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


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

4.29 | 1757 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I have to admit that Steven Wilson as an artist has been a slow grower for me over time, but due to the sheer immensity of his output, and the need to listen to his material more often to really appreciate much of it (particularly the softer, more delicate, bits), my appreciation for his music is now quite high, and I now have to pay attention to basically any stuff he puts out.

There are things such as In Absentia and Raven, which have tons of material that iss easy to love upon first listen and never look back. This album, on the other hand, and similar to much of the rest of Steven's work, takes multiple listens and some focused thinking about the subject matter to truly appreciate. I admit that I might perhaps be in the minority, as some folks appear to have loved this album right from the get-go, but I really have had to give this the benefit of time and persistence to fully appreciate.

Regardless of what might be said about this album and Steven's current status in general, let it be clear that his solo collaboration still sounds quite fresh. Generally avoiding even a hint of staleness with the volume of material associated with Steven is something to appreciate in itself. Part of this freshness must stem from the source: the haunting story of Joyce Carol Vincent, which has captured my thinking and imagination at least as much as the music itself. I'm not sure I would have learned about this case study without Steven's music, so thanks to him for that alone, as the penetrating themes of isolation, deindividuation and bystander effects only seem to be more prominent as the technological and virtual era marches on.

Now to the music!

Highlights: Home Invasion/Regret #9, 3 Years Older, Hand Cannot Erase, Ancestral. I'm basically listing these in order of my favorites on down, and like most, the Home Invasion/Regret sequence represents the best merging of Porcupine Style songwriting, psychadelic freakouts, and exception intensity and musicianship. Quite simply the best part of the album for me, although 3 Years Older is not far behind in terms of creative structure, melodies, and energy. The title track is also quite nice, as it is certainly poppy, but beautifully recorded and catchy. Finally, I almost hesitate to include Ancestral here, as is--sorry to say--disjointed in places, particularly toward the end. But the positives (haunting first half, interesting Magma-meets-metal vibe later on) outweigh the negatives (clunky transitions in spots, overextension of some of the riffing).

Overall, I'm more than happy to have this piece of music, as I--at least for the time being--keep coming back because it leaves me with questions and blurred images that need clarification. Long term, however, I will probably keep to my favorites and skip the whole album experience, because there just aren't quite enough interesting things happening musically in spots.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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