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Steven Wilson

Crossover Prog

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Steven Wilson 4  album cover
3.56 | 443 ratings | 13 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. My Book Of Regrets (9:23) *
2. Year Of The Plague (4:15) $
3. Happiness III (4:31) #
4. Sunday Rain Sets In (3:50) #
5. Vermillioncore (5:09)
6. Don't Hate Me (9:34) %

* Adapted from a Live recording Montreal 2015
$ Adapted from "The Raven..." album 2012/3 sessions recording
# Adapted from a "Hand.Cannot.Erase" 2014 album sessions recording
% Adapted from a Live recording Europe 2015 (written in 1998, prev. recorded by Porcupine Tree)

Total Time 36:42

Extra Tracks on 2016 Blu-Ray edition:
- Alternative versions -
7. My Book Of Regrets (Edit) (3:34)
8. Don't Hate Me (SW Vocal Version) (9:35)
9. My Book Of Regrets (Instrumental) (9:36)
10. Happiness III (Instrumental) (4:32)
11. Don't Hate Me (Instrumental) (9:37)
- Bonus Track -
12. Lazarus (3:58)

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven Wilson / vocals, acoustic (1-3) & electric guitars, piano & autoharp & Ghostwriter VI software (1), electric piano & sampler (2), Mellotron (1,4,6), Moog (6) & Prophet 6 (2,6) synths, bass (2,5), percussion, sound designer (5)

- Ninet Tayeb / vocal duet w/ S.W. (6)
- Dave Kilminster / guitar (1,6)
- Guthrie Govan / guitar (3)
- Adam Holzman / Hammond, Wurlitzer, MiniMoog, Fender Rhodes, piano, organ
- Theo Travis / saxophone (6), flute (4,6)
- Nick Beggs / bass, Chapman stick (5)
- Craig Blundell / drums (1,5,6), electronic drums (5)
- Marco Minnemann / drums (3)
- Chad Wackerman / drums (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Carl Glover with Lasse Hoile (photo)

LP Kscope ‎- KSCOPE917 (2016, Europe)

CD Kscope ‎- KSCOPE347 (2016, Europe)

BD Kscope ‎- KSCOPE529 (2016, xW) Full album in HiRes 96kHz/24bit both in Stereo and 5.1 mixes + 5 alternative versions & a bonus track

FLAC Kscope (2016, Europe) Standard bit-rate digital lossless files

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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STEVEN WILSON 4 ratings distribution

(443 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by LearsFool
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars Heading into this album, I didn't know what to expect. People who read lots of PA reviews of Steven Wilson's various projects will know that I am a longtime fan of the man who was massively disappointed by "Hand. Cannot. Erase.", finding it dull and generic, and with the "Transience" combined starter compilation/limited edition vinylhead-superfan-only release, featuring a weakened cover of "Lazarus", I've been very cautious of his non-Bass Communion work, wondering if he's not just running out of ideas on the solo front but perhaps fishing for sterling. On the other hand, this is an outtakes collection of his, which fellow fans know are veritable treasure chests, with Porcupine Tree's "Recordings", culled from the "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun" sessions, a must have, and Continuum's "Recyclings" duology extra treats for big fans of BC and Vidna Obmana's drone collaborations. Being apparently drawn mostly from the HCE sessions gave me particular pause, but I decided to try the release anyways. And why not?

Now, there has been disappointment with part of the album. "My Book of Regrets" was particularly bad, just being an extended version of "Regret #9", already one of HCE's worst tracks. With a title like that, I had been expecting some kind of new track or medley of the Regret tracks, not this disguised bonus track. "Happiness III" is itself a cut that would've fit snugly onto that album, with not much to say about it, though I personally prefer it to all but the first two tracks of HCE.

But then there's the happy surprises. Apparently only one track is sourced from the sessions for "The Raven That Refused To Sing", but "Year of The Plague", "Sunday Rain Sets In", and "Vermillioncore" all sound like they could fit perfectly onto that beautiful piece of popcorn prog, and as a big fan of said album this has me over the moon. The first of these is probably the track actually from the "Raven" sessions, a delicate instrumental with guitar and mellotron. "Sunday Rain" is definitely from the HCE sessions, and it wonderfully marries the styles of "The Raven" and HCE, which I'd say shows what was missing from the latter. And "Vermillioncore" takes "The Raven"'s sounds and marries them with PT style rock-unto-metal progressions, making for a thrilling cut. Finally, the PT cover this time around, "Don't Hate Me", while not quite as good to my ears as the original, compares well, again marrying "Raven" and HCE styles, with Ninet Tayeb beautifully singing the chorus.

On its own, this is another great treasure trove for superfans of Swilson. On top of that, I note that I now know what went wrong with HCE, as well as the fact that album five looks better now, since this is a nice release and Wilson has hinted that this release is in a way related to the upcoming one. Also, I'm totally making a mixtape out of "The Raven" and the three Raven-esque tracks from this compilation.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Steven has come back, with six easy-to-soak songs upon the newest album "4 1/2". Actually, I'm not so familiar with his creation until now enough to discuss his music style or album itself, but his previous album "The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)" has amazed me a lot ... anyway, I could listen to and enjoy "4 1/2" with fresh feeling, whether "The Raven ..." is fantastic or not. Able to mention this album should sound like his straight attitude for pop / rock, not so innovative nor novel though. Indeed the first shot "My Book Of Regrets" has a couple of variations scattered along with his soundscape, but his music basis sounds consistent from the beginning to the end ... Various phrases squeezed can be heard as a mass of rock. This mass cannot be divided into pieces (pop and anti-pop) ... can you?

"Vermillioncore" is another heavy and cool starshine around him. Tight but distorted vibes kick us away. Her vermillion would be attractive, mysterious, and poisonous ... that could kill us swiftly only if we touch this, I imagine. Such an obvious risk and benefit he might launch via this track. Aye for him, rainy Sunday might be a colourful day, I guess through "Sunday Rain Sets In". To run and hide our heads should not always be needed under the Sunday rainy sky, but be careful to get drastic shower or dreadful thunder / lightning sometimes attacking us ... he says upon this colourful stuff. Quite simple but enjoyable. And yes, "Year Of The Plague", almost a solo track by Steven, is one of my favourite songs. We must get immersed in river-flowing-out-like rhythm prints and dreamy, heartwarming melody lines ... he might show something veiled in his inner meditative world for grabbing our serious, sincere reaction in front of the song out.

And as a result ... I suppose all of his sincerity for music would be expressed over the last song "Don't Hate Me", that sounds of kaleidoscopic appearances. Sometimes quiet, sometimes violent (Theo's freakout saxophone is pretty effective), sometimes depressive, and sometimes enthusiastic ... and every vision repeats over and over on a regular basis. This atmospheric tide formed by Steven Project cannot be avoided at all. Every rock fan can enjoy this fantastic rock dish, I'm sure!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Modern progressive music icon and workaholic Steven Wilson could have rested on the popularity of his very well-received `Hand. Cannot. Erase' and `The Raven that Refused to Sing' albums and successful tours of recent years, (or better yet, got to work on a long awaited new Bass Communion album, hint hint!), but noooooo! He jumps right back a few months later with a superb budget-priced 37 minute compilation entitled `4 1/2', a reference to it being a stop-gap release before his next proper studio album. Sounding like a perfectly coherent true album as opposed to simply a selection of outtakes and newly completed original fragments that it is, it's comprised of three vocal driven tracks and just as many purely instrumental pieces that should please the faithful Wilson devotees that lap up his every release, but it also holds a few genuinely exciting and unexpected welcome surprises buried within as well.

The highlight of the disc is the opening almost ten-minute stunner `My Book of Regrets', an unpredictable mix of indie-rock, observational lyrics with a deceiving poppy chorus and plenty of proudly prog-rock instrumental flourishes over a range of tempos and numerous soloing spots. But the best surprise of all, Steven delivers a guitar solo in the middle that almost calls to mind all those beautiful Delirium Records-era Porcupine Tree releases like `Staircase Infinities', a spacey and chiming ethereal performance that compliments perfectly the finale of `Dark Matter' off Porcupine Tree's classic `Signify' album. Overall it's a terrific piece that covers plenty of ground both current and historical that Steven Wilson and his previous band Porcupine Tree moved through, and most prog rock fans should absolutely adore this one.

Thankfully the rest of the disc also offers very superior material. An outtake from the `Raven' recording sessions, the mysterious shimmering electric piano of instrumental `Year of the Plague' quickly gives way to reflective acoustic guitar, piano and a mix of sampled violin, choir and orchestral elements to give the piece a warmth and great heart. Written in 2003, recorded in 2014 with the musicians from the `Hand. Cannot. Erase' sessions, `Happiness III' reveals itself as one of those rare up-tempo and spirited intelligent (not to mention quite upbeat and joyous!) pop-rockers from the artist, powered by jangling distorted electric guitar strums, humming Hammond organ and a pleasing chorus.

Also from the same `Hand...' sessions, instrumental `Sunday Rain Sets In' (unsurprisingly) moves between gloomy and ghostly eerie instrumentation (some nice darkly jazzy piano runs here and there), but thankfully Steven's acoustic guitar brings little traces of warmth. Sadly, an obnoxious and thrashing heavy burst in the final quarter of the piece for only a few seconds is completely lazy and ruins the beautiful subtle mood the piece was drifting through.`Vermillioncore' just may be the best instrumental piece of all on the disc, a delirious and addictive mix of glistening electric piano, Elephant9-like organ violations and twitching electronics, relentless upfront bass with some heavier guttural spasms, gutsy guitar heaving and even Hawkwind-like up-tempo heavier races.

The album closes on a remake of the wonderful Porcupine Tree track `Don't Hate Me' from their terrific 1998 crossover album of prog rock and indie-pop `Stupid Dream', and while it hardly reinvents the piece completely, it's a worthwhile reinterpretation with plenty to offer. Certainly at the start it badly misses Colin Edwin's thoughtful and distinctive bass murmurs throughout the early verses, sounding quite naked and empty in comparison. A lot of listeners greatly enjoyed female singer Ninet Tayeb's contributions to the `Hand...' album, and she offers a very pleading alternative approach to the chorus compared to Steven's fragile and wounded original. But thankfully the middle instrumental passage lifts the track considerably, a frantic dash of spiralling electric piano, thrashing drum rumbles and bouncing fluid bass raised loud and proud all worthy of any Seventies jazz-fusion album, and Theo Travis delivers another gorgeous Gong-flavoured sax solo, a standout on both versions of the piece.

`4 1/2' is very much comparable to Porcupine Tree's b-sides and unreleased material release `Recordings', which was far more than some mere throwaway compilation (It could be argued that it's much more challenging and complex than the two proper studio albums `Stupid Dream' and `Lightbulb Sun' that came from the same sessions), and it proves that even apparently `lesser' Steven Wilson compositions may just be as worthwhile or even far superior to the strongest outwork of endless other progressive artists. Full of his usual intelligent ideas, plenty of his expected modern and vintage musical influence variety and impressive playing from his musical collaborators, `4 1/2' keeps Steven Wilson's reputation soaring nicely, and fans of both Porcupine Tree and his solo works will be very happy with the results here.

Four stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This release by Steven Wilson in 2016 is not exactly an album. It's a compilation of tracks recorded in the past few years, a few leftover songs from his last two studio albums, some outlying songs not yet released, and one live version of a Porcupine Tree piece, from Wilson's 2015 tour.

The star of this album, to me, other than Wilson's always perfect production, is bassist Nick Beggs. His playing seems to lift even the most mundane spots to higher levels.

The songs, from worst (relatively) to best:

"Year Of the Plague" - recorded during the "Raven That Refused To Sing" sessions and "Sunday Rain Sets In" - from the "Hand. Cannot. Erase." sessions are both somewhat short, low key instrumentals, that sound to me like they were meant to just carry along a theme on the aforementioned albums. They are nice, but on their own here, not memorable out of context.

"Happiness III", also from the "Hand. Cannot. Erase." sessions, is a nice psychedelic piece, based on a minor/major 2-chord progression that too many lesser bands overused in the 1970s.

"My Book of Regrets" is a more typical Wilson piece, starting with an alt-rock sound, and building to pure modern prog. Much of this was recorded live, and then overdubbed in the studio, but just as in many of Frank Zappa's similarly produced works, the issues usually apparent in live recordings do not come through.

"Don't Hate Me", known from the 1998 Porcupine Tree version, played live by Wilson's recent touring band, starts out nice, but when Beggs' bass takes off, it lifts the piece to new heights.

The crown jewel of this disk is "Vermillioncore", which starts out with a smooth jam, reminiscent of King Crimson's "A Sailors Tale", and builds to a crescendo which sounds more like the 2000's version of the same band. Beautiful piece.

Then album is short for these days, coming in at 36 minutes. And as a leftovers collection they don't always flow together.

So. the songs range from somewhat good to great. I'd rate the album 3.5 stars, but I'll round it down to differentiate it from the absolutely 4 star albums "The Raven That Refused To Sing" and "Hand. Cannot. Erase."

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars In my time writing reviews here on Prog Archives I've shared my thoughts on Steven Wilson's various projects that have taken mostly the form of gushing, enthusiastic praise, though there have certainly been a few works that have sunk into the 2-star territory for me; usually it's one or the other extreme. With 4.5, Mr. Wilson has inspired me to a new level of feeling, one that fits completely into the 3-star description of "good but not essential." This album is fine; it's not great, not bad, just fine. I'm not sure if this would be taken as criticism by Steven, if he were to read this, but for me, 4.5 is one of least challenging records he's yet released. However, it's far from a bad album, and doesn't diminish his overall trend of producing excellent music.

Basically, this short album is a collection of approachable songs played in his band's contemporary style (meaning, sounding a lot like moments from Hand.Cannot.Erase). It's highly instrumental, busy, and likeable. "My Book of Regrets" is a varied and dynamic song that features the whole band jamming nicely to a dramatic sequence of tempo and tonal changes. It works well, and is probably the best track of the record.

Three of the four other songs are instrumental, and are nice experiences though disconnected and sound more like ideas that completed works. One can't objectively criticize the musicianship of Wilson and his collaborators; they're simply stellar, and exceptional at playing to the high's and lows of dynamics that Wilson has used throughout his career to create emotion in his music. This is especially heard in the heavy and complex "Vermillioncore." This guys are freaking great, but the end result feels incomplete.

The revisited "Don't Hate Me" is a nice treat, being a forgotten gem from Porcupine Tree's earlier catalog; unfortunately, it showcases how much sharper and interesting Wilson's writing was during that period of his career - at least when juxtaposed to the other songs on 4.5. The lyrics especially show Wilson skimming the surface of his skills as writer and storyteller. It sort of sums up my feeling of this record as a whole, as undeniable talent that, in the end, makes something that's just OK.

For fans of Wilson's work, I recommend this album as a fun diversion that you can play at parties without making people wonder what the hell kind of music you're into. If you're a casual fan of Steven Wilson, you'll probably enjoy this record, but it may not convince you to explore his discography more. If you're a Steven Wilson hater, keep on hatin', because 4.5 is mostly more of the same.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars Well we're five studio albums into Steven Wilson's solo career and I'd rate this one as the third best after my favourite "Insurgents" and "Grace For Drowning". "Insurgents" and RIVERSIDE's "Love, Fear And The Time Machine" were influenced greatly by the darker music of the 80's which clearly is my thing. The last three albums by Wilson have their more commercial side but that sad melancholy is always present thankfully as it is here. All but one of these tracks were adapted from either live songs or songs from an album session that were not used at the time. The one that wasn't either of these is "Vermillioncore" a lights out instrumental.

"My Book Of Regrets" has a cool little guitar intro as Steven comes in with vocals and soon everyone is playing. This is catchy with meaningful lyrics. The chorus is more powerful than the versus. Check out the instrumental break from 2 1/2 minutes to 5 1/2 minutes. That section starts with strummed guitar before Beggs comes in with some huge bass lines and the drums help out as well. Some nice guitar work before it settles right down and the vocals return. What a beautiful contrast with these warm vocals and that drifting sound with the earlier instrumental bombast. This is so uplifting even after Steven stops singing. It starts to pick up again before 8 1/2 minutes with vocals.

"Year Of The Plague" is a short instrumental that recalls PORCUPINE TREE with the keys that echo in this dark and ambient soundscape. Intricate acoustic guitar replaces the keys. It's simply gorgeous after 2 minutes and the piano returns late. This is all Steven Wilson by the way except for the piano by Holzman. "Happiness III" opens with the sound of traffic as strummed guitar and reserved vocals take over. Some outbursts before a minute and the vocals become stronger. Man it's so uplifting 1 1/2 minutes in then it picks up with organ and more. Love the soaring guitar from Guthrie 3 minutes in and the prominent bass. Some vocal melodies from Wilson as well.

"Sunday Rain Sets In" opens with keys that echo as flute joins in. This is very mellow until the drums, bass and piano come in around a minute. Laid back guitar before 2 minutes then we get more depth of sound. Beautiful stuff. Some sweeping mellotron then some outbursts 3 minutes in but they are brief as it calms right down with flute, keys and sparse guitar sounds. "Vermillioncore" is where they hit us with some complex, bombastic music with a strong jazz flavour. Yeah this is impressive. Beggs plays Chapman Stick too. This is a nice change from the rest of the album, these guys have chops.

"Don't Hate Me" is a PORCUPINE TREE cover(gasp). When I saw the song title before I listened to it I was hoping it wasn't the song from "Stupid Dream" even though I like it I just have never been over the moon about it. Well it is that song and they nail it! They've Steven Wilsoned it I suppose. It's still very sad but we get a complex instrumental section plus Ninet Tayeb guests singing on the chorus each time to great results. So much atmosphere to begin with then the drums start to beat and Steven comes in vocally. Again Tayeb comes in on the chorus and she's so good, what a unique voice. Check out the jazz instrumental break starting before 3 1/2 minutes. Love the fender rhodes here and the drumming. When the electric piano stops it turns very psychedelic, so much atmosphere here. The vocals are back before 8 minutes, Ninet to be exact. Love the guitar after 8 1/2 minutes to end it.

Yeah I'm a massive Wilson fan, his voice and his sad, melancholic music will always be my comfort place.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Steven Wilson's 4 1/2 is a mini-LP (Wilson's words) of music recorded between HAND CANNOT ERASE and THE RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING. This is Steven Wilson, so the music is going to be worth our attention. As the official Allmusic (great website by the way) review suggests, "Year of the Plague" is ... (read more)

Report this review (#1902742) | Posted by thwok | Sunday, March 11, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4 and a half is a ''mini album'' by prog icon, Steven Wilson. The album consists of tracks that for whatever reason have not made made it onto past albums, with one song originating from the Deadwing sessions all those years ago. The album starts with the opening track, My Book Of Regrets. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#1566769) | Posted by tomprog | Wednesday, May 18, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.2 Stars. A decent B-sides album 4 1/2 is listed in most places as Wilson's fifth solo album, although really that is not the case. This album is basically an EP compilation of various songs that did not get used on major albums + an alternative version of a old Porcupine Tree favorite "Don ... (read more)

Report this review (#1558559) | Posted by LakeGlade12 | Tuesday, May 3, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Having read in a review, how high anyone's expectations should be before listening to any EP from Wilson, I right away told myself that I could not agree more. Why? Well, Nil recurring, for one, is not just the best EP I have ever heard but is also an amazing prog rock journey through everything I e ... (read more)

Report this review (#1540471) | Posted by Porcupineapple | Wednesday, March 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Review #18 I have been a fan of Porcupine Tree since I don't remember when. When Wilson decided to leave the band aside and follow a solo career I was kind of disappointed, but I continue following his solo works. I have all his solo albums in my collection, with 'Insurgentes' being the only e ... (read more)

Report this review (#1534461) | Posted by The Jester | Wednesday, March 2, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Four and one-half - A surprise, in-between interim bridge-between album from workaholic master composer maestro mixer masterer overachiever extraordinaire Steven Wilson! Jumping in, I'm caught by both stylistic and technical change from recent material - the 36--minute effort finds (forgive the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#1520456) | Posted by Timdano | Tuesday, January 26, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Steven Wilson's new EP, "4 1/2", is finally here. Referred to as a 'mini album', this record had to live up to almost impossible expectations set by Wilson's fan base after "Hand. Cannot. Erase", his latest masterpiece. The question is, did it live up? Not exactly, but it it's definitely great i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1518499) | Posted by TheWall7 | Saturday, January 23, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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