It’s hard to find a single album, collaboration or production by Steven Wilson that’s anything short of a masterpiece. The Porcupine Tree lead singer and musical designer’s first official solo album Insurgentes follows a darker path than his previous work, but like everything he’s ever released, it’s nothing short of brilliant.
Solo work is hardly new for Wilson, the independent creator of the first three of Porcupine Tree’s nine albums. Wilson’s status as a heavily demanded producer within the musician circle and image as a prog-rock mogul also reflects the enormous amount of independent work under his belt. The range of sounds in Insurgentes stems from his own diverse musical interests and goes in an entirely new direction than his previous work and collaborations. It focuses on a much darker drone-like approach while still maintaining his perfected sense of musical beauty.
Insurgentes, like nearly everything Wilson’s ever created, is a web of layering and sound production in the complex-yet-simple fashion that has made Porcupine Tree one of the best progressive rock groups of the last 30 years. Without any shred of over-the-top technicality, his layered soundscapes weave their way through the record, mirroring Wilson’s ability as a producer and sound designer.
Much like Porcupine Tree’s history, Insurgentes evolves track by track and is almost impossible to pin to a solid genre – songs like “Abandoner” and “Port Rubicon” are uncomfortably brutal, while “Veneno Para Las Hadas” softly mixes atmospheric elegance with a subtle Pink Floyd-ish rhythm. Other moments, especially in “Get All You Deserve,” resemble the distorted shimmer of Nine Inch Nails‘ Ghosts I-IV. “Twilight Coda” sounds like it’s from a Pat Metheny soundtrack.
“Insurgentes” embodies the type of music that can only be heard properly when played from start to finish – something any prog-snob might correctly assert about long sequences of lengthy instrumental tracks. Nothing is ever too far out of the ordinary with Wilson’s work, but that doesn’t stop him from throwing in grinding ambience after a beautiful melodic track.
Give these tracks a listen:
“Get All You Deserve“
For fans of:
– Justin T. Ho