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


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.30 | 1605 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Steven Wilson's latest endeavor takes us to a more "song" oriented album but with plenty of adventerous and innovative instrumental excursions to keep most Prog fans happy. I really think his other job in re-mixing seventies classics has had a very big influence on the way he made this album. The common factor with the classics by GENESIS, YES, KING CRIMSON etc. was the ability of these bands to make accessible and melodic tunes but at the same time veer off into experimental and complex instrumental passages. I feel that same connection with "Hand.Cannot.Erase". This is the first solo album from Wilson that made me think of PORCUPINE TREE quite often, yet it still has that aspect that made me think of some of his earlier solo stuff.

This is a concept album of sorts based on the strange story of Joyce Carol Vincent who was found dead in her apartment and she had been there dead for almost three years. When Steven watched the documentory on her life he just couldn't get it out of his head so here he relays a fictional story inspired by the real life story of Joyce Carol Vincent who was 38 years old at her death and by all accounts popular and attractive. So how did no one find her sooner? Steven weaves a story about a female who grows up and moves to the city and becomes isolated, lonely, nostalgic of her childhood, and he also delves into the internet aspect of her life and how it connects to these things.

So this story is being told from a female perspective but mostly it's her internal thoughts and the more isolated she becomes the more her thoughts become surreal. Steven decided to look for a female singer for some of this music because of this and was looking for a Kate Bush- like singer and it wasn't until he heard Ninet Tayeb at Aviv Geffen's suggestion that he found his singer. Man she has an amazing voice.

Some excellent guests on here including Dave Gregory the former lead guitarist for XTC one of Wilson's favourite bands as well as Dave Stewart once again helping with arrangements and more. My oldest daughter got me this through I-Tunes and it's interesting how on that download he combines "First Regret" and "3 Years Older" along with "Home Invasion" and "Regret #9" and "Happy Returns" and "Ascendant Here On".

"First Regret" is 2 minutes of hearing children laughing in the background as atmosphere rolls in and builds. It all stops as relaxed piano melodies and atmosphere take over. Drums are added late. "3 Years Older" features strummed guitar that takes over quickly followed by a full sound. I'm in heaven and check out the drum work. Killer bass lines follow then a RUSH-vibe before the guitar solos over top. It calms right down as Wilson's reserved vocals arrive. The vocal harmonies are a pleasure, very CSN&Y-like. "I will love you more than you will ever know" is a cool line. It kicks in hard but then settles quickly with piano. So much emotion here. Themes are repeated then we get an incredible instrumental workout late to the end. That RUSH vibe is back late. "Hand.Cannot.Erase" is one of the most addictive songs i've heard, especially the chorus. This has a driving rhythm and great lyrics.

"Perfect Life" is another catchy tune with emotion. Atmosphere to start then a drum machine as spoken female words arrive from a British actress. Steven comes in vocally on the chorus. This is simple but so emotional. The collage of instrumental sounds is breath- taking. "Routine" is a track that many have said is the best song on Wilson's current tour. Ninet Tayeb sings on this one and her voice has such character. Fragile vocals from Wilson and relaxed piano to start. My God! It picks up some and atmosphere is added. Ninet follows and man this is so emotional. A calm 3 minutes in until it picks up after 4 minutes and my emotion is triggered once again. A beautiful guitar solo follows then Ninet is back vocally after 5 minutes. Damn! She blows me away before 6 1 /2 minutes.

"Home Invasion" just slays. We get some Funk, Jazz and spacey sections, the latter that recalls early PORCUPINE TREE. Man Holzman kills on the keyboards here, but they all impress instrumentally. Vocals 3 1/2 minutes in and they sound determined. That spacey passage comes in after 4 minutes. Love this tune. "Regret #9" is an instrumental with a moog solo and even some banjo. An insane moog solo kicks in fairly early and goes on and on as it builds in intensity followed by an amazing guitar solo. The last minute is reflective with the sounds of children in the distance. "Transience" has reserved vocals and picked guitars with atmosphere. STORM COROSSION comes to mind here. The drifting harmonies remind me of PORCUPINE TREE.

"Ancestral" is the longest track at 13 1/2 minutes and it would have fit well on "Grace For Drowning". Wilson's voice sounds different here and Theo Travis plays sax and flute. So much depth before 4 minutes then a guitar solo. Ninet is back vocally with these vocal melodies before actually singing words. Love the guitar that follows. This is dark with some killer drum work as it builds. Kicking ass 7 minutes in, mellotron too. It's mind bending after 8 1/2 minutes and they lay the soundscape waste a minute later. An amazing guitar solo follows. "Happy Returns" is laid back with piano as strummed guitar and vocals join in. It gets fuller and the words and vocals bring emotion. A full sound 2 1/2 minutes in, so beautiful a minute later. Love the guitar late that is followed by a haunting atmosphere. It blends into "Ascendant Here On" as piano joins in and the faint sounds of children.

What can I say? This will probably be my favourite album of 2015 and it's a top three Wilson album for me with "Insurgents" and "Grace For Drowning".

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |


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