There are three reasons why this commission was accepted. One: I’m still not totally sold on the solo work of man they call Mr Prog (grabs stab vest, hides) and two: I have a turntable (she is saved!). However, three: this could go quite squonk-shaped as I’m not big on live albums either (who employed this buffoon?). But first a word about Record Store Day 2012, for which this release was produced. RSD has been going for the last four years as a celebration of the vinyl format. It’s no secret that vinyl seems to be edging back as the collectors’ format of choice and RSD has benefitted from some record companies’ reversal to what they once scrapped but now deem premium product. Sometimes this means good things for us, the fans, sometimes it’s money for old rope.
Steven Wilson: Catalogue/Preserve/Amass
Mr Prog celebrates Record Store Day with limited edition live album.
Catalogue/Preserve/Amass is one of those good things (but not too much of one). A live album harvesting 2011’s Grace For Drowning tour atmos and featuring SW’s dream team of Minneman, Beggs and Travis with Adam Holzman on keys and Aziz Ibrahim on guitars, this is a four-track taster of the seven-track limited edition CD released this March.
The sleeve art is typical Lasse Hoile – a hooded figure going for a moody paddle on the front – with a live shot montage on the back, and just a white paper inner sleeve (bit disappointing, that). It’s not heavyweight vinyl either, which is a shame. But at just 2,000 copies it seems to have been eagerly snapped up – at least by eBay vendors currently looking for £60 a pop.
The music, however, is impressive. It would have been a joy for fans to experience the note-perfect renditions contained herein. Index’ gothic, Numanesque groove tips its awkward hat to whoever may be picking up this release (and with its lyric, lends the record its title). Airy piano runs signal Deform To Form A Star, an almost cheery interlude, wrapping up a bruised love song with emotional venting from Ibrahim’s guitar and Wilson’s ‘breezy’ vocable outro. Then love’s twisted young dream croaks in No Part Of Me, set up with a spacey keyboard and hi-hat coda before Theo Travis’ sax takes over for jazz jam duel with Marco Minneman’s double-peddle vivacity.
The flipside is given over to Raider II. A 23-minute epic of ominous chordwork (signposting Storm Corrosion) with strident brass, jazz fusion flutterings and prog metal tub-thumping peppering the score until its frenzied crescendo. It’s an unsettling ride, evoking the happy homestead penetrated by a sinister assailant. A bit like owning this record.
There’s no denying Wilson’s talent and authority. It’s our world view – kazoos and kittens vs gas masks and angst – that separates us. This release solemnises the difference.