WILSON2016 sees the release of a new Steven Wilson album 4 ½, so titled because it forms an interim release between Steven’s recently released fourth album Hand. Cannot. Erase. and the next studio album.

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.

Also appearing on the album are members of Steven’s band over the last few years; Adam Holzman, Nick Beggs, Guthrie Govan, Dave Kilminster, Craig Blundell, Marco Minnemann, Chad Wackerman, and Theo Travis.

4 ½ will be released by Kscope on CD, 180 gram vinyl, and blu-ray, with all formats housed in a beautiful die-cut sleeve photographed by Lasse Hoile and designed by Carl Glover. The blu-ray (audio only) edition includes high res stereo, a 5.1 mix of the album, and a bonus 5.1 mix of the new version of ‘Lazarus’ (recently included on the Transience vinyl compilation). The vinyl edition will include a download code for the album in a choice of FLAC or mp3. The album will also be available digitally on 22nd January from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play & Apple Music.

Podcast Episode 60 - A Steven Wilson Special

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The Raven the Refused to Sing

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Live Dates

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Date Venue Location Tickets
Jan 13 Philharmonie im Gasteig München, Germany Tickets
Jan 14 Jahrhunderthalle Bochum, Germany Tickets
Jan 15 Jahrhunderthalle Bochum Bochum, Germany Tickets
Jan 16 CCH Hamburg, Germany Tickets
Jan 18 Tempodrom Berlin, Germany Tickets
Jan 19 Alte Oper Frankfurt Frankfurt, Germany Tickets
Jan 20 Haus Auensee Leipzig, Germany Tickets
Jan 21 Swiss Life Hall Hanover, Germany Tickets
Jan 23 Ancienne Belgique Brussels, Belgium Tickets
Jan 25 Brighton Dome Brighton, United Kingdom Tickets
Jan 26 Colston Hall Bristol, United Kingdom Tickets
Jan 27 Eventim Apollo London, United Kingdom Tickets
Jan 29 O2 Apollo Manchester Manchester, United Kingdom Tickets
Jan 30 Newcastle City Hall Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom Tickets
Feb 01 Le Palais des Congrès de Paris Paris, France Tickets
Feb 03 013 Tilburg, Netherlands Tickets
Feb 04 De Oosterpoort Groningen, Netherlands Tickets
Feb 05 Koncerthuset, Koncertsalen København S, Denmark Tickets
Feb 07 USF Verftet Bergen, Norway Tickets
Feb 09 Annexet Stockholm, Sweden Tickets
Feb 11 Pakkahuone Tampere, Finland Tickets
Feb 12 THE CIRCUS Helsinki, Finland Tickets
Feb 13 Cosmonavt Club Saint Petersburg, Russia Tickets
Feb 15 YOTASPACE Club Moscow, Russian Federation Tickets
Feb 29 Grand Théâtre de Québec Quebec City, Canada Tickets
Mar 01 Massey Hall Toronto, Canada Tickets
Mar 03 Hart Theatre at the Egg Albany, NY Tickets
Mar 04 Orpheum Theatre Boston, MA Tickets
Mar 05 Beacon Theatre New York, NY Tickets
Mar 07 Vic Theatre Chicago, IL Tickets
Mar 08 Vic Theatre Chicago, IL Tickets
Mar 11 El Plaza Condesa Mexico City, Mexico Tickets
Mar 18 Teatro Caupolican Santiago, Chile Tickets
Apr 17 Sala Ziemi MTP Poznań Poznan, Poland Tickets
Apr 18 ICE Kraków Congress Centre Cracow, Poland Tickets
Apr 19 Forum Karlin Prague, Czech Republic
Apr 21 Planet Music Gasometer Vienna, Austria Tickets
Apr 22 RaM Colosseum Budapest, Hungary Tickets
Apr 23 POSTHOF Großer Saal Linz, Austria Tickets
Apr 24 Orpheum Graz Graz, Austria Tickets
Apr 26 Politeama Rossetti Trieste, Italy Tickets
Apr 27 Obihall Florence, Italy Tickets
May 01 Zorlu Performing Arts Center İstanbul, Turkey Tickets
Jul 01 Sala Apolo Barcelona, Spain Tickets
Jul 02 Poble Espanyol Barcelona, Spain Tickets

Biography

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?’
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. 

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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
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.’

Author – Mark Ellen 2014

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