Well this is one hell of a record. Three cds of music as well as a photo album to go along with it. Is it worth the price? Yes, it is. The mere fact I don’t remember the price is evidence. Apart from that, the music is still recognizable as Steven Wilson’s. But …. he definitely succeeded in finding a new sound distinct from Porcupine Tree and his earlier solo work. His past solo and Porcupine tree work was good and solid, but not really progressing to new levels. This album however is. The sound is less thick with guitars and has more acoustics to it, mix-wise as well as instrumentation-wise. A perfect example is the opening title track even with a piano – not an instrument you hear often in his music (if I recall correctly). Although the roch genre is still dominant, jazz influences can be heard as well. For instance, on Sectarian there is a jazzy subsection with a Fender Rhodes backed by a Mellotron-like string section. The contrast section works very good, although a bit reminiscent of King Crimson. Which is (a) not a nad thing and (b) can be explained by his work on remastering KC’s albums.
The glockenspeil intro of No Part of Me reminds me of Drumming by Steve Reich. It is clear Steven Wilson is eclectic in getting his inspiration. As long as it works he should continue to do so.
The second disc has some more introvert (Belle de Jour; Just Like I have ….) and extravert tracks (Index, Radier II). Belle de Jour is very open and acoustic, whereas Index is more analog synth oriented. Radier II is schizophrenic due to the heavy rock and the Crimson-like flute solo’s. It blends very well.
The third disc with demo’s is good. Fluid Tap could have been a Porcupine Tree track. The Map has some synthetic persussion tracks which are quite nice. Although I like Bass Communion a lot (waiting for Cenotaph to arrive in the mail), Black Dog Throwbacks is not that special.
All-in-all a refreshing Steven Wilson album