Steven Wilson

Heart of the Surround Rise: Steve Howe on Relishing Yes in 5.1, Playing Full Albums Live, And What to Expect From Heaven and Earth

Posted on April 30th, by Mike Mettler in The SoundBard Interview. 2 comments


“Yes likes challenges.” So says Yes guitarist Steve Howe, and the proof is in the output. The band has been out on the boards in the U.S. and Canada playing a set comprised of three full albums: The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One. On their upcoming summer tour in July and August, they’ll be doing two full albums: the first-ever full run-through of Fragile and Close to the Edge, in addition to an encore centered on the band’s greatest hits. Plus, an album with new lead singer Jon Davison, Heaven and Earth, is slated for a July release. And, of course, there are the sonically brilliant 5.1 mixes of Close to the Edge and The Yes Album on Blu-ray as masterminded by Steven Wilson — and more are on the way, with the band’s blessing. Howe, 67, and I … Read More »

Total 5.1 Mass Retain: Steven Wilson on Mixing Yes’ Close to the Edge in Surround Sound

Posted on February 26th, by Mike Mettler in The SoundBard Interview. 15 comments


“On the surround mix, it sounds just like you’re in the room with Steve Howe while he’s playing those guitar harmonics.” Steven Wilson is describing the clarity of the gorgeous acoustic intro to “And You And I,” the second track on Yes’ groundbreaking 1972 LP, Close to the Edge. (Said intro is keenly accented by Rick Wakeman’s understated organ fills that lightly season the rear channels.) And I hate to sound like a broken, er, record, but the one true king of transformative surround-sound mixing (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, XTC) has raised the all-channel bar yet again, for Wilson’s transcendent 192/24 5.1 CTTE mix is as pure and true as you’ll ever hear it on Panegyric’s Definitive Edition Blu-ray/CD combo package.

His wholly immersive, ear-boggling 5.1 mix achieves total mass attainment, highlighted by Wakeman’s uplifting, fully enveloping … Read More »

Steven Wilson’s Raven in 5.1 on Blu-ray: The Undisputed Surround Sound Standard

Posted on January 1st, by Mike Mettler in High Resolution Reviews. 4 comments


Just when you think Steven Wilson is at the surround sound pinnacle, he ratchets it up another level.

I first heard The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) at a playback session in New York’s Avatar Studios back on January 15, 2013. And this is how you know I’m super-hardcore dedicated to championing the glories of 5.1, since January 15 was literally the day after I had returned from a full, exhilarating but exhaustive week at CES in Las Vegas. But nothing was gonna stop me from hearing Raven in the best environment possible.

Right from the outset of that listening session, I (and everyone in the room) knew Raven was something special. Since then, I’ve played the album countless times, and I can unequivocally say that the 96/24 LPCM Blu-ray mix of The Raven That Refused to Sing … Read More »

The SoundBard’s Top 25 Albums of 2013

Posted on December 31st, by Mike Mettler in Odds & Sods. 6 comments


Damn the naysayers — I say the album format lives! With that vital declaration out of the way, it’s high time to cite the records that caught hold of my expert ear over the past 12 months — the full-length discs and/or LPs I consider most worthy of purchase, hi-res download, and/or dropping the needle on! Here, in reverse order, are my favorite 25 albums of 2013. Happy spinning!

25. Jim James: Regions of Light and Sound of God. Mind-/soul-/ear-expanding. Amen, J-man.

24. Kings of Leon: Mechanical Bull. Cojones-shaking rawk.

23. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers, Vol. 3. Sid and Susie give the ’80s a deep, loving soul kiss. Read my interview with Sid and Susie here.

22. The Rides: Can’t Get Enough. Super Session, Millennial Style: Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg burn on down the … Read More »

The SoundBard’s Top 25 Songs of 2013

Posted on December 31st, by Mike Mettler in Odds & Sods. No Comments


It’s that time of year: Time to cite the tunes that caught hold of my expert ear over the past 12 months — the ones I consider most worthy of purchase, hi-res download, and/or dropping the needle on at 45 rpm! Here, in reverse order, are my favorite 25 songs of 2013. Happy listening!

25. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts: “Any Weather.” Forecast calls for her continued reign. Co-meteorologized with Foomaster Dave Grohl.

24. U2: “Ordinary Love.” As in, “Extra-” and “This Is No.” And Mandela smiles from The Great Beyond.

23. Michael Monroe: “Ballad of the Lower East Side.” Punkin’-A NYC luv letter. Sneer perfection.

22. Baby Woodrose: “Bubblegum.” Flip your tongue like… super-chewy Euro-garage pop!

21. Palmyra Delran: “Some Day Soon.” Hopeful, wistful, wonderful: Yes, please. Stick it out — rewards ahead.

20. Radio Days: “Love and Fun.” Beach-blanket underground-pop rabble-rouser.

19. Charles … Read More »

King of Hertz: The Continuing Saga of Tony Levin’s Low-End Progressions in the High-End World

Posted on October 25th, by Mike Mettler in The SoundBard Interview. No Comments

Above, an exclusive YouTube clip of Levin Minnemann Rudess jamming on “Marcopolis”


“I work hard on the music end of things, and record my bass parts as high quality as I can.” That, in a nutshell, is the mission statement for Tony Levin, noted bassmaster and Chapman Stick innovator known for his sharp-fingered low-end work with the likes of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel. At present, his holy mission specifically applies to the down-low flavors he’s concocted for Levin Minnemann Rudess (Lazy Bones Recordings), a 60-minute ride through quite progressive waters. His LMR namesake triomates are drummer Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, UKZ) and keyboardist extraordinaire Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Dixie Dregs). LMR is on CD, but you should only be interested in obtaining the Deluxe Edition, which contains a separate DVD with filmed interviews, improv sessions, … Read More »