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martes, 12 de abril de 2016

Steven Wilson - Hands. Cannot. Erase. (2015)


El blog cabezón siempre fue colaborativo, ahora con la lista de correo en marcha (gracias troll macrista que nos denunciaste a Google!) lo es mucho más. Carlos el Menduco nos compartió el disco y Néstor nos lo reseñó, gran disco del omnipresente Steven Wilson, obra conceptual sobre soledad, el aislamiento, el alma y el espíritu humano, todo basado en una historia verídica que sirve como una crítica a algunos de los dilemas sociales actuales, en particular a las sociedades hiper-conectadas, la vida veloz, la sobre-disponibilidad de información y datos, donde podemos saber todo de todos y justamente por eso es tan fácil simplemente dejar de estar. Un disoc que termina siendo una crítica social melancólica, bellísima, impactante y despiadada. En el post se lo contamos con más detalles... y no se los pierdan si quieren disfrutar el disco como se debe.

Artista: Steven Wilson
Álbum: Hands. Cannot. Erase.
Año: 2015
Género: Rock Progresivo
Duración: 65:57
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. First Regret
2. 3 Years Older
3. Hand Cannot Erase
4. Perfect Life
5. Routine
6. Home Invasion
7. Regret #9
8. Transience
9. Ancestral
10. Happy Returns
11. Ascendant Here On...

Alineación:
- Steven Wilson / Voz, guitarras, teclados, mellotrón
– Guthrie Govan / Guitarras
– Adam Holzman / Teclados
– Nick Beggs / Bajo
– Marco Minnemann / Batería
Con:
Ninet Tayeb / voz femenina en tems 5 y 9
Theo Travis / Flauta, saxo en tema 9
Dave Gregory / Guitarras en temas 2, 3 y 10
Chad Wackerman / Batería en tema 10
Katherine Jenkins / Voz narración en tema 4
Leo Blair / Voz en tema 5
Coro de la Schola Cantorum Of The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School en temas 5, 10 y 11
Sección de cuerda de la London Session Orchestra en temas 9 y 10




Escuchar un disco como Hand. Cannot. Erase. es una muy grata experiencia. El disco está sostenido bajo elementos modernos tanto en su mensaje, tono y su sonido. Su música, sus letras, toda la atmósfera que crea a lo largo de su duración son maravillosas. En la reseña de Néstor sobre éste disco de Steven Wilson se habla con má detalle. Sin embargo, refiriéndonos a la historia que inspira este álbum, les comento que hace unos años, en la ciudad de Londres, el dueño de una propiedad irrumpió en su departamento alquilado ya que la ocupante acumuló una deuda importante y no aparecía por ningún lado. Al entrar, encontró la televisión encendida y a la mujer sin vida en un sillón. Junto a ella, una bolsa de compras que contenía regalos navideños. Pero lo más loco es que la mujer había muerto casi tres años antes. Y aquí el concepto del álbum de Wilson ¿Cómo fue posible que nadie notara su ausencia y su muerte?



Steven Wilson comenta en una entrevista que cuando conoció la historia de esta mujer y vió un documental basado en ella llamado "Dreams of a Life", y le quedó grabado en su mente, la historia quedó por mucho tiempo en su mente y no es que deliberadamente se sentara a componer pensando en eso, más bien, pero el proceso creativo retomó la historia y basar el concepto de su nuevo material en un personaje ficticio inspirado en la historia de esta mujer. He aquí el triler del citado documental:



Joyce Vincent era, contra todo prejuicio, no una vieja fea, antipática, antisocial y recluída, y por esto nadie se dio cuenta de su ausencia todo ese tiempo que permaneció sin vida en su departamento. Pero la realidad es que era todo lo contrario, era una chica atractiva, alegre, querida por su familia, por sus amigos, profesionista, trabajadora, muy talentosa, en fin, todo lo más alejada de la idea que podamos tener para que muriera en esas condiciones. En las noticias, en el documental, en los testimonios y en lo que explica el mismo Wilson, la descripción de Joyce está fuera de toda lógica, si es que eso existe para explicar a las personalidades humanas.



La historia pues, resulta muy conmovedora y nos puede llevar a reflexiones profundas sobre la calidad de relaciones que hacemos actualmente. Inmersos en la vida cotidiana y apresurada de la ciudad, en la vida virtual de la era de internet. Steven Wilson explica que retomó esa historia y consiguió un álbum en el que se atraviesa distintas etapas musicales y conceptuales; sin embargo, buscó la forma en que tracks tan distintos funcionaran juntos de una forma lógica. También, que los temas nos llevan por la ira, la melancolía, la soledad, la nostalgia de la niñez, y la vida del siglo XXI con el uso del Internet a tope.
Y ahí parte el concepto del disco.



Ahora, vamos a las palabras de Néstor que nos comparte sus impresiones.

Leí por ahi que Wilson se inspiro en la (triste) historia de Joyce Carol Vincent, una chica que murió y nadie se dio cuenta hasta tres años después. La chica en cuestión realmente logro aislarse de este mundo.
Esa es la idea en este disco, el aislamiento a partir de nosotros mismos, contar la historia de una mujer que comienza a irse del mundo, no en el sentido de que va a morir, sino vaya a saber porque circunstancias trata de pasar lo mas desapercibida posible.
Las letras de este disco ayudan mucho mas al concepto de "aislamiento consentido".("Siento que estoy viviendo entre paréntesis" - Happy Returns).("No hay más que decir, y el mundo se deslice lejos de ti" - 3 Years Older).
Se ve que maneja mucho mejor el uso de la voz a esta altura de su vida y permite en ingreso de otras voces dentro del disco, como la cantante israelí Ninet Tayeb, que realiza una hermosa performance en los temas que participa, Hand. Cannot. Erase., Routine y Ancestral, ó Katherine Jenkins, una mesosoprano británica en Perfect Life, su relato se ajusta perfectamente al tema.
La banda que lo acompaña, Guthrie Govan – guitarras, Nick Beggs – bajos, Adam Holzman – teclados y Marco Minnemann – batería, la misma que estuvo de gira ese año (2015), se ajusta a las necesidades de Wilson.
Para muestra solo falta un botón, escuchen 3 years Older ó Home Invasion.
La independencia de manos de Minnermann es asombrosa, Beggs hace un correcto trabajo, Holzman logra recrear muy buenos climas con destreza y buena composición y Govan, buen violero, se luce con un par de solos (Regret #9, Ancestral).
Seguramente siempre que escuchamos un disco suyo estamos esperando guiños a Porcurpine Tree, bien.... Ancestral es el tema que buscas.
Wilson convierte pasajes sonoros en paredes hardcore con facilidad y no desentonan, al contrario, parece pertenecer al tema en forma natural.
El trabajo de producción es mas que correcto, Steven creció en ese aspecto así como también a nivel compositivo y tiene una visión al respecto muy prometedora, seguramente nos volverá a asombrar en sus futuros trabajos.
A diferencia del disco anterior, en esta ocasion tomó mucha mas dedicacion en el estudio, se pueden escuchar varios de "overdubs" sin sobrecargar los temas, los pasajes musicales son de una excelente calidad de edición.
Podés escuchar este album en forma individual o en forma colectiva, en ningún caso alteran el concepto de la obra.
De alguna forma no se parece a trabajos anteriores, a mi criterio es la evolución lógica de Steven Wilson.
Ascendant here on... es el final perfecto para este concepto.
Néstor C.

Eso era lo que nos comentaba Néstor, sumándose al staff cabezón con tremendo disco. Y ahora vamos a ver qué es lo que nos comenta el mismo Steven Wilson, en la siguiente entrevista, no se la pierdan porque está muy buena y ayuda a redondear el álbum que ya de por sí es redondo:





Sólo les queda disfrutar este gran material en todas las facetas posibles. La historia de Joyce que dio la base del concepto de Hand. Cannot Erase. ha encontrado una transformación. Me recordó eso que dicen sobre el arte, de como es capaz de transformar la realidad y, sólo este mismo proceso, consigue que el dolor sea algo distinto y de gran belleza. Creo que no hay nada igual al arte que permite la transfiguración de la realidad y del dolor en piezas de tremendo valor estético. Es el caso de ésta obra.


'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' Tres palabras que no me decían nada para un título que se antojaba feo. Una portada insulsa con una mujer de perfil y una mancha de pintura rosa por encima. Un desconcertante adelanto con un primer vídeo de una canción machacona compuesta por una base de sintetizadores y una letra que se limitaba a repetir 'We have got, we have got the perfect life'. Adiós al jazz, fuera instrumentos de viento, introducción de elementos pop y electrónicos e incluso la incorporación de una voz femenina.
El nuevo disco de Steven Wilson llegó a mis manos con una mezcla entre el entusiasmo previo a un nuevo lanzamiento del músico inglés y el miedo a la primera gran decepción por todo lo que de él se iba filtrando. Hubo un momento previo a su publicación en el que todo lo que conocía de este 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' me desagradaba respecto a su equivalente en 'The Raven That Refused To Sing'. Y esto incluía título, portada, concepto (mucho más atrayentes a priori las ghost stories que la historia de una chica que decide aislarse del mundo) y aquel inolvidable primer adelanto, el tema homónimo que narraba el cuento del cuervo que se negaba a cantar.
Cuarenta segundos tardaron en esfumarse estos temores. Exactamente el tiempo que transcurre desde que se pulsa el botón del play hasta que empiezan a sonar las primeras melodías: un piano genuinamente wilsoniano con el que arranca 'First Regret', primer tema del álbum y que marca el inicio de un viaje inolvidable.
Un viaje en el que Wilson cuenta la historia de una mujer que decide aislarse del mundo, inspirado en la historia de Joyce Carol Vincent, quien fue encontrada muerta en su apartamento tres años después de su fallecimiento y sin que nadie reclamara su ausencia. Una historia, por tanto de soledad elegida, una forma de aislamiento muy común en este mundo hiperconectado en el que en muchas ocasiones no conocemos ni a la persona que habita al otro lado de las paredes de nuestra casa.
En lo musical, 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' fluye con una naturalidad asombrosa. Los muchos registros que abarca el disco se van sucediendo dando lugar un todo coherente y orgánico, que atrapa a pesar de ser un largo cuya duración supera la hora. En buena parte, su concepción recuerda a la del controvertido 'The Incident'. No sólo por el hecho de encontrarnos ante un álbum conceptual o porque los temas discurran uno tras otro dando lugar a un todo coral, sino porque, como en aquel último trabajo de Porcupine Tree, Wilson recupera buena parte de sus registros previos. Estilos que van mucho más allá del metal progresivo y el jazz-prog de su etapa más reciente y aclamada, añadiendo toques más poperos o electrónicos que no deberían ser nuevos para los que conozcan su trabajo en Insurgentes, a los Porcupine Tree anteriores al lanzamiento de 'In Absentia' o incluso a los menos reconocidos pero interesantísimos Blackfield o No-Man.
Sin embargo, lejos de ser el 'más de lo mismo' que penalizó a 'The Incident', 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' es un nuevo paso adelante en esta etapa brillante que nos está regalando el músico inglés. Y ahí reside el mayor mérito de esta obra, en ese distanciamiento respecto a trabajos previos sin perder el sello inconfundible de su sonido. Nuevos elementos que van desde sintetizadores y melodías pop hasta la inclusión de la voz femenina de la cantante israelí Ninet Tayeb en algunos de los cortes del disco.
A pesar del riesgo de desmarcarse de la fórmula que tan bien le funcionó en en los discos anteriores, la apuesta resulta ganadora por varias razones. Primero y fundamental, porque es un disco de una factura impecable. Brillante en sus melodías, cortes como '3 Years Older', 'Routine' o 'Happy Returns' contienen algunos de los momentos más bellos y evocadores de la carrera de Steven Wilson. Porque está fabulosamente bien compuesto, incluyendo temas tan pegadizos y carne de single como el tema homónimo del disco que nos ocupa. Porque vuelve a contar con unos músicos de excepción para su ejecución. Porque el propio Wilson canta mejor que nunca (es de destacar cómo ha mejorado en este aspecto con el paso de los años). Y porque, siendo su privilegiada mente la mejor de sus virtudes musicales, sabe llevar al oyente a terrenos en los que hacerle sentir cómodo.
Aunque como 'Hand.Cannot.Erase.' arranca con grandes dosis de synth, incluso con algún ramalazo popero, el disco pronto comienza a discurrir por caminos conocidos para quienes han llegado a él desde 'The Raven' o desde los últimos Porcupine Tree. Y en este juego entre el 'nuevo sonido viejo' y el 'nuevo viejo sonido' en el que se mueve el álbum, tienen un papel fundamental dos cortes que deberían haber sido uno y que indudablemente funcionan como uno solo: 'Home Invasion' y 'Regret #9'. Merece la pena detenerse aquí porque no solo suponen un punto de inflexión en un álbum que tiene un antes y un después de estos cortes, sino porque por sí mismos son una de las mayores odas al rock progresivo de un artista considerado un referente en el género. La transición entre estos dos cortes es de una brillantez conmovedora, enlazando de forma magistral la estridencia krimsoniana del primero de ellos, que incluye la voz distorsionada de Wilson, al mayor homenaje que jamás ha realizado a Pink Floyd en toda su carrera en el segundo. A pesar de ser un artista entre cuyas referencias siempre es citada la histórica banda londinense, no hay nada más pinfloydiano en toda su música que esos cinco minutos exactos que dura 'Regret #9'. Primero con unos teclados de Adam Holzman que evocan irremediablemente a 'Any Colour You Like', y después con un monumental solo de Guthrie Govan con bends que emocionan como en su día lo hacía el gran David Gilmour.
A partir de aquí el terreno se suaviza enormemente para el oyente más hecho al catálogo reciente del músico. No tanto porque 'Ancestral' y 'Happy Returns' sean conocidas para quienes hayan asistido a alguno de los conciertos de su pasada gira, como porque en este viaje por el bagaje musical tanto propio como heredado de Wilson (más amplio si cabe como productor que como compositor), es 'Ancestral' el tema más claramente porcupiniano de últimos discos, con una estructura muy parecida a 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here'. Incluso 'Happy Returns' funciona con sus maneras tristes y delicadas como el 'I Drive The Hearse' que cierra 'The Incident'.
En contraposición a la oscuridad de 'The Raven That Refused To Sing', 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' es un disco 'luminoso', con una producción impoluta como de costumbre pero más limpia que nunca, para convertirlo en un álbum accesible y disfrutable desde la primera escucha. Todo ello envuelto bajo varias capas de texturas que llevan años identificando el sonido de Steven Wilson, sea cual sea el estilo en el que se mueva. Y a pesar de contar con numerosos temas excepcionales por sí mismos, todo funciona mucho mejor dentro del contexto del álbum. El mejor ejemplo es el corte referido al principio, 'Perfect Life', que, ahora sí, no solo cobra sentido, sino que resulta de una intensidad casi dolorosa al recordar aquella época de "vida perfecta".
En este todo en el que se mueve 'Hand. Cannot Erase.' también se incluyen sus intérpretes, ahora con menos espacio para el lucimiento individual que en el trabajo anterior, pero con todo su enorme talento al servicio del álbum y de su concepto. Músicos que a los citados anteriormente hay que sumar a los ya conocidos Marco Minnemann a la batería, y Nick Beggs en el bajo, reduciendo el trabajo de Theo Travis a 'Ancestral' y con la colaboración de Dave Gregory y Chad Wackerman en algunos de los temas, en guitarras y batería respectivamente.
'Hand. Cannot. Erase' es un trabajo pulcro, apoyado en un concepto trabajado a niveles enfermizos, con elementos que trascienden lo musical y que van desde un blog 'escrito' por la protagonista del disco hasta una edición especial que incluye partidas de nacimiento, recortes de prensa o cartas manuscritas. En algún lugar leí que este disco es el 'The Wall' de la generación Facebook. Una comparación que no tiene demasiado sentido en lo musical (intuyo que el sentido de la frase sí iba por ahí) pero que acierta de pleno en lo conceptual. Si Pink levantaba un muro para aislarse del mundo, la protagonista de 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' hace lo propio con paredes invisibles, tan infranqueables para el resto de semejantes como la más alta de las murallas. Si Roger Waters concibió El Muro como un disco, una película y un directo teatralizado, Wilson nos ofrece una obra que queda completa con los muchos elementos visuales que la acompañan.
¿Estamos ante el mejor disco de Steven Wilson? Difícil responder a esta cuestión sin espacio para comprobar cómo encaja el paso del tiempo y con la sombra de 'The Raven That Refused To Sing' tan alargada. De hecho estamos ante un disco que si bien amarán los seguidores de Wilson, muy probablemente reafirmará en su crítica a sus detractores. Donde unos vean inspiración en los clásicos, otros verán el enésimo plagio; la excelsa producción que tanto suele gustar volverá a indigestar por sobrecarga a otros; esa aplaudida búsqueda de la perfección por sus fans se convertirá en un nuevo ejercicio de pretenciosidad para quienes ven en Wilson al músico que quiso ser como los grandes titanes de los 1970 pero que llega cuatro décadas más tarde que ellos.
Creo honesto con el lector reconocer que me encuentro entre el grupo de los primeros. Porque pese a las dudas previas a 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' adoro el trabajo de Wilson desde que lo descubriese hace años con una escucha casual a 'Trains'. Cartas que pongo encima de la mesa antes de afirmar que me emociona esa sensación de estar asistiendo en tiempo real a la construcción de un pedazo de la historia del rock progresivo. Con este 'Hand. Cannot. Erase' Wilson nos ha vuelto a ofrecer otro capítulo maravilloso.
Calificación: 9/10
Lucas Manuel Varas Vilachán


Si les parece, vamos con algunos comentarios en inglés, a algunos videos, y a disfrutar de éste disco, que obviamente  no van a encontrar ningún link en éste blog.



This will probably be the most reviewed and discussed album on PA this year, so I'll skip the full song by song recap that others have and will take on, and just say that for me this is the best album overall from SW to date. Less "Prog" than his last solo album, but more "Progressive" overall with the way he blends together different types of sounds and genres, both older and modern, into this amazing musical journey. Also the album's lyrics and story arc are his most cohesive since "Fear of A Blank Planet", augmented by SW's creation of a faux online blog from the protagonist at the center of the story (and also found in the gorgeous deluxe book edition). The highlight song for me (among many other great moments) is "Routine", a Kate Bush-inspired song featuring Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb and a boy's choir. It's an emotionally charged "story within the story" piece, depicting a mother struggling to keep it together after her family is mass murdered in a school shooting (the protagonist is obsessed with collecting newspaper clippings of stories about people who just went missing, this mother later becomes one of the "disappeared"). Also lyrically, love how the album ends on an ambiguous note ? does the protagonist re-join society, or did she commit suicide, or herself become one of the mysterious "disappeared"? Heady stuff, could see this album/story being made into to a movie one day, it all works together that well.
Eric Vogel


Sometimes you never can tell. When British singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson released the old school progressive rock record The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) (Kscope, 2013), who knew that it would not only turn out to be his best-selling album since walking away from Porcupine Tree to begin an increasingly successful solo career with Insurgentes (Kscope, 2009), but become the most successful album in his entire career? That progressive rock has been making a resurgence over the past couple of decades is undeniable. Still, that an album based on classic-style ghost stories and filled with all the touchstones that define a great progressive record (and more, given Wilson's broadest of musical proclivities) should do so well seems to support the idea that Wilson is someone whose instincts, aversion to repeating himself and ingrained license to do what he wants can be implicitly trusted. All this from an artist, now well into his third decade, on an indie label without the benefit of the big bucks provided by the few remaining majors. Bucking virtually every convention in today's music business, Wilson's career and exponential rise to fame has, quite simply, been extraordinary.
It would have been easy for Wilson to take the easy route and pump out a Raven, Part II, but instead he has taken an almost complete 180 degree flip with Hand. Cannot. Erase.—his first full-fledged concept album, loosely based on the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, a woman found dead in her London flat after three years and rather than being the little old lady who died alone as most would expect was, instead, a young, attractive woman with friends and family. Wilson has taken this core idea as the kernel for his own fictitious narrative—challengingly, from the first-person perspective—of a woman who grows up in the late 20th/early 21st century and slowly begins to withdraw from the world, rendering herself increasingly invisible.
Lyrically, it's some of Wilson's best writing to date, capturing the female experience with surprising veracity, the story unfolding to its logical conclusion: a heart- rending letter to her brother that, before concluding with the words "I'm feeling kinda drowsy now so I'll finish this tomorrow" (but, of course, never does), talks about life passing her by "like trains, away but they don't slow down" and how she feels she is "living in parentheses" as she sees "the freaks and dispossessed on day release, avoiding the police" and that she feels as though she's "falling once again but now there's no-one left to catch me." More importantly, Wilson's delivery of the lyrics is as emotive as he's ever been; and no, he's not changed his overall understated approach to singing, but he's become far more masterful at implying much with but the subtlest of gestures, whether it be the slightest bit of vibrato, a hint of grit or a brief jump into falsetto.
Unlike The Raven—recorded in just a week with his touring band (all of whom appear here but on far from on every track), with a second week for overdubs, a mix and it was done—Hand. Cannot. Erase. is more a studio concoction, with layers and layers of overdubs, an orchestra on a couple tracks and, for the first time in Wilson's career, a boy's choir—both arranged by Wilson and/or Dave Stewart, he of Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health and the "pop music for adults" duo with longtime musical and life partner, Barbara Gaskin. Other participants beyond his touring band include drummer Chad Wackerman (who subbed for regular Marco Minnemann on some of Wilson's 2013 tour dates), former XTC and now Big Big Train/Tin Spirits guitarist Dave Gregory, and perhaps most importantly, Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb, who helps bring even further verisimilitude to the aptly titled and largely balladic (barring one outburst of near- metallic intensity) "Routine" and "Ancestral," a thirteen-plus minute epic that traverses considerable musical territory as it builds to the album's climactic peak—and is the only track to feature Wilson's band mate from his past two tours, Theo Travis, here on flute and baritone saxophone, but who will sadly be absent from the upcoming tour.
"Considerable musical territory" is, perhaps, an apt description of the entire recording. If The Raven was an unrepentant progressive rock record, Hand. Cannot. Erase. casts a much bigger net, incorporating the many things that Wilson describes in his 2015 All About Jazz interview as "buzzing around inside my head." Absorbing the album as the 65-minute whole it's intended to be—a narrative that's as much a musical one with repeating motifs and thematic ideas, as it is in the actual tale it tells—there are plenty of progressive elements. Most notable is the Mellotron M4000 that Wilson purchased a year ago, and which is the only instrument to be found across the entire album, barring the beautiful "Ascendant Here On...," one of many tracks to feature Wilson's Ghostwriter—a software package he developed with Doug Rogers that includes hundreds of multi-sampled instruments and presets, amongst other things; keyboardist Adam Holzman's increasingly sparse piano that ultimately concludes the record on an appropriately unresolved note; and the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School Choir, whose angelic voices represent the album's subject leaving this life and ascending...somewhere.
Being a more contemporary subject than The Raven's classic ghost stories, Hand. Cannot. Erase. must be, by definition, a more modernist record sonically and thematically. Drum loops can be found; there's programming on a number of tracks; and the amount of retro analogue synths are kept to a minimum, with Holzman contributing only one (stunning) Moog solo to "Home Invasion"—an epic, episodic track that, after a brief Mellotron motif, is best described by Wilson as turning into "death metal, morphs into jazz fusion, shifts down a gear into funk, then a couple of more traditional Moog and guitar solos, all rounded off with a piano/banjo duet." What's most remarkable is that this seemingly disparate group of elements manage to come together into something that makes perfect sense.
As much as Wilson's progressive rock roots cannot be denied on Hand. Cannot. Erase., nor can the folkloric elements of "Transience"; the electronica inflections of "Perfect Life," with its drum loops and otherworldly textures; the hard- strummed, Pete Townshend-like acoustic guitars as the opening "First Regret" segues into "3 Years Older"; and the unabashed pop of "Hand Cannot Erase," with its singsong chorus and jangly Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, courtesy of Dave Gregory. Or—perhaps even more importantly—how Wilson often brings these multifarious elements together into something redolent of all while managing to create a new whole that somehow sounds like something else entirely.
If anything, rather than being a Progressive Rock album with a capital "P," this is a progressive album in the dictionary sense of the word; an album that represents progression for Wilson and, with its unintended but undeniable crossover appeal, an album that moves music forward in a way that's detailed under the hood but immediately accessible throughout. And no single song, despite every one of them standing on their own merits, matters as much as the eleven of them taken together, as a single, 65-minute experience.
Touring mates Holzman, Minnemann, Guthrie Govan (guitar) and Nick Beggs (bass, Chapman Stick, backing vocals) make plenty of appearances on Hand. Cannot. Erase., with Holzman making the most showings on all but one of the album's eleven tracks—a tremendously talented and versatile player who has clearly become fundamental to Wilson's current musical vision. What is, however, most noticeable about the record is—with this being much more of a Wilson solo record like Grace for Drowning (Kscope, 2011)—just how much better a player Wilson continues to become. Not that he was at all shabby with Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Bass Communion, Incredible Expanding Mindfuck or any of the other projects he's lent his name and expertise to over the years, but the old adage of raising your game by playing with people who are better than you has clearly applied to Wilson, who has simply never played or sung better.
There may be hardcore progressive fans who will balk at the idea of programming, drum loops, electronics and pop songs. But for those with open ears and open minds, Hand. Cannot. Erase. is the next logical step for Wilson. An album that is nothing like its predecessors but could absolutely not have happened without them, it may well prove to be the breakthrough record for Wilson that began with the unexpected success of The Raven. An artist already on the cusp of even greater acclaim and popularity, were that to happen, it would be such a great thing for a music industry that has relentlessly dumbed things down over the years. As someone capable of delivering accessible music that is, at the same time, compositionally and lyrically deep—detailed and, at times, unapologetically complex—Wilson makes absolutely no compromises in doing what he does. And yet, almost in spite of it all, his star continues on an increasingly rapid upward trajectory.
One can only hope.
John Kelman

Song by song perceptions-
1st one is like Steve Roach but in a lo-fi heavy/metallic world, perfectly translated into SW's idiom with an astounding and quiet complex song-writing. A 5 star song undoubtly.
2nd song- The first part of this song is something like SW meets America , the soft/folk US band, not the continent. Even though he adds up the P.T. anger, the main melody line is close to America's soft evocative passages, and the final part detours completely and turns towards YES , the way they should have ended up sounding like and not the s..t they chose to be.
The 3th song is the kind of POP/METALISH song that coud easily meet the radio-waves and catch a more undemanding audience. Of course, never pointing out to the silly parts of those audiences.
The fourth song takes a different direction, even commenting on its own musical roots, which is as admirably as humble, for SW to do so. This Mortal Coil, if that means something to the expertise prog-audiophiles, if not look for this project - " band" , to understand this tribute song. (they are not featured in PA, so look somewhere else).
The fifth song is quiet in the middle of great and boring. It travels at least 4 separate directions, although perfectly threaded, performed and sung, the melodies more than once are quiet anonymous , in comparison to its elder sisters. So far, the less inspired song or in PA's terms a 3 star song.
The sixth song will make all PT's and SW's followers super happy. It delivers the kind of material, that when played live, will surely be a highlight to remember. It even includes a great electronic metal-jazz/folk prog, grand-finale (inevitably Jeff Beck comes to my mind, but that is me).
Song 7 is the showcase of SW musical virtues (literally speaking), as his aquired knowledge in these his own fields. Therefore, expect intense riffs and solos, as mellow strumming and intelligent guitar works. Another 5 stars song.
Song number 8,explores again (track 4), the gothic side of SW's heart. A mellow/bombing, soft hearted unidirectional song. Super nice!
THE 9th, is introspective at first, then it turns out to be something like the possible future for P.T. if they decided to do so. Although the song writing is not that astounding, as it could have been, in those terms.
Song number 10, could be like the synthesis of the whole record so far, but kind of cutting short on some of its own highlights, which is quiet undeserving.
Song 11, the closure song, is exactly that.
****4/5 PA stars, strongly inclined to a future 5 stars project.
Alan

I think it is a testament to the brilliance of Steven Wilson as an artist, that the least immediately gratifying album thus far in his solo career is still one of the most impressive things I've heard in these nascent months of 2015.
While I'm altogether certain I'm not the only one who longs for a Porcupine Tree reunion one of these days, Wilson's latest flagship has long since proved itself. His 'solo' phase has not been so much a continuation of that band's sound as it has been a liberation from the expectations fans might have had for any successor to The Incident. Porcupine Treeis synonymous with the sort of melancholic 'alt-prog' they're known for popularizing, but fans with a cursory knowledge of Wilson's music should know that was only a facet of his art. His poppiest tunes went to Blackfield. His love for drone and krautrock manifested themselves in Bass Communion and I.E.M respectively, and his longstanding collaboration with Tim Bowness (as No-Man) channelled ambiance in several shades. For any of the material that fell in- between these lines, a project under his own name was perfect. In spite of the heavy praise Steven Wilson has received for his eclectic solo work, I am positive a lot of the stylistic expeditions would have been given flak, had it been released with Porcupine Tree. An audience's preconceptions and expectations can make shifting sounds a tricky thing; this is something Wilson's pal Mikael Åkerfeldt might have taken into account when Opeth released Heritage (to intensely polar reactions) back in 2011.
The sleepy Insurgentes and - to an even greater extent - jaw-dropping Grace for Drowning pulled in sounds from every corner of Wilson's art. With these last two albums however, Wilson has let his love of classic progressive rock guide his approach. I don't mean to imply that Hand.Cannot.Erase. is a repeat of 2013's The Raven that Refused to Sing, but the open-ended, career-encompassing variety that had me obsessed with Grace for Drowning back in the day isn't so much a part of Wilson's solo material these days.
It's not the love note to 70s' prog rock that The Raven was, but Hand.Cannot.Erase. continues to pay homage to Steven Wilson's classic influences. His pop songwriting (one of his best talents, I think) takes a backseat to longwinded prog observations, the likes of which only usually seen once per Porcupine Tree record. "First Regret / 3 Years Older" is replete with Wilsonian vocal harmonies and successfully moving choruses, but its greatest charm lies in its not-so-subtle nod to A Farewell to Kings-era Rush. Yeah- I wouldn't have ever expected to mention the Canadian trio in a Steven Wilson review (his classic influences tend to rest near the psychedelic spectrum) but the precise basswork and bright power-riffs demand the comparison be made.
The comparisons don't end there either. "Home Invasion / Regret #9" starts with chugging, quasi-metal fare (it's not the first time Wilson's love of Meshuggah has found its way into his art) before it expands into a jazzy, King Crimson-esque exploration. From there, it falls into a longform, gradually building solo showcase shared between Adam Holzman and Guthrie Govan- again, this kind of chilled and soulful soloing could be traced to Pink Floyd, but so many prog rock bands have made use of it since that it may well be considered common property. "Routine" may be the only longer track here that escapes all quickdraw comparisons to classic prog. It's soft, varied and beautifully dynamic; I've seen a few people call "Routine" their favourite cut from the album; it might be a little over the place and rhapsodic for me to call it one of my favourites, but following the beautiful minimalism of "Perfect Life" before it, it's a refreshing switch of gears.
Hearing Wilson place an emphasis on this kind of tried-and-tested longform composition is both impressive and frustration. Wilson's natural talents with writing, matched with his encyclopaedic interest in the genre, his warmth as a producer and cast of brilliant musicians (some of them legends in their own right) make the least- involving moments on Hand.Cannot.Erase. a joy to behold. Coincidentally (and I may strike a note of controversy for saying so) those 'least-involving' moments all fall in the stretches of time Wilson hands the reins over to his backing soloists. Guthrie Govan stands as one of the best working guitarists today (his masterpiece debut Erotic Cakes is proof of that), but I notice my attention slipping whenever another extended guitar solo rolls around. From a technical standpoint Govan (and keyboardist Adam Holzman) hit all the proper marks, but the compositions fall into the age-old issue of making added space for the solos, without creating the dynamic surroundings to make it feel more than an expression of (their admittedly superb) technical musicianship. When it comes to some of these lax instrumental passages, I feel myself reeling back to thinking of the way Wilson masterfully opened up The Raven, with "Luminol". "Luminol" offered some of the best musicianship I've ever heard in the progressive genre, and felt consistently engaging in spite of its length. There wasn't a need to create longwinded solo passages then, and I don't think there was a need for it here.
I know I could have stopped with simply saying "TOO MANY SOLOS" and risked sounding like just as much of a curmudgeon, but the talent of everyone involved is worth far more than falling on old tricks like that. Barring that, any issues with Hand.Cannot.Erase. are negligible. Steven Wilson's work with would-be prog 'epics' has seen better days to be sure, but the three 10+ minute tracks grow with every listen. "First Regret / 3 Years Older" is the most contagious opener I have heard in a long time, and in spite of my criticism towards it, "Home Invasion / Regret #9" seems to get more charming with every listen. "Ancestral" was the slowest grower of the lot for me; the darkest note on Hand.Cannot.Erase. begins with Floydian melancholy, and erupts into one of the closest skirmishes with prog metal Steven Wilson has ever had. The dark atmosphere and oppressive riffs fly close to the heavy climax on The Incident, but unlike that album, Wilson makes sure to give the aggression due time to emerge and erupt.
Also quite like The Incident, the album's final moments following the climactic storm are tender. "Happy Returns" isn't quite as heartbreaking as "I Drive the Hearse", but I'm sure it was written in a similar mindset. To be honest, this sort of Porcupine Tree-ish tenderness and beauty strikes an even stronger note with me than the more progressive and overtly sophisticated material on Hand.Cannot.Erase. To anyone who's heard the album already, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the title track is my favourite song. "Hand Cannot Erase" is, without a doubt, one of the most infectious and enjoyable songs Wilson has ever written, up there with "Trains" and "Lazarus". The melodies are crisp, the lyrics intimate and Wilson's voice fittingly warm and passionate.
"Perfect Life" was a far less intuitive choice for a single, but it's come to hit me just as hard emotionally. The anecdotal spoken word (performed by Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb) is an intimate gateway into the album's concept of isolation. Foreboding electronic beats build underneath. Halfway into the track, the atmosphere switches from tension to tenderness. Steven Wilson's voice chimes softly: "We have got a perfect life..." From underneath that, a one-man chorus of harmonies emerge, themselves building up in layer and intensity until the song ends. I describe this moment because it is completely haunting every time I hear it; I know the word 'haunting' is tossed around in music reviews as many times as McDonalds sells Big Macs in a fiscal year, but this is one of the occasions that truly warrants the description.
To date, the only album concept from Steven Wilson that really meant something to me was Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet. Deadwing and The Incident are conceptual works, but there's not a great deal of narrative or symbolic sense to make of them. I've always loved Steven Wilson's intimately poetic lyrics, but I've rarely cared to draw conclusions about the album concepts themselves. In the case of Hand. Cannot. Erase., the concept is more clear, although Wilson's left particular lyrical meanings up for an audience's interpretation. Suffice to say, the album's conceptual foundations (of a woman who isolates herself from human contact for three years) fall in line with Wilson's recurring anxieties towards modernity. Even if the narrative's character is female, the lyrics feel too personal to have come from anything but Wilson's own experience. What are we to make of the way the story ends? The woman finally re-enters society, but sees nothing has changed while she's been away. It's a bittersweet way to part ways with a character so disenfranchised with the isolation inherent in modern living. Still, it seems a brighter ending than the one shared by the concept's real-life inspiration; Joyce Vincent (an abused woman living in London) was discovered in her apartment three years after she died. Given the anxieties Wilson explored on Fear of a Blank Planet, it's not surprising he would have been moved enough to create art based on that story.
I wonder, were she alive to hear it, what the real-world Joyce Vincent would have thought of Hand. Cannot. Erase. The essential beauty of art and music is that it allows people to share their emotional experience, conveying the hidden depths of themselves to another person they have probably never met before. Humans feel more isolated than ever, and none moreso than in cities. The kind of feeling an artist like Steven Wilson brings to his music has never been so important. No, I'm not awe-struck the way I was with Grace for Drowning or his other best work, but Hand. Cannot. Erase. feels resonant and powerful. Wilson may play with traditional progressive notions here, but unlike your Flower Kings and Transatlantics, he never succumbs to them. By this point, Steven Wilson's solo work has become a monument, increasingly independent from the legendary prestige of his old band. Part of me still hopes he'll revive Porcupine Tree one of these days and follow-up The Incident, but I'll eagerly await anything of his if he keeps up with this brilliant standard of quality. The man has no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Conor Fynes

Steven Wilson takes us back on a another journey of his progressive rock adventure, and the expectation were high because of the quality of his music with Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and his solo albums. The music here has this atmospheric feel, almost cinematic with different moods and sounds, from melancholy, to dreamy and to explosive. From the first song "3 Years Older", there is a short reference to "Watcher of the Skies" intro, then it goes on a Rush a like sound. Sometimes we can feel the light atmosphere with the piano and the flute and at others times, the heavy blast of guitars. All this music back up with the beautiful vocals of Steven and the female singer Nibet Tayeb in some songs. "Happy Returns" and "Perfect Life" are simple songs, but the latter especially is very well done with his airy melody and melancholic feel that takes us back to the sensibility of the first Blackfield album. It also contains some modern electro beat throughout. "Regret" contains some exquisite keyboards/guitar parts. "Ancestral" has a nice crescendo with intense and heavy guitar parts that are not unlike Opeth. There's some songs that didn't do it as much for me like "Routine" with his Dire Strait guitar passage and "Happy Returns". "Home Invasion" has some nice instrumental section and cool guitar effect. This album combined the quality of songwriting and musicianship with refine arrangements. It's got a overall sound that is new and old, melancholic and modern. It's a natural evolution of the man's career that his marked by his originality and creativity.
Louis

Anytime a Steven Wilson album releases, the progressive world goes into a panic. I've lost count of the number of album selfies I've seen in social media since this album released. Well, at least the artwork is stunning and sure to be one of my favorites. Anyways, those that follow me on my prog page The PROG Mind know that I have mixed feelings about this prog legend. Like it or not, Steven Wilson is now a legend, and we honestly might owe him the entirety of the current prog revival. Yet, I don't always connect with his music. After hearing "Hand.Cannot.Erase.", however, I feel I can endorse this new recording from the new face of prog.
This new album is not innovative. It is not some sublime rip-off of 70's prog, like his previous album. No, "Hand.Cannot.Erase." is just Steven Wilson, perhaps even pining about his Porcupine Tree days. You see, this new album avoids the excessive technicality of "The Raven That Refused to Sing" for a straightforward pop rock album that somehow magically winds up being extremely progressive, as opposed to Prog, that is. I've seen some people call this new album "electro rock", though I don''t see the point of the label. There is very little in the way of noticeable electronic sound, so that label seems strange. The album also doesn't seem like a King Crimson or Pink Floyd rip-off, so it's definitely a new sound for Wilson. All in all, "Hand.Cannot.Erase." is very similar to late era Porcupine Tree, only with an elusive pop element that shows itself here and there. I can honestly say that I think this was the best step for Wilson.
Give the PT fans something to chew. Rumors have been flying about a PT reunion, though Wilson denies it. Instead, he's given the fans the next logical PT album, and I salute him for that. The album starts off a bit sluggishly, in my opinion, with good songs like "3 Years Older" and the title track. Honestly, they don't wow me at all, mainly due to the pedestrian feeling they exude. Then the single comes around, "Perfect Life", and the album really takes a turn for the better. I happen to love this single, even though it seems ripped from a Hibernal album, but the album never stops firing on all cylinders from there.
My favorite track, for sure, is "Ancestral", which I deem to be the only 5 star song on the album. Honestly, this track is a monster that builds and builds, adding layers upon layers to the point where only the extremely sensitive will really detect the true genius of the crisscrossing, spiraling movements of guitars and keys. The last two minutes give me goosebumps every time. "Ancestral" is going to be a difficult track to beat this year! The album essentially ends, however, with a great little ballad that will certainly get stuck in your head, and for good reason. "Happy Returns" shows Wilson at his most melodic, and possibly even his catchiest. So, while "Hand.Cannot.Erase." is no masterpiece, it is still a strong showing from an important figure in prog.
Jason Spenser

While being a reverent but discreet fan of Steve Wilson ever since seeing a PTree concert showcasing "Fear of Blank Planet", I was extremely predisposed to be unusually harsh with my expectations, finding enjoyment but not adulation with his preceding solo albums (though "The Raven?" did provide many hot chills), while "The Incident" did leave me somewhat puzzled, like many other proggers here and beyond, as it undoubtedly signaled some kind of temporary or perhaps permanent finality, in regards to PTree's future. I read some of the initial reviews and noticed the high ratings, as well as the gorgeous artwork, followed all the gab in the lounges, where there was talk of a surging masterpiece. I must grudgingly admit that, once again I have been proven wrong and deserve a guilty sentence. This latest offering has a very designed mood that permeates all the tracks, from beginning to end taking the rabid fan or the critical dissenter to a new level completely, forging some new kind of modern prog, laden with old , new and futuristic schools and methods that will cause some serious consternation in music land. Firstly, this is head music that just cavitates and captivates, spanning the entire rainbow of contrasts, from ultra-soft to 'ka-bang' heavy, encapsulated even within one song, the colossal "Ancestral". Not only are the returning instrumentalists deliriously proficient but they choose to explode into some distant sonic set that defies gravity, speed and light. The phenomenal Nick Beggs needs no more introduction, guitarist Guthrie Govan has a level of creativity that goes somewhere where no one has gone, yet. Keyboardist Adam Holzman is a timid type, doing magical things discreetly, so in my mind, he is a 'compadre' of Richard Barbieri, mood manipulators par excellence, a savory mix of Eno and Wakeman (he was a Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Project member in the past) . Marco Minnerman is a beast, we all have heard the applause and we are aware of the fame.
My first and ongoing impression was coherently focused on how this album was divided into mini-blocks, autonomous musical regions firmly entrenched within an overall confederation. There are also some linking messaging between pieces, common denominators blatantly exposed in the lyrics on "3 Years Older" and "Perfect Life". The mixture of past PTree glories and current mercies. Clever and brainy, Mr Wilson.
Showcasing a layering of styles that work well together, "3 Years Older" is a bass heavy ramble that combines all the talents mentioned above, Guthrie Govan in particular shining brightly on his electric guitar, flirting with countrified tones, 'I will love you more than I will ever show 'being a fine example of Wilson's simple yet exciting lyrics and an explosive instrumental part that, just as suddenly, veers into 'pianofied' jazz. The piece then evolves into a cameo spotlight for each soloist, starting off with Holzman's rushing organ, pursued closely by a spiraling missile lead guitar from Govan and even Beggs doing his Chris Squire thingy, better than recent Chris Squire! A slight wink to his previous PT classic track "She Moved On", off Lightbulb Sun can and should make one smile.
Another tasty block of songs that wink at more Blackfieldian horizons, yet with more dreaminess perhaps, is launched by the lovely ear candy title track, the more melancholic "Perfect Life" and its tendency towards foolish entitlement and sarcastic disbelief. Wilson's ongoing fascination for apathy is not hard to understand as it has rapidly and insidiously infected our world, rather completely. Apathy towards society, politics, even the arts, human interaction being now ruled by some stupid i-phone, banks screwing up deposits and withdrawals, lack of any customer service anywhere, people in England applauding suicide victims to jump. Apathy towards human interaction , being now ruled by some stupid i-phone, banks screwing up deposits and withdrawals, lack of any customer service anywhere, people in England applauding suicide victims to jump. Yeah, bad! Happens to fit nicely with the more developed 9 minute long case in point "Routine", another masterful track dripping with ennui, a spotlight on Guthrie Govan again, his slithering axe quivering like a frazzled leaf in agony. Someone mentioned Mark Knopfler-like , interesting !
The most overtly perfect tracks are actually within another group of tunes piled up together, leading the charge with the edgier and spectacular "Home Invasion", a thoroughly trembling slice of fizzy prog, and featuring a lively electric piano rant that will shock anyone listening, some brash and rash guitar frills embracing the insane drum fills. The first moments offer up a groove that sleeps between sheets of abyss and cloud, brooding and confusing, like fear itself. Creepy synths crawl into the delirious maelstrom, a feverish steamrolling beat that is just plain thrilling, as Steve sings convincingly; this is modern prog at its finest, adventurous, sonically illuminating and profoundly exhilarating. A slick slide guitar scours the scene of the crime, bleeding directly into the tectonic "Regret #9", an extended synthesizer blowout that sends shivers down the spine, recalling the spirit of PT track "Sentimental", well-muscled by some dynamic drum patterns and a gritty imagery that has melancholia in abundance. For those who enjoy electric guitar soloing, you will not be disappointed with this scorching Govan spotlight (wow!). There is also a nice Rush-like dynamic in the rhythmic assault, though this piece has a special feel that defies categorization.
The suave "Transience" serves as a gentle intermezzo between two cannonading sections, a pastoral and spacy ballade that reminds us of structure, contrast and expectations being appeased. Voice, acoustic guitar rule the waves, a solemn bass synth rumble painting the sky and serenity galore. 'It's only the start?..' he trills .
Now "Ancestral" may very well qualify as one of Steve's finest compositions, easily up there with "Anesthetize", for example. An outwardly explosive soundtrack of intensity and expression, erected within simple but effective sonic architecture, evolving from a serene onset and slowly morphing into a gigantic vortex of sounds. I sent this to a lovely lady friend who was not familiar with prog and she replied the following" I don't think I have ever listened to music like that and to have had so much emotion evoked inside me". Emotions, feelings, pulse and heartbeat. A raindrop beat pushing electric piano, jagged guitar slivers, a heavily echoed SW voice, flute in fluttering tow, the atmosphere is intoxicating, surreal and emphatic. Lush symphonics take this to a higher plane, rushed along by a celestial chorus, and a Govan slither job on the fretboard. This is so amazing, it verges on the laughable (when something musically is beyond my capacity to comprehend, I giggle nervously). Mid way through, the mood becomes tempestuous with clinical weaving that would shake Robert Fripp's stool, a whistling Holzman synth leading into a veritable mellotron deluge. Beggs begs to differ (pun) as he adds a colossal riff to the proceedings that has Red era KC (as well as an overt ELP wink) stamped all over it. Minnerman slams fast, hard and with purpose, making this a classic 21st century epic of seismic proportions.
Finish off with"Happy returns" the most accessible piece, a very enchanting, typically English mood piece, that I can admire but not go gaga over, this is the one piece that I find needless. Perhaps due to the preceding splendor, I just rate it somewhat skin-deep only. Finally, a brief moody outro, almost ambient, definitely relaxed "Ascendant Here On" will prove a perfect au revoir.
Some will like, some will hate but no one will deny the talent at play here. His best yet, I feel is still to come.
4.5/5 ears cannot erase
Thomas Szirmay

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.
Chris

This is quite simply put one of the best albums I've ever heard! It's Steven Wilson. It's Guthrie and Marco, Nick Beggs and Adam Holzman and is every bit as good as you would expect from such a stellar cast. It's a concept album based on a film about real events surrounding the sad and lonely death of Joyce Carol Vincent was dead in her flat for three years before anyone noticed. You know, the usual upbeat stuff from Mr Wilson. I love every last second of this but if there is one "Desert Island Disc" moment it's the gorgeous Moog solo in Regret #9 that's worth the £50 special edition price on its own - there's two nights at the Royal Albert Hall in September 2015 to look forward to and I simply cannot wait.
Tony R.

I missed out on the preorder for the deluxe version of this album so I wll focus on the surround sound DVD and talk about on on a more personal level as there are already many detailed reviews of the music itself.
This is an album that will mark my 50th birthday for the rest of my life. It arrived about a month prior and will be one of three 2015 releases to do so, but this one will likely have the most meaning as time progresses. If you peel away the surface story, it's all about growing older, which we do everyday, and the regrets you encounter over a lifetime. Particular touching for me are the lyrics in Happy Returns addressed to a brother that one has lost touch with, but I will spare you the details.
I was amused to see an interview with Steven, where he was asked about the possiblity of a Porcupine Tree reunion and about his moving on to a "solo" career. To paraphrase: he felt he had said all he had to say through Porcupine Tree and moved on to the self titled albums so he could explore new musical territory that he couldn't in the band due to the other members particular musical tastes and what that brought to the band. This album actually impresses me as the most Porcupine Tree like music of his solo albums so far. It is particularly reminiscent to me of the albuma around and after Lightbulb Sun. Sure there are no females in the mix with PT, but come on. Not that I am complaining. Steven has a knack for putting out albums that alway appeal to me even if the feeling is not universal amonst some reviewers. This one is of course no exception.
I do have one question about Regret #9. What exactly is the regret here? That Steven didn't play anything on the track? That Adam Holzman is borrowing heavily from Jan Hammer and didn't give him a thanks a credits? That there are no vocals? I don't understand. Actually if this is reflective of a new band (the same musicians were present on The Raven That Refused To Sing) then I have no doubt their next album be equally as enjoyable.
So, I would recommend going with the blu-ray version if you have the means to play it back. It is certainly worth it for the surround sound listening experience, of which I think Steven is the undisputed master of. He has a real talent of surrounding you with the sounds be it his own music or remixing, progressive rock classics. It appears that all the artwork you would get in the deluxe version show up on screen as a coordinated slide show. Whoever laments the loss of the old LP sit down and listen experience, an album relased in this format certainly brings it back without the audio limitations and flaws of the vinyl medium. And after all it is a concept album.
Tons of bonus material on this version. A duplicate of the music with slide show and no vocals. Karaoke anyone? Some alternate version of the tracks.including a radio edit of Hand Cannot Erase (no Steven no!!!) There are also some additional images/slides included to go along with these tracks. Finally a studio documentary.
For those who can't do blu, there is a mediabook version with a high quality DVD audio disc, a standard CD version (no pretty video pictures though, as well as, sigh, a double LP version. He may have been able to spread the grooves far enough to overcome some of the audio limitations of that format, plus you get a nice LP package. I suppose you could also just download it, sigh, but why deprive yourself of a better listening experience?
At the Burning Shed store site it says Steven is a "four-time Grammy nominee and founder member of cult legends, Porcupine Tree." I knew the latter but not the former. That might explain why I saw a copy of the standard CD version available at a local chain electronics and appliance store...
Brian S. Lindsey

Here is a case for giving an album some time before posting an opinion on it. I purchased this album on the day of it's release. At first listen, I liked it, but thought it was nothing special. But the production was so nice, I kept it in my heavy play rotation for quite some time. I've come to think of it as a great album, but not as good as the previous "The Raven That Refused To Sing".
The exceptional songs are 3 Years Older, which begins with a Rush-like riff, but soon settles into a song with the structure and feel of a Neil Morse Spock's Beard era epic, and Ancestral which I believe owes more than a little to King Crimson's Starless.
Just behind those two are the more straight ahead rockers Home Invasion and Regret #9, both powerful and familiar sounding tracks with impressive passionate solos.
Even on the lesser tracks Wilson shows his talent as producer. The title track is more of an alt rock piece than anything else, and A Perfect Life, a repetitious euro-electronica song that, in other hands, may have been unlistenable. Both are strengthened by Wilson's fine ear for finding the perfect tone for his instruments. It shows why so many classic acts are hiring him for the remix on the bicentennial celebrations of our favorite albums.
If you don't like this at first, give it a chance.
Scott

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".
John Davie

Leave it to the genius of Steven Wilson to pick up on the disturbing story of London socialite Joyce Vincent and make the marvel and mystery of her death into the inspiration for an album--a brilliant album full of the musings and vignettes of subtle criticism of our 21st Century society. The possibility that a young, popular, almost-engaged woman of caring parents could go three years without being discovered or missed seems ludicrous, even impossible. Especially when considering that the television was on, the window wide open, and the mail and bills kept piling up inside on the floor of her front door--for three years! Amazing. What makes Steven Wilson such a genius, to me, is not his reverence for the "masters" and "masterpieces" of the past, not his incredible attention to detail in the engineering and production rooms, not his proclivity for attracting the most amazing instrumentalists to contribute to his songs and tours, but it is in his insightful articulation of the signs and symptoms of the disease and decay of contemporary society. And he's done it almost from the beginning--at least from Lightbulb Sun on. I actually don't like much of Steven's music. As sophisticated and catchy as it is, as well-constructed and well-performed as it is, as well-produced as it is, it is usually lacking something, je ne said quoi, (I can never pinpoint it)--which is what makes me rarely feel the desire to return to many of his albums. In Steven Wilson I recognize the true genius in his lyrics, his subtle yet oh-so timely and poignant social commentary. When we look back in 50 years for music that gave us a look at the real issues troubling our society in the opening of the 21st Century, we will be able to find it in the songs of Steven Wilson. Hand. Cannot. Erase. is definitely a work of genius, definitely a testament to our troubled times. Whereas some groups choose to focus on the big picture issues like Anekdtoen, Ulver, and Paatos, Steven Wilson chooses to focus on the microcosm--on individuals or scenes that provide us with pictures into the imbalances in our society, the odd patterns in our collective and individual consciousnesses, the disease eating away at our souls. Kudos to you, Steven, for continuing to find the cojones, the drive, as well as the right stories to satisfy your obvious need to place that ever-disturbing mirror in front of our eyes. We are such an odd--disturbingly odd--species!
The album starts off rather weakly, trying ever-so hard to breach the chasm of pop and prog for the first four songs (the fourth of which, "Perfect Life," just happens to be awesome and, yes, haunting). Yet, it's really not until the fifth song, "Routine" that Mr. Wilson and company reach the prog stride that will be necessary to please us progheads. From there on, however, the album is pure magic, power and bliss. Brilliant prog songs. Brilliant vignettes into individual lives which Mr. Wilson masterfully uses to illuminate the dysfunctional patterns and priorities that are eating way at our society.
Though not all of Hand. Cannot. Erase. is my cup of tea, I cannot argue with its masterful construction, its mature song writing and the sophisticated play of some of modern prog's instrumental masters. With Hand. Cannot. Erase., Steven Wilson has, once again, contributed something quite significant to posterity.
Five star songs: songs 4 through 9. Favorite songs: "Perfect Life," "Routine," "Regret #9," and "Transience."
Drew Fisher

Oh happy days, now I can finally get to review some Steven Wilson, surely one of, if not the most polarizing figure in prog these days.
(I'll also try to refrain from calling him the David Gilmore of Porcupine Trees' "Pink Floyd", if you get the connection)
And surely the old prog faithful lambaste him for being boring, pathetic, unoriginal. And yet apparently David Gilmore wasn't on his solo albums, yet I could make the same argument there, lest I get persecuted by the old Pink Floyd faithful. Except those two bands, Floyd and Tree, sure got an awful lot in common.
But perhaps I'll get to that in a future Wilson album, I don't want to discuss that here.
Especially here on a more lively album in Wilson's repertoire. Yes, the album is based on a young girl's life and death (or murder), but especially on "3 Years Later", it's in much higher spirits than "Grace For Drowning" or "Insurgentes". It seems kinda funny since Porcupine Tree was one of those bands that seemed to always produce depressing music, or at least, that's what it appeared on the surface, underneath though there was so much more action happening.
"3 Years Older" is a perfect example. The instrumental intro is so lively and spritely, and Wilson's vocal harmonics are always a pleaser in my mind, very Beatles-esque those harmonic overlays, something surprisingly absent in most music these days. And the outro is spiffy as well. Then again, I shouldn't be surprised since we got Guthrie Govan on guitars, bit of a technical guy, but focuses more melodically than just straight shredding. And then you got Marco Minneman on the beats, frankly the closest guy you can get to replace someone of Gavin Harrison's character: he made most of those Porcupine Tree songs so much more interesting, he saved about half those.
But it really is a rare specimen, this. Wilson is only good at making depressing music, how the hell can he write happy music? Simple, by focusing on the simpler things.
"Hand Cannot Erase" is about as simple as it can get. Apart from the syncopation in Wilson's vocals, it sounds like a happy pop rock track, and "Perfect Life" just oozes ambiance and warmth. It doesn't get any better than that. One of, if not the biggest keys to Wilson's success and fame is this: he knows how to set the mood, and that can make or break an album, let alone a single song. Without the right atmosphere or mood set at the beginning of a song, the listener is left without an anchor to grab onto. Thus, he/she is less likely to be interested throughout the remainder of the song. Sure, there are some songs that are saved by future material, but they're just the exceptions to the rule.
And even the material just seems to sound right with what's going on. "Routine" is the perfect title for this song, it sounds typical, like a slow PT tribute song, but when you take into account the lyrics, and the monotony of it all, it somehow works. It's a soundtrack to an unfilmed movie that actually works.
Of course, the myth is that Wilson doesn't like fast action, that he prefers soft, slow, depressing blah. 1) That's absolute garbage. 2) You probably haven't listened to "Home Invasion" yet.
The title is self explanatory if you're following the dialog, but it's just such a groovy piece, with rock organ providing a little pizzazz, Minneman rocking like a fiend through time signature changes and groovy fills. It's a non-stop ride, with Govan providing some meat in his riffs as well. This is a jam, very blusey, very Pink Floydian like (oops, did I just mention them again?). One of the highlights of the album. And it just flows right into "Regret #9", another jam filled with fantastic keyboard and guitar solos. It's wonderful, a modern interpretation of Floyd if I've ever heard.
Yes, there are more somber spots, the acoustic driven "Transience" is one, and the electronic drum led intro of "Ancestral" is another, the latter moving in and out of mysterious, dissonant chords, with Ninet Tayeb providing some wonderfully haunting vocals here and there. Clearly, we're in the sad part of the story, so there's not going to be much happy here, but there are licks, by Govan and Minneman, before it all spastically accelerates to the finish with some quips from flute contributor Theo Travis before an almost Dream Theater-like finish.
"Happy Returns" is the final song of interest before the outro "Ascendent". It's another Wilsonian acoustic led ballad, but it's not really depressing. Unlike Dream Theater's "Metropolis, Pt. 2" which was "mostly" focused on the tragedy, and the mourning of a passing, this album seems more the opposite, more focused on the celebration of a life once lived. And yes, there are many nods to Pink Floyd that I hear, but I can't compare Wilson to Gilmore or Floyd to Tree anymore. Both are separate identities, the bands and the men. Gilmore, thriving in an age of space rock that contemplated human behaviors, Wilson, thriving in an age of pop that also contemplated human behaviors. Both are the same, living in different eras.
Except, not. Gilmore, to me, couldn't survive creating his own identity from his mothership band. Wilson couldn't have survived UNLESS he created his own identity from his mothership band. And the main reason for this difference, is Roger Waters. I'd like to think Gavin Harrison save a lot of PT songs from being boring, but then again, throw another prog drummer like Minneman here for example, and all is well. Wilson didn't have another mind (or ego, if you talk to some) like Gilmore did with Waters. Floyd couldn't survive in its famous state with those two butting heads. Tree, to me, could've survived as a Wilson solo project, even though their last album seemed to be rather created without an interest in actually making it from the band.
In the end, though, there are some genuinely good tunes to listen to here, not just an album that's best appreciated all the way through once in a while, which hurt some of PT and Wilson albums in the past. Original? Not in the slightest. But is it good? I'd say so. Revolutionary? Not really, but then again, what is anymore? What Wilson has done is take a beloved sound of Porcupine Tree and infused some life in it, partially from his backing band, and partially from his compositional skills, skills that dare I say could even rival that of one sir Paul McCartney? The resemblance is uncanny, and NO, it's not because they're both British.
But now with several grenades thrown, you, the unlucky reviewer who just read this entire piece of crap, can decide with your opinion. The decision on the wealth of music on this album has already been made: Almost certainly it'll be one of the best albums of the year, by far.
Dave

How do you follow up the sheer brilliance of The Raven That Refused To Sing? How on earth do you give us a rich and satisfying work based upon the impossibly tragic story of a lady who lay dead for three whole years, utterly unnoticed, and not, apparently, missed at all?
Well, it is a bit of a cliche to state that only the finest artists are capable of managing such a feat. Cliches can be true, you know, and it is absolutely a truism in modern progressive rock that one of the few, possibly the only, artists capable of giving us such a rich, song based, piece of art which satisfies, enriches, takes us on a massive emotional musical trip, is one Steven Wilson.
I know that there are many people reading this review who pine endlessly for a Porcupine Tree reunion. There are others who, with some justification, compare Mr Wilson with one David Gilmour of Floyd fame. I will go one better. I compare him with the other colossus of that band, namely Roger Waters. Not musically, as such, but in terms of an incredible song writer, organiser, producer, and emotional lyricist who has been absolutely freed from the shackles of a collective which had, quite clearly, run its course, free to surround himself with illuminati of rock music, and, make no mistake, Beggs, Govan, Minneman, Holzman ( just listen to that solo on Regret #9, quite incredible), and Travis qualify as this, and simply express himself. The fact that the end result of all of this has been wildly commercially successful is, to my mind, simply a bonus.
I have listened to this album many times prior to putting hands to keyboard to write a review. One of the issues I have found has been the Prog Archives rating system. Masterpiece, excellent, good, with knobs on?
Actually, with repeated listens I have realised the best way to review and rate is simply to allow the music to wash over one, in waves, appreciate this for what it is, that is a concept absolutely drenched in emotion, backed by some of the finest soundscapes it is possible to hear. Transience is one such example. A quite lovely Wilson vocal, with dreamy acoustic guitar, and dark wall of sound behind, provides us with a sad piece of beauty.
One of the reasons for this, by the way, is the staggeringly beautiful performance provided by Ninet Tayeb. Her vocalisation of the "heroine" ( subject is, perhaps, a better description) written and sung about is quite simply one of the finest ever put to record. She has a feel for the subject, with a lovely voice to accompany, and Wilson, once again demonstrating his intelligence, allows her more than sufficient space with which to express herself. The pair of them, with some deceptively simple rhythms backing, produce a simply staggeringly gorgeous piece of music on Perfect Life, which says more in just short of five minutes, than many a twenty minute epic. A wall of sound to equal no other in recent times.
Thence to Routine, which, again, highlights the points I make above. A song rooted completely in ordinary life, and bringing out the emotion inherent in such a life. As in life, the emotions swing wildly, and the band is allowed to shine. The exquisite Beggs bass line, followed by a delicious Guthrie riff, is a joy to listen to. Tayeb is utterly haunting in her recital. The denouement of the vocal duet is simply beautiful.
It all leads up to the tour de force that is Ancestral. This is just about the finest slab of progressive rock one will hear. The deceptively quiet intro leads us into a supreme Govan solo, and, from then, a band absolutely in tune with each other. Beggs is utterly monstrous, and is, to these ears, now vying strongly with Pete Trewavas as the bass exponent of our times. The emotional roller coaster this track takes us on takes the breath and mind away, and it is, perhaps, as heavy and thunderous as Wilson has been heard in more than a few years. It competes strongly, in parts, with the King Crimson Red era as perfect hard rock in progressive clothing, combined with emotionality. I have not had such a feeling since I first listened to Red, or Starless, all those years ago.
We try our best, after this, to come down on Happy Returns and Ascendent Here On... The former brings a tear to my eye. Just a lovely Wilson lyric, backed by piano, guitars, building up to a band in utter harmony. How does he do this.......? How are they so good......?
So, how to rate such an album? Is it worthwhile to simply reduce such a work to a number of stars?
For what it is worth from a personal perspective, I find something new in each and every listen. You know, when you still listen to those beloved classics from the glory years of prog, you still wonder at a particular Hackett lick, Squire note, Bruford pattern, or Fripp invention, to name but a few? This has that. A chill down the spine at a particular passage, and a different one, at that, on each listen. The power to move you each time that you concentrate. An album which, you know, will be played for as long as you are still on this earth, and, hopefully, beyond.
It is timeless. It is brilliant. It is, put simply, a masterpiece. That gives it five stars, as if it needed such a mark.
This is the epitome of modern classic commercial progressive rock (yes, commercial, because he is selling shed loads of albums), and it is rather difficult to imagine a prog rock world without Mr Wilson. He is a genius, and he has added a huge sum to my happiness in life.
Steve

Steven Wilson has been one of the most important figures in my musical journey throughout much of adulthood. Porcupine Tree was a big deal for me. In Absentia was one of the first modern art-rock albums I ever purchased, and I credit it for helping me jump all-in to the world of progressive music.
In the time since 2002, Wilson has proven to be one of the most prolific and versatile figures within our circle of the music industry. That's not to say he's infallible, or that he hasn't produced some misfires, but by-in-large I don't think there's a doubt in anyone's head that his legacy will be among the most important in the prog/art rock field.
That being said, even when measured against the vast body of his excellent output, Hand Cannot Erase is probably the best piece of music that Wilson has yet created.
Stylistically Hand isn't especially experimental or a deviation from the style of music Wilson is known for; it has a gorgeous combination of dynamics, instrumental virtuosity, impeccable song writing, stellar production, and aching poignancy... it just has all of these things in just the right balance. Like the stars coming into alignment, it will become apparent quickly in listening that you're in for a genuine music magic. Wilson's backing musicians are incredible. Wilson's voice and lyrics are top-notch. The songs are memorable and dense with musicianship. And the effect is just perfect.
It is a fantastically artful, majestic, soulful, complex, and ambitious album that grabs hold on every level that a prog fan could want and captivates for the entirety of its length. Simply put: it's a freaking master stroke by a consummate professional and is not to be missed.
If you've been a fan of anything Wilson has done in the past 10 years you'll find something to like with Hand Cannot Erase, if you love the work he's done in the past 10 years, you'll love Hand Cannot Erase even more. If you've avoided jumping on the band wagon... jump as fast as you can to Hand Cannot Erase.
Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5
Jeff Morgenroth

Steven Wilson's 'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' is probably the finest piece of progressive art so-far released in the 21st century. Quite a statement, in fact I'd go as far as to say it rivals even some of the timeless epics from the 1970's. Steven Wilson of course needs no introduction to readers of PA. His work with Porcupine Tree is all absolutely essential, and his four solo albums are must-owns for any fan of progressive art.
So I've used the term 'progressive art' a couple of times. That is exactly what I think this album is - it's one of those albums which transcends any one medium. It is pure sonic artistry rendered in a perfect vision. This album is a journey, not just musically, but in the minds-eye imagery Wilson & co conjure up in the listener. Steven Wilson is such a creative tour de force that any composition he turns his hand to is destined for greatness. And the collection of songs on this album are by far some of his best work.
Released in 2015 this album can be best described as bringing together all of the different elements of Wilson's previous work, both solo, side-projects, collaborations as well as Porcupine Tree. This has got it all. Chilling electronic music, haunting pianos and synths, majestic guitar, soaring leads and the most amazing story and lyrics I've ever heard in a concept album. There's electronica, rock, metal, acoustic and folk styles blended seamlessly together during the 66-minute run-time. Nothing feels out of place, and while it might take the listener a few spins to start the understand the record there is nothing wrong with that.
I think this will be an album that people talk about and remember for decades to come, and could prove to be Steven Wilson's finest moment. The easiest 5 stars I've awarded to an album. If you haven't already got this one then don't waste any more time!
Andrew Joiner

'Hand. Cannot. Erase.' is one of the greatest triumphs of Mr. Wilson in several respects. First and foremost, this album shows that Wilson succeeded in assembling his electronic and ambient textures and virtuoso performance in brilliant forms. Clearly, he could make records that were supposed to be lauded by prog fans following the approach of 'Raven', which had complex structures and one of the finest performances in modern prog genre. Making such albums, however, could be artistic failure; admiration guaranteed by following the rule might imprison his strengths in making layered and constructed sounds and the results of that choice would make 'Hand.' a generic record. Fortunately (I might have to say expectably) Wilson took fresh sound elements and influences from electronica and contemporary classic music to make the latest full album (we could recognize BoC, Murcof, and Arvo Part etc. in the album) and his arrangement between those current experiment in genres and classic prog influences is in the greatest form he has ever achieved.
Lyrically or thematically the album covers broad and urgent issues; social alienation, freedom, and modern technology etc.. What makes these themes interesting is, however, not the theme itself but how Wilson narrates that kinds of familiar issue. Based on the real haunting story, the theme of album is clearly more concrete than Wilson's last attempts to deal similar issues; furthermore, he adopted various representations, images, and motifs from novels and movies (from Kafka to 'Under the Skin') and mixed those various fragments with superb sound design. For instance, 'Ancestral' is like Sirens voices extended by modern classic music and death metal. 'Routine' could be considered as melancholic poetry read by Kate Bush. The deluxe edition of this album provides much more interesting and imaginative experimentation in that direction.
Needless to say, the production is top-notch and performances are brilliant. The more you listen to the album, the more elements worth delving into you will find. Highly recommended.
Koo raven31

Much has been said about Steven Wilson and his genius. I remember when I first heard Luminol, the first track from "The Raven that refused to sing " I remained speechless. I understood that the creativity of this man had no limit. Steven Wilson master so many genres like psychedelic prog, pop music, electro-prog, progressive metal, and he showed to the world his talents in creating a fantastic jazzy song. The rest of the album remained kept a very high level.
When I purchased "Hand.Cannot.Erase" I was pretty sure that Wilson would follow into the same direction. I was totally wrong. This concept album is very different from its predecessor, and is IMO, even better. No filler, despite some weaker tracks (Perfect Life, Transcience) the rest of the album reaches the top of prog music. Highlights of the album are (in this order) Ancestral, Home Invasion/Regret#9 and 3 Years Older.
I have known Porcupine Tree for 12 years now, and I am still amazed by the talent of Mr Wilson to reinvent himself for each album.
PS: sorry about my poor English!
Anthony Barrès

Steven Wilson continues to blow me away with each new solo album. I thought that it would be difficult to top the masterpiece that is "The Raven Who Would Not Sing"; But I was wrong!
"Hand. Cannot. Erase." is equally masterful if not better. It has all of the Prog elements which never fail to strike a chord with me. I can hear elements which, to me, pay homage to either another classic artist or work which is a classic. This is all woven into a Prog stew which never imitates but builds upon these foundations.
For example; I can hear the expected space and harmony of Pink Floyd, but even more specifically like passages from "Dark Side." I hear "La Villa Strangiato" like progressions without actually being that particular song. I even heard some elements which had early Black Sabbath-like sounds. Just amazing to sneak that stuff in the way that he does!
And the production and engineering, Steven Wilson is like-the modern day Todd Rundgren; A Wizard, a True Star. Always a studio master and impeccabile audiophile. And the scary thing is that as the years go by, he's always getting better and the equipment is getting better. Yet this doesn't mean that he uses technology as a means to an end. Steven will resseruct vintage prog sounds which may have not have been perfect back in the day, but can now be heard in super high quality like never before. This is evident once again by featuring the old mellotron and lots of vintage Moog synthesizers.
I put this album in my all-time "Top 10" and expect to see it have the staying power to remain and continue to climb the Prog Archives all-time top 50 prog albums.
Mike Mann

A brilliant album title, is it not? Genesis once tilted an album with similar lackluster words called We Can't Dance. But Genesis were never the geniuses that Steven Wilson is. They would never had the creative intelligence to concoct a title that's punctuated with periods rendering the title as We. Can't. Dance. See the genius in that? If not, I'll expand on it further in my review.
This album starts off with the now familiar atmospheric background sounds that open a Brave era Marillion album, or any era Pink Floyd album, before we get into the music proper. Gentle and benign acoustic guitar strumming soon gives way to a galloping fast rhythm section that sounds like a combination of a Yes/Rush hybrid depending on what rhythm instrument you're focusing on. Swilson displays Squire-like bass tones and riffs while Minneman does his best Peart homage by hitting every ride and crash cymbal between the beats to ensure that no dead air is present in this frantic sound mix. A sludgy guitar solo is reminiscent of one of Lifeson's solos and the effect is complete.
This song titled 3 Years Older devolves into more acoustic strum and emotive less piano break before morphing into an ELP 'homage" with a ripping Hammond organ that is not quite sure if it wants to be a caustic Keith Emerson statement or an over the top comic embellishment from TAAB era John Evan. Wilson's bass displays less treble in this musical climax so I suppose he's honoring Greg Lake now. A slight musician that has always been underrated, so Swilson is finally giving this poor underappreciated chap his do. Bravo. Bravo.
The third track of this masterpiece starts with groundbreaking atmospheric percussive programming that renders the primitive Linn Drum Machine, so cherished by Collins era Genesis, totally obsolete. The LDM only vaguely touched on the soulless bleeps and dashes that Wilson's electronics take to a higher artificial level. Is there no stopping this man's quest to expand the boundaries of progressive rock music?
But wait, Wilson is not only the keeper of the prog music flame, he also shows himself to be a deft lyricist with the profound and thought provoking lyrics of the album's title track. In a melody that would have taken the Collin's era Genesis all of five minutes to arrive out, Wilson shoehorns his brilliant lyrics into a jerky chorus with the profound words "Hand cannot erase love." Again, he's brilliant. Wilson did not say adversity or trials during wartime cannot erase love, or that time and distance cannot erase love, or even that common human failings cannot erase love. He said, quite plainly, that a hand cannot erase love. What a sumptuous treat for every budding lyricist that that genuflected over every lyric put down on vinyl by Ian Anderson, Peter Hamill, Roy Harper and Peter Gabriel, let alone stalwarts like Dylan and Lennon. They've simply been wasting their time. The silly buggers.
Track number four starts off with more stunning electronic pulses and digital dashes before an honored female guest vocalist speaks her part. Wilson could have had her sing this narrative with vocals that contain spine tingling high octives, soulful timber with an incredible pitch perfect delivery. But Wilson just let's her simply talk. Again, the genius of this move almost humbles me.
When Wilson does actually sing himself on this number, his guest vocalist backs him with harmonies so shrill that's its actually an attempt to give Wison's thin vocals some heft and body. It's an old trick that failed as badly for those that tried it some 40 plus years ago. Even Phil Spector called it stupid.
And here's where my ride on the Swilson propaganda train comes to an end. I tried to stick around for a few more lackluster songs before my attention wandered into more important concerns like putting out the evening trash. So, I got about this far at my first listening to his album some months ago, and I really doubt that three times will make it a charm.
Wilson is not a plagiarist. There's never a single note, chord or guitar riff that I think that he's lifted from another artist. But he is an imitator of other artist's styles. After his morbid fascination with old era KC on the Raven, I was hoping that Wilson would finally arrive at a style all his own. It's not impossible. Nearly everyother modern prog artist evolves past the imitation stage at some point, but not Mr. Wilson, he continues to dig up the corpses of old prog for more Frankenstein's monster reanimations. I have two things that I'm racing against: failing eyesight and a failing heart. So there's a good chance that I will expire while listening to music in my study. One reviewer opined that this music should be allowed to wash over the listener. I disagree, as it will be a cold day in hell before I let this stagnantly polluted bathwater wash over me, as it may be the last thing I listen to on this earth.
So 5/5 stars for Swilson's great swindle. A con man of this caliber should be greatly celebrated for pulling the wool over so many eyes, or ears in this case, and celebrate him I will.
As B.T. Barnum once said, there's one born every minute. And Mr. Wilson, no doubt, heard him loud and clearly. So did I and I'm heading in the other direction, just as quick as my sound mind and ailing body will allow me.
Steve G.

Wilson and T introduced me to progressive rock. I really like Steve Wilson's way of creating atmosphere a lot. On the other hand, sometimes a few more breaks and twists would be required to maintain interest for the whole duration. But sure this is criticism on a high high level. The production is wonderful, and though I think it would do the music good to have a more prolific singer, this is not really a minus for the cd. I am very thankful for the music being a bit pop-like. Else I would never have found out about this "genre" at all! In the end, this counts for a lot, although it might be a minus with reference to being "progressive ". Or maybe it really isn't?
Dunja Niemeier

Without a doubt, Steven Wilson is the modern standard bearer for progressive rock. Over the course of four solo albums since putting Porcupine Tree on hiatus, Wilson has reached a standard of success other proggers just dream of. All right, he's not Katy Perry, but his new album, Hand. Cannot. Erase., debut not just in the charts in Europe but near the top of several. For a guy who's spent the last few years channeling King Crimson, Yes, and a host of other terminally unfashionable bands (while remixing chunks of their back catalogs), that ain't bad.
What's more, Wilson's done by producing four albums that are distinct from each other but still sound clearly like him. Where The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) fully embraced its 1970s proggy roots, Hand. Cannot. Erase. casts a wider net, harkening back not only to some of the more tuneful bits of Porcupine Tree (think Stupid Dream or Lightbulb Sun) but also other Wilson projects like Blackfield or even No-Man. As a result, the album is more accessible, but no less interesting. Each track, whether it's an acoustic vocal piece or a frenzied prog workout, is deftly constructed and performed.
The performance comes largely from the band assembled to tour Grace for Drowning (and which made The Raven . . .), with some interesting additions, including a choir and some effective strings (arranged by the ever talented Dave Stewart). Wilson does a lot of work himself, but he leaves the spotlight stuff to others, particularly guitarist Guthrie Govan, who has his usual shreddy self reigned in somewhat, to great effect. There's even a piece that's basically spoken word, although I think it's probably the weakest effort here.
Hand. Cannot. Erase. is a concept album, inspired by the story of Joyce Carol Vincent ? a woman who died in her apartment and wasn't found for three years. She reportedly wasn't a loner or recluse, had friends and family. Wilson was drawn to the story by wondering how she got there. As a result, this is kind of like Wilson's run at Brave, the Marillion album inspired by a BBC report about a uncommunicative girl wandering on the Severn Bridge. The album is Steve Hogarth's attempt to figure out how the girl got there.
The comparison is inevitable and, unfortunately, Hand. Cannot. Erase. suffers for it. Hogarth and company are expert at picking you up and wringing every bit of emotion out of you. You feel for the girl in Brave, even if you never quite understand what went on in her head (there are also some broader swipes at the society in general that might have driven her there). Wilson doesn't work the same way, preferring a more detached observational approach. He's very Kubrickian in that way, which isn't a bad thing (I loves me some Stanley), but it does make for a stark contrast.
All in all, Hand. Cannot. Erase. is another great effort from Wilson. Highly recommended.
J. D. Byrne

This album is the story of our generation. I am a 15 year old and this album exactly represents my life. It shows a lot about our generation, if we were to disappear we wouldn't run away but instead just lock ourselves in our homes and sadly no one cares, this is what the story tells us. When I heard the raven I thought it was almost impossible to better it, but still he won my(and certainly others) hearts.I am gonna do a track by track review(please forgive if it's bad I am a newbie)
1- First Regret: 8.5/10 it is the perfect introduction to the album, at the start you hear the sound of laughter and maybe rain too, that perfectly suits the mood of the album and the title talks about regret so you get the idea of the sad nature of the album from here itself
2. 3 Years Older- 9/10 the guitar at the start of the album is somewhat uplifting yet there's a sadness in the music that speaks for itself you get to understand how brilliant steven truly is.The line 'its complicated' itself describes the situation. Its basically just being locked up and thinking about the events that happend in your life, the anger and the sadness it brought to you and how you are moving towards medics. It asks a simple question, why do people like us still stay in a society that doesn't appreciate us 'life is not some silly game' it says and what a true statement
3. Hand Cannot Erase- 9/10 its a love song, but a complicated simple one, its about missing people in your life, regretting of all those fights you've had and remembering the time you spent with them, how you thought nothing could ever go wrong. But still after all those times even though you aren't together You still love him/her
4. Perfect Life- 9/10 It's.....beautiful...it is about remembering good times and how you had a perfect life but for me it seems its a dream like how you dream of the people you love, holding hands, running here and there, hugging and smiling then suddenly they vanish and you wake up from your dream, and then just wish if they would come back, Steven's voice shows this perfectly at around 2:10 when he starts singing 'we have got a perfect life' in the most uplifting manner, he keeps repeating those lines but in a way you always keep asking for more
P.S happens to me last night
5. Routine- 10/10 Miss N Tayab is a beautiful singer I am glad she is in this album, she's got a voice perfect for this situation(add Steven and the band into the music and just imagine) This song is basically when you're tired of living alone, you wake up, do your work, get bored, go to sleep without anyone to talk to, it represents the desperation of a tortured soul, musically its one of the best pieces on the album, 9 mins in length and pure prog #donteverletgo
Home Invasion- 8/10: the title seems like an alien invasion but for me its about the effect internet has on humans, it's a funky piece and reflects the anger and irritation of a human in a situation like that, when you're fed up doing the same thing again and again, downloading things to help pass your time but yet you're gonna get tired sometime, it has quite angrier lyric than the rest, 'download the ocean and the sky'( funny when you're away from them) when you think why download things that I haven't seen for days, you can't 'download the life you wish you had'... time passes you by and you're here doing nothing
Regret #9 - 9/10 great guitar!! Guthrie you are such a genius, it carries on the angry mood from the past song perfectly yet adds a bit of disappointment and sadness
Transience- 9.5/10 A hidden gem, its the most sentimental piece on the album for me 'a child in a train distressed as it departs' its when you leave everyone, and forced to go away
Ancestral - 10/10 I wish I could give it more than 10, but I can't... that solo around 4 is the best I have heard in years and Theo does his best in this song, actually all the members are at their best in it, its the climax of the album, its realizing you can't change the society the way it is and neither can hide away forever, it's when you give up isolation and are ready to use your wings again to fly high in the sky cause as everything in life it will pass too, Prog at its finest
Happy Returns/ascendant here on - 10/10 : its a sad ending to a beautiful album(happier in terms of the real incident in where she dies) its when you return to normal and then find that you weren't missed at much, it makes you cry, his angelic voice in this song just breaks me
this album shows that if someone wanted to run away they wouldnt escape but go into the middle of the city where each of them are busy with themselves and have no time and compassion for others
Aditya Mishra

Every year he's published something SW has amazed us. Every record is different and unique in its own way, but they all carry that vibe, that sound, that masterful production, that genius... SW has yet to disappoint. Hand.Cannot.Erase is not what you'd expect but is flawless anyway. More pop oriented (if pop is really the way to put it) that his previous two releases, this entry carries inside a PT feel to it, mixed with the musicianship that SW's band brings in. Fabulous performances are heard all the way through, Nick Beggs in almost every song, Ninet Tayeb's hauntingly beautiful vocals in Routine and Ancestral, Adam Holzman's unmistakeable keyboards, Marco Minneman's prescence (in my opinion, one of the greatest drummers alive) and Guthrie Govan's talent. Every SW solo album has been a masterpiece with a unique touch, and this is no exception.
Tomás Grayeb

Many reviewers already made good points on what superiority this album has both lyrically and musically and I agree on that acclaim.
Even though "Hand. Cannot. Erase." lacks virtuoso quality which makes "Raven That Refused To Sing" bright and applauded, this album has truly inventive and experimental sonic landscape.
For instance, "Routine" contains eerie and beautiful interactions among boy choirs, mellotron sound and mournful guitar works. "Ancestral" drives listeners to the bleak and sinister place. We can hear Opeth's riffs, King Crimson's dissonance and even Post-rock crescendo. "Perfect Life" is a interesting effort that try to capture bittersweet and old memories using modern and industrial electronic texture.
"Hand. Cannot. Erase." truly deserves five/five stars.
Agencement

I have a mix feeling about this album. If I didn't know SW work and was listening to HCE as the first album, I would probably give it 5 stars. This album have it all: great composed tracks, heavy progressive parts alongside lighter, catchy, poppier songs, performed by brilliant musicians and have the best sound production only as Steven Wilson knows how. On the other hand, knowing SW from Porcupine Tree and his previous 3 albums I can't help thinking that HCE was compromised a little, maybe to give it a touch of commercial aspects on account of progrier songs. I know SW, he always wanted to be at the top, to make hits and get his radio time share, but as a brilliant musician as he is, he can't just write conservative music, he's a prog artist. HCE is a very good successor to "The Raven?" masterpiece, but not as revolutionary though.
Eli Sagie

I am duty bound to give this five stars - because I reckon that based on musicianship, composition, and concept alone - this CD will be the finest out this year and if a CD does surpass it - than it will also be a five star effort by that fact alone. I would have had to give it five stars for the moog-solo alone - because it's so rare that a solo of such haunting perfection is attempted in todays prog - even those that are intending to be somewhat retrospective and attempting to re-capture the essence of the old- style concept album. The CD has all kinds of old-style influences merged in - I get Genesis, Rush, Yes, Floyd , Camel and Anthony Phillips - I am not going to bother taking you through the tracks again - a lot of other people have done that already - A final thought must go on the thought provoking and superb atheist lyrics - Ancestral "Distracted by their faith, ignoring every proof" - a better line I have yet to find in any CD in my collection.....This is definitely a must buy for 2015!!!
Rob Barnett

Steven Wilson is one of the few "buy on sight" artists for me (Steve Hackett being just about the only other).
I was wondering what Mr Wilson would do after "The Raven..." - would he "do an Oldfield", rest on the laurels and make a "The Raven II"? or would he once more surprise and challenge us? I sure hoped for the latter and I was NOT disappointed by Hand.Cannot.Erase. - it is pure genius.
Musically he takes us places we haven't been before without losing the connection to where he's coming from, and lyrically he sets new standards. Having read up on the story ("concept") behind the album, the final lyrics, the closing lines on "Happy Returns" - superficially the most accessible song on the album, and no doubt thus causing the purist to froth at the mouth - was like a punch in the gut. I can't shake it off, yet the song stays on repeat a lot.
Only possible regret is that Theo Travis is used less on this album (and will be absent from the tour as far as I have heard), but that's Mr Wilson's decision - he just didn't write so much for wind instruments this time. But that is a minor detail. The album is an undisputed 5-star; this is a masterpiece of progressive rock music and essential in any collection.
The Bear

There's no denying that Steven Wilson's solo career has been on one heck of a roll. Since Porcupine Tree's The Incident was released in 2009, Wilson has focused entirely on his blossoming solo efforts -- releasing 2011's Grace for Drowning and 2013's The Raven Who Refused to Sing, the latter of which was Album of the Year at the 2013 Progressive Music Awards. However, his latest effort, Hand. Cannot. Erase., is perhaps the best of the bunch -- and one that will be mentioned by prog enthusiasts many years, if not decades, from now. It will also stay in my car stereo for a long, long while.
The first thing listeners must consider before digesting Hand. Cannot. Erase. is the unique subject matter. This is a concept album inspired by the case of an English woman named Joyce Carol Vincent who passed away back in December 2003, but remained undiscovered for three years. She was surrounded by gifts wrapped for Christmas, and her television and heat remained running, according to media reports. Half of her rent was being automatically paid by benefit agencies, but housing officials decided to repossess her London bedsit after enough unpaid rent had accumulated -- finally finding Vincent's corpse, which was so badly decomposed she had to be identified through dental records. Wilson learned of the story through the 2011 documentary "Dreams of a Life," and decided to explore how a young person could become so isolated, ignored and overlooked in today's tech-heavy world.
Honestly, there is so much to discover and ponder in Hand. Cannot. Erase. that it's difficult to do in just a few listens. We're not just talking about a collection of songs here -- there's the thought-provoking artwork, a special edition with stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes plus a 40-page booklet, and a blog (handcannoterase.com) written through the eyes of the album's female character that further brings the story to life. You gotta respect the efforts, with Wilson turning the album into a full artistic experience spanning a variety of mediums. But most importantly, of course, is the music itself. And Wilson doesn't disappoint at all. As sounds of kids playing fade in on the first track "First Regret," you know it's buckle-up time. You're about to embark on a special journey that will run the gambit of emotions.
The ending of "First Regret" features a simple, yet catchy, piano part that is repeated in the second-to-last track "Happy Returns," giving the album a cohesive feel. But between those songs are a ton of magical moments. The second track, "3 Years Older," explodes with an instrumental section that illustrates the talents of every band member before quieting down with acoustic guitars and Wilson's well-crafted lyrics. "You cross the schoolyard with your head held down, and walk the streets under the breaking clouds," Wilson sings. Some of the upbeat moments here are reminiscent of The Who and, in fact, I hear a wide range of prog influences scattered throughout the 11 tracks -- from Pink Floyd to Opeth to Rush.
The album also includes a pop-esque title track, which fits surprisingly well in the scope of the album, and a female spoken-word track that is also very refreshing called "Perfect Life." The album's dynamics are also expertly done and songs like "Routine" and "Ancestral" are excellent examples of this -- flowing from loud to soft, and soft to loud, with complete ease. Then there are ever-changing time signatures in "Home Invasion" and solos on songs such as "Regret #9," which scratches me right where I itch for prog rock. It's a five-minute song comprised of a kick-ass key solo followed by a Petrucci-esque guitar solo. Beautiful stuff.
My favorite song on the album is definitely "Happy Returns," which wraps up the story well and leaves me with an eerie feeling knowing the fate of Joyce Vincent. My only criticism is the album does give off a pervasive melancholy vibe, which could make it a difficult listen for all occasions. But it's a small issue. The truth is, I can't imagine how Wilson will top Hand. Cannot. Erase., but I said that about The Raven Who Refused to Sing. The bottom line is, everything he touches turns to gold -- and, as a fan, all you can do is just enjoy the ride.
Michael R. Ebert

Steven Wilson, the songwriter, producer, singer, guitarist behind Porcupine Tree and an uncompromising and successful solo career has once again delivered on surprising his fans. Following the success of his last album, the brilliant 'Raven that refused to sing', Wilson has returned to making a concept album and with 'Hand.Cannot.Erase', he has delivered perhaps one of the best albums of his career.
A true concept album, it is based on the story of Joyce Vincent who was found after being dead in her apartment for 2 years. This can make for some dark moments but Wilson finds a way of encapsulating the entire story of the young woman's life, providing moments of endearment, love, remembrance, loss and intensity all within the flow of the album. Musically, the album covers a lot of territory from parts sounding like Porcupine Tree and Opeth to Pop and Electronica. He has always ventured into other areas, but seems to be shying away from staying in one lane even more with this one. But rest assured, Prog fans should love this album.
For any fans of Porcupine Tree, the opening track 'First Regret/3 Years Older' will feel like a return to form. Opening like a movie soundtrack, the section 'First Regret' builds on a simple piano refrain and then moves to a string arrangement. The guitar into for '3 Years Older' sounds like it could be the guitar opening from Tommy but quickly the syncopated drum and bass from Marco Minnemann and Nick Beggs draw you into the building excitement. The next few minutes are like a musical overture leading to a simple acoustic guitar where Wilson begins to sing. The harmonies and background vocals are sublime and the explosion when the band kicks back in with force is captivating. There are some brilliant progressive moments in this latter half of the track, with the Adam Holzman's piano leading the way along with the tremendously talented Guthrie Govan following on guitar. The band features some of the best musicians in the world and they are absolutely incredible throughout.
The second track, 'Hand.Cannot.Erase' is nontraditional for a Steven Wilson album as it is a simple 4 minute pop song and perhaps one of the most radio friendly songs he has ever produced, certainly from his solo albums. It is an uptempo song that by itself would be cause for concern from the discerning Prog fan base, but in the context of the album, it is completely welcome as a breath of fresh air.
'Perfect Life' follows and this is where the album begins to shift. As seen in the video previously released for the song, it is mostly a narrated track where the sister of the lead woman in the story recalls how they first connected and then fell out of each other's lives. Mostly over an electronic rhythm, Wilson starts to sing 'we have got the perfect life' towards the end of the song, making for one of the most interesting and beautiful moments on the album. When asked about this track being a strange choice for the first video and single, Wilson said he is not interested in doing what is expected. Check out the interview with The Prog Report.
The centerpiece of the album is 'Routine'. The song introduces Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb as the lead character. The song is as much a musical theater track as it is a progressive rock track. It is an epic track that incorporates a boys choir which adds a particular depth to the track. The use of the instruments as characters, shifting them in and out, is another welcome element and shows Wilson's brilliance as a producer.
The next track 'Home Invasion/Regret' is something that would have fit on his last album. A heavy progressive track with a lot of instrumental parts make this a fun track to listen to and explore. The second half features an incredible solo section from Holzman. Guthrie Govan has his best solo moment on this track as well. This should be a great live song.
'Transciense' sounds like 'Lips of Ashes' from 'In Absentia'. It is a nice break from the heaviness of the previous track. And is a perfect pairing with 'Ancestral.' The big epic track on the album is also the heaviest track. It is similar to how Wilson used to write in the early days of PT in songs like Russia On Ice where the first half of the song is subdued and dark before kicking into a metal riff explosion that continues until the song reaches is climax.
The closing track 'Happy Returns/Ascendant Here On' is a soft ballad and a great way to close the album. After the haunting moments of 'Ancestral' Wilson chooses to try and leave the listener on a message of hope, even though we know the outcome is not good. He has often chosen to close his albums with ballad type tracks, some more simple than others. This one is grand and builds before ending softly with some piano and strings.
This is an album that demands multiple listens. It is layered and complex and once again Steven Wilson proves he is just an a different playing field when it comes to Prog and Rock music. He has created his own niche in both genres. He could easily do a full on Prog album as he did with the Raven, but knowing that is why he chooses to not do it. Instead he gifts us with another brilliant piece of music that should stand the test of time. This will definitely be one of the top albums of 2015.
Joan Prat

Espero que después de todos estos comentarios los haya podido convencer de que éste es uno de los mejores discos del 2015, y que es una verdadera joyita musical de nuestro tiempo. Imperdible!






6 comentarios:

  1. Modestamente este disco lo subí yo (Carlos Gancia) más conocido por estos lares como El Menduco. Hago esta aclaración porque me costó, hablando metaforicamente,
    un huevo y la mitad del otro. Es una versión extendida con alt takes e instrumentales. Saludos.

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    Respuestas
    1. Perdón, me confundo con tanto aportes! Gracias Carlos! ahora corrijo la metida de pata

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  2. Ah! y antes de que pregunten, si quieren algo más de lo que está publicado aquí, deben buscarlo en la lista de correo cabezona. Para suscribirte, aquí hay un listado de pasos:

    http://cabezademoog.blogspot.com.ar/p/por-si-algun-dia-no-estamos-aca.html

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  3. Gracias Carlos realmente un aporte tremendo!!.Disculpalo al Vampiro ya todos sabemos lo loco que esta.

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  4. Aaah, qué maravilla de disco y de post! Muchas gracias!

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