Steven Wilson: Grace For Drowning

Second solo album for prog/ ambient/art rock’s Mr Prolific.

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Perhaps only Steven Wilson himself can truly tell which parts of his prodigious output fit where and why. He is a man of many ciphers: Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield, IEM and more, and now he has another.

Insurgentes, his solo record of 2009, was strange and beautiful, touched by elements of all of his other voices, but its dark promise was made all the more plaintive by the enthusiasm with which Wilson returned to older things. Since Insurgentes there have been albums by Porcupine Tree and Blackfield, and more work with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt, and yet they have not quite occupied the same space. Now there’s Grace For Drowning, which does, and which journeys further into Wilson’s experiments with form and sound.

To describe it is to damn it. There is, for example, a 23-minute song, Raider II, which could easily be called jazz rock; there’s the distorted, atonal guitar sprayed over lyrical piano on Deform To Form A Star; there is a spaghetti western vibe to Belle De Jour, followed by the harsh, late-era Radiohead-isms of Index and then the gothic drama of Track One.

Grace For Drowning is an album that can’t really be described, but it urgently calls to be heard.

Jon Hotten

Jon Hotten is an English author and journalist. He is best known for the books Muscle: A Writer's Trip Through a Sport with No Boundaries and The Years of the Locust. In June 2015 he published a novel, My Life And The Beautiful Music (Cape), based on his time in LA in the late 80s reporting on the heavy metal scene. He was a contributor to Kerrang! magazine from 1987–92 and currently contributes to Classic Rock. Hotten is the author of the popular cricket blog, The Old Batsman, and since February 2013 is a frequent contributor to The Cordon cricket blog at Cricinfo. His most recent book, Bat, Ball & Field, was published in 2022.