Steven Wilson — Hand. Cannot. Erase.
(Kscope 316, 2015, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2015-05-19The problem with being Steven Wilson is that every new album has to measure up to a high bar relative to what is now a long career and successful body of work. As a musical statement his new album Hand. Cannot. Erase. sits comfortably alongside past efforts, although I wouldn’t characterize it as one of his best. In form it reminds me of Porcupine Tree’s The Incident (2009). However, the story here — a woman is discovered dead in her apartment though nobody had noticed she had gone missing for three years — offers a more poignant and deeper dramatic reservoir. But as The Incident reminded us, a good concept album needs to have enough meat on the bone to hold and sustain the listener’s attention, let alone make them care about the story. Sonically Wilson has chosen to swing back toward the modern production aesthetics of earlier years. He especially seems keen to revisit his work with Tim Bowness in No Man, which pops up in the more accessible tunes “Happy Returns” and the title track. Neither scales the heights of Wilson’s best pop songwriting. Instead, the best moments are found in proggy tracks like “Home Invasion” and “Ancestral,” plus the instrumentals (“Regret #9”). Here Wilson’s usual stable of hired guns — Adam Holzman (keys), Guthrie Govan (guitar), and Marco Minnemann (drums) — easily steal the show. With that kind of talent even mediocre material shines brightly, but if it’s enough to win over the listener is in the ear of the beholder.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more