I'm a big Opeth and Porcupine Tree fan. I held off a bit on Steven Wilsons solo stuff until now as I'd read it was more experimental which is goofy on my part, because I like experimental. Plus, I have Stars Die-The Delirium Years 91-97 which is all over the map-very cool, but extremely psychedelic (usually a good thing in my book), but also with ambient experiments which sometimes work and sometimes not so much IMO. And, I enjoy ambient music for the most part...but, I probably would not have wanted another collection on the same lines as Stars Die as some of the pieces have sort of limited, novelty appeal to me. At the end of the day, IMO, the songs themselves have to hold up and have some cohesion. And, that they do in The Raven.
Just one opinion, but as I was looking at Steven Wilsons solo stuff on-line, I noticed that the allmusic guides reviewer of "The Raven" thought it was the strongest of his recent solo efforts. So, that's what I picked up. Indeed, it is really strong. I think if your only reference point was In Abstentia, you might find it less focused, but compared to his early prog experiments, it is much more realized, and of course it is indeed beautifully, carefully crafted. In fact, it's really not that "out there"...it's just really, really good music...albeit long proggy songs as you would expect!
If you want out there....mostly in a good way-check out Stars Die.
Just my rambling thoughts
Edited by markm1 - 6/13/13 at 11:36am