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THE NEW CD FROM THE MULTI AWARD WINNING ARTIST STEVEN WILSON
Four time Grammy nominee, multi instrumentalist and producer, Steven Wilson follows up on his acclaimed 'Hand.Cannot.Erase'. with the new interim album '4 ½' on 22nd January 2016.
Produced and mixed by Steven Wilson, '4 ½' features a stellar group of musicians contributing to the LP including Adam Holzman (keyboards), Nick Beggs (bass), Guthrie Govan (guitar), Dave Kilminster (guitar), Marco Minnemann (drums), Chad Wackerman (drums), Craig Blundell (drums), and Theo Travis.
The 6 track digipak CD edition with 8 page colour booklet is housed in a beautiful die cut slipcase with photography by Lasse Hoile and design by Carl Glover.
'4 ½' also includes a new interpretation, with Steven s current touring band, of the Porcupine Tree track Don t Hate Me . The new version is a duet with Ninet Tayeb who also featured on the 'Hand.Cannot.Erase'. album.
The award winning 'Hand.Cannot.Erase'. has received universal praise from the media and fans alike resulting in Steven s highest chart positions worldwide including UK #13, Germany # 3, Netherlands #2, USA #39 Billboard Top 200, Canada #24 & Finland #4 national album charts.
With sold out shows around the world including his 2 recent performances at London s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, Steven Wilson will continue to tour throughout 2016. Starting in Germany on January 12th, the 2016 European tour takes Steven to Belgium, Holland, UK, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Hungary, Italy and Greece.
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It appears some of these songs were recorded at least in part while touring - “My Book of Regrets” and the Porcupine Tree remake “Don’t Hate Me.” The latter of course features the dynamic duet between Wilson and Ninet Tayeb (who of course performed on “Routine” from HCE). I would have to say, as much I enjoy the first 4 songs here, my two favorite tracks are “Vermillioncore” with its improvisational structure (this song sounds like it could have easily been included on TRTRTS) and this new version of “Don’t Hate Me.”
As usual, Wilson surrounds himself with phenomenal musicians. While Minnemann, Wackerman and Blundell are all featured on this release, I would have to say that Blundell steals the show this time with his explosive, yet controlled approach, reminding me much of Gavin Harrison of course in that regard. Also noteworthy is Nick Beggs’ bass signature which is all over these songs. The packaging/layout is once again quality and once again features the photography of Lasse Hoile. Overall, this is yet another very satisfying release, but don’t expect anything as connected or conceptual as the past two full length releases. And because Wilson remains committed to making his music available in the highest quality audio formats a BD version is available (see review below) with surround HD and stereo HD mixes, FLAC or mp3 downloads (plus “Lazarus”) as well as the vinyl version (with FLAC or mp3 download).
The BD version is very similar in format to what Wilson has done with previous releases, but really minimal in the way of bonus material. The 2015 version of "Lazarus" (from Deadwing) is solid and then there are of course are the instrumental versions of "Happiness III" and "Don't Hate Me," along with the SW only vocal version of "Don't Hate Me." The edit version of "My Book of Regrets" is probably my favorite of the bonus song material - the shortened version highlighting just how well the melody and catchiness of this song works. Of the two surround versions I actually like the 96/24 LPCM version, but the DTS 5.1 mix is excellent as well - vocals really front and center but with background and effect vocals swirling in surround. Of course old school stereo-philes will love the straight 96/24 stereo version. Because this is a BD, each song features a different screenshot (of the two ladies), most of the photos only available on the BD version for that reason, and in addition to those featured/printed in the insert booklet. No lyrics included in the packaging, just song credits and such.
Wish this release contained a couple more songs, perhaps remakes from HCE, like the final song on this recording.
Yes, the voice cracks on "Don't Hate Me" are a bit strange and strong, but some will appreciate the uniqueness.
If you like SW, then just get 4 1/2 and know you can't go wrong. If you aren't a fan, then start with an earlier release perhaps, or just get this one as a sampler of the great work SW produces.
Just enjoy the music.
Since persuing a solo career, I was a little skeptical at first, but have come to love his new compilations. I hope he still makes music with the other members of PT in the future, as he is not sure he will. I would hate to see this, but continue to follow Steven's career and he continues to amaze!
I have his first 4 solo albums and each new venture, IMHO, seems to trump the previous release. His newest recording, 4 1/2 (named so as this is considered an EP, not a full length effort, between his 4th & 5th release) just didn't move me as much as his previous. Don't get me wrong, this is a hard feat to keep raising the bar higher, this is still worthy of being in my collection. It seemed to get better as I listened for the first time. Each song, brining a more rounded fullness and presence as I auditioned it.
I purchased the Blu-ray version to take advantage of the high-rez, 5.1 audio, and many extra versions. Mr. Wilson has become known as the 5.1 production guru. His mixing and production, in general, take a back seat to noone in the business. He is a true maestro of audio production!
If you are a fan of his, you are definitely going to want to purchase this. And if not, if you like his previous effort HANDS.CANNOT.ERASE you will enjoy it. I liked 4 1/2, just not as much as his previous releases. The most remarkable track on it is his remake of the PT song, which I already loved, "Don't Hate Me". WOW! It is even better and is a remarkable recording on it's own! Ninet Tayeb, the female vocalist that is on HCE, sings the chorus in a beatifully haunting gravel-tone that raised the hairs on the back of my neck! Different than the original, but in a great way. He also did a 2015 version of Lazarus. Also a very good version, but I like the origanal better. This one seems a bit rawer.
I have only listened to 4 1/2 two times, so it may grow on me as I continue to take it in. All in all it just seems like a compilation of tracks which didn't make it on the 2 previously released The Raven..... & H.C.E. and that is precisely what is. Being such a workaholic, Wilson released a 30min EP w/extras before writing and finishing his 5th full effort. But, being SW, it still shows his craftsmanship as he continues to persue his solo career!
The album opens with "My Book of Regrets." A widely varied song in every way. Driving, powerful and emotional. Then we go to "Year of the Plague," a beautiful, arpeggiating song in 3/4 time using the Lydian mode-- this is one of the most excruciatingly beautiful pieces of music that I've ever heard. The rest of the album is fantastic too. This is the future of music.