Album Reviews

Steven Wilson

Transience

Artist:     Steven Wilson

Album:     Transience

Label:     KScope Records

Release Date:     09/16/2016

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There’s that old saying that a physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient. Steven Wilson has smartly chosen to ignore that advice. As someone who lives to tinker in the studio, Wilson’s remixing work on the latest deluxe reissues of classic Yes has received widespread acclaim for resuscitating a dusty old catalog. For Transience, a wondrous body of solo material plucked from recordings he made between 2002-2015, progressive-rock’s greatest hope decided to surgically enhance the accessibility of a few pieces pulled from concept albums that required a more meandering, thematic exploration. The results are stunning.

Captivating edit versions of the ever-evolving, soulful pop gem “Happy Returns,” a lush and expressive “Deform to Form a Star” and the dreamy, folky spinning wheel of a title track speak to Wilson’s ability to structure songs in a sophisticated, yet approachable, manner. Deep yearning is gracefully articulated in the delicately rendered piano of “Insurgentes” and a melodic “Thank You” strips Wilson naked, throwing his innermost thoughts and fears out into the world without trepidation or unnecessary adornment. And while “Significant Other,” with its slow, easy currents of pure serenity, morphs into a space-rock storm reminiscent of Hawkwind and the unsettling “Hand Cannot Erase” recalls Peter Gabriel’s artiest attempts to unnerve, the otherworldly, immersive expanses and building rushes of “Harmony Korine” and “The Pin Drop” are breathtaking.

Just now being made available Stateside on CD, a year after its limited-edition vinyl release in the U.K., Transience includes the bonus track “Happiness III” – as bright and effervescent a song as Wilson has ever written – and this 14-track record, with its majestic swells, its quietude and bombast, its open heart and gentle intelligence, serves as the perfect introduction for holdouts wary of any and all things prog.

-Peter Lindblad

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