2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
beautiful and complex, and not for the impatient, 11 Oct. 2011
Steven Wilson's second released-under-his-own-name solo record Grace for Drowning comes with beautiful packaging in the usual style of Carl Glover and Lasse Hoile. While the dark, surreal aesthetics might not be everyone's cup of tea, they certainly link the album to 2009's Insurgentes.
On first impression the album appears less structured and more eclectic than usual, even for Wilson, but beautiful and very appealing on an instinctive, emotional level. In terms of style, Grace for Drowning fuses the jazz-influences of early progressive rock (someone's been remixing King Crimson for years) with neo-romantic choir arrangements, delicate art rock and Wilsons fascination with industrial sounds and noise that so strongly influenced The Incident and Insurgentes. Partly, the instrumental passages are reminiscent of representatives of classical minimal music, e.g.Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass.
After a few listenings, the album becomes more comprehensive and appears more clearly structured. Wilson's talent for long, slow arcs of suspense seems to clash with his love of stark contrast and a huge dynamic range, but Grace for Drowning combines the three exceptionally well. The result surprises in its artistic unity and combines apparently contradictory genres with the majestic melodies and beautiful soundscapes that make it sound essentially like Steven Wilson. Grace for Drowning derives its coherence from a complex sound design, stylised textures and the editing of vocals and guitars typical of Wilson's work.
In terms of lyrics, the album moves from the intuitive writing of Insurgentes (and IMO rightly so) towards a more concise and palpable imagery.
The record demands persistence and a little work from the listener and may not be easily accessible to each and every Wilson fan, but it is worth the while. I personally thought it made the most sense when juxtaposed to Opeth's Heritage.