To The Bone

Steven Wilson

If Porcupine Tree founder and musical man of all seasons Steven Wilson ever decides to pack it in as a solo artist, he at least can have a bright future ahead of him as a de facto Pink Floyd disciple. That’s the impression that leaps to the surface upon hearing Wilson’s fifth solo album To the Bone – an amalgamated effort diving headfirst into the moody and the sweet of progressive rock while infusing specific areas with just the right amount of honey for flavor.

The Pink Floyd references are unavoidable, especially as the opening guitar slashes on the album’s opening title track recall tunes off The Division Bell. Then listen further down the line to “Refuge,” which has “Welcome to the Machine” splattered all over it. It’s obvious Wilson wears his influences on his sleeve but considering the influences range from Genesis to seemingly Arcade Fire, this effort is filled with fun twists and turns culminating in a unique and interesting listen from start to finish.

“Pariah” proves to be a terrific track, especially given the assisted vocals of Israeli superstar Ninet Tayeb — and the fact it recalls “The Carpet Crawlers” off Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Where Wilson’s vocals are of an emotive lower register, Tayeb aims higher bringing powerhouse passion to the track overall. Other highlights include “Permanating,” a more upbeat romp that could easily fit on an XTC (band leader Andy Partridge helped write two tracks on this album) or Bronski Beat album of yore. “Detonation” is another highlight to pay attention to as the track spreads out over nine minutes, built around an epic guitar solo taking on several different atmospheric shapes and textures but staying jazzy in nature.

Grandiosity has always been a good word to describe how Wilson sets about executing his art and in the case of To The Bone, the term still applies. However, when considering Wilson’s art and interesting compositional intentions here, going over the top musically isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite good.

~ Ira Kantor

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