Steven Wilson is best known for fronting the alternative progressive rock group, Porcupine Tree. In 2008, Wilson debuted his first solo album, Insurgentes, followed by two more LPs featuring the likes of Tony Levin, Jordan Rudess, Theo Travis, Nick Beggs, Guthrie Govan, Adam Holzman, Marco Minnemann, and many more virtuous and prolific musicians. The English songwriter will be releasing his fourth record, Hand. Cannot. Erase., on February 25th (Japan), February 27th (Germany/Switzerland), March 2nd (UK), and March 3rd (North America) via Kscope. The concept album revolves around Joyce Vincent, a 38 year-old girl who died alone in 2003 and remained undiscovered for over two years. You can view Alternative Nation’s review below.
Layers of electronic ethereality stack themselves upon a rainy day-esque piano piece as opener “First Regret” transitions into the multiple personalities of “3 Years Older,” which juxtaposes the lulling qualities of synth and acoustic guitar with progressively tense percussion and bass before harmonic vocals are smoothly cued in. For the title track, Wilson follows a more whimsical melody pieced together by the continuous flow of lively strings and keys. Similar to the previous composition, “Perfect Life” takes on a more pop-oriented chorus while still possessing an industrial edge. “Routine” serves as a divine centerpiece of the album and debuts vocalist Ninet Tayeb.
Ones who favor the heavier side of the spectrum in Steven’s discography will be put to ease as the palm-muted intro of “Home Invasion” clashes upon the waves of Minnemann’s sporadic drumming patterns. “Regret #9” excels with the charismatic use of a wobbly lead synth and a guitar solo that would bring a tear to David Gilmour’s eye. The aura returns to the vocals for “Transience,” which borders on an In Absentia styled verse. Clocking in at thirteen and a half minutes, “Ancestral” holds a commendable, evolving and alluring soundscape for the listener. “Happy Returns” exercises a stripped-down anthemic composition as “Ascendent Here On…” closes with pure ambience.
As Wilson’s past production works prevail, the mix throughout this album also proves itself balanced among the rest of his catalog with each sound created by the array of instruments conveying a crystal clear quality and not only possessing a significant role but also complimenting the vocal aspects in wondrous ways. As many have previously stated, there is an abundance of “pop-driven” pieces in this LP, but as a cohesive whole, the eleven tracks serve as a diverse buffet of Steven’s past and present progressive endeavors. With a few stylistic surprises strategically placed here and there, Hand. Cannot. Erase., is a more than pleasant addition to Steven Wilson’s solo world.
Overall score: 9 out of 10
Click here to pre-order Steven Wilson’s Hand. Cannot. Erase.