Steven Wilson - '4 1/2'

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Steven Wilson - '4 1/2'

An artist right at the forefront of what Progressive Rock of any era has to offer.

Love him or loathe him, it's hard to argue that there's been a more important, or impactful individual than Steven Wilson to emerge from the Prog scene over the past couple of decades. First through No-Man and Porcupine Tree, then as a solo artist, re-mixer of classic albums and collaborator with many.

However, it's been his ability to meld classic themes with an uncompromising drive to push his own sound, that has reaped the richest rewards. Recent albums, 'The Raven That Refused To Sing' and 'Hand.Cannot.Erase' have seen Wilson take a step that few, if any modern day UK-based Prog acts have achieved, moving out of the clubs and into larger arenas. Keen to maintain that momentum, a Wilson-related release is never far away and a few months down the line from 'Hand...' (and the vinyl only 'Unreleased Electronic Music'), we have '4 1/2', so called as this thirty-seven minute, six song selection arrives at the mid-point between album four and whatever Wilson deems fit to grace us with next.

If there's one thing we've learned, whether his "latest project" floats your boat or not, is that nothing substandard slips through the Wilson quality filter. Four of the songs here originate from the 'Hand...' sessions, while a further one is revived from 'Raven...'. The last however is a re-working of the PT classic 'Don't Hate Me' featuring the vocal contributions of Ninet Tayeb. This version is based upon the live interpretation Wilson's band have been performing lately and they, he and she do it proud. Unsurprisingly, the eerie dreaminess of 'Happiness III' and harsh grating strings gone mad and guitars gone bad of 'Vermillioncore' sound as though they've been directly lifted from the recent Wilson catalogue, such is their atmosphere. The sumptuous 'My Book Of Regrets' will surely prove one of the more accessible highlights of this musician's recent work.

He may have his doubters, but if this is the standard of material Steven Wilson can afford to leave off his main releases, then no wonder he's seen as an artist right at the forefront of what Progressive Rock of any era has to offer.

Steven Reid

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