album review of Storm Corrosion (self titled album)


I said yesterday that i was going to expand the blog a little more, so here is my first album analysis.  Despite calling it a review in the title, I don’t really believe it to be the right word. I don’t plan on giving a score out of 100 or anything like that, but more just to talk a little about what the music is like.

Of course talking about such an album as Storm Corrossion isn’t easy in the slightest, as there really is nothing to compare it to. I’ll start by giving a little bit of background. Storm Corrossion is a collaboration project between progressive rock geniuses Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-Man, Bass Communion, Solo projects and more…) and Mikael åkerfeldt (of progressive metal group Opeth).

These two musicians’ main projects are known for their creativity and not following the mould, clearly shown in their most recent projects (Steven Wilson-Grace For Drowning, Opeth-Heritage). Wilson’s album was voted the best progressive rock album of 2011, some incredible new works from bands such as Dream Theater, and åkerfeldt’s ‘Heritage’ truely sounds nothing like Opeth has done before being, in general, a much less heavy album than most of their discography. Both of these albums have so many suprising moments that I still find new things in them, even with them being my two most listened to albums of last year. This creativity and change of direction for both artists really shines through in Storm Corrosion.

Yet don’t think this means that Storm Corrosion sounds like a mix of Grace for Drowning and Heritage. It really doesn’t. As is said at the beginning of this post, I cannot think of any other group or song to compare it to. Whilst I tried desperately to think of how to describe the general sound, i came up with a two word answer: Melancholic mystery. It is certainly not a happy album-ironically the track title ‘happy’ is probably the saddest piece of music i’ve ever heard. That said, moments of itare strangely uplifting even if it does have a habit of dropping lower than low afterwards. Perhaps those uplifting moments are need to really accentuate the melancholy of the majority of the piece.

Occasionally there is a glimpse of inspiration from the artists’ previous work. Nearing the end of the title track ‘storm corrosion’, there is a guitar part that sounds very similar to an opeth track…which one exactly I can’t recall, but its almost identical to it. It may be a straight sample, but as it sounds slightly different i’m not sure at all. Wilson having been known to sample from previous works before, does however make this a possibility.

If there is one thing Storm Corrosion isn’t, it is about as far away from easy listening as you can get short of schönberg’s more experimental music. The album does ease you in gently though, starting with a relatively calm but just as dark and perhaps contraversial ‘Drag Ropes’ but by the time the listener reaches the third track, ‘Hag’, all things experimental have kicked in and the occasional note of the two musician’s heavy rock and metal backgrounds come through. But it all calms down again for the fairly chilled out sixth and final track ‘Ljudet Innan’ (swedish for ‘the sound before’ i believe. åkerfeldt is Swedish…like alot of amazing musicians).

I  believe Storm Corrossion has the possibility of being the best album of the year and without a doubt one of the most creative. Although it is very dark and melancholic in sound, parts can be quite uplifting. My favourite song from the album is track 2-Storm Corrosion, for its stunning beauty and chilled out nature-I don’t think i’ve even heard smooth jazz as smooth as this track. Steven Wilson and Micheal åkerfeldt do seem to continue to do the impossible and further improve their music even after every album seeming to be as good as it gets.

 

a question of piano pieces…


Piano

Piano (Photo credit: esc861)

I have a dilemma today. Soon I will be waving goodbye to my friends who have been with me the whole way through school, as they head off to the wonderful world of university and life, while I stay for one more year where I am. The reason for me staying isn’t that important, but I will say that I am at school for one year more than most people and now have to suffer the consequences by watching my friends leave for places better and more exciting.

So I decided that perhaps I should be doing something in my year’s final school assembly to say goodbye in a proper manner. Words, no matter how well crafted, will never speak as strongly as music so I have decided there would be no better way of saying thanks than to play a song. This is where you guys come in. I have a choice of a few songs and I would like to ask you to kindly listen to the songs and help me decide what to play. I’ll give a little introduction to each piece next to their link.

1.Opeth-Patterns in the Ivy. Those who aren’t familiar with the band probably wouldn’t believe that opeth is a death metal band listening to this stunningly beautiful (but short) song, but they are. The version I play is on piano only, the guitar part just played in the left hand while the piano melody is played with the right hand as usual. If you like the song, you can find sheet music for it for free on a website called ‘vkgoeswild’. Her version is the one I play.

2.Dream Theater-Wait for Sleep. I love this song by one of the best progressive bands around. The problem with this track is I am useless at singing whilst playing the piano and would need heavy practice to get it right. The singer-La Brie-also has a much higher voice than mine making life tricky. At the moment I play this track without vocals but parts sound quite empty without them-despite this it is probably the highest contender of the songs I am putting up here.

3. Ludovico Einaudi-Andare.Now this will be the hardest one to ace piano part-wise, but everyone loved a bit Ludovico Einaudi. Hauntingly beautiful, both mournful and hopeful at the same time, this song really makes me feel things i can’t really explain. In this respect it explains the situation of a goodbye to good friends better than any other song could. However there are parts that i make mistakes on every time I play it and most importantly-the pages in my sheet music book for Einaudi never stay open…infuriation when trying to play a song! As the word Andare is the verb ‘to go’ in italian, it does seem very appropriate.

4.Sonata Arctica-Tallulah. See how 3 out of 4 tracks so far are from metal bands? Good metal bands write beautiful songs! its not all screaming and thrashing of guitars. Anyway, although a love song is perhaps not the best choice of song for the occasion it is a wonderful piece. Main concerns on this one are: I would need to sing again (although much easier than singing with ‘wait for sleep’; There are alot of instruments that would not be being played and would sounds a little sparse in a hall without them.

5. Ludovico Einaudi-Uno. (I love how the advert before this video just happened to have Einaudi’s music on it!) I would only play this track if I’m playing another with it (perhaps wait for sleep or patterns in the ivy as they too are very short).  A very calm piece yet  a quiet urgent expectation somehow resonates from those carefully placed notes. It truely is a joy to play.

And from these five wonderful pieces i want to pick one or a combination of the shorter songs to play. I would be hugely grateful if you all were to listen to these songs and tell me your favourites-it may just help me choose what my year will enjoy the most too!