“Once we’ve made sense of our world, we want to go and fuck up everybody else’s, because his or her truth doesn’t match mine.”
That’s a concise summation of a time where political discourse and personal interactions are heavily influenced by subjective reality instead of objective observation, and the line between such conversations activities is becoming increasingly blurred. These are the words that open To the Bone, the fifth solo album by former Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson, who has long proven himself to be an astute observer of contemporary living. For his first release on Caroline (due Aug. 18), the progressive U.K. songwriter-producer-performer explores how the essence of truth has become an increasingly slippery slope.
“Most of the songs on the album are about ‘truth’ being something that can be twisted and filtered to mean whatever you want it to mean, whether you’re a politician, a terrorist or just trying to convince yourself that a relationship is working when it isn’t,” explains Wilson.
“Song of I,” the new track whose video is exclusively premiering today on Billboard.com, depicts just such a relationship: It concerns sexual and emotional obsession, as well as “that refusal to let go of something that clearly isn’t bringing any happiness,” he says. “It’s not strictly autobiographical. Mainly, I like to tell stories. But I think most people can relate to the feeling of love spilling over into obsession.”
Watch the video for “Song of I” below:
“I happened across some amazing images and film of the performance artist Maya Petrovna [who appears in the video] and asked her if she would be interested in working on it,” says Wilson of the clip. “I thought it could work well to illustrate the song as some form of highly stylized drama, maybe somewhere between choreography and soap opera.”
Swiss jazz-pop songwriter-performer Sophie Hunger duets with Wilson on the track. He partnered with her because he sought someone who had a “sexy-sinister” quality” to her vocals. Although “Song of I” “seems on the surface like a love song, I also wanted a glacial coldness in the vocals and music to hint at the destructive side of love,” he says. This tone makes the song one of the darker, moodier cuts on To the Bone. It stands in contrast to the modernist pop sensibility Wilson brought to the project but ultimately fits in with its overall concept.
“I grew up listening to a lot of very smart pop records by artists like Kate Bush, Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel, Prince, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, The The,” says Wilson. “It struck me that there aren’t too many albums made like that these days: quite accessible on the surface, but if you choose to engage with them on a deeper level, you can find layers in the production, musicianship and some thoughtful lyrics. I wanted to try to create a modern equivalent.”
Wilson will embark on the To the Bone Tour in Europe in January 2018. For more information, go here.