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STEVEN WILSON

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Steven Wilson biography
STEVEN WILSON, perhaps most widely known for his role as the frontman for the popular act Porcupine Tree, is an artist from the UK who, through his various side projects, has spanned a vast number of musical ideas and concepts. Some of the styles he has been known to utilize are heavy prog, psychedelic, electronica, post-rock, ambient music, drone, metal, and art rock. Furthermore, WILSON is intensely focused on production values, dynamic mixing and mastering, and all other sorts of building albums that sound best in high-quality systems. In short, WILSON has always been an artist that appeals to audiophiles and fans of meticulously produced music. This shows up strongly in each of his bands and projects, but it plays even more of a role in his solo efforts.

Though some of his earliest musical recordings were demos that predated even Porcupine Tree, his solo releases did not truly start appearing until his "Cover Version" singles began in 2003. Essentially releasing one a year, each "Cover Version" contained a particularly unconventional song that WILSON chose to reproduce and one original song by WILSON. Also, in 2004, WILSON put out his experimental electronic album "Unreleased Electronic Music Vol. 1." Neither the "Cover Version" singles nor "Unreleased Electronic Music" feature any other performers, aside from some input from THEO TRAVIS on the latter.

That trend changed at the end of 2008, however, when WILSON released his first full-length, proper solo album, "Insurgentes." Featuring, among others, PORCUPINE TREE drummer Gavin Harrison, Prog bass legend TONY LEVIN, current DREAM THEATER keyboardist JORDAN RUDESS, and saxophonist/flautist THEO TRAVIS, "Insurgentes" proves rather quickly that it is not simply another ambient or electronic release. Toying with many of the styles that can be seen in PORCUPINE TREE, "Insurgentes" is a mature, laid-back album marked by less metal and more noise than PT's later albums. WILSON has stated that the album draws a lot of influence from shoe gazer, post-punk, and drone music.

Essentially, before "Insurgentes," WILSON used his solo moniker for a final catch-all for some of his music, making it difficult to draw comparisons to other bands. Nevertheless, "Insurgentes" makes it possible to site some bands with similar sound. Of notable similarity or inspiration are RADIOHEAD, JOY DIVISION, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR, THE MARS VOLTA, and other WILSON projects such as BASS COMMUNION and PORCUPIN...
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Hand.Cannot.EraseHand.Cannot.Erase
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$9.62
$6.99 (used)
4.54.5
KSCOPE 2017
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$8.33 (used)
The Raven That Refused To SingThe Raven That Refused To Sing
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$7.68
$9.80 (used)
Transience ( Cd )Transience ( Cd )
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$7.10
$11.38 (used)
Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Blu-Ray + MP3/FLAC Download Codes)Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Blu-Ray + MP3/FLAC Download Codes)
Blu-ray
Kscope
Blu-ray$13.35
$50.99 (used)
Grace For DrowningGrace For Drowning
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$8.39
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InsurgentesInsurgentes
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$11.24 (used)
The Raven That Refused To SingThe Raven That Refused To Sing
Import
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Vinyl$22.33
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Drive Home ( Cd & Dvd Set - Jewel )Drive Home ( Cd & Dvd Set - Jewel )
Import
KSCOPE 2017
Audio CD$5.80
$10.20 (used)
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STEVEN WILSON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEVEN WILSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.84 | 909 ratings
Insurgentes
2008
4.21 | 1552 ratings
Grace For Drowning
2011
4.30 | 1736 ratings
The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
2013
4.29 | 1176 ratings
Hand. Cannot. Erase.
2015
3.58 | 319 ratings
4 ½
2016

STEVEN WILSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.28 | 171 ratings
Catalogue/Preserve/Amass
2012

STEVEN WILSON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.49 | 134 ratings
Insurgentes - The Movie
2010
4.60 | 280 ratings
Get All You Deserve
2012

STEVEN WILSON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 105 ratings
Nsrgnts Rmxs
2009
3.13 | 98 ratings
Cover Version
2014
3.31 | 53 ratings
Transience
2015

STEVEN WILSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 39 ratings
Cover Version
2003
3.59 | 37 ratings
Cover Version II
2004
3.69 | 39 ratings
Cover Version III
2005
3.55 | 43 ratings
Unreleased Electronic Music
2005
3.86 | 35 ratings
Cover Version IV
2006
3.40 | 39 ratings
Cover Version V
2008
4.49 | 67 ratings
Harmony Korine
2009
3.64 | 51 ratings
Vapour Trail Lullaby
2010
3.55 | 42 ratings
Cover Version 6 plus full collection bundle
2010
3.43 | 7 ratings
Demos
2010
4.11 | 46 ratings
Postcard
2011
3.95 | 19 ratings
Cut Ribbon
2012
3.98 | 103 ratings
Drive Home
2013
4.50 | 6 ratings
Happiness III
2016

STEVEN WILSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Grace For Drowning by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.21 | 1552 ratings

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Grace For Drowning
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars There's something about this Swilson solo outing. Where the others are much more facsimiles of older material both his and others, this one is fresher and more subtle about its '70's era influences. Whereas so much of his work is tight, overly perfectionist, and in more recent times rote, "Grace For Drowning" is looser, jazzier, and more eclectic. This is perhaps Steven Wilson's last truly great album, at least outside of Bass Communion.

Let's start about where it all ends up with "Raider II". Yeah, part of this sound hearkens back to pre-"Discipline" Crimson, if wonderfully since most of all it takes off of and pays tribute to "Lizard". It means great things since this kind of music was new for Wilson, and he never did it again. It's also a summation of his career, an epic suite bouncing between this new and sounds building off of Porcupine Tree, I.E.M., and Blackfield. And when I say that he builds his later work off of spare parts from earlier, I'm mainly talking about him disassembling this great success and using the creepy choirs for Storm Corrosion and "The Raven That Refused To Sing", and hollow approximations of the rest for the horrid "Hand. Cannot. Erase.". I guess "Raider II" is just that good, it had to be recorded a dozen times more.

Aside from that cut, and similarly longer and more fusion leaning cuts like the one-two punch of the title track and "Sectarian", there are of course the shorter ones. These fall into two categories; first, there are the macabre cuts that finish the shiny and new half of this record, with "Index" and "Track One" another mindblowing combo. Alongside these are tracks like "Deform To Form A Star" and "Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye", longform pop prog cuts that put Blackfield and HCE to complete shame. Altogether, great use was made of the space Wilson allotted himself with a double album.

Where the rote part of Wilson's career begins, his golden age comes to a glorious end. This is a beautiful masterpiece, a lesson to himself in how to handle retro prog, crossover prog, and big darn concepts. If only he had taken his own advice...

 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1736 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

2 stars Oh Wilson, why didn't you make an entire album in the vein of Luminol?

When I look at great albums - you know, those with 4.4 ratings - and I see people who give them one or two stars because reasons, it boils my blood. Why the hell would they rate acclaimed masterpieces such a low score? I feel like it's their duty to explain themselves. After all, not only they're giving an unpopular opinion, but they're tarnishing an otherwise flawless artist's curriculum. Eventually, this situation came to me. And - oh boy - to one of the prog community's most cherished darling: STEVEN WILSON.

THE RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING just stale and overall uninteresting. The focus on lyrics and the exaggerated attempt of melancholia repel me, as well as generic modern rock with progressive elements that WILSON offers. His endless homage & influence... rather blatant in many cases... to 70's prog bands is observable on every song.

There is an exception - and what an exception - to all the negative points, though, that is the first track: Luminol!

The first four minutes is a showcase of various instrumentations - such as the plethora of keyboards, a flute-busting solo, and guitar licks - blended together under the sturdy work of a sax/violin & bass & drums riffing. Once those first four lively minutes are over, you're given a minimalistic section where STEVEN does his singing, followed by a respectable slow jazz piano piece. Then, at last, the song transitions its entire atmosphere into something terrifyingly similar to IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING (hence why so many people call it a rip-off, folks). Needless to say, it's a good part. So there you go, a great introduction for a bland act.

In fact, this album is not entirely bland - I can actually pluck a few good passages here and there - but generally speaking it's dull. As a fan of fast-paced music with perceptible, excited instruments, this is a big turn-off. Perhaps in the future, I'll give this a more thoughtful listen. So for all symphonic, metal or general uptempo proggers out there, beware: WILSON probably isn't your style either!

Luminol: 9/10 Rest of the album: 5/10 (two stars for me)

 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.29 | 1176 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Biff Tannen

4 stars The consistency Steven Wilson manages to maintain from record to record is pretty staggering, and Hand Cannot Erase (periods omitted on purpose) is no exception; it's another stellar effort from the man. I like the mixture on this album, as you kind of get a little bit of every kind of music he has done over the year at some point, while never going too overboard with any one style. If you want the catchy shorter tunes, you get the title track or Happy Returns. If you want some prog, you get Ancestral or 3 Years Older. If you want the tunes with melodies that will crush you, you get Routine. If you want to get up and dance a little, you get Perfect Life. If you want to rock, you get Home Invasion. If you want some instrumental goodness, you get Regret #9. If you want folksy, acoustic stuff, you get Transience.

I don't love this record quite as much as SW's two previous solo albums, Grace for Drowning and The Raven That Refused to Sing, but it's still a 4.5 effort. I gave it 4 here since only the true 5 out of 5 records get rounded up to 5.

 4 ½ by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.58 | 319 ratings

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4 ½
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Cover Version by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.13 | 98 ratings

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Cover Version
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by torvald

4 stars Steven Wilson's solo career in the aftermath of Porcupine Tree, has been a mixed bag to me. Despite retaining the poise and ambition evident in everything he's done since his earliest days, much of his more recent output occasionally seems laboriously constructed and self-consciously targeted at the neo-prog audiences, almost name checking specific tropes and influences that are by now routine business for Wilson and co. Even in terms of pure musicality, the limber touch of PT, the more abstract electronica that gave his earlier releases a truly innovative edge and especially the experimental streak running through much of his work outside of his well known projects, seem to have gone missing in favor of more bombastic, virtuoso playing and formulaic proggy arrangements and compositions that never manage to top his earlier, more tongue in cheek and slightly detached postmodern fascination with prog as merely one idiom to be toyed with amongst others.

Not so with Cover Version, which wears its disparate influences quite literally on its sleeve and made this release a very pleasant surprise indeed, if not one of his most unexpectedly satisfying and creative efforts in years, despite being a compilation of sorts. Both the cover versions themselves, as well as the original tracks that have all been lying around for ages in single version or other media, manage to cohere with remarkable grace and occasionally complement each other quite well. The instrumentation is predominantly acoustic, veering between guitar and piano with the occasional trademark mellotron hue or electronic texture providing ambience, making the whole album feel like a very intimate and personal singer/songwriter project, something strikingly missing from his other solo output.

The mood is almost uniformly sombre and melancholy, which might make this heavy going for anyone expecting something chirpier or more varied, and is perhaps my only point of relative criticism. Not that Wilson's music ever strays far from darker moods of course. There is simply a certain lack of much differentiation in mood or instrumentation here, that renders the whole rather too homogeneous; then again, it was never really meant as an LP so such issues of tracklisting are perhaps to be expected.

The two most remarkable tracks remain the most decidedly funereal ones anyhow: his mostly a capella version of the traditional tune ''The Unquiet Grave'' with multitracked vocals providing a wall of resonance undescoring it being amongst the most experimental tracks he has ever given us, almost sounding in the vein of his ambient work in Bass Communion or Brian Eno's similarly voice based tracks in Music for Airports. Equally stunning is ''An End to End'' ,which takes some skeletal melancholy piano chords resounding against a wall of choral textures to create a truly haunting cinematic ballad.

Alanis Morissette's ''Thank U'' becomes a heartaching bit of acoustic balladry, with Wilson playfully changing a lyric at one point ''because it doesn't make sense'', a reminder of how iconoclastic and eventful he can be when he's not pandering to his usual audiences, but going for more idiosyncratic ends. The Cure's ''A Forest'' is one of the few more kinetic songs in the list, a subtle electronic pulse and rare bit of electric guitar solo animating its murky mood, while Prince's ''Sign o the Times'' is probably the weakest moment, playfully reinventing a pop tune with a heavier edge towards the end that has been far better handled in its full band version for subsequent live shows, especially in tribute to that musician's recent death. Abba's ''Day before you came'' becomes a stately acoustic lament of daily inanities in anticipation of emotional revival, while Momus' delightfully ironic ''Guitar Lesson'' follows in similarly melancholy confessional mood, its poetic lyrics retaining their power intact and in some ways perfectly complementing an earlier PT track such as ''Piano Lessons''. A rare moment of psychedelic folk follows in Donovan's ''Lord of the Reedy River'', while the piano based ballad ''Please Come Home'' that could've graced any Blackfield album to date and ''Well you're Wrong'', a retro ditty in the vein of PT's ''How is your life today'' conclude the tracklist.

All in all a very satisfying collection of moments in time, which though slow burning and not as grandiose in scope as Wilson's band based efforts, manages not only to offer some of his most intricate offerings ever, but also allows both his talent and love for the more unexpected or disparate sources and musical influences to shine through much more directly and meaningfully than anywhere else in later years. Long term fans of the totality of his oeuvre should find this to be amongst his most interesting song based efforts, even if his more prog minded fans are destined to be disappointed. I personally consider it the most personal of his solo records since Insurgentes and far more satisfying overall than much of his later work, but to each their own undoubtedly.

 4 ½ by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.58 | 319 ratings

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4 ½
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1736 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars I love this album, and yet in 2016 it tumbles in my head, a portent, a plagiarist's opus, a guilty pleasure. For it I've invented the term "popcorn prog", a distillation of a lot of what makes its genre great into a satisfying if unhealthy sonic snack. It's well done, it's wonderful, it's not a true masterpiece. I turned it over in my mind whether to round up or down from 3.5, in light of my unceasing enjoyment, but I decided to be harsh.

After three years and 85 reviews so far, you have a basic idea of what I'm going to say about the instrumentals, but the puzzle goes further than that. The sound is of course indebted to Crimson and Genesis to an amount far above its own GDP, but it's also the endgame of a lot of the sonics of Porcupine Tree and Swilson's early solo career - notably "The Holy Drinker" and "The Watchmaker" mixed together '70's Crim, "Deadwing", and Storm Corrosion. There is a truth that states that this album could only have been made circa 2013, but that's mainly because its creator was revving deeper and deeper into a rut that started five years prior, picking apart earlier successes for spare parts. Many listeners were able to tell with what would otherwise be psychic foresight exactly when and what instruments would come in and what they would play, a sign of cliche. It's cliche done far better than any other retro prog, though, with the driving, dour, epic instrumentals grabbing you by the ears and never letting go. There's virtuosity and at least some soul there, and in the moment most listeners, such as I, can't possibly complain. Plus, while "Luminol" bear hugs you, and "Drive Home" and the title track melt your heart, the aforementioned "Holy Drinker" really stands out as by turns enjoyable and spine-tingling, the SC elements put to fantastic use. Even this recycling still, perhaps for the last time, works.

The real saving grace, however, are the lyrics. Lyrics generally aren't Wilson's strong suit, but they turn out excellently here. Fancy words uniquely anchor beautiful stories of mysterious musicians, jetsam of the mind, and ghosts and demons. It goes a long way to making this record so good.

But of course, while I love this piece of prog pabulum, time has really shown it to ring a little hollow, one last hurrah on the road to "Hand. Cannot. Erase."'s mediocrity, paved with tropes, staleness, and perfectionism gone wrong. In hindsight, "The Raven That Refused To Sing" sticks out as a warning and an important part of a downward trend for Wilson's career, if still a fun listen.

 Hand. Cannot. Erase. by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.29 | 1176 ratings

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Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

3 stars Looks like Steven WILSON be one of prolific musicians and honorable creators in the progressive rock scene. Wonder what he means to do via lots of his productions.

Mysterious procession and a graceful curtain call can be heard in this stuff as usual. Dramatic guitar avoidance (from every annoying matter) as well makes the audience comfortable. Keyboard appearance has got altered colourfully, sometimes from a beauty phase to hard-edged style or sometimes from a tough call to a delightful theatre ... just case by case. Psychedelic Fantasia, heavy deepness brushed up by guitars or drums, etc. etc. every single variation rushes over in front of us.

His composition and production is basically filled with catchy essence seasoned with multi-rhythmic accents and capricious hints, all of which might be provided for popularity or hospitality for the listeners, I guess. Sadly in this album such a popularity would be more overemphasized than his musical progressiveness for commercialism and his identity should be veiled deeply into subliminal pleasure for everybody. To be honest any ambition cannot be heard.

Steven's strategies for launching progressive structural masses are not ordinary nevertheless. Various scenes can be imagined via instrumental, phrasal combinations ... whether soft or hard ... crystallized by him. In this sense, this album can be recommended for every progressive rock beginner.

 4 ½ by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.58 | 319 ratings

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4 ½
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by tomprog

4 stars 4 and a half is a ''mini album'' by prog icon, Steven Wilson. The album consists of tracks that for whatever reason have not made made it onto past albums, with one song originating from the Deadwing sessions all those years ago.

The album starts with the opening track, My Book Of Regrets. The song would have fitted perfectly the Hand Cannot Erase al album, with the lyrics fitting in to the concept of the album. The song itself is an incredible work. It shifts seamlessly between se sections, each section as memorable as the last. Dave Kilminsters guitar features prominently in the track, although Wilson does ge get his moment with a long guitar solo over lush chords in the middle section of the song. In the last chorus Craig Blundell pulls ou out all the stops using his double bass drum, before the song finishes all too soon.

Year of the plague is a pretty instrumental piece that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the raven that refused to sing. Happiness III follows, a catchy pop song that is one of the other highlights on the album. The song, again, wouldn't have sounded out of place on any of Stevens recent solo works.

Two instrumentals follow, Sunday Rain Sets In and Vermillioncore. Vermillioncore has a harder edge to it, and was spectacular wh when played live on the Hand Cannot Erase tour.

The final song on the album is a re worked version of porcupine tree underrated classic, don't hate me, featuring the magnificent Ninet on vocals. The song builds upon the melancholy of the original and has a great instrumental section in the mi middle of the song, making it different from the original. The trusty saxophone solo remains however.

Overall this album is great. Most artists would hope to put this out as a main album, never mind leftovers! It loses a star as it is not a perfect alum, but still a thoroughly enjoyable listen, especially just for My Book Of regrets.

 4 ½ by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.58 | 319 ratings

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4 ½
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by LakeGlade12

3 stars 3.2 Stars. A decent B-sides album

4 1/2 is listed in most places as Wilson's fifth solo album, although really that is not the case. This album is basically an EP compilation of various songs that did not get used on major albums + an alternative version of a old Porcupine Tree favorite "Don't Hate Me". While SW insists that these songs were not included on any album only due to them not fitting with the their themes, I can also spot a clear drop in inspiration and originality in these songs. As with most decent B-sides you will find a few good songs and the rest ranging from average to poor.

The album opens with the 9 min song "My Book of Regrets" (recorded during the Hand. Cannot. Erase sessions) which is meant to grab your attention immediately and start this album off on a good note. During this song you will find all the trademark features present on most modern PT/SW album's; Catchy Alt-rock/pop, lengthy instrumentals and mood changes and some pleasant harmonies all nicely wrapped up together. Or in other words it's straight from the modern Prog-Rock handbook and played to Wilson's strengths. Still it's a good song and opener to the album though.

"Year of the Plague" is the only song to come from The Raven sessions and it clearly shows. It's worth saying that The Raven ranks among my top 3 all time favourite albums so I was very curious to listen to this B-side. The song is a delicate and very beautiful instrumental which stands up to repeated listenings. Had it been included on The Raven it would certainly not been a highlight, but it would have not lowered the quality of the album, which is extremely high praise from me. Definitely my favourite from this album and the only one with lasting appeal.

"Happiness 3" is actually a very old song which was written during the Deadwing era but recorded during the H.C.E sessions. It's a standard upbeat pop/rock song which Wilson is very talented at writing. The song is definitely catchy, but does not have the depth that the pop songs on H.C.E/In Absentia have. Still not bad though.

"Sunday Rain Sets In" was also written during the H.C.E era but sounds like it came from the Grace for Drowning sessions. It's a slow and atmospheric piece that would have fit onto GFD, but it far less inspired. There is also a burst of energy towards the end of the song which is awfully done and ruins the atmosphere that had been created. A poor track all-round really.

"Vermillioncore" is yet again a H.C.E era track, but this one could have fitted into the metal phase of PT, especially the nil-recurring EP. The instrumental begins is groovy bass work which bursts into intense metal and sonic distortion later on. It's a pretty cool track and it's been awhile since he has written a song like this, but it does not do anything that has not been already done by that era of PT.

Lastly we have the alternative version of "Don't Hate Me" with Wilson on the verses and Ninet on the chorus, which when you think about it makes no sense at all to the lyrics of the song. It should be reversed so that it's the male that sings "don't hate me, I'm not special like you" as he justifies his stalking. Instrumentally the first half of the song is identical to the original, its only the instrumental in the middle that has been changed. Here there is more of a jazzy emphasis and the degree of psychedelia has been significantly increased as well (no flutes though sadly). Overall it's a OK alternative version that could have been much better with some proper thought into the arrangements.

To sum up 4 1/2 is a B-side album, nothing more, nothing less. If you treat it as a full album then you are only setting yourself up for major disappointment. As B-side albums go it's a fairly standard affair of some good and bad songs but mostly average. 3 stars is the perfect rating here. Not a bad album, but certainly not a Recordings 2.0!

Thanks to Dean for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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