Jan 11, 2012
You’ve probably guessed by now, but I love prog.
Did I say that out loud ?
Well, it’s true – there doesn’t seem to be much point in denying it any more – after all, Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the world, and they’re prog, right ?
So while it may not be exactly hip, I don’t think that enjoying progressive rock can be considered quite the crime against music that it once was.
And, being me, one thing I’ve always enjoyed about “progressive” music is that it almost always sounds superb.
I started early – the first album I taped to play in my Sony Walkman was “Oxygene” by Jean Michel Jarre, swiftly followed by Sky’s “5 Live” and “Script For A Jester’s Tear” by Marillion… and from then on I was hooked. I even got my friends to listen to “Songs From The Wood” by Jethro Tull !
Once I got to university I quickly realized the tragic un-coolness of my ways and diversified swiftly into Talking Heads, Prince, techno and later brit-pop – and since then my tastes have become more and more eclectic, especially I as I became exposed to all kinds of different genres through my career as a mastering engineer.
But lately I’ve been re-visiting the progressive back-catalogue, and finding I still love a lot of that stuff just as much as I used to – and, I’m really enjoying discovering more via new connections on social media.
Including, along the way, Steven Wilson. I actually worked with him once, in fact – authoring the Enhanced CD single of Porcupine Tree’s “Piano Lessons”, and mastering a few bonus tracks along the way. It wasn’t until his first solo album, “Insurgentes”, that I really got interested though – I made a copymaster of the album at SRT for promo purposes and got hooked.
Because of the music, but also partly because of the sound.
Everything Steven has worked on sounds fantastic to me – and his new solo album, “Grace For Drowning“, is no exception – just check out the song above, for example ! If you ever want an example of the power of perfectly balanced dynamics, that must be it.
If you’ve heard Steven’s work before, that won’t surprise you – but what might is to learn where he recorded it. Here’s a shot of his studio:
“It’s not how luxurious your room is, how good your speakers are or the quality of the acoustic space, it’s how well you know what you’re hearing, because if you know what you’re hearing, you can make good-sounding records!” – Steven Wilson
The image above is taken from an excellent article on Sound On Sound’s website:
I strongly recommend you head over and read the full article – here’s another unexpected quote, given Steven’s reputation for unusual sounds and audio production excellence:
“A lot of the stuff I use comes free with Pro Tools. I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy the latest fancy EQ or compressor because I’m comfortable with what I know and like. Sometimes having all this stuff available is a barrier between you and creating.”
So, does this mean I want you to start adding instrumentals, unusual time signatures and even the odd bit of mellotron or e-bow to your music ?