VOLA mainmain Asger Mygind is a big Steven Wilson fan. And to prove it he's chosen his ten favourite wilson tracks for Prog.
VOLA released their latest album, Applause Of A Distant Crowd, last month, described in Prog as "thrilling new horizons from the Danish-Swedish quartet". And the band are currently on the road with British prog metallers Monuments. They play Dublin's Voodoo Lounge tonight, Manchester's FAC251 tomorrow, London's The Dome on Friday and Bristol's Macmillan Fest on Sunday.
And here's Asger's favourite Wilson tunes...
The way the chords change beneath the monotone vocals in the chorus is haunting and addictive. It’s a great example of how vocal movement is unnecessary when you can experience movement elsewhere in the musical picture. The drum fill without ending in the 2nd verse is such a cool effect. As in many of Wilson’s songs, production tricks like this elevate the listening experiences to extraordinary heights.
Veneno Para Las Hadas
I have taken many evening walks in Copenhagen while listening to this song. Wilson’s music is the perfect companion for lonesome moments, since he very quickly creates a close relationship with the listener through his own expressions of solitude. I was a university student when Insurgentes came out - and was often drowsy due to making music late at night - so the sentence “when you’re young you’re sleeping” instantly grabbed me.
Like many of Wilson’s songs this is a journey where the destination is unknown to the listener. I was in absolute awe the first time I experience the wave of distortion that suddenly poured over me. Going from a delicate Massive Attack-ish groove and an acoustic guitar theme to a wall of noise with such ease is an achievement typical of Wilson.
Oh, that chorus. As I mentioned earlier, I adore Wilson’s big choruses, and this, to me, is one of his very best. The chord changes after “and face the truth” and “so drive home” are very well thought out. I cherish how he often makes a great chorus even greater by adding a tail to it that takes it to another place. The satisfyingly persistent guitar solo should also be mentioned.
Deform To Form A Star
To my ears few artists have choruses as grandiose as Wilson’s. From the strings or mellotron layers to the harmonized vocals. This song is a good example. When working on choruses myself, I know that I probably haven’t reached the song’s full potential before having tried putting a thick wall of strings and harmony vocals behind the lead.
I think that Wilson’s lead vocals shine the most when he is singing calmly and understated. When he does - as in this song - he reminds me of Paul McCartney. The legacy from The Beatles is very audible here, which is a big plus in my book. The explosive ending with the multilayered vocals is a breathtaking finale to a beautiful song.
The Raven That Refused To Sing
It’s difficult to talk about this song without also talking about the music video. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I’m perfectly sure I would tear up watching it - once again. Even though the song is fantastic in its own right, it’s amazing how much extra depth the video ads to the song. I know that VOLA’s bass player, Nicolai, and his partner Anne Bang have been greatly inspired by Jess Cope’s work for this song when embarking on making animated music videos for our band.
The spoken words give the song a unique atmosphere. It feels like the opening monologue of a great movie. The way layers are added gradually throughout the repeated chorus, makes the hook really stick to your mind. It’s interesting how the perception of the chorus can change depending on your mood. It can feel like a celebration of life, if you’re cheerful. And it can sound pleasantly sarcastic if you’re feeling in need of melancholy.
Home Invasion/Regret #9
The guitar solo in this track is mesmerizing. I like how uncompromising it is - not letting the listener go a second before everything has been said. I have a feeling that this lead part will become a future classic that young guitar players will want to learn how to play. The keyboard explorations leading up to the guitar solo are also amazing.
I haven’t gotten fully familiar with To The Bone yet, but this song instantly stuck with me. I admire how Wilson incorporates everyday language into his lyrics. It’s a bold move, since it doesn’t sound as impressive as sculptural metaphors, but it creates a closeness to the listener that I highly appreciate. I also enjoy his use of non-personal points of view. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes opens up the lyrical possibilities substantially. It’s a trick I’ve shamelessly copied in many songs on Applause Of A Distant Crowd.