May Music Challenge - DAY 6: FAVORITE BAND/ARTIST

You're probably going to tell me that this was an "either/or" category... and to you I say, "Pish posh".  25 years ago I decided that Talk Talk was my favorite band of all time.  The album, "THE COLOUR OF SPRING" (EMI, 1986) had moved me in ways that only one other record had.  It was a masterpiece, and was proving that Talk Talk were not the typical New Wave/New Romantic band that many considered them.  The thing about Talk Talk was that, with each new release, the albums become more and more difficult to access.  Truth be told, I didn't come to truly appreciate their last album ("LAUGHING STOCK, Parlophone 1991) for years after its release.  To sum it up, it made Pink Floyd's THE WALL sound like Michael Jackson's THRILLER.

Fast forward to 2001... literally days before the tragedy of 9/11, when I finally discovered the music of PORCUPINE TREE, a project of the British Prog Rock mastermind, STEVEN WILSON.  I had been a fan of NO-MAN, another of his bands, for years.  I had heard the name Porcupine Tree, but never heard their music.  With the invention of mp3 technology and the surfacing of websites like Audio Galaxy, I was finally able to download music from this band.  I was not only hooked, I was smitten.  I hungrily began collecting everything that they had available.

I went on to discover that Steven Wilson had also recorded under two other monikers (BASS COMMUNION, an Ambient project, and IEM (Incredible Expanding Mindf**k), an experimental, Psychedelic project).  Steven has since gone on to record solo albums (his current project), STORM CORROSION (with Opeth's lead singer, Mikael Åkerfeldt, BLACKFIELD (with Israeli singer/songwriter, Aviv Geffen.  The man is quite literally the most productive AND inventive musician I have ever come across... and quite possibly one of the most prolific artists in the world.

The complete irony to me is that, although these artists are dissimilar, they are also EXTREMELY similar.  Talk Talk and No-Man both had the same manager (at least early in No-Man's career), a gentleman that promoted art over sales.  Both bands were disinterested in making the charts, but rather focused their attention on the art of making music.  The output of No-Man in the late 90's is VERY similar to the later work of Talk Talk... very ethereal... very atmospheric... truly beautiful.  I know that Steven Wilson regards Talk Talk as a major influence... at least when it comes to his more atmospheric projects... as do many other artists.  Although Talk Talk disbanded in the early 90's (Lee Harris and Paul Webb going on to form O'rang, Mark Hollis recording one solo album) and faded into obscurity, their influence continues to live on in the works of today's Post Rock artists.

So... ask me who is my favorite?  It depends on the day.  Talk Talk wins a vote because of their ability to explore uncharted territory.  Steven Wilson wins because of his innate ability to continually release new, interesting music... ofttimes in radically different genres... and that doesn't even count his work he has done remixing and remastering classic works from bands like Jethro Tull and King Crimson.  He is, in reality, a mad genius.  And a damned good artist.