Kscope Records, 2009
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/27/2009
Steven Wilson, founder and member of Porcupine Tree, is one extremely prolific dude. With an average of at least four releases a year for the past several years from his many projects, including PT, his original collaboration No-Man, and side projects Blackfield, EIM, and Bass Communion (not to mention producing albums for Opeth and many others). His combined discography is so vast it has its own website, comprising a 300+ page document to capture.
When does this dude find time to sleep, much less record a solo album?
Traveling around the world for his various recording projects and tours, Wilson recorded Insugentes in bits on almost every continent, recording the majority of instruments himself albeit with occasional help from a group of stellar sidemen, including King Crimson bassist Tony Levin, Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and PT drummer Gavin Harrison.
My first impression was that Wilson nicely encapsulates his varied ideas and influences across his 20+ year career. The open track “Harmony Korine” would have been a lock on his latest PT album Fear Of A Blank Planet, as would have the lumbering metal of “No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun.” On the other side of the spectrum, “Abandoner” and “Veneno Para Las Hadas” find Wilson returning to the spacey, atmospheric roots of his early work. Like his recent PT releases, he focuses on concise, shorter duration tracks, averaging about five minutes, with the longest clocking in at just over eight. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded something a little more expansive – but hey, shorter songs mean more songs on the disc, so I won't complain.
The album on the whole has a languorous feel to it, reflecting musically the lyrical explorations of alienation and isolation that Wilson explores. He has always plied his craft from a melancholy and disassociated place. Even when the music doesn't reflect it, the words do. Atop an upbeat groove, he still laments, “Kneel, to face, the day's corrosion / Crawl, depart, towards perdition / Gray, the part, the bruise within you.”
As always, the production is immaculate. Wilson is an audiophiles dream, meticulously crafting each track with the obsession of da Vinci. I really enjoy how he infuses sonic references to his non-Porcupine Tree work. Unlike a lot of solo albums that don't differ much from the source band’s work, Wilson doesn't clone his PT’s sound. There's certainly a strong touch of it, since he writes all of the band’s material, but this sounds unique enough to make it worthy of putting his own name on.