2016 saw the release of the new Steven Wilson album 4 ½, so titled because it formed an interim release between Steven’s Fourth album Hand. Cannot. Erase. and fifth, To The Bone.
4 ½ comprises 6 tracks with a total running time of 37 minutes. 4 of the songs originated during the sessions for Hand. Cannot. Erase., and one from the recording sessions for the previous album The Raven that Refused to Sing. The final track is a version of ‘Don’t Hate Me’, a song originally recorded by Porcupine Tree in 1998, and is based on a live recording made on the recent tour of Europe with additional recording later done in the studio. The vocals on this new version are sung as a duet between Steven and Ninet Tayeb.
Steven Wilson, four-time Grammy nominee, multi-instrumentalist and producer, released his highly acclaimed fourth studio album, Hand. Cannot. Erase. in 2015.
Hand. Cannot. Erase. took it all to the next level. Taking inspiration from an astonishing and chillingly true story of a 38 year-old girl called Joyce Vincent who died alone in a bedsit in Wood Green in 2003 and, through a perfect storm of tragic circumstances, remained undiscovered for over two years. Hand. Cannot. Erase. perfected a lyrical and melodic journey of living in the city in today’s day and age.
“The album has given me the chance to bring in other elements of my musical repertoire”. Wilson’s flag-waving fondness for the album format is simply evangelical, with Hand. Cannot. Erase. exhibiting musical genius at its best.
Drive Home is a 2 disc collection featuring unreleased tracks and live recordings.
In February 2013 Steven Wilson released The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories), his third solo album. Steven assembled a virtuoso band to record the album and subsequently embarked on a successful world tour. The Blu-ray and DVD feature the new video for lead track ‘Drive Home’ along with the video for ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’, both directed by Jess Cope. They also include four tracks recorded live in Frankfurt during the recent tour.
The Raven That Refused To Sing was Steven’s third solo studio album, and was released in 2013.
The third studio album from Steven Wilson featured a stellar line-up of musicians including: lead guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Nick Beggs, Marco Minnemann on the drums, Theo Travis playing saxophone/flute, and Adam Holzman on keyboards. The record was also engineered by legendary producer/engineer Alan Parsons and consists of 6 songs, 3 of which are 10 minute plus epics based on stories of the supernatural.
Steven Wilson said of the title track: “The biggest thing is to make people feel. It’s easy to appeal to the intellect. I could go and write some silly, complicated [music], but the hardest thing is to hit somebody’s heart and soul. I want spirituality rather than technicality.”
Grace for Drowning was Steven’s second solo studio album, and was released in 2011.
A more experimental and more eclectic record, Grace For Drowning builds on the artistic inroads he forged with 2009’s exceptionally well-received Insurgentes.
“‘Insurgentes’ was an important step for me into something new. This record takes that as a starting point, but it’s more experimental and more eclectic.”
“For me the golden period for music was the late sixties and early seventies, when the album became the primary means of artistic expression, when musicians liberated themselves from the 3 minute pop song format, and started to draw on jazz and classical music especially, combining it with the spirit of psychedelia to create “journeys in sound”. So without being retro, ‘my album is a kind of homage to that spirit.”
Steven Wilson, four-time Grammy nominee, multi-instrumentalist and producer, kicked off his solo career with studio album and documentary film Insurgentes.
Acclaimed for his work with Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Anja Garbarek amongst others, Steven Wilson’s debut album Insurgentes was released in 2009. Comprising 10 tracks that range from ballads and anthems to all-out industrial noise assaults, the dark, cinematic and richly textured album represents two years’ worth of creative output and numerous recording sessions worldwide in studios from Mexico City to Japan and Israel.
Whilst Wilson was a member of several bands including Blackfield, No-Man and Bass Communion, he explained that “when I began writing these songs, I quickly realized that they would be best suited to an album under my own name. It was an intuitive, almost unconscious writing process that resulted in a kind of ‘poetry of melancholy.”
Steven Wilson – Transience is now available on CD
Featuring songs recorded between 2003-2015,Transience is a personally curated introduction to the more accessible side of Steven Wilson’s output. Previously only available on vinyl, Transience is now out on CD, digitally and on streaming services.
Steven says: “In the past I mostly resisted requests from record labels to compile or anthologise, but this time I enjoyed the challenge of trying to sequence an album that would act as a more easygoing introduction to my music. These are mostly the shorter song-based tracks (some represented by edits), so it’s perhaps the ideal way to introduce a friend or partner to SW music without the more “difficult” stuff getting in the way. For once I have also given in to narcissism and put my face on the cover, without a gas mask or anything else obscuring it!”
As well as containing a few especially created edits, the album contains a new recording of ‘Lazarus’, which Steven has been performing on tour with his band. This new version is based on a live recording made ins 2015, later overdubbed in the studio.
Transience contains 14 tracks and over 1 hour of music, including a bonus track “Happiness III”. Steven Wilson is due to appear at various Festivals in Europe over the summer before embarking on a tour of Australia, New Zealand and is due to return to North America in November.
1 Transience (Single Version) (03:10)
2 Harmony Korine (05:07)
3 Postcard (04:28)
4 Significant Other (04:31)
5 Insurgentes (03:55)
6 The Pin Drop (05:01)
7 Happy Returns (Edit) (05:11)
8 Deform To Form A Star (Edit) (05:53)
9 Happiness III (04:31)
10 Thank You (04:39)
11 Index (04:47)
12 Hand Cannot Erase (04:13)
13 Lazarus (2015 recording) (03:57)
14 Drive Home (07:33)
Wilson / Hoile / Glover
Podcast Episode 60 - A Steven Wilson Special
PLAYING THE LONG GAME: STEVEN WILSON FLIES THE FLAG FOR THE ALBUM FORMAT
‘Would you watch a movie by starting with the end sequence and then seeing a bit in the middle? Would you begin a novel at Chapter Seven and then go to Chapter One?’ Spend an hour in his thought-provoking company and he lists a whole host of favourite acts that have something in common: their lyrics are conceptual and their sound huge and cinematic. He can date precisely the moment this love-affair with big, scenic albums began – Christmas Day in 1975, when he was eight. ‘My mother gave my Dad a copy of Dark Side Of The Moon and my Dad gave my Mum the album Love To Love You Baby. For about a year they were on heavy rotation and I adored them both. The Floyd record was a logical narrative journey and Donna Summer’s had a real arc to it too – and a 17-minute disco symphony which is still one of my favourite pieces of music. So I grew up associating albums with story-telling, whether musical or lyrical or both. I love Tommy and Quadrophenia by The Who, The Wall by Pink Floyd and Radiohead’s OK Computer, all records about fear of the modern age, or fear of technology, or a sense of alienation from the human race. S.F. Sorrow by the Pretty Things is in the same tradition, a sequence about a Author – Mark Ellen 2014 Steven Wilson’s collaboration project with Israeli singer songwriter Aviv Geffen. MORE INFO Steven Wilson formed Porcupine Tree originally as a solo project in 1987. MORE INFO Formed in 1987 by Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson. MORE INFO
It’s a fair point. You wouldn’t. And yet in the age of the download, it’s precisely what most of us do with albums. We rarely listen to them in sequence – in fact we rarely listen to them in their *entirety*.
Which is why Steven Wilson once appeared on Sky News destroying a series of iPods in amusing and imaginative ways. He exploded one with a rifle. He set fire to another. He ran over a third with a steamroller. He wanted to point out – and did so magnificently – that once you break a narrative album into its component tracks and stick them in a database on ‘random play’, it runs a strong chance of making absolutely no sense at all. And that’s the kind of record he likes to make.
guy who goes to war and returns to a sense of isolation.’
He felt the same echoes in late-Seventies albums by The Cure, Wire and Joy Division when leading his early units No Man, and especially Porcupine Tree.
‘They all seemed so similar, very textural music, portentous and with a lot of emphasis on atmosphere and mostly about the tragedy of the human condition.’ He delights in telling you he once saw a photograph of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis wearing a Nektar t-shirt – ‘a relatively obscure British progressive rock band based in Germany!’
Steven’s noble, flag-waving fondness for the album format is evangelical. His releases come with generous layers of additions – booklets, sleevenotes, rich pictorial catalogues, occasionally bonus CDs. His third release, The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories), was influenced by Edgar Allen Poe and MR James and packaged like a collection of Victorian ghost stories. It even included a collection of self-written supernatural tales, one about a girl playing hide-and-seek in a vast shuttered mansion who secrets herself beneath a piano in the attic only to fall asleep for a hundred years and reappear as a spectre in the 21st Century.
Ask him why he’s so drawn to this bleak and dread-filled sphere after an ‘idyllic childhood’ in Hemel Hempstead and he laughs out loud. ‘If everything in your life is wonderful, you’re fascinated by the other side I guess. The same reason I was listening to Throbbing Gristle when I was a teenager!’
His fourth and latest solo album Hand. Cannot. Erase. takes it all to the next level. In 2011 he saw a documentary called Dreams Of A Life and was ‘completely spellbound’. It tells the astonishing – and chillingly true – story of a 38 year-old girl called Joyce Vincent who died alone in a bedsit in Wood Green in 2003 and, through a perfect storm of tragic circumstances, remained undiscovered for over two years. Beside her were some presents she’d been wrapping for Christmas in the flickering light of a still-functioning television.
‘This planted the seed,’ he explains, ‘and the rest of the concept ballooned from there. The story seemed so symptomatic of the modern world, the idea that – even in this age of social media – you could be surrounded by millions of people on the other side of walls and yet be completely isolated. I used Joyce Vincent as a start point, a vessel to explore all these subjects, and invented a fictional character.’ The album comes with imaginary and immaculately executed childhood drawings, school reports, holiday polaroids and pages from a teenage diary.
Like his albums, Steven’s live shows also go the extra mile. Along with its quadrophonic sound, the spring tour to promote Hand. Cannot. Erase. will feature custom-made film projections and painstakingly assembled stop-frame footage in the grand hand-crafted tradition of the animator Oliver Postgate. The music is just as widescreen and expansive, once superbly described by The Guardian as ‘wildly evocative soundscapes, melodic crescendos and mellotron-drenched fever dreams’ and drawing fond comparisons with the epic textures of Sigur Rós.
The list of acts feeding into this detailed and cinematic sound is long, varied and fascinating – Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tears For Fears, Bjork, Squarepusher, and Boards Of Canada among them. His knowledge of music and grasp of its potential is extraordinary (he’s also a four-time Grammy Award-nominated remix producer specialising in 5.1 surround-sound who’s recently worked with Roxy Music, Yes, King Crimson, Tears for Fears and XTC). There’s a maverick spirit in a lot of British back-catalogues, he says, a sense of originality and
self-belief, and he admires Aphex Twin and Kate Bush in particular for still ploughing their own furrows.
‘And neither seem aware of their own standing. I love the sheer absurdity of Kate’s over-the-top ambition. She once recorded with Percy Thrower and had Rolf Harris playing didgeridoo – you just can’t *do* that kind of thing! Madonna kept ringing Aphex a while back to ask him to work with her – she’s very good at identifying the producer of the moment – and a mate said to him, “Why don’t you answer her messages?” And he said, “Madonna? But she’s *shit*, isn’t she?” It never bothered him that it might have been good for his career.
‘I’ve always liked the ones who didn’t toe the line – The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead – who didn’t care what people expected of them. They refused cater to the market. They created a whole new audience of their own.’
Spend an hour in his thought-provoking company and he lists a whole host of favourite acts that have something in common: their lyrics are conceptual and their sound huge and cinematic. He can date precisely the moment this love-affair with big, scenic albums began – Christmas Day in 1975, when he was eight. ‘My mother gave my Dad a copy of Dark Side Of The Moon and my Dad gave my Mum the album Love To Love You Baby. For about a year they were on heavy rotation and I adored them both. The Floyd record was a logical narrative journey and Donna Summer’s had a real arc to it too – and a 17-minute disco symphony which is still one of my favourite pieces of music. So I grew up associating albums with story-telling, whether musical or lyrical or both. I love Tommy and Quadrophenia by The Who, The Wall by Pink Floyd and Radiohead’s OK Computer, all records about fear of the modern age, or fear of technology, or a sense of alienation from the human race. S.F. Sorrow by the Pretty Things is in the same tradition, a sequence about a
Author – Mark Ellen 2014
Steven Wilson’s collaboration project with Israeli singer songwriter Aviv Geffen. MORE INFO
Steven Wilson formed Porcupine Tree originally as a solo project in 1987. MORE INFO
Formed in 1987 by Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson. MORE INFO
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