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From the Promoter
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One of the most eclectic and prolific artists in rock music, Steven Wilson has been writing, recording, and producing music continuously since the age of 10. He was first exposed to music at the age of eight, when he started hearing his father listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and his mother to Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby, two albums that were pivotal in the development of his musical direction. His father, an electrical engineer, built him a multi-track tape machine, and he began to experiment with overdubbing and developing a repertoire of production techniques. Early demo tapes started to emerge in the mid 80s while Steven was still at school, and at the end of the decade he created the two projects which gained him entry to the professional music world: Porcupine Tree and No Man.
Porcupine Tree, which explored psychedelia, progressive music, and his love of ambitious 70s music, was initially an imaginary "band" which, in reality, Steven overdubbed all the instruments himself. This even extended to early demo tapes coming with a fictional written history of the band, and biographical info about the fictitious performers. Around the same time, Steven formed No-Man, his long-term collaboration with singer Tim Bowness. Influenced by everything from ambient music to hip-hop, their early singles and albums were a mixture of dance beats and lush orchestrations.
Porcupine Tree's increasing popularity was soon outpacing the imaginary pretext of an actual group. The second full-length album, Up The Downstair was released in 1993 and was praised by Melody Maker as "a psychedelic masterpiece… one of the albums of the year." The next album, The Sky Moves Sideways, was a transitional album featuring both solo SW and band pieces, but from then on Porcupine Tree became a full band with the addition of Chris Maitland on drums. Further albums throughout the late 90s, and extensive touring resulted in a string of indie chart placings and critical acclaim, many fans hailing them as the Pink Floyd of the decade.
In 2001, Porcupine Tree was signed to US label Lava Records, under the auspices of Atlantic Records. Now with the support of a major label, and featuring new drummer Gavin Harrison, In Absentia saw the light of day in 2002, featuring a heavier sound than all of the group's previous works. It charted in many European countries, remains one of the top-selling Porcupine Tree albums and began a series of widely acclaimed albums – including Deadwing (2005), Fear Of A Blank Planet (2007) and The Incident (2009) that would eventually cement their status as the biggest "underground" band in the world.
Starting in 2003 Steven quietly started to release music under his own name, in the form of a series of two track CD singles on his own label Headphone Dust, a move that led to his decision to record his first solo album of original music. Between January and August of 2008, Steven began recording material that would comprise Insurgentes. 10 new tracks that range from ballads and anthems to all-out industrial noise assaults, the dark, cinematic, and richly textured disc represents two years' worth of creative output and numerous recording sessions in studios from Mexico City to Japan to Israel. The whole process was visually documented by film-maker Lasse Hoile, and the work-in-progress Insurgentes film features footage of the recording sessions, surreal sequences, and interviews with Steven and many other musicians about what it means to be a musician in the age of iPods and download culture.
A second solo album, Grace For Drowning, was recorded in 2010-11 and released in September 2011 on CD, vinyl and Blu-ray formats as a double disc designed to be listened to as two single albums, with the individual parts named Deform to Form A Star and Like Dust I Have Cleared From My Eye. The album received massive critical acclaim. A live DVD/Blu-Ray, Get All You Deserve, was recorded in Mexico during the subsequent world tour and released in September 2012, again charting all over Europe.
At the same time that Steven was working on Grace For Drowning, he was also working on a collaboration album with his long term friend, the leader of Swedish band Opeth Mikael Åkerfeldt. Their collaboration was eventually released in May 2012 under the name of Storm Corrosion, and going against all expectation was an extremely atmospheric and darkly orchestrated album, very influenced by both musicians' love of artists such as Scott Walker and Talk Talk. The project was awarded a Grammy nomination.
Steven has become known for the high standard of his production and is a sought-after mixer and producer. Artists he has worked with include Norwegian artist Anja Garbarek, British alternative rockers Anathema and Swedish progressive metal band Opeth for whom he produced and/or mixed four albums. Other projects include Blackfield, a collaboration with Israeli megastar Aviv Geffen that has now produced two acclaimed albums, and Steven's drone/ambient/ experimental outlet Bass Communion. More recently, Steven has become known for his 5.1 surround sound mixing, starting with his own projects, but since 2009 also for the remixing of several classic albums, notably the revamping of the King Crimson catalogue, on which Steven worked closely with band leader Robert Fripp, Jethro Tull, several Yes albums, XTC and Anathema.
2012 saw Steven winning "Guiding Light" trophy at the Progressive Music Awards 2012 and writing recording his third solo studio album, The Raven That Refused To Sing (and Other Stories) in Los Angeles with legendary producer Alan Parsons engineering. The album was released in February 2013. The album was a huge critical and commercial success, earning numerous 5 star reviews and charting well across the world. The virtuoso band Steven assembled to record the album, Guthrie Govan (guitar), Adam Holzman (keyboards), Theo Travis (flute / sax), Nick Beggs (bass / stick), and Marco Minneman, accompanied him on a hugely successful world tour in 2013 that took in 78 shows across 22 countries. UK shows included sold out Royal Albert Hall & Royal Festival Hall shows. The latter part of 2014 saw Steven Wilson enter Air Studios to record the highly anticipated follow-up to The Raven… and, just as long time fans will be expecting, it may be the most ambitious album of his entire career.
Due for release on 2nd March, 2015, via Kscope Records, Hand. Cannot. Erase. is a concept album; a mesmerising, labyrinthine tale hewn from a vivid blend of fact and fiction. In musical terms, the new songs are a more varied and esoteric bunch than those on The Raven that Refused to Sing, partly down to Steven's aversion to repeating himself, but also because of the way it reflects its subject matter. One thing that has remained the same is the band, who are once again on hand to display their extraordinary skills and sensitivity. Veering from brooding electronic soundscapes to incendiary progressive rock epics and covering all bases in between, Hand. Cannot. Erase. is simultaneously a summation of everything that came before it in Steven's career, and quite unlike anything he has recorded before. Fans will be instantly thrilled by his increasingly refined and distinctive compositional voice, and the use of new elements such as Ninet Tayeb's female vocal contributions, and the unusual (in the context of a rock album at least) use of a boy's choir.
Of the album's conceptual thread, Steven says the following:
"It started with something very specific, a news story about a woman called Joyce Carol Vincent who'd been found dead in her apartment in north London," he explains. "The TV was still on and she'd been there for over two years, undiscovered. It became even more tragic and extraordinary when I found out that she wasn't a lonely little old lady, as I think most people would assume, but quite the opposite; she was a popular, attractive young woman who, for whatever reason, had not been missed in all that time by her friends and family. It was on one hand shocking and unbelievable, but at the same time I wasn't completely surprised that it could happen. It seemed somehow symptomatic of life in the 21st century and more specifically life in a large city in the 21st century. I lived in London for almost 20 years and I didn't even know the names of my next-door neighbours or what they did for a living, and neither did they know anything about me. More recently I moved out of the city, only a matter of 20 miles or so to a smaller town, but within days I knew all my neighbours and my postman! There's something peculiar about living in the heart of the metropolis – it can engender feelings of paranoia and isolation, to the extent that I do feel that if you truly want to disappear then all you need to do is move to heart of the city. This became the starting point for my character and story."
Although staying true to the grand traditions of progressive rock, Hand. Cannot. Erase. marks a significant change in tone and delivery for Steven. Just as The Raven that Refused to Sing was driven by the hazy spirit of classical ghost stories, so the new record draws its overriding aesthetic from the very modern and brightly-lit environs of urban life in the 21st century. "Being a story set in a very modern and urban setting, it led me back to using more electronic sounds, even industrial in places, rather than the vintage sound palette of the previous album. It perhaps also feels more diverse because it charts the passage of a whole life, requiring many different moods and styles, and spinning off lyrically into other subjects such as childhood and nostalgia for childhood, the internet and social networking, and so on…"
In keeping with Steven's longstanding devotion to groundbreaking presentation, Hand. Cannot. Erase. will be released in an extravagant and wonderfully imaginative special edition, containing numerous artefacts pertaining to the album's narrative and the life of its chief protagonist. As Steven explains, the new album offers a depth of vision and sound that is indicative of its creator's lifelong devotion to exploring the limitless possibilities of mixing different media; music, text, photography, illustration, and film.
"The great thing about this concept, is that we've been able to create a document of a woman's whole life, using a diary and blog to chart her story, but also incorporating loose items such as postcards, letters, newspaper clippings, even her birth certificate, all faithfully recreated as authentically as possible. It's been a challenge to try to raise the bar in terms of what a deluxe edition of an album can be. And this will carry through into the visuals for the live show… a lot of new films in keeping with my idea that the album is more like a "movie for the ears". The album will be played in sequence but there will be older songs interspersed, things from my back catalogue that seem to resonate with the themes of the new album."