Steven Wilson - 4 ½

RELEASED to fill the gap between his fourth record and his next studio album, Steven Wilson's '4 ½' is essentially a collection of B-sides and extras.

The six-track CD comes with four unreleased songs from 2015's Hand. Cannot. Erase, one track from his previous album, The Raven That Refused To Sing, and a reworked version of his band Porcupine Tree's song, Don't Hate Me.

As the title suggests, prog rock artist Wilson regards the collection as 'half an album' but it should not be written off as such because it is as diverse as it is accomplished.

Opening track, My Book of Regrets, is a progressive rock song in the traditional sense of the word with Wilson allowing the song to grow and evolve over nine minutes.

Similarly, Vermillioncore features a moody bass line that builds to a big rock song.

But there are quite a few surprises in 4 ½ too. Sunday Rain Sets In transforms into something you might associate with a film noir soundtrack.

While Don't Hate Me, featuring excellent Israeli guest vocalist Ninet Tayeb, builds to a piano and saxophone-led crescendo that would not feel out of place in a smoky jazz bar.

Year of the Plague, from The Raven That Refused To Sing sessions, is more of a downbeat, melancholic number but is a beautiful piece of music featuring acoustic guitar and violin.

Most of the songs also follow through the themes of isolation and loneliness from Hand. Cannot. Erase. to great effect.

- 4 ½ is released on January 22

- Steven Wilson performs at Manchester Apollo on January 29