The Old Peace is a one-off collaboration between Progressive Rock heavy-weights Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and No-Man) and Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul). The song came about after Alec Wildey, a 26-year-old self-published poet from Fairport, New York and fan of Steven and Mariusz’s work, found out that he had cancer of the lymphatic system, which was soon followed by a diagnosis of liver cancer.
Realising that he didn’t have long left, he contacted Steven Wilson and asked if he would consider putting one of his poems to music with Mariusz, a long-held dream he hoped to fulfil. Both musicians agreed. Sadly, Alec died a few weeks later and never got to hear the results of the collaboration. Wilson and Duda pressed ahead with the recording, as a tribute to Alec and his memory.
The Old Peace is a moving performance, with haunting, rich harmony vocals, and a sparse instrumentation. The majority of the song is sung by Steven Wilson, who also contributes M-4000 mellotron, keyboards and percussion. The music to accompany Alex Wildey’s words was written by Mariusz Duda, who also plays the acoustic guitar parts and contributes additional lead and harmony vocals.
Even if you don’t know the backstory to The Old Peace, it’s a beautiful song that has elements of both Wilson’s recent solo work and that of Duda’s Lunatic Soul project. Both singers’ voices blend perfectly and the harmonies are delicious. It’s clear that if these two artists chose to work together again, the result would be spectacular. As well as appealing to fans of modern progressive music, The Old Peace has a hint of the early 70’s Laurel Canyon / LA sound.
Kudos to Steven Wilson and Mariusz Duda for creating such a beautiful tribute to one of their fans, and at the same time raising money that will directly benefit people of all ages who need treatment and support for cancer. The Old Peace by Steven Wilson and Mariusz Duda is available to buy as a download release – until the end of January 2015 from Burning Shed, with 50% of the proceeds going to the medical centre that cared for Alec during his final months, and 50% going to cancer support charities.