Steven Wilson
Hand. Cannot. Erase.


4.5
superb

Review

by TalonsOfFire STAFF
February 27th, 2015 | 636 replies


Release Date: 03/03/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A modern concept brought to life by an impressive, effective mix of accessibility and complexity.

At this point, Steven Wilson is a musician that embodies what it means to create progressive music. Despite being consistently influenced by 1970's progressive rock, at the end of the day his endeavors result in music that is uniquely original. His last and most successful outputs in Porcupine Tree mixed elements of alternative and heavy metal with progressive rock, and his solo albums provided even more experimentation and diverse instrumentation. Wilson stated that The Raven That Refused To Sing, this album’s predecessor, was a tribute to his influences. While it was a huge success, a follow-up had the potential to explore an equally rewarding new direction to follow. So where did he go from there" Hand. Cannot. Erase. is the answer, impressively showcasing surprising moments of subtlety while returning to the genre-bending side of Wilson’s outputs. The progressiveness is still there of course, but Wilson’s latest effort blends in modern influences and poppier melodies with his trademark complexity into one of the most enjoyable and easily digestible listens of his widespread musical career.

Concept albums can embody a certain underlying maturity and purpose, and Hand. Cannot. Erase is no exception. Steven Wilson explained that the primary influence was the idea of a woman who lived in a city, well liked and popular, could fade into obscurity and be completely forgotten for three years. The idea is inspired by a true case, but made into its own ghostly narrative here. The nostalgic “Routine” is a representation of the feeling Wilson was going for: a scenic journey through gorgeous melodies and dynamics, while of course indulging in extended instrumental gold. A surprising extended outro in the form of emotive guitar arpeggios segues into a heavier prog jam, the album's centerpiece, “Home Invasion” and “Regret #9.” Following it is “Transience,” and later “Happy Returns,” which both echo the vibes of “Routine” for some of Wilson’s most beautiful emotionally resonant compositions yet. These poignant moments are made possible by Wilson's ability to shift his focus to new musical styles and production choices, consistently showing that he is willing to step outside of his comfort zone and embrace other possibilities during each album cycle. The presence of female vocals and voiceovers add weight to Wilson’s musical vision, especially in “Perfect Life.” Wilson’s influences still shine through the cracks of the modern textures of synthesizers and ambience, as they never really left.

Hand. Cannot. Erase is such a success due majorly to the presence of new influences, like electronica and pop, mixing with the more progressive rock styles. At times, repetitious melodies convey the character fading away from the world’s collective consciousness. As each song embodies its own singular journey, they develop an eerie, weightless quality, until a sudden explosion of synths and guitars pulls you back from the brink of the abyss before segueing into a full on prog jam. The album epic “Ancestral” defies genre barriers in a magical fourteen minute odyssey of dizzying guitar work, layered vocals, and even some heavy metal riffs. Despite all of the musical diversity and dynamics in Hand. Cannot. Erase., they always happen fluidly and feel necessary to how the album develops.

Frequent changes in tone that could come across as surprising and inaccessible in Wilson's first two solo efforts were still rewarding to experience, but the execution of The Raven that Refused to Sing, and now this, have made an effort to be more streamlined. Wilson is able to make this musical shift while still being just as musically rich and ambitious as he has always been. Wilson is clearly aiming for a sleeker, more modern sound to appeal to more people. This is not at all done to compromise the musical integrity of course, and his skills, as well as those of virtuoso guitarist Guthrie Govan and drummer Marc Minneman, show that it can work out, as this and The Raven... have each earned Gold status with the same main musicians playing on both records. It's doubtful that Wilson will go much more accessible than he does on Hand. Cannot. Erase, but his music in this decade has shown that he can probably explore any genre or style and succeed at it. Hand. Cannot. Erase is another rewarding evolution of these efforts, not only being the best solo album by Steven Wilson, but one of the finest musical outputs he has ever been involved in. Elements from his past projects are explored, as well as an abundance of new ideas that also suggest a bright future.



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user ratings (923)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2015


16935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

My 30th review, constructive criticism welcome as always. Thanks to JohnnyOnTheSpot for proofreading.

Digging: Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno - Finding Shore

TheMoonchild
February 26th 2015


1127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I already have a review typed up of this but I'll wait until tomorrow to submit it.



Good review. Sums up what I think of it perfctly

LordePots
February 26th 2015


38563 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

gonna listen to this so hard and then 1 the fuck out of it regardless of how i actually feel about it then im gonna come back here and say something like "fuck you steve"

Digging: Blondes - Warmth

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2015


16935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

I love those ghost negs that always appear one minute after I post a review.



Thanks Scott, and lol Pots at least give it a fair chance, this is his most diverse album so you might like some of the songs.

LordePots
February 27th 2015


38563 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i secretly like that raven album, wilson is good at king crimson covers honestly but thats about all hes good at

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2015


16935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

Fair enough, Raven's great but this feels more organic and modern.

LordePots
February 27th 2015


38563 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

we will see soon

TheMoonchild
February 27th 2015


1127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'll be honest, I don't remember much about that album. It's boring to me and pretty much should be called "Crimson Camel"

oltnabrick
February 27th 2015


35835 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

cute album

Mythodea
February 27th 2015


4180 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The review is good but I think it needs some paragraph editing first. I agree wholeheartedly.

Tunaboy45
February 27th 2015


15644 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So hyped

tef
February 27th 2015


175 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review! I get a good idea of what to expect from this album, that's exactly the point of a review.

Jasdevi087
February 27th 2015


4646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You've got a tiny wee coding error in there man, second paragraph.

SpiritCrusher2
February 27th 2015


5778 Comments


listened to this last night, twas good. Ancestral is a great song. I have a problem with some of Wilson's new music, I just can't feel it, everything sounds so emotionless to me

StormChaser
February 27th 2015


510 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gonna listen to this so hard and then 1 the fuck out of it regardless of how i actually feel about it then im gonna come back here and say something like "fuck you steve"



i lold





RadicalEd
February 27th 2015


8621 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I have the pretty strong feeling that I will hate this, but maybe I'll check it out somewhere down the road. Review is pretty good.

Digging: Swarms - Black Chapel Sun

Hoppoman
February 27th 2015


719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Personally, I preferred Raven over this.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2015


16935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8 | Sound Off

http://handcannoterase.com/



Thanks guys, also it wouldn't let me lnik the website for the album's story in the review so I'll just post it here.



(Edit 9/13/17): updated link: https://web.archive.org/web/20160410132301/http://handcannoterase.com:80/

RadioSuicide
February 27th 2015


705 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't stop listening to this, possibly his best work.

valek
February 27th 2015


47 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

One of the best albums I've heard in some time. Sentimental, intense, and beautiful. Steven Wilson

got me in this one, the album is made with good care and love and the final product is practically

perfect. For me giving this album less than 4.5 is a sin :D. I love it and I still have it in my head all day and I can't stop listening to it. The review seems fine, even If I don't agree entirely with it or with the final 4.0



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