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"Miserable music makes me happy, and conversely, happy music makes me fucking miserable."
Steven Wilson at the Wiltern, Los Angeles, 2015.
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Steven John Wilson (born 3 November 1967) is an English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and audio engineer. He is the founder and leader of the band Porcupine Tree, is a founding member of Storm Corrosion alongside Mikael Åkerfeldt, a founding member of No-Man, and has an extensive solo career as well. A mostly self-taught musician and engineer, he's worked with a large number of bands and has had a huge number of projects over the years. He's been nominated for four Grammys, two with Porcupine Tree and two with Storm Corrosion.

He began receiving guitar lessons for a small period as a child, but he didn't particularly enjoy it and his parents eventually stopped paying for it. At the age of 11, he began experimenting with a some equipment and a nylon string classical guitar he found in his attic, creating a rudimentary form of multi-track recording. His father (an electronic engineer), built him a multi-track tape machine and a vocoder so he could experiment with studio recording. He formed a number of bands with friends through school, but mostly enjoyed experimenting with sound in his spare time.

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In 1986, Steven Wilson launched two projects: "No Man is an Island (Except the Isle of Man)" (a fusion of synth-pop and progressive rock, which would later be shortened to "No-Man") and "Porcupine Tree" (originally a pastiche of psychedelic rock). No Man is an Island's second single, a cover of the Donovan song "Colours" would win an award in the Melody Maker magazine and land them a record deal with the One Little Indian indie record label. Both No-Man and Porcupine Tree would both go on to release their first releases later and eventually develop a large cult following.


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Discography:

    open/close all folders 

     Solo Releases 
  • Insurgentes (2008)
  • Grace for Drowning (2011)
  • The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) (2013)
  • Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015)
  • (2016)
  • To the Bone (2017)

     Altamont 
  • Prayer for the Soul (1983)
  • Untitled (2002)

     Karma 
  • The Joke's on You (1983)
  • The Last Man to Laugh (1985)

     No-Man 
  • Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession - (1993)
  • Flowermouth - (1994)
  • Wild Opera - (1996)
  • Returning Jesus - (2001)
  • Together We're Stranger - (2003)
  • Schoolyard Ghosts - (2008)

     Porcupine Tree 
  • On the Sunday of Life (1991)
    • Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape (1992)
  • Up the Downstair (1993)
  • The Sky Moves Sideways (1995)
  • Signify (1997)
  • Stupid Dream (1999)
  • Lightbulb Sun (2000)
  • In Absentia (2002)
  • Deadwing (2005)
  • Fear of a Blank Planet (2007)
  • The Incident (2009)

     Incredible Expanding Mindfuck 
  • I.E.M. (1996)
  • An Escalator to Christmas (1999)
  • Arcadia Son (2001)
  • I.E.M. Have Come for Your Children (2001)

     Bass Communion 
  • I (1998)
  • II (1999)
  • III (2001)
  • Ghosts on Magnetic Tape (2004)
  • Indicates Void (2005)
  • Loss (2006)
  • Pacific Codex (2008)
  • Molotov and Haze (2008)
  • Chiaroscuro (2009)
  • Cenotaph (2011)

     Blackfield 
  • Blackfield I (2004)
  • Blackfield II (2007)
  • Welcome to My DNA (2011)
  • Blackfield IV (2013)
  • V (2017)

     Storm Corrosion 
  • Storm Corrosion (2012)

     Album Remixes 
  • King Crimson:
    • Red (2009, and again in 2013)
    • In the Court of the Crimson King (2009)
    • Lizard (2010)
    • In the Wake of Poseidon (2010)
    • Islands (2010)
    • Starless and Bible Black (2011)
    • Discipline (2011)
    • Larks' Tongues in Aspic (2012)
    • Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, November 23, 1973 (2014)
    • Beat (2016)
    • Three of a Perfect Pair (2016)
  • Caravan:
    • In the Land of Grey and Pink (2011)
  • Jethro Tull:
    • Aqualung (2011)
    • Thick as a Brick (2012)
    • Benefit (2013)
    • A Passion Play (2014)
    • War Child (2014)
    • Minstrel in the Gallery (2015)
    • Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (2015)
    • Stand Up (2016)
    • Songs from the Wood (2017)
    • Heavy Horses (2018)
    • This Was (2018)
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer:
    • Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (2012)
    • Tarkus (2012)
  • Hawkwind:
    • Warrior on the Edge of Time (2013)
  • XTC:
    • Nonsuch (2013)
    • Drums and Wires (2014)
    • Oranges and Lemons (2015)
    • Skylarking (2016)
  • Yes:
    • Close to the Edge (2013)
    • The Yes Album (2014)
    • Relayer (2014)
    • Fragile (2015)
    • Tales from Topographic Oceans (2016)
  • Gentle Giant:
    • The Power and the Glory (2014)
    • Octopus (2015)
  • Tears for Fears:
    • Songs from the Big Chair (2014)
  • Opeth:
    • Damnation (2015)
  • Steve Hackett:
    • Please Don't Touch (2015)
    • Spectral Mornings (2015)
  • Chicago:
    • Chicago (2017)note 
  • Marillion
    • Misplaced Childhood (2017)


Steven Wilson and his works provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Alien Abduction: Heavily implied as the ending to Hand. Cannot. Erase., as evidenced by the supplementary blog accompanying the album and the films shown on the HCE tour.
  • All There in the Manual: The special editions of Hand. Cannot. Erase., the blog, and the live performances all give the full stated plot of the album. Sort of.
  • Alternative Rock
  • Ambient: Some of his more psychedelic songs can tend towards this.
  • Animated Music Video: "Drive Home", "The Raven That Refused to Sing", "Routine" and "People Who Eat Darkness" are accompanied by beautifully animated stop-motion videos that emphasise the sadness of the songs (or in the case of "People Who Eat Darkenss", the creepiness). "Routine" in particular is notable for featuring some top notch stop motion animation, which is very difficult to pull off correctly without falling into the Uncanny Valley.
  • Author Appeal: Music, of course. The supplementary material for Hand Cannot Erase is filled with references to bands Wilson is a fan of, some of which are obscure enough that many listeners would probably have never heard of them had it not been for Wilson mentioning them.
  • Auto-Tune: Used in "Drive Home" and "The Raven That Refused to Sing" to create a ghostly effect.
  • Call-Back: The tree person from the "Harmony Korine" video returns to terrorise the papier-mâché-headed man in the tour visuals for "The Same Asylum As Before".
  • Characterization Marches On: Steven regarding streaming and MP3s. Early on, he seemed to have an immense hatred for it, feeling MP3s and Apple products ruined the quality and significance of the music released and threw shots at them (literally as seen in the Insurgentes documentary). Recently he's finally decided that streaming and MP3s aren't too bad and is allowing them back online such as on Apple Music, Spotify, ect ect. He's even been seen with an iPhone in his Instagram!
    • Privacy wise, Steven's legendary. And recently he's opened up an Instagram and if one believes so, Snapchat. Heck, he's even smiling in the photos!
  • Chronological Album Title: The first three Bass Communion albums, and almost every Blackfield album (with the exception of Welcome to My DNA).
  • Concept Album: Many Porcupine Tree albums tend to be connected by some unifying theme. In his solo career, there are two concept albums:
    • The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) doesn't have a straightforward plot, but intertwines with the idea of ghost stories and loss.
    • Hand. Cannot. Erase is a concept album based around a woman becoming increasingly isolated from society.
  • Cover Version: Steven Wilson had a whole series of these from 2003 - 2010, featuring covers of songs from the likes of The Cure, ABBA, and Alanis Morissette. He also currently plays "Space Oddity" at concerts as a tribute to David Bowie.
  • Creator Thumbprint: He has numerous subjects that keep recurring through his discography, including nostalgia, urban isolation, cults, and ghosts. He also likes using trains as a symbol in his lyrics.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: He has a tendency to perform barefoot. Which has led to...
    • Agony of the Feet: "I’ve stepped on nails, screws, drawing pins, stubbed my toe, I’ve come off stage with blood just coming out… I mean, I’ve had it all mate, but to be honest, nothing’s going to stop me."
  • Design Student's Orgasm: All of his album art for his solo art and some of Porcupine Tree hit this. Does help that it's all designed/created by Lasse Hoile.
  • Drone of Dread: Bass Communion has a lot of this.
  • Epic Rocking: Each entry in Steven Wilson's solo discography presents an opportunity for him to create some powerful and larger-than-life soundscapes:
    • From Insurgentes: "Salvaging", "No Twilight With the Courts of the Sun"
    • Grace for Drowning has "Remainder the Black Dog" as well as the 23-minute, jazz-rock behemoth "Raider II".
    • The Raven That Refused to Sing: LITERALLY THE ENTIRE ALBUM
    • Hand. Cannot. Erase.: "3 Years Older", "Routine", "Home Invasion/Regret #9" (when taken together as a single track) and "Ancestral"
    • : "My Book of Regrets" and "Don't Hate Me".
    • To the Bone: Despite the album being promoted as a work of progressive pop, it's not short on its share of epic, energetic rockers, including the title track, "Refuge", "People Who Eat Darkness", and "Detonation"
  • Face on the Cover: Insurgentes, although in this case his face is obscured by a gas mask. Played straight with Cover Version, Transience and To the Bone.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Transience is a compilation of some of his more accessible songs, intended as a starting point for curious music fans.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's very good friends with Lasse Hoile, who's done nearly all of the artwork/special editions to his solo projects and even some for Porcupine Tree.
    • Mikael Akerfeldt is also this to Steven, as Mikael was the reason Steven decided to take a more metal approach with Porcupine Tree. The fact Wilson has worked on Opeth's albums since Blackwater Park should give a fan of the idea that the two are very close friends, reaching Ho Yay levels.
  • I Am the Band: A few of his numerous projects, as well as some Porcupine Tree releases.
  • Leitmotif: Wilson tucks one into Hand. Cannot. Erase. in the forms of "First Regret" and "Happy Returns".
  • Lighter and Softer: To the Bone is pretty much a straight up melodic pop album. It's received comparisons to ABBA and even Coldplay.
  • Live Album: Get All You Deserve and Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
  • Loudness War: He is strongly opposed to this and tries hard to avert this whenever he can, with only a few CDs (likely due to Executive Meddling) actually playing this trope straight. When he's given complete control, his material tends to come out around DR12, and several of his remixes aren't mastered at all, being simply flat transfers of his mixes with no digital processing (which is usually the source of dynamic range compression).
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The video for "Remainder the Black Dog" features a group of them. Their masks come with Black Eyes of Evil and horns.
  • Mind Screw: Hand. Cannot. Erase. has shades of this. The album speaks of a woman who isolates herself from society and takes some loosely based influence from the death of Joyce Carol Vincent, but really goes up the wall as the album goes on, the blog off the album ending with the protagonist "H" saying she's "leaving with them".
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover of To the Bone is just his head and shoulders against a red background, with the only colours being red and blue.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Largely depends on the project, but he's ranged anywhere from 1 to 7 over the span of his solo career and Porcupine Tree.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Track One", which goes from being a soothing acoustic ballad to a fire-and-brimstone mesh of strings and percussion in less than a minute. A similar change in mood occurs on the title track of Storm Corrosion's debut LP.
    • "Home Invasion" has this in spades, starting off with an anxious one-two punch of death metal and jazz-fusion, followed by the band traversing some funky territory, only to cut away to an ethereal set of vocals and psychedelic instrumentation.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: He'll experiment with Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Progressive Rock, Jazz, Synth-Pop, Ambient, and Progressive Metal all in the span of a single song.
  • New Technology Is Evil: Steven Wilson dislikes MP3s and MP3 players, for decreasing the quality of music and the significance of it, respectively. He takes a few shots at iPods and video games on Fear of a Blank Planet.
    • Interestingly after people mentioned that the bonus tracks included with the super deluxe edition of "Insurgentes" were among their favorties and people were saddened that there was no way of legally obtaining them without buying the (since then) sold out box set. He made the songs freely available on his SoundCloud as HQ .wav downloads.
  • Nice Guy: Widely regarded as a calm and very friendly individual when met in person.
  • Nostalgia Filter: A huge part of the narrative for Hand. Cannot. Erase., with "Perfect Life" and "Transience" acting as flashback scenes upon which the main character reflects on a simpler and more idyllic time in her life.
  • Older Than They Look: He's 50 years old.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The cover of Blackfield V shows a brown bottle against a blue sky.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Vermillioncore" and "Permanating" are made-up words.
  • Precision F-Strike: There's one featured in "3 Years Older". To the Bone has three, including the spoken word intro to the title track.
  • Progressive Metal: Started moving into it in the early 2000's, though it's far from his only style.
  • Progressive Rock: His primary genre.
  • Psychedelic Rock: He's never worked exclusively in this, but it's an influence on most of his work.
  • Record Producer: He produces all of his own material, and has remixed quite a few older Progressive Rock records.
  • Rockumentary: The 2008 film Insurgentes, which documents the recording of the album of the same name as well as his travels across Mexico and a number of other places.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. Wilson absolutely loves to write material that's meant to scare the pants off of himself and his listeners, running the gamut between serial killers. child molesters, drinking contests with The Devil, and more, all while pairing the subject matter with intense metal riffs, hellish electronic drones, and chilling vocal effects. As it turns out, he's actually a pretty chill dude. And he has a chihuahua!
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Does this quite a bit.
  • The Something Song: "Clock Song", an "unused idea" from the Raven sessions.
  • Stoic Spectacles
  • Surreal Music Video: Almost every video of his that doesn't tell some sort of story. Many of them verge into Surreal Horror, such as the video for "Remainder The Black Dog."
  • Synth-Pop
  • Textless Album Cover: Unreleased Electronic Music Vol 1, plus most of his recent solo work.
  • Title by Number: , so-called because it serves as an interim release between Hand. Cannot. Erase. and To the Bone.
  • Uncommon Time: Naturally.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Hand. Cannot. Erase., with the only similarities between the album and the source material being that the protagonist is a woman who gradually isolates herself from the rest of the world.
  • Villain Song: "Index" off of Grace for Drowning, which was inspired by John Fowles' novel The Collector. Bonus points for the music video further pushing the song into potential Nightmare Fuel territory.
    • "People Who Eat Darkness" off of To the Bone is another example, with the song being sung from the perspective of a nameless, faceless terrorist who assimilates themselves into their respective society.
    • Also off To the Bone is "Detonantion", which is sung from the perspective of a terrorist who uses an unnamed god to justify their prejudice and the actions that come of it. This one was directly inspired by the Pulse Nightclub shooting that took place in 2016.
  • When He Smiles: Most photos of Wilson always show him in a sort of neutral/angry look. But there are times where he's actually seen smiling or even laughing. Case in point.

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