Just in time for the start of the next section of the "Hand. Cannot. Erase" tour, Steven Wilson opened his casket and released six previously unreleased songs from the last recording sessions. "4½" is the title of the official EP release.
eclipsed: With its 37 minutes of play "4½" would have been a regular album 40 years ago. What do you think it is?
Steven Wilson: What I lack to call a real album is the conceptual context that I like to give to my albums. This one certainly doesn't. So it's not a regular album for me. The title "4½" says it all. It is not the successor of "Hand. Cannot. Erase." It's a transitional release.
eclipsed: Four of the six new songs were written by the "Hand. Cannot. Erase." sessions. When were these created?
Wilson: Two were written completely before the album was recorded. These are Sunday Rain Sets In and Happiness III. The other two, "My Book Of Regrets" and "Vermillioncore", were only half finished. I just didn't have time to finish them in time.
eclipsed: The new songs are anything but demos. You even mixed them in 5.1 surround sound.
Wilson: Yes, "4½" is an official release. The songs on it are produced with the same quality standard that I apply to my other albums. This also includes surround sound. "4½" also has an elaborate artwork. Each of the "hand. Cannot. Erase" or "The Raven" will also enjoy the quality and production of "4½". But it doesn't have the same value. It's a little lighter. I didn't randomly throw the pieces together, but it's just a collection of songs.
eclipsed: In January you'll be back with "Hand. Cannot. Erase" on tour. At the beginning of 2015 you said that you didn't want to play the album in one go, but want to interpose other songs. That includes surprises for the audience. Now you're going to play the album in one piece. Why the change of heart?
Wilson: Oh, I knew someone would rub that in my face. I would like to create the upcoming tour as another, a new experience. Especially for people who have already completed the first part of "Hand. Cannot. Erase." tour. The album should be emphasized even more. We already did this at the first of the two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in September. That worked out pretty well. A disadvantage is of course that there is no more surprise effect. The album builds strongly on each other and is even stronger when presented in one go. It just seems like the way to go.