Steven Wilson explains move to electronic sound
Why Hand. Cannot. Erase. concept needed a 21st-century feel
Steven Wilson says the more electronic feel of latest solo album Hand. Cannot. Erase. came purely from the storyline – and that’s why it’s so different to previous record The Raven That Refused To Sing.
While his second outing was inspired by 19th-century material, its follow-up is based in current times, which suggested a different direction to him.
Wilson tells the Boston Globe: “For me, the concept is always responsible for the musical palette.
“The Raven was an album where the underlying concept was the classical ghost story, with an emphasis on so-called ‘Gothic’ fiction. That suggested to me a more vintage musical palette.
“Now, here’s a concept that’s set in the heart of the city in the 21st century. To me that says, ‘Okay, you’re going to need more electronic sounds, almost semi-industrial sound design, if you want to reflect life in the heart of a metropolis.
“That stylistic range, and the fact that it’s distinctly different from the previous record, ultimately grew out of the story.”
Hand. Cannot. Erase. was inspired by Joyce Carol Vincent, who systematically withdrew from society until her death in 2003, and lay undiscovered in her London bedsit for two years as result of her reclusive behaviour.
Wilson says: “Her story, for me, became symbolic of something about what it means to be living in the heart of the city in the 21st century – and how that kind of ultimately taps into many other things that fascinate me.
“She was able to erase herself, to disappear from view even of her family and closest friends. That’s something very unique to cities. There’s almost a sense of fear and paranoia about who might be on the other side of your front door. That leads to people wrapping themselves in a cocoon and communicating with the world through technology instead of face-to-face interaction.”
But he adds: “That’s the problem for me — that it is an illusion. The illusion of friends, the illusion of being connected, the illusion of social interaction.”
Wilson appears at London’s Royal Albert Hall on September 28 and 29, performing different sets at each show.