Steven Wilson at Z7 - 9 May 2012

„This next song is more complex“, says Steven Wilson towards the end of his two-hour set at the Z7 in Pratteln. The audience cracks up laughing. Even at his most laid-back, Wilson does not exactly produce simple pop songs. As the founder of Porcupine Tree, he pushed the envelope, and as a solo artist, he occasionally goes even further off the beaten track. He is a musician’s musician. Most of his tracks clock in at five minutes and more and are prog rock behemoths that traverse all musical genres.

So when Steven Wilson says it will become more complex, the audience braces itself. The 20-minute Raider II from his new solo album Grace For Drowning is a swirl of menacing keyboard, floating flute, and heavy guitar and bass riffs. It is a song you can drown in.  

Other tracks are less exhaustive but just as involving. Wilson and his outstanding band play songs from his first solo effort Insurgentes that wrap the listener in a cocoon of sweeping, hypnotic harmonies. The sublime Harmony Korine is a prime example of Wilson’s ability to merge the geeky tendencies of progressive psychedelic rock with immediately accessible melodious hooks.

Darker, more introverted tracks Abandoner and Index explore aspects of trip hop and are supported by the haunting, disturbing visuals of long-time collaborator Lasse Hoile, a Danish photographer.

A Steven Wilson concert is not Rock Lite. It isn’t necessarily immediately accessible nor is the music to everyone’s taste. It is, however, a show that a willing audience can fully dive into and float downstream with, surrounded by sound and light. It is a show that reverberates days later, in the middle of a mundane task, when a sudden fragment of melody or a guitar riff will pop up in your brain and not let go. It is indeed – and thankfully – a complex show.