When Steven Wilson decided he wanted to give his retro-cool new solo project the spacious, complex sound of his favorite classic rock albums, he knew who to ring up: Alan Parsons. Even if they’d never met before.
Long before he founded his eponymous recording band, Parsons was an in-demand sound engineer, having worked on the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, among many others. So, Wilson essentially cold called Parsons with a request to work sound on The Raven Who Refused to Sing (And Other Stories), due on February 25, 2013 from Kscope.
“We hadn’t met until the first day of recording,” Parsons tells InsideMusicCast. “We had Skyped each other, to talk about things. But we actually met for the first time on the day of the recording.”
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The directive from Wilson, who was at work on his third solo project away from Porcupine Tree, was simple: “He wanted a retro sound,” Parsons says. “He’d had enough, I think, of modern recording techniques and modern sounds. He just wanted someone who had experience in recording in the 1970s and ’80s.”
Of course, this whole retro thing only goes so far, though. They didn’t record to tape, as Parsons did in the old days.
“I think that’s the only thing perhaps that wasn’t retro,” Parsons says. “We recorded on ProTools. Most of it was actually recorded to Steven’s demos. The basic structure of all of the songs was already there. He’d actually done most of the vocals, as well. So, we had the wonderful advantage of having really good vocals to play to. That was a real luxury.”