz-inspired piece."

Look, the guy's amazing. It's as simple as that. And I really want to get back to the music. So here are:

-- the surrealist video for "Harmony Korine" (named after the independent filmmaker, though it's rather unclear what the song is about -- perhaps artistic inconoclasm in a crass commercial culture), the first track off Insurgentes, directed by Lasse Hoile (with all sorts of references to classic European cinema, including Luis Bunuel's bizarre Un chien andalou);

-- a live version of "Harmony Korine" off Wilson's upcoming Get All You Deserve DVD/Blu-ray (directed by Hoile and set to be released on September 24), performed in Mexico City on the Grace for Drowning tour; and

-- the video for "Index," off Grace for Drowning (also surrealist and also by Hoile); and

-- the trailer for Get All You Deserve (yes, I'm really, really excited for it).

Watch them in full screen. Enjoy!

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