Progsnob? (proud  to be one)


“If you don’t like pop you’re a snob” says Steven Wilson during the concert in The Royal Albert Hall that can be seen on the Home Invasion blu-ray. (I spent my money on it and don't regret it) After this statement a disco song is played and he asks everybody to stand up and dance. So Mr. Wilson, you call me a snob! I have bought several of your albums because I like the prog that is on them, yes prog. I’m not so easily insulted but that statement is not very nice is it? Why should we all think that The Beatles were the best band ever? I don’t, I don’t like their songs so what?

From the moment I came into contact with the music of Steven Wilson, as Porcupine Tree, I have had a love-hate relationship with this special man and his music. Where everyone became more and more enthusiastic about PT's albums and they appeared more and more often in the annual lists of prog lovers, I could never really get into it however hard I tried.

A somewhat thin voice and a reasonable guitarist who could attract more and more genius musicians to play with him and became increasingly popular as a solo artist. Often tried and eventually fell for Fear of a blank Planet which I consider to be my favourite PT album to date.

I didn't go for his solo efforts until after the release of The Raven that refused to sing and later Hand.Cannot.Erase which I both still really like. If you have Guthrie Govan as guitarist, Adam Holzman as keyboardist and octopus Gavin Harrison as drummer you can call this a super band.

If you also compose great songs like Pin Drop, The Watchmaker, Home Invasion/Regret #9 and Drive Home, you're really doing something right. And of course his sensitive vocals in combination with Ninet Tayeb are a huge added value, which makes songs like Routine and Pariah fit so well between the instrumental mayhem. (are they pop?)

Now it is no secret that Mr. Wilson is quite a stubborn and sometimes difficult man and that he refuses to "dance to other people's pipes" as we say in Dutch. He says he never will give in to commercial pressure but on the other hand he sometimes creates an enormous media hype and uses the media when he sees fit. That's probably why he decided to make two albums that are far away from prog with The Future bites as the low point, at least for me. I can't feel or understand it, pop tunes without the musical depth known to him. Lyrically always sharp, that has to be said.

Mind you, it's his right to make what he wants and it's my right to think what I want and luckily for him there are still a lot of fans who like everything the man makes. It seems it doesn’t matter what. (this subject is worth a column of it’s own by the way) Now I know he really won't lie awake because of the opinion of a simple hobby website maker.

Why this column now?

As is known, on September 29, so in a few days, his new album The Harmony Codex will be released and that has been widely reported in the media. (very commercial) I read such rave reviews and after listening to three pre-released tracks decided to take the chance and ordered the CD. I don't do that easily and I'm very curious if I'm going to like it.

A former IO-pages colleague calls the album Wilson’s Dark Side of the Moon and that's quite a statement. Well, this reviewer and I are not always on the same page (f.i. the last Marillion) , but I do appreciate his music knowledge.

The second, or perhaps main, reason is the fact that I “love his ears” and his sense of mixing and mastering and almost everything he makes or remastered just sounds great and I'm very sensitive to that. Not as bad as in the past, read my column vinyl or no vinyl but that never goes away.

Eventually I'm going to listen and if I'm okay with it I'll keep the CD and otherwise it will go on sale immediately. That’s how I roll.

Well I don't own a surround set (anymore) and so I can't enjoy the, according to many, brilliant dolby atmos mix on the Blu-ray and I think that's a shame. Maybe a friend can help here (Erno?). But stereo can also sound great and I am convinced that The Harmony Codex can also be an experience through two channels. We'll see, or have I become a victim of the huge media hype?

My review will be on my page after listening to The Harmony Codex and as always I am going to be honest without blind adoration.