Review: Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Location: Hertfordshire, England, UK
Genre: Progressive Rock
Released: February 27, 2015
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Uprising – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

I have an immense amount of respect for Steven Wilson; he is a highly talented musician capable of fusing many genres together to create a solid work of art. He has been a maestro of his craft since 1987, and has taken it upon himself to remix some of the most classic progressive rock albums of all time from bands like King Crimson, Yes, and Jethro Tull, among many others. Chances are, if you have any interest in progressive rock, Steven Wilson has probably had something to do with it.

And yet, I can’t really say that I love his own work. I tend to find his work to be precise to the point of it sounding robotic and devoid of emotion, even if the concept is one that should evoke emotion merely from talking about it. Hand. Cannot. Erase. continues this trend of emotional desolation for me.

Per Wilson, the concept is about a young woman from the United Kingdom who died in 2003, but was not found for three years. He also describes it as an album that warns of the false promises of social media, which makes a lot of sense. I have a lot of “friends” on social media that I barely communicate with anymore. For all I know, they could be just like Joyce Carol Vincent.

Purely from a production standpoint, this is a fantastic piece of work, and one shouldn’t expect anything less from Wilson at this point. It runs a gamut of different styles and even includes ambient and electronic features. But I have given this album ten listens (hence the long wait for the review) and I simply can’t get into it from start to finish. It does become more captivating as it gets closer to the end of the album, and the immensely long “Ancestral” is a meisterwerk of a track that rewards the listener with the most dynamic songwriting on this album. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to salvage the rest of the 66-minute album.

As a whole, this is a tough album for me to rate, as I can legitimately see how some would view this as an absolute gem. Ultimately, however, I consider work like this to be in a group with Tech-Death albums. It’s impressive work, but hard to fully digest because of the lack of dynamic range, especially (in this case) on the vocal tracks. That said, if you’re looking for a modern Pink Floyd, look no further. This should be heaven for you.

Overall: Too good for a 3.5, but not engaging enough for a 4.0.

Rating: 3.5*

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