Monday, May 27, 2024

Steven Wilson continues to experiment with The Itself Of Itself

Steven Wilson’s name, for any prog fan, is one to conjure up thoughts of an extraordinarily talented musician and songwriter and his contribution to the genre down the years, from the music of Porcupine Tree to his work as the go-to man for remixing and remodelling re-issued classic albums. His efforts in the genre have been immense and he’s more than made his mark, with some fans even referring to him as a musical messiah and the “saviour of Prog”.

However, as he pains to stress, he refuses to be pigeonholed and his work encompasses a much wider hinterland than just prog. Through his involvement in side projects like No Man and Blackfield, and his experiments with ambience and electronica, he’s always been prepared to step outside of the box and do other things. One such venture is his occasional side project, Bass Communion, of which The Itself Of Itself is the third such release.

The whole focus of Bass Communion is to be a departure from his other projects, with its emphasis on ambient electronic minimalism. As such, what he offers here isn’t music for entertainment, it’s something else entirely, a reflection of Wilson’s perverse desire to do the unexpected, and here the sound emphasis is squarely on electronica.

I had no idea what to expect from this album and, after several listens, being very honest, I’m not certain this can even be called music. The album contains seven pieces, all of which consist of a series of random electronic noises, crackles, hisses and drone sounds, with only the last track, ‘Apparition 5’, having any discernible pattern to it. It’s a short, quiet meandering piece redolent of The Tangerine Dream, whereas ‘Blackmail’ consists of seven minutes of crackling and hissing sounds with what sounded like disembodied voices behind them.

Perhaps the most positive thing I can say is this is a very peaceful album. The sounds border mainly on mellow and there are few, if any, harsh unsettling electronic sounds. It’s something to listen to late at night while wearing headphones… just lay back and let the sounds flow over you. I’m quite happy to admit I couldn’t even begin to get a handle on this album and, while it won’t lessen my admiration for Steven Wilson’s other work in the slightest, I suspect this one will be something for Steven Wilson completists only. 

The Itself Of Itself is available May 15th 2024.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Steven Wilson’s name, for any prog fan, is one to conjure up thoughts of an extraordinarily talented musician and songwriter and his contribution to the genre down the years, from the music of Porcupine Tree to his work as the go-to man for remixing...Steven Wilson continues to experiment with The Itself Of Itself