s not understatement to say that Steven Wilson is one of the most prolific artists in the rock world and 2015 was certainly a busy year for the ex Porcupine Tree frontman. His 2015 album “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” Charted at an impressive no .13, Wilson then went on to make history in September becoming the first artist of the century to chart solely on vinyl sales, with his limited edition compilation “Transience”. This all between a worldwide touring schedule that probably warrants his own Iron Maiden style jet.
He’s now back with a self described ‘interim mini-album’ “4 ½” to bridge the gap between ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’ and album number five. “4 ½” is made up of tracks rescued from previous album sessions, live sets and even a look back into the Porcupine Tree catalogue. In short; the collection is spectacular. Some of these songs may not have fit their albums conceptually at the time, but the world can be glad they’re seeing the light of day and found context in this awesome body of work.
The long form EP covers pretty much every aspect of Steven Wilson’s eclectic trick-bag of sounds; from the poppy straight forward rock hooks of ‘My Book Of Regrets’ to the sprawling aggressive prog epics like ‘Vermillioncore’, all the bases are well and truly covered. Undoubtedly for me the highlight of this collection is the updated version of the 1998 Porcupine Tree classic ‘Don’t Hate Me’, now reimagined as duet between Steven and the vocally stunning Israeli singer Ninet Tiyeb – who’s beautiful voice will be recognised by fans from the incredibly powerful track ‘Routine’ (a song well documented to have moved even the most challenging of prog-loving metalheads to tears at Steven’s live shows). Not to mention the beautiful solo from saxophonist Theo Travis, is something that dreams are made of.
“4 ½” makes me wonder if Steven is even capable of being anything less than brilliant. Here is a man with real vision. The attention to detail is astounding and the guts to revisit and give new lease of life to already revered material pays off massively. This release will satisfy any fan and certainly keeps us guessing where album five can go. “4 ½” feels complete and is a truly excellent addition to the Wilson repertoire and not one to be missed.