Steven Wilson - Catalogue/Preserve/Amass

OK, cards on the table - I'm a big fan of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson, and therefore this "review" if I can call it that, has left all objectivity at the door.

After pre-ordering this a week or so ago, when I got home this evening there it was waiting for me. No doubt I will carry it around with me for days and days, playing little games, like not looking at it for a whole day, and then...looking at it to see if I still liked it...I'm sure I will. The more I look at it, the more I like it.....hang on, haven't I heard that somewhere before?....

Ahem...where was I? Oh yeah, the new live album from The Man With No Shoes is a document of the European leg of last year's tour, and as such features the band that I saw back on Halloween last year. Adam Holzman's classical and jazz piano runs are a positive embellishment to opener No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun, along with Aziz Ibrahim's spiky guitar fills, also prominent in Sectarian. Strangely refused a visa for the USA leg of the tour (nowt to do with his name and Yankee paranoia of course), Aziz will be back for the second part of the Euro tour this year. In fact the proceeds of the sales of this CD are going towards financing the second leg, so Mr Wilson cannot be as minted as some may think.

The mighty Theo Travis also squawks briefly in lung busting fashion over Sectarian and Adam's jazzy electric piano fills are a treat. Sectarian is probably now my fave song on the almost impeccable Grace For Drowning. I say "almost" because in my opinion Deform To Form A Star sounds too much like a PT throwaway moment and does not fit the jazz fusion vibe of much of the rest of the record. Similarly Index, although containing a lyric of some menace could easily have been left in the PT songbook.

Marco Minneman and Nick Beggs lay down sometimes complicated rhythms with a natural grace, and of course both get to show their contrapuntal dexterity during the syncopated parts of Raider II which naturally enough ends this righteous 70 minute document.

Somewhat chaotically sold through SW's website, originally limited to 3000 copies, the pre-orders sent the systems into meltdown, causing almost laughable panic among those fans not quick enough on the hard return key. SW should have taken a leaf out of the the likes of The Enid book and asked for upfront subs then he (or kscope) would have known exactly how many CDs to make rather than sticking a rather pointless limit on production.

It may eventually be available again, here.

That minor gripe aside, this is a must have for any of those of us lucky enough to have seen the live show. Contrary to the opinions of some, Steven Wilson is deserving of the praise he gets, and although a certain magazine would indeed give a recording of one of SW's bowel movements 5 stars, at least he is creative and constantly evolving unlike some of the other bands that same over-priced magazine and a lot of modern prog fans fawn over.

......it remains consistent, I wish you were here to see it. I like it.

Apologies to Adrian Belew!

Tracklist:

01 No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun
02 Index
03 Deform To Form A Star
04 Sectarian
05 No Part Of Me
06 Veneno Para Las Hadas
07 Raider II

Line up:

Adam Holzman - Keyboards
Aziz Ibrahim - Guitars
Marco Minneman - Drums
Nick Beggs - Bass, Stick, Backing vocals
Theo Travis - Sax, Flute, Clarinet
Steven Wilson - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, No shoes

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