Thursday, November 17, 2011

The lost Art of Prog - Steven Wilson

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Last night I went out to see a Steven Wilson at a local concert venue. He did not disappoint. I have long been a fan of his band Porcupine Tree and him in general.

Being an old 'prog-dog' myself I have, with some regularity, missed the heady days of Prog Rock. When bands like Yes, Genesis, Rush, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and others were making waves with epic 7-20 minute songs.

For those of you who don't really understand the term, 'prog' is a short form for Progressive Rock. A style of music that features many twists and turns. Volume dynamics, time signature changes - often in rapid succession, soft musical interludes, long 20 minute pieces etc. It shares as much in common with a symphony as it does a blues rock.

Back to Steven Wilson's show; The show could be described as nothing short of the word 'Art'. It was SUCH a breath of fresh air and made me remember all the things that have been severely lacking in music these days.. More than just in music in society these days - Patience.

In this A.D.D. society we live in these days, it is not often we hear a performer play something a single deep bass note on a piano - and let it hang there for over 10 seconds. Leaving the audience to bathe in the pure depth of its sound.... I mean really, how cool is the sound of something like that? Especially at concert volume! You maybe haven't thought about it for a while - I haven't - but the raw sound of an instrument is an incredible thing. The distance your mind can travel as you listen to its majesty - if allowed - is truly a gift. One in this fast paced society we seldom take advantage of.

The show, which featured incredible musicianship, was in and of itself a canvas. Full of imagery and symbolism, presented with such passion. Steven is a true master of the form - and I don't throw that term around lightly.  I often wonder what Peter Gabriel and Genesis would sound like if they came out today... I suspect it would be similar to what I heard last night.

In truth, I am not sure how many people in this world would actually 'get it', what he was trying to do. Some people seem to not give art any thought whatsoever.... They will walk right past a beautiful painting and not even bother to turn their head..... I have a hard time relating.

To some, I am sure last night's show could have been odd... perhaps even uncomfortable at times. It required the audience to be patient and let him set the mood and deliver his visions... It also required an open mind. Open to seeing something presented in a way it seldom is anymore. To be clear: this wasn't your typical concert presentation.... and for me it was SUCH a breath of fresh air.

With a sold out building and a roaring ovation, I was thrilled to see I am not alone. Music is meant to have rests in it. Silence make sound more vivid by its contrast. Miles Davis knew this, as did Peter Gabriel, the classical masters and a select others. Well, you can add Steven Wilson's name to that list as far as I am concerned. He is a rare beast these days... and I love the guy for it.


  1. Just curiosity: do you know the band kaipa? here's a link if you don't:
    simply ingenious

    oh yeah, and thanks for all this posts, if I ever get 'there' on the guitar you'll have a considerable part in it.
    Cheers from Hungary

  2. Hey thanks Zsolt! Kind words like that inspire me to keep going with this blog. Nice to know it is helping.

    I haven't heard or checked them out but i will do so. Thanks for the heads up. The net is very cool for exposure to things like - bands people dig in Hungary! Awesome.


  3. Actually Kaipa are from Sweden and I don't think many Hunagrians know them.
    But here are the links are 2 hungarian prog bands which are quite popular here:

    Check them out if you find the time, hope you'll like 'em.