Steven Wilson – Insurgentes

This review has been a while coming, May in fact (since the album’s latest release). This piece was submitted to Drop-D back then but it was never published. So, after posting and discussing the new Porcupine Tree track a few days ago I decided to just post this review. Better late than never:

Frontman of the seminal Porcupine Tree, progressive music mastermind and producer extraordinaire, these are some of the things you would find on Steven Wilson’s CV. Now, add to that note-worthy list, solo artist. Mr. Wilson has built one hell of a repertoire for himself in the field of progressive and experimental music over the years. But one thing he hasn’t done yet is a full length solo album.

Insurgentes is named after Avenida de los Insurgentes in Mexico City, one of the many places Wilson travelled to when recording this album. Its creation and recording brought him to many places; the remarkable journey is outlined in this effort and soon to be visually so in a documentary. The variety of locations, England, Sweden, the States to name a few, as well as Mexico, has led to the multiple styles explored on Insurgentes. Said styles hop from shoe gaze sounds reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine to drone and experimentalisms like that of Earth. Of course, the obvious influences like Pink Floyd and Yes are still in tact.

“Harmony Korine” opens this opus and creates an air of esoteric beauty and that would make Radiohead feel like Fall Out Boy. Creating a haunting yet engaging ambience seems to be the objective of Insurgentes, that’s if there was one. Meanwhile, “Abandoner” is quite sombre until its droning thud comes in.

Wilson’s voice remains very distinct on this outing but this body of work differs to some extent from the day job, here there is much more emphasis on making some noise but also making it very multi-layered and abstruse noise.

“Veneno Paras Las Hadas” works more from the similar serene template; its multi-faceted keyboards help it build to a strangely relaxing climax. The instrumentally dominant “No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun” pays homage to King Crimson then shifts in tone to a more PT-esque sounding composition.

The piano is favoured a lot on Insurgentes as it features on many tracks most notably “Get All That You Deserve” which builds to a colossal wall of sound. Finally the title track is too piano driven and is vaguely similar in parts to Porcupine Tree song “Collapse The Light Into Earth”, it’s a calming, elegant and rather suitable closer.

Insurgentes is quite an impressive venture by Wilson but doesn’t quite compare to the inventiveness of Porcupine Tree. However it does stand on its own and it is unsurprisingly difficult music. It requires several listens and will then hopefully unravel itself to you. I feel there are many hidden wonders in this album like most experimental music. Given time they may become clearer.


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