What about Wilson’s own 5.1 mix of the album, coming from an artist who has proven himself multiple times in the multichannel-music arena? It’s another unqualified success, whether immersing you in the 40-track vocals of the title song or assaulting you with the heaviest, most malevolent sound heard in years on the midsection of “Track One.”
Wilson still has no fear of the center channel, beginning his vocal there on “Deform to Form a Star” — nor is he afraid, later in the same track, to put a buzzing guitar solo in the rear. At the same time, the high-rez Blu-ray format allows you to really hear everything: the weary rasp of the opening words “I feel worn out” in “No Part of Me,” the tactile presence of the nylon-string guitars on “Belle de Jour,” and especially the opening piano notes of “Raider II” that are allowed to decay to utter silence.
Of course, all the Blu bells and whistles in the world don’t matter if an album is no good. No worries: As when Kate Bush, having guested on the third Peter Gabriel, made her astonishing album The Dreaming, so Steven Wilson, having remixed the bulk of the King Crimson catalog in surround for DVD-Audio, has taken elements of that band, merged them with his own artistry, and come up with the extraordinary Grace for Drowning. Accordingly, in the 23 minutes of “Raider II,” we have a guitar/sax riff reminiscent of Crimson’s Lizard and Islands and some abrasive John Wetton-style bass straight out of Red, all building to grand-finale chords from Wilson’s family Tree. (Side note: October 25 is the date for the next two entries in Wilson’s KC reworkings on DVD-A, Starless and Bible Black and Discipline. And November 1 will see his 5.1 version of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung on Blu-ray.)
Meanwhile, in the wonderfully upsetting “Index,” we have music that makes the song’s “collector” every bit as frightening as Gabriel’s “Intruder.” And in “Postcard,” we have a gorgeous song that comes across as an utterly fresh, profoundly sad way of saying . . . I won’t spoil the ending.
You say they don’t make albums like they used to? Steven Wilson does.
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