Steven Wilson is an artist I only recently discovered about a year ago, mainly through his 4th album ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’. This newest release entitled ‘4 1/2’ is named because it’s the mini album between his 4th and 5th, made up of a mixture of new material and tracks that didn’t make it onto his previous albums.

I was really impressed with ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’, which introduced me to his superb production, talented band and melancholy style of lyrics; I was hoping this mini album   wouldn’t disappoint. I’m glad to say it really doesn’t, and in some ways surpasses previous material  of his. The album is only 6 tracks long, however 2 of them are over 8 minutes in length. Each track has a very different feel and seems to revolve around a different topic or mood. All the tracks however have been crafted and recorded extremely well, with a crystal clear soundscape that lets every instrument shine through.Steve_wilson_4_Review

 

The genre is a kind of melancholy post-rock, with additional string and synth effects thrown in there. It’s clear that Steven Wilson takes care in creating a High Fidelity experience in his recordings, rivaling bands such as ‘God Speed You Black Emperor’ or ‘Pink Floyd’. This is a very dynamic album with beautiful, surreal, quiet moments balanced with impacting choruses and drums, making for a really engaging listen. Listen to this album all the way through with the volume up high for maximum enjoyment.

There are some stand out tracks for me, one of them being the hauntingly beautiful ‘Year of the Plague’. The track is very sparse with only a soft keyboard sound, distant strings and a guitar melody played on top, however the combined effect gives off an amazingly sad feel that seems to grab your attention without doing much at all. It is a great example of a track that keeps you gripped without the sound levels being high at all. Another great track is ‘Happiness III’ which contains lyrics about the effect of happiness living in a town full of noise and pollution. The intro drums and guitar almost made me jump out of my seat on first listen, and from then on the track really rocks and has a catchy chorus, making for a really enjoyable listen. The track ‘Vermillioncore’ is an instrumental that really shows off the band’s talent and has a more distorted rock sound at times. All the tracks however bring either a strong emotional or instrumental angle at top notch production levels. This album is a great introduction to Steven Wilson’s music and is also a testament to what modern day recording and production can produce for today’s Hifi enthusiast. My only criticism would be that the album can feel slightly disjointed between tracks due to them being quite different, however each track in its’ entirety is a work of art. This mini album makes me very excited for Steven Wilson’s 5th album.

Daniel Brown

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