28 December 2015

Red Morris - Lady Rose


We are back in Italy with this release, this time it is an instrumental rock album from guitarist Red Morris (aka Maurizio Parisi).  Red Morris is accompanied by Claudio Amadori (drums), Beppe Premi (keyboards), Renato Mombelli (bass) and is based in Brescia.  This is their first album and has been dedicated to the wife of Red Morris.  According to the press release they are heavily rooted in 80's progressive rock, also taking influence from Pink Floyd, Santana, Cream & Led Zeppelin.  Whilst the cover is not one that grabs your attention, it is obviously full of symbolism towards to good lady Rosa; so now it is time to see how this eight track album has turned out.....

Starting off the album is the song "Golden Angel" it begins with a synth/atmospheric entrance as the guitar starts to weep gently under the fingers of Red Morris, the drums and bass come in and you introduced to a song that sounds like it really could have been formed in the 80's and used in a Top gun sequence.  For what it is, the song is well formed and performed very well; it is not to my tastes, but I appreciate the music for what it is and the time/effort that has gone into it.  Next is the title track of the album - "Lady Rose".  It is a slow burning song which is basically an extended solo that is playing very well and will have its own niche audience.  There is a flavour of the Mediterranean/North Africa to the tone on the guitar and the rhythm of the song which gives it a vibe that sings of Summer days and Continental beer on a sea front.  Again I would be doing the artist a mis-service by saying it is something I would regularly listen to, but I also find it to be well performed for what it is.  The same can actually be said for "Mystery" as it appears to have been taken from the same cloths as "Lady Rose", it has a flair to the beginning of this song that is almost a sibling track to the form song.  Then the song changes direction around the two minute, thirty mark as we have a spoken work section that does not quite work which is then followed by a brief jazz breakdown which is led by the keyboards and has a bass break down as well that is a harsh contrast to the beginning of the song that it feels like the natural ying to the former yang of this number - shame about the spoken word piece though, it does not work too well.  Ending the first half of the album is the song "Independence" which is another shape shifter from Red Morris.  It is still 80's rock with a few dashes of progressive timing to the tune, it is once more well played and you have the structure of something that could have been moulded from a cross breed of "Moonlight Shadow" and "Sweet Child O' Mine", but once again I am only able to appreciate the craft that went into this and not the end result.  It is not boring me, but it is not exciting me either.

"Black Eye's" coming to us in a hail of guitars and slow synth, before the band come into play and make this song sound as if it could have been used in countless Cannon Film Company films (see 'Highlander', 'Invasion USA' and other Cannon movies for example).  The guitars at the beginning have a tone which reminds me a tiny bit of Van Halen, but the rest of the song is not doing it for me once again.  "Celtica" starts with a church bell and a slow, methodical tune that feels as if someone (or something) has passed and the world is in mourning.  Even when the full band start to play, it feels as if a black cloud lingers over this song and it does not shake it off.  There is also a medieval tone to the number through the later keyboard section.  The slow pace rock here (which actually reminds me of the time the punk band Anti-Nowhere League went rock), once again does not hold me in either raptor or pain; it is just a song which is not to my own personal liking, that is performed well.  The penultimate song is called "My Life Blues (Go, Go)" which has a 12-bar blue structure to the sound (it is one of the few things I remember from my musical education) and it feels a bit looser than the other track on here, like there is something of a jam going on with the number.  It is the song I like the most of the collection and it sounds as if it would have been a lot of fun to make as well.  Ending the album is the emotive "My Sea's Echoes" which comes across with an atmosphere that is akin to the sun setting after a long day.  Much like the rest of the day, it is a song I can appreciate rather than like, I can see the time and effort that has gone into the work; with that said, it is the obvious ending song for the album.

It is a little obvious that this is an album that I would not normally listen to and will probably not be returning to any time soon, however I will say this about it.  This band (and man) are doing something that most people and musicians who are in countless cover bands around that world can only dream of - releasing music that they have crafted and laboured over for hours upon hours; that is something which people sometimes lose focus on when they review work (I have been guilty of doing this myself, but sometimes it does not work).  However, with that being said I was not able to find anything that I liked, there was always a detachment to my appreciation of the work behind the song.  I wish Red Morris well and if you are looking for 80's inspired instrumental rock, it might give you something that I missed.


6.5 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there


Top track - My Life Blues (Go, Go)


You can purchase the digital version of Lady Rose from Amazon here

You can find further information & follow the activities of Red Morris on Facebook here

You can stream Lady Rose on Spotify here

You can stream Lady Rose on Deezer here

You can stream Lady Rose on Tidal here

Sugarcoma - Becoming Something Else


So far, I've enjoyed this Nu Metal December. It's not only been a pleasant nostalgia trip but has also made me re-evaluate the genre itself and I'm actually surprised I never dived head first into it because it does have a lot of stuff I'd like - chugging guitars, bouncy rhythms, rap elements...I guess at the time I didn't have the patience to appreciate it due to trying to listen to lots of Death Metal and Grindcore or something, or maybe I didn't see far past enough the "brah sportswear" ensemble who seemed to make up the fan base. Ah well. I'll fire off another couple of Nu Metal blogs over the coming days before normal blog service will resume in the new year - that is, Eddie giving me other bands to review. And also reviewing the latest releases. My target is to have a Top 20 Fave Albums by December 2016. But I digress...

Sugarcoma were another of those bands who were featured a lot in the rock mags as the next big thing - no doubt encouraged by positive reviews for the first couple of E.P's they did as well as touring as support for the likes of Fear Factory, My Ruin, Machine Head, Soil and Will Haven. They also did a cover of a Britney Spears song called "Crazy" which ended up quite prominently on Kerrang! TV and other rock music stations. This turned a few heads initially as it was recorded and released at a time when Ms Spears was still a pop princess who could do no wrong and was the apple of everyones eye, not the train-wreck red-neck of later years. Seriously, I hope she gets her mojo back. Tbh, I was never keen on this song because a) I found it to be awful and b) it seemed like rock/metal bands doing rock/metal covers of pop standards were by this point reaching over-saturation and therefore it was starting to get annoying. Besides, there were better stuff on the Chartbusters series of CD's.

It's been hard to find out much info about the band other than "where are they now?" type interviews online as there is no Wiki page for Sugarcoma (Often written as SugarComa), and their Facebook page looks inactive, but from what I've read in an interview with the bassist, things fizzled out after this album was recorded and released in 2002 due to being dropped by then-record label Music For Nations. The band did do a couple of demos but ultimately it wasn't to be, although they did hold a reunion show in 2013, albeit with a different drummer. As for this album, I've not actually heard it despite having seen the band live three times back in the day so this is going to be a new listening experience, although I was familiar with some of the bands output due to Kerrang! TV and such. One other thing - I can vaguely remember comparisons with another predominately female Nu Metal band - Kittie. Whilst it is true that both bands had females in them, Kittie were heavier but Sugarcoma seemed to do melody better. Here goes...

1) Windings - Sounds like a gothic version of The Runaways. Not too bad and no doubt captures some youthful exuberance with it's punky rhythms and breakdowns. A perfect way to open the album. Alternating mix between clean singing and aggressive growling for vocals.

2) Come Up - Slows things down a bit with a groove-laden song. Nice guitar work which alternates between a meaty riff and some intricate melodies, particularly during the mid-section.

3) Last Orders - Oh yes, this was a good one! Still is, although it's pretty much a product of it's time. Quite a groove behind this while the lead singer (Jessica) roars at you about how she "won't take your orders!" More heavy guitars and another mid-section where things mellow out and get melodic. It doesn't last for long before erupting into the kind of fury I've been known to unleash when getting a negative football result! This song is a good one.

4) Shots - Another one that sounds slightly punky. Alternating between the melodic and shouty vocals (another trait which became part of Nu Metal - this was brought to the table by Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory although he'd 'borrowed' it from Justin in Godflesh). There isn't really much to day about this one other than it no doubt filled a hole somewhere. Kind of has a youth club vibe to it.

5) Stitch It Up - This one is bit of a plodding, lumbering song.I can hear they're trying to go for an atmosphere in this but it doesn't really go anywhere for me. It reminds me of a Therapy? song from , possibly "Lunacy Booth" but not as dark or as oppressive. Shame...

6) Just Like You - Another plodding one, slightly better than the previous one. In fact, this one is VERY good. Seems to be a lot of emotional hurt coming out of this song, Creepy bit before it all kicks off again.

7) Because September Ended - Nah, not feeling this one at all. Alternative flavours and a slight grunge influence but ultimately, it's not grabbing my attention at all. Shame, as it feels like it had potential as if there is a good song trying to bust out of there.

8) Lost Morning - Gentle opening and verses lead to raging choruses which manage to squeeze in some nice melodies. Quite pleasant but not much to write home about.

9) What Comes Round - This was quite popular back in the day, what with being a regular staple on Kerrang! TV, at least before the Britney cover. A song which was a personal fave of mine for a bit, it follows what I call the "Nirvana Formula" in that it has quiet verses and loud choruses. It would go down a storm live. This song is possibly the highlight of the album.

10) Gun - Grooves and thumping drums aplenty! Then we get a minimalist verse before a raging chorus. This one is quite decent. Very raging. I like it. Vocals are doing the alternating thing again - it's about now I'd like to comment on them. Whilst I can appreciate the effort the vocalist is putting in, the heavy vocals aren't tood good in my opinion. They sound too forced and even then there isn't enough force behind them. That's not to say that women can't do heavy, Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy is perfect at heavy vocals. However, the clean vocals are excellent. Melodic and sounding oddly cold as well. A bit like Sean Young in 'Blade Runner'.

11) Start Of The End - Another one of those punk things that isn't too bad, I guess. Nah, it's not landing.

12) (You Drive Me) Crazy - The Britney cover. Avoid. Not a good idea back then and even worse now.

13) Zero Star - Melodic intro which sets a sombre tone. Heavy choruses and melodic verses, just for a change! This also ended up on the music channels a few times as the video was quite elaborate, the band set for disintergration in a security facility but they escaped by posing as the guards or something. Slow mid section where the growls come out to play. They don't sound too bad here which suggests that Jess was starting to master them. A good song all round.

Well, that was interesting. On one hand there was a lot of promise shown on some of those tracks and on the other, it seemed like the band had ran out of ideas and were just noodling. One interview reckoned the label had forced them to drop half their set in favour of writing more chorusy, anthemic songs which would certainly explain why half the songs on here are like a tiger with no claws and the other half are ragers. It's a shame that record companies get involved like this but I guess they gotta protect their investment. It could have been worse - they could have roped in Desmond Child to write some sickly ballads and Bob Rock produced them! By all means, get this album if you're a fan of alternative stuff but I think it's best left back in 2002. Things may have worked out different and Sugarcoma might have became a band who conquered the world, but I personally cannot hear anything on here to suggest that scenario was ever to be likely. Sorry!

4 - Well it's alright, but still...

Chris J

Top Track: What Goes Round

This album is available on iTunes.

Spotify
Amazon





Eazy E It's On (Dr Dre) 187um Killa


(The purpose of this blog is to discuss the music on this E.P. Neither myself nor anyone else associated with this blog agrees with any of the sentiments expressed within the music created about any of the individuals either living or dead that are mentioned as part of this music)

This blog has been a long time in coming, it was originally planned for September 2015 release to coincide with the N.W.A movie but I couldn't get my shit together to make it. Still, better late than never so here we go with a release by one of the most colourful characters that has graced hip-hop.

Born Eric Wright, Eazy E came to prominence as a rapper in the controversial but very popular rap group N.W.A who - aside from being signed to a label Eazy E allegedly set up with the proceeds of drug dealing - would rap about subjects such as police brutality, women troubles and general stuff about the gangsta-lifestyle, stuff like that. This created the "gangsta rap" genre which would turn out to be incredibly popular among rap fans across the world from all walks of life. But as all good things must come to an end, N.W.A eventually split due to internal arguments and each member then went off and did their own thing (although Ice Cube had jumped ship a year or so before this).

The original plan had been to release a double-album called "Temporary Insanity" as the follow-up to the (alright, but possibly an acquired taste) first album Eazy-Duz-It, but after hearing several insults on Dr Dre album "The Chronic", Eazy was prompted to release this for the time being. Containing more than a few 'diss tracks' towards Dre, it certainly heightened the animosity between them. The other songs were showcases for Eazy E himself, a man who whilst not being the most technically gifted rapper out there, still managed to be popular due to his charisma and sheer enthusiasm for being on the mic. In fact, he was so popular that the character of Ryder in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the one that was released in 2004) was based around certain aspects of Eazy.

The first thing you notice about this album is that it has a disctinct G-Funk sound which had been created by Dr Dre when he did "The Chronic". G-Funk was a subgenre of hip-hop that featured beats which were slower than usual and sparse melodies. It's a canny enough sound.

1) Exxtra Special Thankz - One of those shitty intro things but with more swearing. Mind, this has some canny beats so I think we can let it slide. It gets right to the point and pops off shit against Dr Dre and his then-protege Snoop Dogg (known as Snoop Doggy Dogg at the time).

2) Real Muthaphuckkin G's - Fucking glorious. Smooth beats and smoother melody, it basically has a go at Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg and pointing out how Eazy finds it funny how Dre goes to being a G'Thing after having previously worn drag whilst he was in a collective known as World Class Wreckin' Cru. It also casts doubt on whether Dre and Snoop are as 'street' as they say and accuses them of being 'studio gangsters'. There is some help on this song from Eazy's friends, Gangsta Dresta and B. G. Knocc Out. As far as diss-tracks go, it's one of the best. Note: The severance package that allowed Dr Dre to break hos contract and move to Death Row Records from Ruthless Records included a clause which still allowed a percentage of royalties made from Death Row Records sales by Dre to still go to Eazy E - hence the line "Dre Day only meant Eazy;s pay-day..."

3) Any Last Werds - A bit more in line with traditional hip-hop in that it's sampled music ("Gigolo" by The Fatback Band, apparently) with standard funk beats. It's another good song though so we can't complain. All about the gangsta life that Eazy leads. Wikipedia has this down as an Ice Cube diss but I wouldn't know. Cypress Hill did a one on their "Temples Of Boom" album. But it's still a good track in it's own right. Features hooks by Cold 187um and Kokane.

4) Still A N*gga - This is a great one. Minimalist, haunting melody with some slow beats and "demonic" sounding backing narration. Another pop at Dr Dre (Dresta's an O.G, Dr's a phoney). As mentioned, this song does project a haunting atmosphere. Makes me think of dark nights in streets that were featured in the movies "Boys N Tha Hood" and "Menace II Society".

5) Gimme That Nutt - A funky rap about shagging which doesn't last too long, thankfully. It comes across like the type of stuff that 2 Live Crew would put out regularly. And lets face it, that band lost their appeal once you reached puberty. Maybe I'm being too hard on this song but there surely is better out there that didn't make the cut???

6) It's On - It most certainly is! Starting off with a sample from a movie called "Flatliners", it then rips into Dr Dre by lampooning the chorus from "Nuthin' But A G Thang" before going over themes already established - the guy wore drag a while ago and possibly lied about being a gangsta. It also has a go at Snoop Dogg too. It has the standard sparse G-Funk-like melody but the beats are slightly faster. Still, a good song all the same.

7) Boys N Tha Hood (G Mix) - Altogether now, "Cruisin down the street in my 6-4..." A remix of the same song that was originally recorded for Eazy's first solo album. This one is I daresay a better version as it suits the G-Funk style better than the original version. They're both great IMO but this one just about tops it. Dresta helps out on this as well. Great song!

8) Down 2 Tha Last Roach - As you can imagine, it's about smoking weed. As far as these things go, it's ok. Nice funky rhythms and melodies that sound good, it's complemented well by raps that have had a bit of FX applied to them so they sound twisted and demonic. It's funny when midway through, they start not only discussing the different names for weed but also what THC stands for, Not a bad way to end the E.P.

This was a good E.P and whether it would have set Eazy further up in his career is debatable as there is better rap out there, even in 1993. Sadly, we'll never know as  Eazy E died due to complications of AIDS in 1995. I guess what we can take from this E,P is that what he lacked in skill and finesse, his enthusiasm more than made up for it.

4 - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Chris J.

Top Track: Real Muthaphuckkin G's

This E.P is available on iTunes.

Spotify
Amazon

(I've put the clean version in just in case someone gets offended)

27 December 2015

One Minute Silence - Available In All Colours


Nu Metal December review number three - a band who were once touted as the next homegrown big thing - despite the band originating from the Republic Of Ireland but let's not quibble. There have been more than a few bands who've been touted as the next big thing only for them to tank after a few years (One band ended up making it - they were called The Lost Prophets but let's not go there) and this band were no exception. They released a further two albums and then called it a day in 2003. Last I heard, they'd reformed and were writing and recording again. Here is hoping they make a better go of it this time.

As I was saying, this band were quite popular for a bit - maybe for all the wrong reasons as stories began to break about how venues would get trashed due to rowdy fans acting the big one. It's not good when a band attracts an aggro element. The music itself was all chugging riffs and grooves to die for, so it was very easy for them to get a pit going. The band themselves were quite political in their approach. This - as well as the music style - lead to comparisons with another act with a similar approach, Rage Against The Machine. I suppose it was an understandable if somewhat lazy comparison to make. Both bands had rappers and both rappers were adequate at their art but had a somewhat high-pitched nasal delivery. The funny thing was though is that in interviews, the lead singer of OMS (Brian 'Yap' Barry) would be giving this extremely political speech which bordered on a sermon whilst the bassist (Glen Diani) would spend most of the interview talking about shagging so the whole thing had the vibe of a student party - the type where you pretend to be politically world-wise just so you could nail the cute looking fresher! Making up the rest of the musos on this release were Chris Ignatiou (guitar) and Eddie Stratton (drums).

It might be a bit of a stretch to label the band as 'nu metal' but by the time this album dropped, the Nu Metal genre was starting to gather momentum so you could say that this band were in the right place at the right time. Anyhow, here goes...

The first song is a one called "New Dogs New Tricks" which starts off by warning us we have 'thirty minutes to clear the fucking area' before launching into a song which has a canny enough groove. Seems to be plenty talk about 'provos' which may indicate the song was about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Canny line about "Knick Knack Paddy With The Facts" as well. Makes me chuckle for some reason. Next up is "South Central" which is quite fast to begin with - musically and vocally. It's like a form of scat-rap with an extremely rapid delivery which is very reminiscent of an early MC called Silver Bullet (he did a record called "Twenty Seconds To Comply" which aside from being chock-full of samples from the movie 'Robocop' had an extremely rapid-fire delivery). Things slow to a groove in the chorus which would have no doubt got the audience hopping when playing live. A very good song, I have to admit that when I read the lyrics to the next song - "Stuck Between A Rock And A White Face" - my heart sank. The reason why is because that it's a song about the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the root causes and tensions behind them. My first instinct was "what would a white Irishman know about black issues pertaining an event which had happened six years prior?" Now that I'm older, I understand that one can read stuff and form an opinion based on what has been read. You have to understand that not long before, a band called Clawfinger (I think I did a blog on them - and here it is!) had done what was supposed to be an anti-racism song but had handled it very badly. Therefore I thought it would be the case here but luckily, One Minute Silence manage to pull it off without sounding like idiots. The song itself is actually pretty good. All grooves and great guitar-work which utilises plenty FX without sounding like shit, it's the type of song I like to listen to after the gym when the adrenaline, blood and pre workout are still pumping! The next song is the aptly titled "A More Violent Approach" - starting with the kind of riff that conjures images of dusty petrol stations in the American desert, it thunders into a groove-fuelled monster. The next song is a charmingly titled ditty called Norfuckingmality and is a slight change in direction. Not as groovy as the first four, it's a rumbling cloud of destruction before a groove pops up towards the end. Very good indeed. "For Want Of A Better Word" gets a full-on groove thing going again while Yap starts to crack up towards the end. "I Think Therefore I'm Damned" has the kind of discordant riff opening before funky bass and drums come in and carry the song onward. It's alright but doesn't really go anywhere.

"Please Remain Calm" starts off quite dramatically before settling into the now trademark groove and smash that this band are clearly enjoying. The only bit that sucks is a bit where Yap starts going "My future, my future, my future is in the hands of fools" - it's not the lyrics or the sentiment but it sounds out of time with the music and comes across quite forced. "Available In All Colours" starts off with a rendition of various types of person before speeding up and after advising us they're available in all colours, the song starts off proper. A groove that flattens all comes at you before things slow down and become nightmarish during the chorus. Some quite cool harmonic effects also compliment the chorus. Slow outro which is nice. The next song is a bit of an odd one - it's called "Brainspiller" and seems to be about media manipulation and sensationalism. It's pretty much the same as the other songs on here - chugga-chugga-groove and all that but it has the kind of home made samples of news reports that sound cheesy as fuck. I hope they didn't pay the actress for her "American" accent...other than that, fine song. "A Waste Of Things To Come" doesn't really land because of the constant PULL UP! YA GOTTA PULL UP! etc refrain throughout the song. The ending is cool where is slides to a halt though. "And Some Ya Lose" has a weird whistling effect running through it, kind of like an old-timey radio being tuned. Other than that, we're business as usual. "Pig Until Proven Cop" ends the album nicely with a rant against the police. Gets a bit messy towards the end but it's all good.

The first thing I have to say about this album is that the production for the guitars is crap. Whilst the drums and bass sound solid enough, the guitars seem to rattle when they should crunch, and go fuzz when they should bludgeon the listener. A quick scan of the notes shows that the producer of the album (someone called 'Machine') primarily hails from the hip-hop scene which might explain it but they could still have did the guitars properly. The only other criticism is that the music tends to get a bit repetitive towards the end. If they'd dropped at least three tracks off the album then that would have improved it. The raps were interesting to say the least. Although they definitely could have done with a bit of spit and polish in places, Yap manages to give them a decent flow and sheer enthusiasm manages to pass them off very well. All in all, it's not the best album in the world and isn't likely to appeal to many, but for fans of music which chugs and grooves, you can't go wrong and it should provide some hours of fun.

7 - This is good and well worth a check.

Chris J.

Top Track: Stuck Between A Rock And A White Face.

This album is available on iTunes.

Spotify
Amazon

(Cool, never knew this video existed. I guess we can class them as Nu Metal due to the baggy pants)










Steven Wilson - Hand.Cannot.Erase.


This is one of the albums which slipped through the net for me in 2015, I was really hoping to get it reviewed by the deadline for the albums to be considered for our recent poll.  But along with another six or seven releases, I just ran out of time (this is only a blog I do in my spare time, I get no cash for these blog and it is all just for the joy of listening to music).  But enough about our background stuff and more about this work by Steven Wilson, principal writer of Porcupine Tree, Producer and an all-round good egg who has slowly but surely been getting praise and a bigger fan base as the years have gone by.  This is the fourth solo outing, it was released in February 2015 and as wellbeing a hit with the critics around the planet, this album made the top twenty in the UK as well as making it to the upper levels of the charts around the world.  Since writing this I have been told that it was influenced by the story of  Joyce Carol Vincent, a lady who was found in dead in her flat after being dead for three years.  Reading up on it is a heartbreaking influence on this record, it is something that was the bases on the film 'Dreams of a Life' which I will be looking for very shortly.  The cover is an interesting piece of work, a ladies face with paint splatted across the image and you are drawn to both parts of the image; will the music meet it?

Starting the album is "First Regret" which fades in with the sound of the wind, rain and an almost industrial pulse to the beginning.  Then it reaches a point and the piano starts as the guitars and other noises slowly pulse along with it.  It is just over two minutes long and it flows straight into "3 Years Older" with such ease that it is the same song for all intent and purposes.  But together it gives chills that run into an introduction that sounds as fresh as coffee ground that day, with a hint of vintage sounds like The Who, Pink Floyd, early Genesis and a small dose of ELP as well.  It is a classic rock/prog anthem in the making is "3 Years Older" as it stands at just over ten minutes in length and it passes by with such speed that you hardly notice the time has passed.  It goes through some fantastic passages as the organ/guitars go from light as a breeze to heavy as thunder from the gods; all the time the band as performing out of their skin and it makes the hairs on my neck stand on end.  It showcases all that is good with progressive music, all the beautiful moments that have notes and every twist, turn, dip and height just feels as if it has been crafted, loved and polished for an age before it was released into the world.  Following on is the title track of the album "Hand Cannot Erase", a tale about not being able to remove the past and the people we have once loved.  It is a shorter number, coming in just over four minutes and with its high tempo pace it is a song which could have lent itself to being a single for the album.  The dynamic between the chorus and verse sections is obviously not as distinctive as on "3 Years Older", but it does have a great riff that holds the song and the string section used as a bridge after the chorus section is beautiful.  A great song that you wish was extended, but is probably just about the right length. 

"Perfect Life" starts off with sombre synth sounds, swirling like fog around you to create a strong atmosphere.  With a spoken word performance from Katherine Jenkins about being introduced to a girl who is akin to a sister for the protagonist's life, it discusses the introduction till there is a breaking of the ways and then the face fades to memory, until it becomes dust and ash.  After the spoken word, Steven Wilson comes in with a looping ending with the words - we have got the perfect life - being looped around the audience.  It is obviously a song with patient melancholy attached to it, the pattern reminds me of "Collapse The Light into World", which is one of my favourite songs from Mr Wilson's day job; it is a good song but it is merely wetting the appetite for the listeners at this point.  Next is "Routine" which deals with a mother who has lost her family (on the video she has lost them in a shooting at their school), this song features the vocals of Israeli artist Ninet Tayeb who performs the vocals of the mother and Leo Blair as well.  It is a long track, a hard track and a beautiful song that pulls on the heart strings, making the eyes well up with tears and the mind looks for some sort of redemption in the narrative.  It is a situation that would be hard for anyone, the video that was made for it is even harder to watch and with make the hardest heart weep; but the music is truly stunning on this number and conveys the whirlpool of emotions incredibly well throughout the story and it all comes together in one of the best songs of this man's career.  Following on from this pinnacle is the song "Home Invasion" which deals about how we let all the negative and dangerous parts of the internet into our lives and houses, supplying us with false dreams, dangerous hope and unsafe desires.  The pace is quickened on this song as it moves with a faster tempo and has an aggressive edge.  This is not the first time that Mr Wilson has touched on the subject (see the Porcupine Tree album called 'Fear of a Blank Planet' for further songs about this topic).  It is a song with a deep grove that gives the audience an emotional rest bite, but without having to stop the quality of the record.  The quality solo towards the end flows straight into "Regret #9" which is an instrumental track; with this song you are able to submerge yourself in the sound without distraction or another focus on the quality lyrics which come from the mind of Mr Wilson.  I love this song, it is as good an instrumental as I have heard all year and it never dips in quality.  It will have the faithful in raptor and I am sure that it will bring many new fans to the cause as well.

"Transience" is the next song, it is a track which deals with the emotions and events in childhood that form the anchor of fear and entrapment that can affect a person in adulthood; it is about not being able to escape those links and how they can forge themselves into your psyche.  It is a very short number for this album, it also feels like an intro or bridge to another number and therefore does not have the same impact that other songs on the album offer to the listener.  After this is "Ancestral" which is the longest song on the album at over thirteen minutes in length, it does take its time to reveal its magic as it is not immediate upon the first few listens.  In fact, it does not really sink in at all, but that is not a bad thing.  Let me explain, the reason it has not fully sunk in is that it is still revealing more after many listens; even today after the twenty + listen to the song, I am still noticing more about the song that I had not heard before.  It is still growing and has not reached a plateau yet and until till it does I cannot view make up my mind on it - I know I like it, but do I love or adore it as well?  Maybe in a few years I might be able to tell you, not today though......  What I can tell you is that it is a number which is well played and the sound is great; but it is still not fully focused in my mind.  The penultimate song on the album is called "Happy Returns" which is one of those moments where life is mirrored with art; the lyrics deal with a family member who is not always there due to their personal demons and they are reaching out to reconnect in one of those brief moments that everything is together.  It is hard to hear sometimes as a lot of us in the world will have family and friends who fit that category and you are not always able to help them.  It is another emotional moment on this album that builds up towards a chilling end that does not show if the broken family/friend link was able to be repaired.  It is powerful and hits home very hard, it is also beautifully performed and makes the hairs on your neck stand on end - another gem in this sea of treasure.  Ending the album is "Ascendant Here On..." which really did not need to be separated from "Happy Returns" as it is just a gentle piano outro with a choir sound in the background that was hinted at upon the end of the last track.  It is nice, but ultimately it did not need to be billed as a separate song. 

This is a great album which sadly has slipped through the next for us, it is one of the best prog album of 2015 and I do feel a sense of guilt that it was not in our recent poll of the year for record of the year.  But better late than never in some ways; what we have is an emotional journey that will stab the heart and give it some beautiful musical moments as compensation.  A few of the shorter interludes were not required, they could have honestly been merged with tracks that followed and it would not have made any difference to the end outcome of the record.  It is also one which is still revealing more about itself even ten months on and I am sure it will continue to do so in the years to come.  Steven Wilson is about to tour in 2015, hopefully I will be able to see his show on this tour and a new album will be forthcoming.  I would really recommend you purchasing this, a true game changer.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost....
Top track - Routine

You can purchase Hand.Cannot.Erase. on Amazon here

You can go to the Kscope Records website here which has a webstore as well - there are many versions of the album which you can purchase there

You can visit the Steven Wilson website here, this too has a link to a webstore and will update you on all the new concerning his work

You can also follow his activities on Facebook here

Now this album (and none of his other solo work) is not currently on any streaming sites - so you will have to purchase the album to hear it; there is no judgement in this statement, just stating the fact.

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