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Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase. CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.30 | 1605 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars The fourth Steven Wilson album has been out for around three months now, yet has not attracted as much feedback from Prog Archives readers as previous albums. Ratings are almost identical to the previously lauded "The Raven That Refused To Sing", but significantly lower in volume - 485 ratings at the time of this review. Which begs the question why?

Is the album too polarising? Some of the negative criticism suggests that it is too "pop" sounding in early stages, particularly the catchy title song. The criticisms remain until the latter part of the album. Other critics like the first half of the album finding it so very different to the previous albums. Some Porcupine Tree fans have noted that the title track is a return to some of the catchy singles of the Halo, Lightbulb Sun, Even Less and Stranger by the Minute era.

Too electro-pop? Perfect Life is a heavily electronic-influenced song that sounds like it has a drum-machine accompaniment, yet credited on the album to Marco Minneman. Just because something sounds like it was manufactured by a machine does not always mean there wasn't a human element.

Too different from the previous 70's style that drew so much acclaim for TRTRTS? Wilson himself has said he was very happy that they were able to emulate that era and used analogue recording techniques under the skilful engineering of Alan Parsons. HCE is totally different and firmly recorded in the 21st Century using plenty of digital techniques, as anyone who has seen the documentary on the Blu-ray (or on the three smaller teasers on Steven Wilson's website) would testify.

Or is it that people are now so comfortable that Wilson is going to produce a skillful, well-engineered, balanced and thought-provoking, boundary-pushing album that they are almost too bored to comment?

It's taken me a few months to rate this album, and it is not because of tedium, more so keenness to see what others think. In short the album is an essential collector ? for all of the reasons above. After listening to the deluxe edition 5.1 Blu-ray, the conceptual flow, musical clarity and sheer dynamism of the album is amazing. Fans have rated Ancestral as a classic, while others have appreciated the 70's style 3 Years Older combination of swirling keyboards and electric/acoustic guitars so reminiscent of The Who, Yes, Crimson and so many others. Yet is sounds so fresh and alive.

Regret #9 has enough keyboard sounds to satisfy Symphonic Prog lovers with a blistering guitar Solo from Guthrie Govan using a noiseless pickup Fender he had borrowed.

As other reviewers have noted all of the previous album's band members contribute, along with surprises like Nina Tayeb's amazing vocals showcased brilliantly on Routine and Katherine Jenkins' spoken part on Perfect Life. Guest appearances by other musicians (checkout the album liner), including a boy choir and soloist add to a richly diverse album. Many musicians would struggle to make such an amalgam of the above as well as mellotrons, banjos, moogs, electronica sound like music, yet the end result is an album that is cohesive, tight and very memorable.

An excellent album that deserves to be called a Masterpiece as much as TRTRTS has.

And a challenge to those that marveled at TRTRTS and felt compelled to review it and have not done so for this one - What do you think?

DBJ2020 | 5/5 |


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