Beginning Again – Steven Wilson’s “Pariah”

One of the things I appreciate about progressive rock is how brutally honest many of the musicians can be in their art. Steven Wilson and Devin Townsend immediately come to mind in this regard. Townsend has always shown his emotions in his lyrics and music, whether it be in face-melting heaviness of Strapping Young Lad or in his varied solo work. Wilson’s lyrics and the musical soundscapes he creates also reflect deep wells of emotion and even a somewhat philosophical approach to those emotions.

“Pariah” off 2017’s To The Bone is in a long tradition of similar contemplative melancholic and emotional songs by Wilson. Porcupine Tree’s “Lazarus,” Wilson’s “Drive Home” and “Routine,” as well as the more recent “12 Things I Forgot,” come to mind. I think “Pariah” may rise above the aforementioned tracks because of the exquisite duet with Ninet Tayeb.

The term “pariah” has a negative connotation in modern English, but I believe the term is usually used incorrectly to refer to a person who dramatizes their situation and makes a show of being an outcast when they aren’t actually outcast from their community or society. The definition is simply someone who is an outcast. The word comes from India, where it is used to refer to members of the lower order of the caste system.

I’m not quite sure which version of the word (the vernacular use or the correct use) Wilson is using here. Wilson’s character in the song is clearly someone dealing with depression, but we aren’t sure why. I don’t think “pariah” is being used in a derogatory fashion in the song, though.

Steven Wilson – Pariah (Music Video) – YouTube

For some reason I never realized this until yesterday, but Ninet’s inclusion on the song acts as a foil to Wilson’s melancholy. Wilson sings,

I’m tired of weakness, tired of my feet of clay
I’m tired of days to come, I’m tired of yesterday
And all the worn out things that I ever said
Now it’s much too late, the words stay in my head

Ninet responds,

So the day will begin again
Take comfort from me, it’s up to you now
You’re still here, and you’ll dig in again
That’s comfort to you, it’s up to you now

So Pariah, you’ll begin again
Take comfort from me
And I will take comfort from you

Ninet is playing a role often personified by females across thousands of years of philosophy. In the Biblical book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a female, and in Boethius’ “Consolation of Philosophy,” philosophy is personified as a woman. Maybe it’s a stretch to compare Wilson to Solomon or Boethius, two of the wisest men who ever lived, but what I’m getting at is “Pariah” is set up in a similar way. Specifically in Boethius we see the author having a conversation with philosophy. In this track we see Wilson (or Wilson’s character) in a depressed state. He’s worn out, tired of his failings, and tired of everyone else, and it’s a woman who sits down to talk with him.

Ninet’s angelic yet slightly gritty voice reminds him that tomorrow is a new day. She reminds him that he’s still alive, still breathing, and that’s something from which to draw comfort. She even offers to give him comfort, and perplexingly she says she will also take comfort from him. Perhaps she finds relief in aiding someone else in their darkness. As I mentioned above, I don’t think pariah is meant to be derogatory here. The lyrics are too gentle and Ninet’s delivery too sincere for that.

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Bryan’s Best of 2017

Here we are again, folks. We find ourselves at the end of another great year for prog. Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to some amazing artists this year, including John Wetton, but we at least have their music by which to remember them.

I know I’ve been a bit quiet here at Progarchy lately due to beginning graduate school this fall. Hopefully things settle down going forward, and I’ll be able to contribute more. For now, here are my favorite albums from 2017 in vaguely ascending order.

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Tad’s Favorites of 2017

10. KXM- Scatterbrain

If you’re missing King’s X, then this one will satisfy your craving. Ray Luzier (KoRn) is on drums, George Lynch (Dokken & Lynch Mob) is on guitar, and Doug Pinnock (King’s X) is on bass and vocals. This is their second album, and it is much more varied in its music styles than their debut. I never was into Dokken, but George Lynch’s guitar work is killer -especially on “Breakout”.

 

9. Big Big Train – Grimspound

I give Grimspound the edge over its sister album, The Second Brightest Star. What a great collection of tributes and vignettes of everything that is good about Great Britain. Using small details to convey big ideas is really difficult, but BBT are masters and make it look easy.

 

Continue reading “Tad’s Favorites of 2017”

Leave The Anger Out of It: Let’s Just Enjoy

Steven-Wilson-To-The-Bone-Banner

There’s no doubt, it’s fun to be self-righteous from time to time.  Well, “fun” for the writer, if not for the reader.

I’ve been patiently waiting for my deluxe box set of TO THE BONE to arrive in Michigan.  It finally arrived today, and it’s a thing of beauty and wonder, at least in terms of packaging.  It’s now my fourth such Steven Wilson deluxe box set, and I assume the deluxe edition will always be my default purchase option when it comes to any thing new Wilson releases.

Our own beloved Richard has already reviewed the new album rather nicely and objectively.

I’ve only given the album a listen or two.  It’s pretty neat, but it’s not grabbed me in the way that the previous solo albums have.  Such is life.  I’m going to let my like or dislike of it grow organically.

Still, I must write this.  Not liking the album is an OK position to hold.  I saw several folks today on social media claiming that if you don’t like the new Steven Wilson, you’re betraying the prog tradition.  What the ????????  Let me repeat that: What the ????????

One more time: What the ??????

There are days I simply need to detox regarding social media and, especially, Facebook.  For some reason, the new Steven Wilson has become a lightning rod in the way Donald Trump is a lightning rod.  One either hates or loves him.  No via media.

If I choose not to decide, I still have made a choice.  So once spoketh Neil Peart.  And, I agree wholeheartedly.

Pre-Order New Steven Wilson

Just about two hours ago, the pre-orders for the new Steven Wilson album, TO THE BONE, began.  The release comes in four versions, with the deluxe box set being limited in number.

To pre-order from Steven Wilson’s official store, go here: https://store.universalmusic.com/stevenwilson/*/*/To-The-Bone-Box-Set/5IVP0000000

Below is the first video from the album.  According to the official write up, Talk Talk’s THE COLOUR OF SPRING and Tears for Fears’ SEEDS OF LOVE serve as two of the three inspirations for the album, labeled as “progressive pop.”  The third is Peter Gabriel’s SO.