Artist: Steven Wilson
Title: 4 1/2
Release Date: January 22, 2016
Label: Kscope

With over 30 years of relativity, Steven Wilson has become a household name in the Progressive Rock world.

Quality over quantity is irrelevant when it comes to this UK native because he offers both. Most known for his work in Porcupine Tree, “the king of prog rock” has distributed/displayed elegant guitar pieces of solitude and frustration on his solo records.

On Wilson’s latest release, 4 1/2 you get the b-sides between his two previous albums (Hand. Cannot. Erase. The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories). What is satisfying is that it doesn’t feel like reject songs. Heavenly guitar chords are heavily present, so delicate its like a brisk breeze on the top of a mountain; nothing short of majestic. “My Book of Regrets” begins the album just right. Its twist and turn between clean and distorted guitars feeds the ears with multiple colors and tones. “Year of the Plague” is gentle and calm, as it just glides along warm, yet chilling stings and keys.

Although, with Wilson’s bi-polar musical capability you can never become too relaxed. For instance “Sunday Rain Sets In” feels like a cloud, then abrupt guitar and drums thunder in, waking you up from the momentary bliss. This is the most intriguing attribute of Steven Wilson, his ability to change courses and keep your ears on their feet— wait, what? “Don’t Hate Me” has the whole nine yards, saxophone, colorful and jazzy keyboard, interact drumming and feminine vocals from Israeli vocalist Ninet Tayeb. With its many tempo and mood changes the nine minutes feels like multiple songs until the chorus jumps back in and you remember where you are.

4 1/2 may be considered a b-sides album, but its 37 minutes of goodness contains the usual stellar musicianship you could expect from the prog rocker, it very well holds its own in regards to its predecessors.

 

By: Matthew Burke