Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Steven Wilson

First, this is a nice summary of who he is.

Second, his many moods . . .

Porcupine Tree - "My Ashes" (live, with John Wesley on vocals on the chorus):

Blackfield - "Once" (live in NYC):

No-Man - "All The Blue Changes" (live in London)

Steven Wilson - "Collecting Space"

When I saw the name "Porcupine Tree" on the back of a tour t-shirt back in the spring of 2006, I had no idea it would lead me to one of the most obsessively creative musicians I have ever encountered. With no less than four simultaneous, on-going musical careers, Wilson is nothing if not driven and prolific. What makes him stand out, at least to me, is each of his projects - PT, No-Man, Blackfield, and his solo material - is distinct; further, one would be hard-pressed to find anything definitive such as a "Porcupine Tree sound", or trace a "Blackfield sound" back to something Wilson had written years before for No-Man.

What keeps me coming back, time and again, is the consistently high quality of the songs. In Porcupine Tree, Wilson works with three other musicians (John Wesley, second guitarist and back-up vocalist, is a touring companion, occasionally doing backing vocals on some of their studio recordings) who are among the most thoughtful and accomplished, not to mention talented, I have heard and seen. Indeed, seeing Porcupine Tree live at the Vic Theater in 2009 was a musical highlight for me.

Wilson, though, is the heart of all these projects. His ideas drive them, his personality holds them together, his refusal to settle keeps the quality consistent. I have little doubt that he has little life outside music, driven as he is. Some people have a difficult enough time with a couple jobs; Wilson juggles four very different jobs, with aplomb, deftness, a sense of humor (even when he's being a gloomy Gus), and, it seems to me, a sense of joy.

I couldn't end this without this emblematic PT song, the title track to Fear of a Blank Planet. This performance is part of their Anaesthetize DVD because it shows, no matter what we may say about him or his music, he is a rocker.

Virtual Tin Cup

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