So, what do you make of a collaboration between two of the foremost personalities in modern progressive music? Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt, the minds and talents behind Porcupine Tree and Opeth, have come together to create what has been described as 'a modern masterpiece' in the eponymously titled 'Storm Corrosion'.
I have only a passing acquaintance with Opeth's work, and what I have heard doesn't particularly scratch where I'm itching, musically. I am aware that last year's widely acclaimed offering 'Heritage' was quite a departure for the band, in that it wasn't as harsh as previous albums and was deemed to be more 'progressive' than their other work, but I'm not able to compare Storm Corrosion with anything that Åkerfeldt has hitherto produced. I am, in contrast, very familiar with Wilson's work, both on his own, with Blackfield, and with Porcupine Tree, so I know what he's capable of, and the contrasting styles of music that he can, and has, produced.
Storm Corrosion is quite unlike anything that I've heard before. The songs come across more as soundscapes in places, and the album has a meditative, ethereal quality which becomes increasingly appealing the more one listens to it. One reviewer I've read (on Amazon, I think) has likened the vocal harmonies to Simon & Garfunkel, and I can see what they mean. There are also in places hints of Radiohead, but on the whole the music defied comparison for me with anything that's gone before it.
But then isn't that the point of progressive music? Much that comes under that genre these days is derivative, in that it harks back to a previous 'golden' era of Progressive music, and while I have no problems with that - that being my favoured musical period - progressive music needs to be just that - progressive, rather than regressive.
I'm so grateful to Wilson & Åkerfeldt for this collection of tunes, which continues to grow on me with every listen, and for their attitude which continues to push the scope of rock further afield. Maybe I need to get hold of a copy of 'Heritage' some time.