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

HAND. CANNOT. ERASE.

Steven Wilson

 

Crossover Prog

4.27 | 1420 ratings

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ElliotYork
5 stars HAND. CANNOT. ERASE. is the most complete and fully-realised musical achievement by prolific prog artist Steven Wilson - widely regarded as the king of modern progressive music.

This album has been described as "The Wall for the Facebook generation", however I'd like to make it clear that this comparison does this brilliant work a disservice. I am a massive Pink Floyd fan, and recognise them as one of the absolute greatest prog acts of all time, and The Wall as an influential concept album. However, HAND. CANNOT. ERASE. aspires to a level of emotion and musical beauty beyond what The Wall achieves. For all of the brilliant records released with Porcupine Tree, this album right here justifies his decision to separate the band and pursue his own solo endeavours. I do not believe he would have had the freedom to create something so gripping and so powerful without having full control of the reigns.

But you can't have reigns with beasts of burden to pull the cart along, and thus credit must be given to the excellent instrumentation provided by Guthrie Govan, Marco Minnemann, Theo Travis and Adam Holzman. Each of these masters is at the top of their craft for their given instrument, and demonstrate that on full display here. Wilson could not have amassed a more brilliant team of musicians to help him release this creative project. I'd also like to give a massive shot out to Ninet Tayeb, whose guest vocals provide a pivotal layer of magic to the tracks she appears on. Some fans have lamented that Wilson didn't hand over a larger percentage of the vocal duties to Ninet, and I agree to an extend - her voice is incredible and far more dynamic than WIlson's. However, I believe this works in the album's favour. Ultimately, the narrative the album is portraying is bleak, depressing and incredibly human; Wilson's fragile and understated vocals capture this perfectly, which only adds to the impact of Ninet's vocals when they do appear.

This is one of the few albums to have ever made me cry, and surprisingly so it wasn't do to the emotional narrative concept it portrays. Rather, the concept is equally communicated through the musical journey Wilson takes you on, with climaxes during "Ancestral" and "Happy Returns" resulting in a well of feeling breaking through.

Steven Wilson had already earned his status as the king of modern prog through his work with Porcupine Tree, his great results as a producer, mixer and re-masterer of other prog material, and the three excellent solo albums preceding this one. HAND. CANNOT. ERASE., however, removes any debate on the matter, and puts the man in a league of his own. This is the prog album of the decade, and an easy 5 stars.

ElliotYork | 5/5 |

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