Doug Leblanc Tremble Release Show Review…

Wilton Said played at the May Café Saturday night. It was to introduce the digital download release of ‘Tremble’, a three-song delight of brand new material from the band.
This was a bit different from other release celebrations, though. To start, he opened with a solo set on guitar, featuring a few surprises. He did ‘Sin’ from the early days, then did a few Beatle songs. Fortunately, for me, one of them was NOT “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”. He has played this in the past, to my great chagrin. The Beatles songs he did do he did very well!
Then he did two sets with the band. Both were excellent! Wilton himself was in excellent voice, and at his entertaining best! The band was tight and strong. Chris Reid was excellent on guitar! He is an incredible musician, and in many ways is the engine that keeps Wilton Said on full throttle.
The bassist was, basically, excellent. He is the new old bass player, Frank Heisler. He had been absent for some time, but his return featured some very strong playing.
The biggest question, though, was on the drums. Richard Rizzo’s departure left some area for concern; after all, Wilton Said’s music is often long and extremely complex, with odd time signatures and difficult sections. However, there was no need for concern. Peter Karppi was superb! He had quite a few supporters in the audience, and they were treated to a tour de force of drumming! He fit into the music as if he’d been playing it all his life. I was truly impressed by his remarkable performance!
This show, however, was quite a bit different from other shows, thanks to a delightful lady named Paddy Aldridge. She added some wonderful visual effects, which added whole new dimensions to the show! Indeed, she made it a theatrical presentation, as compared to just a simple concert. I was delighted with her work, and look forward to seeing more of it in the future!
Which brings us to the audience. I realize that people are entitled to pay their admission, then completely ignore the show. WHY they would do that is a mystery to me, but it happens. Some of them last night seemed utterly oblivious to what was happening on the stage. Some great music and artistry was occurring on the stage in front of them, and they utterly ignored it!
Perhaps I am too deeply appreciative of the wonderful music being performed, and the incredible talent behind it, but I can’t help feel like visiting Oz while others are wondering how to fix the damn house after the tornado!

Jerry Lucky Wilton Said… Reviews

Wilton Said – The View (2006 Independent Release)
I can’t help getting excited every time I hear of a new Canadian progressive rock band. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but recently I was contacted by keyboardist, vocalist and band namesake, Wilton Said asking if I’d like to check out his new band to which I said yes. They’ve released two discs; their latest will be reviewed here on the main page. This is their first release from 2006 featuring four players in the traditional instrumental slots. The band’s take on prog is equal parts Van Der Graaf Generator and a more contemporary Alt-Prog sensibility. Vocals are especially expressive in that Hamill or even David Bowie style, while that band are more or less all over with unusual, quirky starts and stops only every once in a while hinting at a symphonic approach. This music reminds me more of bands such as The Tea Club or Abigail’s Ghost. Most of the songs are actually quite short and yet still manage to offer many musical change-ups. The last three pieces form the album’s closer “The Empty Sky” which clocks in at just over 14-minutes. It’s a quirky, arty sound that holds plenty of promise. Check out

Band: Wilton Said
CD Title: Half Life

Band Website:  
Label: Independent Release
Label Website:
Release Date: 2011

It’s never totally clear if the band is called Wilton Said after its namesake founder or if Wilton Said is a solo artist with three musicians helping to craft his musical inspiration. It could be either…or neither…in the end it doesn’t really matter. Here’s what we know for sure; vocalist and keyboard player Wilton Said has been playing in bands in the Greater Toronto area since the early nineties and this is his latest musical incarnation. Consisting of Said (lead vocals, piano, keyboards) along with Richard Rizzo (drums), Frank Heisler (bass) and Chris Reid (guitars, ebow) and this is their latest recording entitled Half Life and it’s an odd collection of prog inspired pieces that never seems to land where you expect it to.
Half Life is a mere 37-minutes long, which in these days of 70-minute releases seems a bit light, until you remember that many of us were raised on vinyl where 40-minutes was the norm. It’s an eclectic set of tunes that’s easy to listen to in one sitting. There is quirkiness about the music of Wilton Said that comes from both the vocals and musical structures. The vocals hearken back to the heightened expressive style of David Bowie or Peter Hammill. While the music will meander along in one direction before taking unexpected twists and turns to wide up somewhere you wouldn’t expect. Its part symphonic prog and part Alt-prog. For example the opener, “Half Life” [9:50] begins with a series of distorted guitar riffs that build into a simple structure and then at the 3:00 mark the song transforms into something symphonic, then after a minute of that we’re treated to a long synth solo that hints at Rick Wakeman’s style. Then we’re back to the symphonic portion only played in a heavier fashion with more emphasis on guitar. Some songs like “Endorphin Crash” [3:35] tend to be more straight-forward rock pieces while a track like “Simple” [14:35] becomes more epic in scope taking us into more traditional prog territory.     
The music of Wilton Said is quite unique, both in terms of composition as well as performance. As I say it never goes where you expect it to and that’s really what we like about the prog genre, isn’t it? If you are looking for something that’s a little out of the ordinary and yet manages to touch on some familiar proggy notes you’ll want to investigate Wilton Said. Half Life has much to recommend and it quite an enjoyable listen.

Wilton Said: Prog Rock Indie Music Review
The Noise Beneath the Apple

What makes modern prog so unappetizing for so many people? Is it the fear that the cheesy synth solos will arise? Is it the concern that anything even distantly related to Iron Butterfly should stay forever encircled in the 70’s? Is it just that top 40 music is so darn good nowadays? (It certainly could not be that). No. It must be because they are lacking imagination and are intimidated by songs longer than they can count. Or it must be because they have not listened to ‘Wilton Said.’ Naturally, we will be going with the latter.
‘Wilton Said’ is modern prog-rock done weird. If this seems repetitious, then you have been listening to prog-rock entirely too safe. The group’s EP ‘Half-Life’ is a sprawling collection of oddities and musical casualties, tearing apart and reconstructing various sounds through a wide variety of genres. Just like any great prog-rock sensibility, Wilton Said seems to manipulate these sounds into a grand mosaic (some, of course, lastly upwards of 10+ minutes).
If you forgot why people dislike prog, the synth solo on the opening title track is a great reminder. It goes on a minute too long and a nearly insufferable 2 and half minutes, the song is just bookended by what ended up being a detour into the annoying. The exit from this passage is beautiful, not just in it finally being over by how the song was constructed seemingly around this distracting synth respite. Ultimately, it gouges the song.
Fortunately, Wilton Said shows slightly more comedic restraint on the following tracks. The surprisingly short ‘Bydlo’ contains a grandiose sound that was ironically cut a bit too short, acting as more of an interlink between the first half of the EP and the second. The EP is designed around ‘Simple.’ This 15 minute adventure reminds me wholeheartedly of Space Oddity-era David Bowie. Other influences arise with a little bit of Robert Smith crooning and Supertramp-level bizarreness- aside from the hook-friendly ‘Logical Song.’
Just like any excelled prog-rock musician, the respective front man of the group, Wilton Said, holds a degree from York in composition. You can hear it. This is no punk rock jam session, as the songs are constructed in brief passages, and the shorter songs go through just as many passages- just at a shorter length. Prog rock is about relishing the excessive, and in that, Wilton Said succeeds. The group pens together a multitude of puzzle pieces, changing the dynamic enough to keep the schizophrenics happy but still holding true to the genre’s main sensibilities- for better or worse.
Ryan Merkel

Wilton Said… Live at The Black Swan Feb 16th 2013

WOW!!! Wilton Said's show at the Black Swan last Saturday was incredible! They just keep getting better and better! They have improved after every show, but this was amazing! Delightful playing by the band, especially Chris Reid on guitar. He was at his clever best, subtle when he needed to be, but fiery and powerful when the music called for it! Also making a strong performance was Deb Ray. The last time he played with the band he was still new, and obviously struggled a bit with Wilton's complex compositions. This time, though, his playing was strong and powerful!
On drums is the always enjoyable Richard Rizzo. He brings so much to each performance, soft and melodic at times, thundering and exciting when called upon!
However, the big star of the performance was Wilton himself. His voice is stronger than ever, his ability to entertain was nothing short of dazzling! He always puts on an enjoyable show, but his showmanship is better than ever. He really seems to enjoy playing live, and puts so much into his shows. The light-hearted songs were delightful, although I must admit to being a bit disappointed that there were no costume changes during `Pretty' . I thought a bit of frockery, maybe even a wig, would be in order. Nope, all we got was a feather boa. A very nice, pretty red feather boa, but just a feather boa all the same. At one point Chris was adorned with said feather boa, but it simply ruined his Harry Potter look. Eventually it found its way off stage, hopefully to go on to lead a fulfilling life that feather boas aspire to. We can only wish it well.
However, Wilton Said at their most serious side were awesome! The classic `Empty Sky' was perhaps a shade understated compared to past performances, but the finale of `Half Life', the title track from the latest album, was nothing short of utterly magnificent! I was blown away by the passion, the fire with which they performed this powerful song.
A great show, again orchestrated by Wilton himself. The band definitely benefited from a longer set, and hopefully this is the start of bigger things for them. There was also a sizable crowd this time, which was a delight to see, for a change. We can only hope this will not be the last of such shows, because they bring prog music alive.
Doug Leblanc
Just How Pretty Is Wilton Said?

Right, well, Wilton Said has created a video for his song `Pretty' from
his album `The View'. Now, I can make a pun about this, but I won't. Not me.
For those of you unfamiliar with Wilton's song, a bit of an introduction might
be in order. `Pretty' is about a man who goes to a particular salon, and there
dons clothing and accoutrements normally associated with the female gender.
Yes. So, in this video Wilton is a man who does just that. The lighting is
effective, the sound is perfect, and the direction is wonderful. The outfits,
well, I'll leave that to your own personal taste.
What this video does do is demonstrate Wilton Said's remarkable ability to
entertain and delight, as well as, in this case, amuse. His is a different
point of view; a different look at life. He does it well, and with panache.
By the way, the title refers to a man who makes himself look pretty. Wilton
does not claim he actually is pretty in the video. At least, I don't think he
does. No, I'm sure that's not what he's saying. I hope I am not hurting his
feelings, or anything, but he's not. At least, in my opinion. Your opinion may
As for the video, it was done with style, taste, and humour. And at no time
could it be said to be a drag. Oops, sorry, I said I wasn't going to say that.
You can view the vid at:

Doug Leblanc
Review of NUANCE Show on Dec 2nd 2012

Sunday night's Nunace show was, once again, a big hit! We enjoyed the evening, and had a great time! Here are the reviews:

Ken Baird put on an excellent solo show at Sunday's Nuance show. He opened the evening, and played a variety of pieces from his career. He opened with the wonderful `Brave Anna' which is also the opening track of "Martin Road' his most recent album. He used two keyboards, and played both very well. He is an excellent keyboard artist, and his songs are powerful, emotional and evocative. One of the difficulties with a solo performance is that the album tracks are usually elaborately arranged with multiple instruments. In this case, though, Ken managed to capture the true spirit of his works, even using keyboards. He may not have the strongest voice, but he does put on a powerful performance. Definitely worth checking out!

Wilton Said put on another superb performance on Sunday. Wilton is a powerful front man, and adds strong keyboards to the mix. He obviously loves to perform, and does so very, very well. I have seen him perform many times before, and he keeps getting better every time!
However, his band is the real strength here. Chris Reid was again magnificent on guitar, and Richard Rizzo really shone on drums. Newest member Deb was also superb on the bass guitar. They provide the backbone to Wilton Said's amazing songs. There were a few technical glitches that were a bit annoying, but otherwise it was another great show by these tremendous performers!

The final band to perform were the oddly-named Zanzo. An instrumental quartet, they feature two guitarists, as well as bass and drums. They are a relatively new band, but you certainly could not tell that from their performance! The songs featured thundering bass and drum work, complimented by strong rhythm guitar and soaring lead guitar work! I know the name of one member, Peter Albrektsen, one of the guitarists. As I sat and listened, I could imagine myself soaring far above the clouds, racing across the sky in pure delight. A wonderful performance played by excellent musicians! I am sure we have not heard the last of this terrific band, and I look forward to seeing future performances, as well as recorded work.
Once more we have had a magnificent NUANCE show! All three artists were delightful and entertaining! There were a few technical glitches, but overall a great show! I know there are time constraints, but I can't help but wish for longer sets from the artists. Our deepest gratitude goes to Wilton for organizing this, as well as making it a toy drive for Christmas! I wish we could have larger audiences, though. The few of us that were there had a great time!

Doug Leblanc
Prognaut Review for Half Life

It‘s been 5 years in between the last Wilton Said album, The View (2006) and Half Life (2011). The evolution from album to album continues to better it‘s already wonderful slice of progressive & art rock music. I would say Half Life is a high point in the career of Wilton Said. Depending on who you ask, it‘s either a short album or just the perfect length at under 40 minutes. I would have preferred another 10 minutes, maybe in the form of one song but that’s just me.

The album is primarily made up of tracks under the 4 minute mark (“Endorphin Crash” (3:35), “Bydlo” (2:40), “Down” (3:40) and “City on the Water” (2:47)). Along with two long songs, the title track “Half Life” (9:50) and “Simple” (14:35), which in my opinion shows the music output in a more expanded form. Maybe on the next album, Wilton Said can explore this more.

In previous album reviews, I mentioned that there’s a Geoff Mann/ Freddie Mercury vibe coming from the vocal performance. Musically there’s a more DIY art rock vibe but more polished than previous efforts. If this peeks your interest, I would recommend Half Life as an entry point into the world of Wilton Said, and from there you can collect the other albums to fully appreciate the wonderful music they’ve put out since 1999.

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on September 22nd, 2012

Review of Half Life

So, this is Wilton Said's new album. If you're looking for happy prog,
something to hum to whilst burying bodies in the garden, this is not for you.
If you're looking for toe-tapping melodies to help while away the hours until
the next serial killer's trial, forget it. Background music for your next big
cannibal barbecue? Not this one.
However, if you're looking for heavy prog music that grabs you by the throat
and make you think and feel, then you've come to the right record. This is not
for the faint of heart. Easily Wilton Said's best work to date, it is powerful
and challenging.

Musically, it is the best work so far. The songs are intricate and evocative,
the playing is sharp and superb. They meet their own high standards for
performance, and surpass them. But that is not what makes this work so
superb. No, not even Wilton's usual aural gymnastics make this music so
outstanding.  The subject is what makes this record so powerful. Most artists would shy
away from such topics such as mental and emotional distress. Wilton embraces
it. In `Half Life', the title track, he describes the pain of mental anguish,
and how it can rip a person apart. Often the person's personality splits apart,
and creates a half life, in which a person can barely survive. The agony one
lives with is described perfectly.
The song `Endorphin Crash' is the closest thing to a light song on the album.
Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that block pain. They can create a
feeling of euphoria, but the aftermath can bring severe depression. Not an easy
song to sing along to, but the temptation to run up behind someone and yell
"ENDORPHIN CRASH!" is a bit overwhelming. It reminds me of Pink Floyd's
`Careful With That Axe, Eugene' where the title is whispered, then follows with
a scream. As teenagers we would sing along with it, to the great annoyance of
the neighbours, and anyone within earshot. Scared the crap out of the locals.
Not that I would ever do such a thing. Perish the thought.
`Down' is a hymn to failure, and society's expectations of personal failure.
Success is always welcomed, but failure is not socially acceptable. Failures
have few friends, and no one really cares about you. Such people are
tolerated, and when necessary, looked after. In nature, such creatures are
eaten. In our society, they are frowned upon. Kept out of sight. Hidden away.
Suppressed. This song captures the feeling perfectly.
`Simple' is anything but. It is a complicated song about trying to keep life
simple. In the concept, it is about trying to take control of one's life.
Trying to regain some measure of control in your life. It is an idea that
rarely works. In fact, it often leads to even greater depression, because we
really don't know how to simplify our lives. Indeed, Wilton's song is a very
powerful description of the failure to do so. The struggle is an old one, and
one many of us have to face at one time or another in our lives. The winners
survive. The losers… Well, there's always medication.
`City On The Water' is a gentle denouement – a song about relaxing. Is this
the solution? Or the result? The guitar work is remarkable here, very wavy and
slightly distorted. Sort of like what it's like to live in some sort of half
life. It's alright. You think. Hope. But you're not really sure, are you?

In all, a brilliant album. I believe it is Wilton Said's best to date.
However, as a person who suffers from severe depression, I wish he could have
chosen a better topic. However, it does show a progressive band in the depths
of its power. It also bodes well for the future, for if Wilton Said can tackle
such a sensitive topic, there is almost nothing they cannot articulate about. I
look forward to such future endeavors.

Doug LeBlancCanadian Progressive Music Society
Read my writing at:
Wilton Said... Review
CD Release November 26th 2011 at The Black Swan.

Wilton Said appeared last night at the Black Swan on the Danforth. It was the CD release party for his new work, `Half Life'. I was a bit concerned with things; after all, there has been a long layoff between shows for them. However, there was no need to worry. The band was as great! Chris Reid on guitar was as sharp as ever, blazing through solos with inspiration, and adding to the pieces with masterful precision. Nothing you wouldn't expect from this master craftsman.
Richard Rizzo on drums was superb, as well. Perhaps the most fiery of Wilton's band mates, he played with power last night, accentuating the songs where needed, and adding flare where wanted. He is a delight to watch, and a pleasure to listen to.
On bass the usual member Frank Heisler was missing in action. I suspect he has been kidnapped by aliens who have demanded Wilton perform songs from the `Sound Of Music' during the second set. Wilton has refused, thanks in part to artistic integrity, and thanks in part to a threat from Frank to place his bass guitar in the same position as the name of one of Wilton's earlier albums. This could be understood if one could imagine Frank's alien abductors to be gorgeous vixens with no moral inclinations whatsoever.

Actually, I have no idea why Frank wasn't there, but whatever the reason, it can't be as much fun as my explanation. However, his replacement was Debashish Ray. He had to follow along by using sheet music, and, at times, seemed to be lost in Wilton's extensive and elaborate arrangements. However, his playing was strong and supportive, as a good player must be. In fact, his playing was excellent, and brought some nice bass lines to Wilton's music.
Wilton himself was his usual delightful stage persona. His voice seemed to be a bit weak at times, especially early on, but by the end he was singing as well as ever. He told his usual delightful story at the start of `Pretty'; and I've always thought the album should have had the introductory story at the beginning.
As for the sets, he played a few surprises. Of course, a few of the songs included things from the new album. For me the star of the opening set was `Endorphin Crash', a masterpiece from `Half Life' that is delightful. He also played an odd piece, `Bydlo'; one of the songs from Mussorgsky's `Pictures At An Exhibition'. He felt, (rightly so, I must agree) that Emerson Lake and Palmer were remiss in not including in their famous prog work of so many years ago. Richard's drumming on this one was superb!

The second set included a few new songs. The song `Half Life' itself was incredible! I may have to rethink my favourite Wilton Said songs list! Another stand out was `City On The Water', a piece Wilton played by himself, and did extremely well. He also, unfortunately, played the Beatles song `Why Don't We Do It In The Road?', which he kindly dedicated to yours truly. Admittedly, the song is about as popular with me as itching powder in an athletic supporter, but that's just me.
However, there is one thing I must take umbrage with. There is a song in this world that is just plain evil. He played it on kazoo, of all things. The name of this Hymn To Horror, this Anthem to Angst, is `Manaha Manaha'. I say unto thee, such an evil little ditty has been heard during Black Masses, human sacrifices, and The Muppet Show. Of all the songs to get stuck in one's head, it is the most insidious. It has no lyrics to speak of, and has the effect of going around and around in the mind until insanity is the only possible result. Thank you, Wilton. I'll get you for it.

Which brings us to the difficult point of the day. For his final number, Wilton played `Empty Sky' the opus from `The View'. In introducing it, he dedicated it to the victims of 9/11, saying they died because of the U.S. government. Dead silence followed this announcement; a very uncomfortable silence. I can't help but wonder if this was wise. It may have had the effect of alienating possible fans, a course which is anything but wise. To my mind letting the songs do the expressing is adequate, but you certainly cannot question Wilton's musical integrity, so your mileage may vary. I vehemently disagree with him; but then, I think `Manaha Manaha' was written by Satan's hairdresser, so each to their own opinion.
In all another great night of music, as always, extremely enjoyable, and, as always, very, very entertaining.

By Doug LeBlanc
Canadian Progressive Music Society
Review of Wilton Said...'s "The View"

You know, part of the problem in doing a review of a progressive rock CD is that as a prog fan, you're almost certain to like at least parts of it before you even give it a fair hearing. It’s like asking a child what part of a chocolate bar he or she likes best. So, in doing a review of "The View" by Toronto’s Wilton Said... I must admit to a certain prejudice before I even gave it the customary three listenings.

The temptation is to roll out the usual list of superlatives in describing this work. Instead, I will list the faults with it. To start with, those who do not like progressive music are gonna HATE this. It drips progressive music, strange time signatures, lyrics that evoke feeling, music that is not at all easy to get into. If Mantovani and Lawrence Welk light up your day, give it a pass. If you’re looking for top ten material, songs that would sell soda pop, er, no.

But if you're looking for musical challenge, this album is for you. If Peter Gabriel and Fish are in your catalogue of prog, then add this one, and quickly. The music is powerful and evocative, the lyrics are startling in their clarity, the concepts challenging. "The View" literally gives you a different view of different aspects of life. The album opens with "Carnival?" with its carnival music, and the note "the wrong side of me". An excellent opening, and it only gets better. “Heavy Motion" gets things moving with a thundering bass line, followed by Wilton’s singing, changing from the heavier tone set earlier. The song is difficult with the time changes, but the band is more than equal to the task.

Which brings up an interesting point. Why is it that prog artists seem so much more talented, more capable, than there rock counterparts? Is it the music that brings out their abilities, or is it that the more talented musicians are drawn to the more demanding art form? Or is it various combinations thereof? At any rate, this work is a prog fan’s delight. Wilton himself is a master at stage presence, presenting different aspects of the music like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The songs presented on ‘The View’ capture that same quality. Again, you have to wonder why a band with this much talent, presence and entertainment can be so overlooked.

Incidentally, you might not want to listen to this if you’re nursing a hangover. I think you’ll find it can be quite disorienting. For those who like musical kaleidoscopes, it's a trip not to be missed!

By Doug LeBlanc
Canadian Progressive Music Society
Review of Wilton Said...'s CD Release Show for "The View".

“The place was called the Artist’s Play Theater, on Carlaw Avenue in East Toronto. A small place, with lots of room for everyone. The band was Wilton Said..., a Toronto based prog band. This was a CD release party, for their newest venture entitled ‘The View’. Those are the bare facts about what went on. For those who were there, though, there was much, much more.
This was a progressive music performance. The real thing. Genuine prog, not an imitation, not a pretence. Not a tribute to excellence of days gone by, but genuine progressive music in all its glory. The music is multi-faceted, like a diamond. Every song hit from a different angle, and presented a new outlook. I felt an excitement watching them perform; like I was seeing Yes again for the first time. Like experiencing Genesis in their youth. There was a brilliance, a fire about what they can do. They loved it, and we loved it.
The band is made up of four members, all of them accomplished musicians. Wilton Said is the leader; he played keyboards and sang lead vocals. Chris Reid played guitars with the wizardry of Steve Hackett, and the polish of Mike Oldfield. He provided back-up vocals, and did so well. But it was his virtuoso on the guitar that made him so powerful. The power of the drum and bass set were magnificent! Andrew Buntain on bass is a big man playing a big sound. He played a solo effort that blew the crowd away with a style I found very original. The drummer was the colourful Richard Rizzo, the man from Malta. When he needed to be, he kept the band in the strict timing that is essential to good prog. At such times he was in the background, subtle and driving. But when he came to the foreground, he was delightfully entertaining to watch! I’ve seen literally hundreds, if not thousands of drum solos in my life. I usually find them boring, but Richard made it exciting and interesting. As a good drummer should. Yet there was more. So much more. That would have been enough for good prog, but this was something more. For the essence of good prog is that it is an art form, art that reveals, art that demonstrates, art the laughs at human foibles and cries at its follies. This is the heart of what is Wilton Said. This is music that cries out to be listened to, to be seen in all its kaleidoscopic glory.
As the band played I could easily imagine a Muse stepping onto the dance floor. Her face was the face of Satan, but her body was the body of God. Her face was the face of pain, but her body was the body of joy. Her face was one of tears, but her body was one of laughter. She danced for joy, but her movements were of sorrow.
Those who left the theatre last night were very impressed with the performance. There were, sadly, far too few of us to have experienced true progressive rock in all its power and its glory. But all of us left with something special. All of us had the gift of music that is so important to us. And that’s what Wilton Said...”
Doug LeBlanc
Canadian Progressive Music Society
Wilton Said: The Butterfly Plague

Wilton Said returns with a fresh back-to-school style with this LP, The Butterfly Plague. The dizzying rock opera vibe on this record is at full strength in its instrumental parts, as are man rock operas. Initially, Said’s voice does not gel enough with the carnival-esque theme of the record. For fans of Said’s softer acoustic brand of pop, only the recurring raindrop sequences would fit their perception of the musician. Said and his backing band efficiently execute the different genres featured on this record, especially considering the difficulty of playing prog-rock. Then he briefly returns to his softer, subtle form for “Mom,” which is a song about his uncle… or his mom… or himself.

The most difficult part about listening to this record is getting rid of the associations one has with Said’s prior recordings. Comparing this record to his previous work, all that came before seems scattered when trying to identify his influences. With The Butterfly Plague, he hints at the Talking Heads, Frank Zappa and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and they can be heard all at once in “Bar.” Said is accustomed to impressing listeners with his mastery of musical compositions, but the lyrics on this album point to a man who is hurt when he is at his most introspective. A song such as “Outside” captures this essence perfectly and demonstrates the dichotomy necessary when looking inward. The crooning on this song is reminiscent of Morrissey’s earlier work, and on this track, he embodies the Morrissey/Marr dynamic of songwriting. I would not go so far as to say that he is as influential as are the two lads from Manchester, but he certainly does an impressive job at creating a lush atmosphere, be it musically or lyrically. The Butterfly Plague flows beautifully albeit at the enormous musical risks Said takes throughout the album. By the end of the record, Said makes his vision clear, but it is the listener’s duty to decipher it.

-Nessim Halioua

Left off the Dial review - Broken

Find this album and buy it right now. It's the most amazing thing I've listened to since the day my friend introduced me to the Hives. I usually don't promote anyone to this extent, but Wilton Said has a captivating voice. He's one of those singers that when you see him in concert, you most likely won't be able to get your eyes and ears away from him. Nowadays, most singers are like background to the music and only stand out when they're screaming. But Said has a way of letting his voice give a whole new perspective to the music being played.

The first track on this EP is "Broken Mind". Even before it jumps into a scorching guitar solo, you can hear the song's creativity. The second song, "The Gap" is really thoughtful; it seems as though Said is making a social statement about how The Gap designed for the masses with no style of its own. It's sad, but I don't know very many people who don't own at least one item from The Gap. I would brag about being one of those people, but it's not the time or the place. What is funny is that it seems meta-musical to talk about clothing in songs. Usually rock and roll influences the clothes that people wear, and then the clothes that they wear influence a performer's attitude onstage and the music that he's attempting to convey to the audience. Said has purposely turned all this around. Wilton Said is a multidimensional singer. Not only that, he's also a phenomenal guitarist. Another talented musician is his creep-scout friend, Chester, who plays kazoo on the barbershop quartet inspired, "All For You" Track five, "In a People Bar" is a social commentary of sorts. The way it usually works with geniuses is that they have trouble in settings where they are expected to participate in dialogue. This is very reminiscent of the Doors' "Whisky Bar" until the break of the song where Wilton Said turns into Black Francis' alter-ego. It really is one of the best tributes to the Pixies I've ever heard. The two ballads on this EP, "One" and "Confess," definitely sound like homages to either your ex-girlfriend or your favorite grandmother. I'm not sure; it could be both. Either way, this six-track sampling from Wilton Said has me foaming at the mouth for more.

-Nessim Halioua - Left off the Dial

Member: jlneudorf (Profile) (All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
Date: 7/16/2008
Format: CD (Album)

Wilton Said are a Canadian progressive rock outfit from Toronto and have been around since the late 90’s. This is the first I have heard of them, and it has been a pleasure listening to their latest album The View. This is pretty interesting stuff. I can hear bits and pieces of artists like Queen, Roxy Music, and David Bowie but in no way are they derivative. They have infused a classic guitar sound from the 70’s with a modern sensibility that sounds fresh and exciting. I found myself having a sense of nostalgia while listening to this record, but I did not find this to be a bad thing.

The album starts with a short carnival-like intro with interesting voicings which leads directly into the second song “Heavy Motion”. The song has a pounding bass and guitar that took me back to the 1970s. Wilton Said’s vocals are excellent with some nice falsetto that somewhat reminded me of Freddy Mercury, and that is not a comparison to be made lightly as we all know how tremendously talented he was. Also included is a neat little synth solo that made me think of Manfred Mann.

“Merry-go-Round” is a straight-ahead rocker which almost sounds like 1970’s Blue Oyster Cult during the chorus. The song ends with the same carnival-like sounds that opened the CD. “Pretty” features nice keys, and again has a BOC feel during the chorus. I can also hear Bowie in this one. Please do not get the wrong impression with some of my comparisons. These guys are not copycats and have developed their own unique sound by taking influences of the past and making a style all their own.

Tracks 7, 8, and 9 form the three-part epic, “The Empty Sky”. This is probably the most progressive song on the album and also my favourite. Very good keys, drumming, guitar, and nice tempo changes add to your listening pleasure. This one is not to be missed and makes for a rewarding listen.

The saying, “good things come in small packages”, is appropriate as this is a short record (about 35 minutes). In this day and age of 75 minute long concept albums this may not be such a bad thing and dare I say almost refreshing? I really enjoyed the time I spent with this disc and recommend you give it a listen, especially if you like any of the artists I previously mentioned. Being a Canuck myself I am proud to say this is one I highly recommend!

Rating: 8 (out of ten)
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
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The Butterfly Plague
This is my first exposure to the music of Wilton Said. I must admit I never heard of him before but that soon has changed upon several spins of his latest release, 'The Butterfly Plague'. It's by far one of the better, dare I say slightly more original progressive pop-rock bands to come cross my hands in a long while.. Wilton voice strongly reminds me of the late Geoff Mann especially on 'Circus alive', 'Mom', Halos' for example, other than that his voice is very fresh and unique.

The main styles that can be found on 'The Butterfly Plague' are rock, pop, prog and theatrical. The music isn’t that complex that even non proggrers can get into it. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite releases of 2004. If you’re looking for something with more originality than most releases and less metal based, then give Wilton Said’s The Butterfly Plague a try. Highly recommended and in my top favorites of 2004.

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on Novemeber 30th, 2004
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The View

Wilton Said returns in 2006 with the release of The View. This release contains some of most eclectic styles ranging from hard rocking to some dissonant singing to symphonic & art rock. On The View, the band explores several themes which makes up humanity and the way we view ourselves. All songs are sung with a flare that still reminds me of a blend of Geoff Mann and Freddie Mercury.

I enjoy each and every track on this album but to me the highlight is the 3 part of The Empty Sky. This one will surely lure in the symphonic and neo prog fans. Wilton Said has always, to my ears, has always thrown out the rule book on progressive rock and re-written it to suite their musical ideals. While, they stay within the song-based format, they stretch it out to include things that make up progressive rock.

With each release, Wilton Said refines themselves and while I enjoy their other releases, The View seems to be their defining moment to date. Wilton Said really brings back the fun and adventure in both the music and vocal aspects. Joining Wilton’s madness are Guitarist Chris Reid, Bassist Andrew Buntain and Drummer Richard Rizzo.

In closing, I would definitely say The View is highly recommended independent or otherwise release for 2006!

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on October 17th, 2006
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Broken/World up my Ass
I had the extreme pleasure to review Wilton Said’s 2004 release Butterfly Plague and was given the opportunity to review his previous works World Up My Ass and Broken. I decided to combine those reviews since Broken is rather short (under 30 minutes). Upon listening to both of these releases, I got a chance to hear how well Wilton Said’s music sounded early on in their career.

Wilton Said’s music is one of the most enjoyable progressive pop-rock bands to come cross my hands in a long while. Their music even has nods to the art and glam rock scene of the 70's like Queen, Roxy Music, Genesis, David Bowie and Be Bop Deluxe. The vocals are rather unique for this style of music, that’s usually plagued by Peter Gabriel and Jon Anderson wannabees. Even on these recordings Wilton voice strongly reminds me of the late Geoff Mann with small hints of Freddie Mercury.

If you’re tired of what the more popular bands are releasing these days, then I’d highly recommend that you explore this band’s albums as soon as you can. Your ears will thank you many times over. This is one of my favorite independent bands of all time.

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on May 10th, 2005
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Below is a review from the latest Progression magazine.

Wilton Said...
The View

Sound - 3, Composition - 2.5, Musicianship - 3, Performance - 3, Out of 4
Total Rating 11.5 out of 16

Wilton Said... is a Toronto based musician and also an ad-hoc quartet based around Wilton's singing and compositions, with three releases to his/its credit. The latest of which, 2006's The View, is a brief yet enjoyable visit into Wilton's world of idiosyncratic art-rock. Much like a less jazzy Land of Chocolate or more conventional Bubblemath, this band focuses on short-format tunes, but fills them to the brim with interesting material.
Lyrically, Said offers wry observations on what it's like to be human, coming to grips with our inherent foibles. Musically, the secret weapon is guitarist Chris Reid, who let's rip with a type of heartfelt, distorted angularity that made Television's Marquee Moon a classic. Reid is the rare prog guitarist who sounds more like Peter Buck than Steve Hackett, but the band is better for it as he lends grit to Said's unconventional writing.
Highlighted by "Merry-Go-Round" and album ending epic "The Empty Sky", this work should spur interest in Wilton's upcoming rock opera project. - Bob Short

Progscape Review/Bills Prog Blog

Artist: Wilton Said
Album: The View
Label: Private Release

Wilton Said (the band) AND Wilton Said (the musician) hail from Toronto Ontario. Said’s quirky mix of art rock influences (Queen, Bowie, Kate Bush battle with Sarah Slean and A Perfect Circle for prominence) is on full display on The View, his newest release.

Said holds a degree in Musical Composition from York University, and his contributions on vocals/piano/keyboards are joined by those of Andrew Buntain (bass), Richard Rizzo (drums) and Chris Reid (guitars). Sonically the band has forged a sound that focuses heavily on rock, with buzzing guitars, a punchy rhythm section, and Said’s dramatic, inflected vocals flitting in and out of the mix. The tracks on The View are pretty immediately accessible, but with enough quirk and twisted arrangement to move the band out of the mainstream. Art rock is quite possibly the best categorisation for their music, as it seems in many ways the logical extension of the direction bands such as Roxy Music or the Spiders From Mars took in the 1970’s.
“Carnival?” opens the album with found sound; children laughing in a sonic collage with calliope music and loops of undiscernable whispers and a strange vocal line. This shifts into “Heavy Motion,” which starts with a thick, rolling bass line and processed vocals. Wilton Said’s vocals are extremely flexible here, bending notes in a way that sounds extremely close to falling off the melodic line, before snapping back. The song itself goes through a number of changes, with heavy strummed guitar at 2:00 moving into a syncopated and brief bridge before a warped synth solo takes center stage.

“A Family Affair” opens like a restrained track, with dream like slide guitar and precious, fragile vocals, before said vocals are run through what sounds like ring modulation, moving the dream into nightmare territory. The song is an exercise in contrast, with alternating heavy sections adding tension to what is otherwise a pretty straightforward song.

Prog fans will likely go gaga over “The Empty Sky,” a 3-part mini-epic which closes out the album. The opening movement, “The View,” is a keyboard lover’s dream come true, with layers of organ, synth and piano battling over a pounding rhythm and thick rhythm guitar before the track shifts gears, bringing the speed down a notch while keeping the sonic richness as high as possible. An organ fanfare leads to clean, chorused, picked guitar reminiscent of 1980’s Alex Lifeson. “Goodbye,” the second movement, features laser beam sustained guitar lines, starting clean before adding fuzz and overdrive in ever drenching layers, over an orchestral synth foundation and militaristic drumming. The final section of this suite, “Fallen,” starts by picking up the pace with quick drumming and a propulsive organ line, before downshifting to a somber semi-dirge, with emotionally saturated guitar line and rich, mellotron-like synth textures. Said’s lyrics are sullen and somewhat distressing; a number of potential interpretations likely exist, all of which reek with finality. His vocal delivery on the three tracks that comprise this epic is the most dramatic and emotional on the album.

The View is an album packed with a variety of musical twists and turns. All the more amazing is that this is done in just over 34 minutes. In a modern musical environment where quantity is held as having far more importance than quality, it is a joy to listen to an album that hits hard and fast, with no throwaway tracks. The View is just that sort of album, and positions Wilton Said (the band) AND Wilton Said (the musician) as voices to keep an eye (and ear) open to.

Reviewer: Bill Knispel
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Soulshine review
Wilton Said
Album Title: The Butterfly Plague
Release Date: January 18, 2005
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Progressive

Brace yerselfs—Toronto indie rocker Wilton Said has just released his third CD “The Butterfly Plague” and throwing caution every which way but loose, Said has fingered the work a concept album. A freakin’ concept album! Typically a stage reserved for such dino-sours as Asia, Yes, and Spiro Agnew, it’s a gutsy move for Said and his street level chuckers but hey, I’ll be the first to admit that “The Butterfly Plague” is an oddly-affecting work. Blending elements of progressive rock, new wave and sub-Floyd poo poo, Said rigs these 13 tunes with layers of synth and sheen, buffering away the edges with belt sander-like guitar riffs and precision bravado. Sure, the level of pretense is practically through the roof, but you’ve got to give Said credit for (A) spitting out this pig on his own dime, and (B) having the guts to be making this kind of music in 2005, when the Fiery Furnaces and the Franz Ferdinand’s of the world are the pacemakers. And the best part about “The Butterfly Plague” is… the concept is utterly un-conceptual. Beats the heck outta me what links songs with titles like “Mom”, “Bar”, and “Close”. Maybe Said charges by the syllable or maybe he’s just hungry? Either way, “The Butterfly Plague” is a compacted slab of post-modern indie prog that’s heavy on heart and light on liver.

Writer: Cameron Gordon
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Listen to what Wilton Said
(Posted Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2004)
New songs meander in ’70s style cerebral rock

The music industry boundaries are mere ankle-high hurdles Toronto singer songwriter Wilton Said gleefully clears.

Thankfully, much of The Butterfly Plaque isn’t at all radio friendly, but its deliberate nod to ’70s progressive rock will make pals with ears belonging to most right thinking Discman owners.

And old acts like Genesis, Yes and Rush might take the familiarity offered by The Butterfly Plague as flattery and not infringement of copyright.

There are enough winding, jazz-inspired passages that linger beyond three minutes to give us all hope that not all up-and-comers or even music hobbyists are working to sound like a cooing Britney Spears or ultra-dull Sam Roberts.

Sure, some of Said’s new work might make us think of Spinal Tap ("No, we’re not going to play %@$#&* Stonehenge"), but that isn’t always a bad thing.

All of this, of course, is quite deliberate. Said purposefully steers clear of the unimaginative and mundane. He might also want to thank his band of musicians, including drummer Richard Rizzo, bass player Andrew Buntain and guitarist Chris Reid.

His last CD was recorded with a home studio and he performed his own guitars, lead and backing vocals, and keyboards. The only thing he didn’t do was play drums and manufacture the CD.

"I like to listen to and write rock music that’s a bit more challenging . . . in some cases, music that takes two of more listens to understand what’s going on," Said said.

"The same goes for lyrics. That’s what makes me happy and happiness is what it’s all about."

As for the words behind the melodies, he says most of what he has written for Butterfly is about "looking inward."

"There are so many situations where I’ve come across people who weren’t able to move forward in life because they haven’t looked inside," Said said.

"They haven’t discovered and acknowledged their own faults or perversions. As a result, they keep falling into the same pattern of unhappiness."

Butterfly follows 2001’s Broken, which followed his debut self-recorded World up my Ass.

Ho holds a degree in musical composition from York and lives in Toronto.

By Andrew Matte - The Town Crier