Robin Armstrong’s (Cosmograf) latest post on his website is a must-read defense of Steven Wilson’s hard-won popularity. Here’s an excerpt:
Well here’s the rub, you, like me and thousands upon thousands of people making music in the world today are entitled to precisely nothing. We have no right to be heard, no right to earn a living from our art and certainly no right to success. For the mere mortals, these things have to be earned, slogged at, and when some little successes arrive, appreciate them.
The truth is, that making a record now has never been easier. Making a record that people will listen to got harder, much harder. When someone makes a record that people are falling over themselves to listen to, in a genre of music that’s similar to yours, be bloody inspired, I know I am…
Read the whole thing here.
Ok, I was a bit hasty a few weeks ago in an initial review of the new Steven Wilson album. My actual, physical, honest-to-goodness copy of the CD arrived yesterday. And, what a thing of excellence it is. With apologies to Brian Watson, I must gush a bit. The “flow” is especially strong. Listening to the album is akin to watching the intricate and unpredictable patterns in nature–perhaps the cracks that develop on a frozen body of water. There is a hidden symmetry in its revelations. Indeed, this album shows a real maturity, a sort of combining of the best of the first and second solo albums. And, as always, Wilson is an audiophilic genius. This I’ve never questioned, and his talent manifests itself galore on this album. Ok, enough gushing. If you’ve not bought this album yet, do so! It’s probably even worth paying the $3.99 for expedited delivery.
As Brad Birzer mentioned in another post, Eric Gillette is the lead guitarist for The Neal Morse Band, having contributed to their album The Grand Experiment and currently touring with them. Before he hooked up with Neal, Eric released a self-produced album, Afterthought, which certainly deserves to be recognized in its own right for the excellent slab of prog it is.
It begins with three very heavy guitar-based instrumentals, “Afterthought”, “Change”, and “You’re Full Of It”. Fans of Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson will eat these up, as they showcase Eric’s phenomenal guitar skills. Eric’s gift is his ever-present melodicism, regardless of how crunching the riffs are underneath.
The fourth track, “Lost” (featuring long-time Neal Morse collaborator Randy George on bass), is something very special. A 22 minute epic that begins with a fast Crimson-like guitar intro soon settles into a keyboard section reminiscent of classic Todd Rundgren while Eric sings, “Can you hear me? Is there anyone out there? I could use a helping hand…I will find my way; I won’t be afraid. I can feel you next to me.” After three blistering instrumentals, it is a startling and inspiring moment to hear his pure and strong vocals. “Lost” is a tremendous track, with not a note wasted during its entire length.
“Rising” is another instrumental, this time featuring fellow NMB member Bill Hubauer on keyboards. “Bring You Down” is another heavy track with excellent vocals. It brings to mind Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor at his best. Unlike NIN, though, Gillete’s lyrics are more positive: “You don’t have to face it alone/Don’t let it bring you down.”
“Out Of Control” is another guitar showcase that would give Jeff Beck a run for his money. As a matter of fact, if you miss those classic Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer jams, then “Stagger”, “Blue Sky” and “Miles Away” will satisfy. The latter song, in particular, is simply gorgeous, and I am sure it was no accident that the title suggests Miles Davis’ balladry.
The album closes on a gentle note with a piano-based acoustic tour de force, “Above The Sky”. Eric’s multitracked harmonies sing a song of hope and redemption: “Darkness turns to light/Now you can finally see what this all meant/ No more questions why/The answer’s right in front of you, so open your eyes/Above the sky”.
It is an extraordinary achievement for a young musician to produce a debut album of such high quality. It’s no surprise Neal Morse included him in his new band – Eric Gillette is the real deal, and we will be hearing a lot more from him in the years to come.
STEVEN WILSON HAND. CANNOT. ERASE. AVAILABLE TODAY
Steven Wilson’s conceptual masterpiece, Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Kscope), released today to critical acclaim – the groundbreaking songwriter, four-time Grammy-nominated artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, has long been celebrated by an elite audience of audiophiles and tastemakers, with the new release eclipsing all expectation.
The critics so far:
“Hand. Cannot. Erase. is an album rooted in sonic and spiritual modernity, largely eschewing early prog tropes in favour of an inventive blend of lbealk and brooding industrial soundscapes and rugged muscular ensemble performances from Wilson’s virtuoso henchmen…” Score: 5/5 – The Guardian
“…Wilson set out to capture Vincen’ts life as only he can – through sprawling, dense, challenging and often strikingly beautiful music. The result is Hand. Cannot. Erase….” – Buffalo News
“Hand. Cannot. Erase. is nothing short of an epic tale of modern-day isolation.” – Huffington Post
“It’s beautiful and haunting. As with many great prog records, there’s no shortage of musical layers, instruments and themes.” – Huffington Post
“What’s striking about Hand. Cannot. Erase. is its vast spectrum of musical colors and the life-affirming vitality of its hummable melodies. Wilson’s best album to date…” – Under The Radar
“…produced and mixed by Wilson, the album is sonically rich and detailed. It’s an immense, imaginative landscape that melds classic album rock, sophisticated ’80s pop, metal, prog, and electronica in expertly crafted songs.” – All Music
“Bucking virtually every convention in today’s music business, Wilson’s career and exponential rise to fame has, quite simply, been extraordinary.” – All About Jazz
“It’s this ability to combine narrative and music in brave and adventurous ways during a time when the very longevity of the album-as-cohesive-statement is constantly being questioned that makes Wilson one of the most compelling musicians of his era. His music seeks to connect on a deeply human level, and stands in contrast to a popular music culture obsessed with disposability. This makes him a rare and precious commodity.” – Buffalo News
“If Neil Young is the “Godfather of Grunge,” then Wilson has likewise (and rightfully) earned his place as the “Patriarch of Prog.”” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Musically, it’s a full-course sound-and-genre menu that runs the gamut from epic prog-rock to industrial textures and rhythms to pastoral acoustic pop.” – Music Radar
“..a rich musical journey with numerous moments of vivid melodic simplicity…” Score: 5/5 – The Guardian
“If there is any such a thing as a renaissance man left in popular music, then Steven Wilson is surely it.” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“…there is a cohesive and strong narrative to the album, there are enough music twists throughout the 11 tracks to keep you on the journey right to the very end.” – fdrmx
“…rather than being a Progressive Rock album with a capital “P,” this is a progressive album in the dictionary sense of the word; an album that represents progression for Wilson and, with its unintended but undeniable crossover appeal, an album that moves music forward in a way that’s detailed under the hood but immediately accessible throughout.” – All About Jazz
“This troubling but deeply moving record is a metaphorical treatise on societal alienation, loneliness, and urban dislocation, offered without pretension. It is aesthetically attractive while being emotionally and intellectually resonant; pop music can hope for no more.” – All Music
“Hand. Cannot. Erase. is a crystal clear indicator of just what can be achieved with a little thought, some finely-honed talent, a quality team, and plenty of hard work. Box-negating, limit-ignoring, and utterly fantastic.” – The Music Melting Pot
“Steven Wilson has once again achieved a perfect mix. It is delicate and dynamic, and it has a lot of space for everything to breathe.” – The Monolith
“…Steven Wilson’s new album, Hand. Cannot. Erase., is simply The Thing That Shouldn’t Be: Eleven tracks clocking in at over 65 minutes, it the genuine concept record article, built more for sustained, top-to-bottom listening experiences rather than short-bite consumption.” – Music Radar
“As someone capable of delivering accessible music that is, at the same time, compositionally and lyrically deep—detailed and, at times, unapologetically complex—Wilson makes absolutely no compromises in doing what he does. And yet, almost in spite of it all, his star continues on an increasingly rapid upward trajectory.” – All About Jazz
“Hand. Cannot. Erase. grabs your full attention from the beginning to the very final note…the sign of a great album.” – fdrmx
“Wilson’s refined skill as a songwriter and studio guru combine to fashion songs that deserve a much wider audience than one that views his work as a modern equivalent of Pink Floyd and Genesis.” Score: 5/5 – The Guardian
“Steven Wilson’s new album is that perfect hybrid of edgy pop and progressive rock” – Power of Pop
Co-produced by the four-time Grammy-nominated artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Hand. Cannot. Erase. is available at retailers nationwide and digitally with a limited deluxe edition for pre-order via Kscope (http://bit.ly/1DhHN6c). Steven Wilson and his band will embark on a tour through the UK and Europe in March and April 2015, then head to North America dedicating much of the summer beginning on May 21 in Albany – itinerary below.
Best known as founder and front man of British rock act Porcupine Tree, Wilson has produced and collaborated with diverse acts as Opeth, Blackfield, Yes, Roxy Music, and XTC. His prolific engineering work can be heard on his mixes of classic releases from King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and most recently the 5.1 surround sound version of Tears For Fears’ classic Songs From The Big Chair reissue, released in November 2014. Porcupine Tree’s last album went top 30 in both the UK and USA, and the tour climaxed with sold out shows at Royal Albert Hall in London and Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Following the release of his critically acclaimed 2012 release, The Raven That Refused to Sing, Wilson set out on a world tour, having assembled a virtuoso band – Marco Minnemann (drums), Nick Beggs (bass), Theo Travis (flute and sax), Adam Holzman (keys) and Guthrie Govan (guitar). His latest studio creation completed, the cinematic Hand. Cannot. Erase. features dynamic performances by Wilson, his touring ensemble, and vocal accompaniment from
# # #
North American Tour dates:
May 21 The Egg Albany
May 22 Berklee Performance Center Boston
May 23 The Whitaker Center Harrisburg
May 26 930 Club Washington, DC
May 28 Keswick Theatre Glenside, PA
May 29 Best Buy Theater New York City
May 30 Best Buy Theater New York City
May 31 The Grand Wilmington, Delaware
Jun 02 The Palace Theatre Pittsburgh
Jun 04 Park West Chicago, Illinois
Jun 05 Park West Chicago, Illinois
Jun 06 Barrymore Theater Madison
Jun 09 Boulder Theater Boulder, CO
Jun 11 Mesa Arts Center Mesa, Arizona
Jun 12 The Grove Anaheim
Jun 13 The Wiltern Los Angeles
Jun 14 The Warfield San Francisco
Jun 16 Aladdin Theater Portland
Jun 17 Neptune Theater Seattle
Jun 20 Vogue Theatre Vancouver
Jun 22 Myer Horowitz Theatre Edmonton
Jun 23 Theatre Junction Grand(Flanagan) Calgary
Jun 26 The Danforth Music Hall Toronto
Jun 27 Montreal Jazz Festival Montreal
Jun 28 Montreal Jazz Festival Montreal
Jun 29 Impérial Quebec City
A friend of mine, Stephen Humphries, just interviewed Steven Wilson. Well worth reading. Humphries is a natural.
My story began to spin off other things that I wanted to talk about: nostalgia for childhood, regret, and isolation and alienation,” says Wilson. “When most people say ‘concept album,’ they think of fantasy. But for me, the quintessential concept albums are things like Tommy, Quadrophenia, The Wall, OK Computer. These albums are actually about very similar things. They are about a fear of the modern age, they are about alienation from technology and alienation from society. They are also albums about individuals becoming isolated from the rest of the world. I think there is a lineage that this album appears to be a part of.
To read the entire interview (and you should!), please click here.
I was terribly sorry to wake up to the news that The Reasoning have disbanded. They’ve been a major part of my life–the soundtrack of so many articles, books, and trips–over the last decade. Matt, we love you, and we wish you nothing but the best–Brad.
A very good afternoon to you one and all, I hope you are well? I promise to keep what we are about to say very short, sweet and to the point. It is with a very heavy heart that we impart the following bit of news – The Reasoning have decided to call it day. We part in the knowledge that we have achieved many wonderful and great things as a band and as individuals but, the time has come to be honest and realise that as a musical group, we have explored as much as we can. Though we have enjoyed our journey with you immensely, we have also had occasions where it seemed so tough to carry on and as we approach the 3rd anniversary of the disappearance of our dear friend Owain, this seems like the right time to gently put the band to bed.
We want to thank all the bands, press and fans for the amazing loyalty, support and love. We have done many incredible things, been to many amazing places and played to so many amazing people. Our music lives on with you and in our hearts. This is not the last you will hear of us as musicians but I’m afraid, it is the last you will hear from us as a band. We are all parting on good terms and with firm friendships established. This is a decision we all feel is the best thing for the band and its musical legacy.
Thank you all once again, you will never know how much we truly love you all. Be well, take care and we’ll all see you on the road sometime soon. “The View From Where I Stand Begins To Change, Something Is Happening To Me…….”
The Reasoning xxxxx
PS The main website will remain online until the domain name expires so, please feel free to pop over. Please be aware, this will be our last announcement xx
“You mean you’ve got a hold full of frozen hairdressers?” he said.
“Oh yes,” said the Captain, “Millions of them. Hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants, you name them. We’re going to colonize another planet…”
“..Yes, so anyway,” he resumed, “the idea was that into the first ship, the ‘A’ ship, would go all the brilliant leaders, the scientists, the great artists, you know, all the achievers; and into the third, or ‘C’ ship, would go all the people who did the actual work, who made things and did things, and then into the `B’ ship – that’s us – would go everyone else, the middlemen you see.”
You find me listening to the new Steven Wilson record, which I like a great deal. There will be other people who like it, too. And others who don’t.
There can’t be many these days who don’t listen to an album, in whole or in part, before they hand over their hard-earned cash. And I’m talking about listening to it legally, on any one of a host of download and/or streaming platforms.
When I first started buying albums reviews were all you had – primarily for me in ‘Sounds’ and ‘NME’, and later in ‘Kerrang’. Some bands I would invest in regardless, mind. Many Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Yes, Genesis, Marillion, and other albums were purchased unheard. But in the digital age now if I want to decide whether I’ll like a record I just head on over to Bandcamp, YouTube, SoundCloud or the band’s website.
Growing up things seemed so much easier in hindsight. I made up my own mind, formed my own opinions. Fashioned my own world view. Now, thanks to social media I am assailed by the opinions of others, many of whom I have never met. Constantly. Incessantly. On everything from music, politics, art, food, religion, television and film. Back in the day I would have conversations with close friends and would find out their views on such subjects occasionally. I might not agree with them but I would respect their right to hold them. But now it is everywhere. Everyone, it seems, is a critic. Merely by virtue of them possessing opposable thumbs.
So in the era of streaming and downloads I have to wonder as to the point of a review. As I have mentioned, I like the new Steven Wilson album, Hand.Cannot.Erase. A dear friend, who I love dearly, does not. Now even if I wrote a thousand words extolling my perceived virtues of the piece he would not buy it, having already had a listen. I can absolutely see his point and he is equally valid in his opinion as I am in mine. Writing about this record after it is released seems to be, I think, a futile exercise at best as most folks who are that way inclined will already own it. And those who aren’t won’t. Nor will they ever.
As I’ve mentioned there have been, and are still, bands whose work I would buy without an advance listen. This year I have invested in records by Grand Tour, Neal Morse Band, Steve Hackett and Beardfish as well as the Steven Wilson to name but a few without needing to listen ahead of time and without anyone else advising me to do so. But in the digital age I find myself utilising the advance listen facility frequently, without reading a word and I have discovered some enjoyable albums this way. I am particularly taken with the Animals album by Bend Sinister. And have just purchased Ampledeed’s 2013 debut ‘A is for Ampledeed’ having first listened to a few streaming tracks.
Cliff Pearson has, for example, played material by Bryan Scary and Snarky Puppy amongst others on his radio show and both have been added to cart based on these initial listens.
I once read a press release for a band whose CD I had been sent to review for a well-respected bona fide website that said ‘the album sounds as good as anything you’ll hear this year’. Now this wasn’t quoting a review or any other objective source but was just a throw away line by some PR person, or friend of the band, who had written the press release. It went on to tell me the music was ‘exhilarating’ and ‘delightfully original’. This annoyed me somewhat. Suffice to say I thought the album was dreadful. And went on to say this in the review. I did, though, suggest people go and have a listen and make their own minds up.
So much new music is released nowadays. Some of it as good if not better I think than that made by the ‘classic’ bands. I shall, for example, be buying the new albums by echolyn, Izz and Glass Hammer without having heard a note. And I have just this second pledged to buy the new Bryan Scary record ‘Birds’. I most certainly do not need to read what anyone else thinks to assist me with these purchasing decisions. For I am all grown up now.
But I cannot remember in recent memory having read a ‘bad’, i.e. critical amateur review. Of course many had a pop at the new Yes album but distance from the band and its organisation insulated the writers from any comeback. Much of what passed for informed comment was akin to trolling if I’m being brutally frank and I am starting to see a little bit of that with the new Steven Wilson album.
Oh, and by the way, I quite liked the new Yes album. Not that you should be bothered in the slightest what I think. Go and have a listen to it, and make up your own mind. If you haven’t already. But whatever you do, and in the name of all that is holy, please don’t write a review.
Originally posted on The (n)EVERLAND of PROG:
This album might well have slipped between the cracks and never have been heard were it not for John Mitchell’s blindingly good new CD, Please Come Home just released from his latest project LONELY ROBOT. Yes, of course I’ve probably heard a track or two from his other projects over the years (no doubt on the Dividing Line Broadcast website) or seen an ad for one of them in the pages of Uncut or Mojo, or one of the other glossies before the advent of PROG magazine, but those brief encounters just didn’t stick in my memory bank. So, thanks now to Wikipedia and YouTube I am aware, familiar, and in love with Mitchell’s other two stellar projects KINO (R.I.P.) and FROST*
With no further adieu, a “throw-back” review.
Milliontown is a well crafted and crisply produced affair. The mixing is clean and upfront with superb…
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Roine Stolt, the master of the modern Edda, just posted this on Facebook. Great news.
I’d like to officially extend my gratitude to the magnificent Steve Hackett for inviting me to join his Autumn Tour – We’ll be covering a lot of his amazing debut solo album “Voyage of The Acolyte” – some from his new excellent “Wolflight” album plus other Hackett staples – and of course carry on revisiting yet with some classic Genesis. It will be an amazing show – his band is great and so is crew – lights and all – I will cover the bassparts, some 12string, and other guitars, possibly help with vocals too. It’ll be a lot to learn but knowing most of the songs it’ll help me understand what is needed. Tour details will follow on the Hackettsongs website: http://www.hackettsongs.com/news/newsLive74.html Did I mention that I’m thrilled !!