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Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet CD (album) cover

FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.22 | 1871 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
3 stars The haunting, aggressive music of Porcupine Tree is back again in 2007. As all good albums, this needs time to digest and absorb properly. (Seeing it live really helps!) After the atmosphere sinks in, and you can grasp the album's purpose, it's a great rewarding experience. Like all Porc Tree (or Tofu Bush) music, the album is filled with various similar atmospheres. They're only similar because the album is conceptual. It's a full-blown concept album - not a semi-conceptual album (such as Selling England), or a side-long concept album (2112), or a labeled concept album with a vague and unclear concept (Tales!) but a fully developed, clearly stated concept album. The concept? Well, Wilson adopts the frustrated cynical wisdom of Waters for a satirical presentation of the problem(s) with modern young people. You may think that this shapes up to be a simple and dull album full of odes to teenaged angst, or perhaps you don't, but it doesn't change the fact that this album's concept is not a trivial one.

[Before I continue with my review, I'd like to note that I am a teen, plagued by this dreaded angst as any other (though, happily less oft) and when I refer to the teenaged population as 'they', please know that I truly mean 'we' and, no matter how I would, I cannot fully exclude myself from the young peoples' numbers.]

The first of many of the album's subjects is technology. "Xbox is a god to me," or "A song comes on to my iPod," or "TV.it's always on," all properly demonstrate the young people's fascination, reverence, obsession, and reliance on modern technology. This leads to weak human relationships, and thus to loneliness. Technology will be dubbed problem #1, and is likewise the root of numerous other problems. Another problem would be drugs (not only the illegal kind). Wilson sings about hopelessness, apathy and confusion derived from consumption of drugs. He sings about the feeling of being lost and even losing the conviction that I (not me, but one) even definitely exist in this realm. Problem # 2 is a huge focus of the epic Anesthetize.

There are many other focuses of the album, but #1 and 2 are arguable the most prominent, and the two biggest roots of other problems. (For example, violence and anger is a problem following the despair of drugs, and the influence from violent films, music and games, which is technology.) So hopefully we all now understand fully the concept of the album. The music of the album is quite up to par with Porc's standards. There's a healthy balance of adrenaline-pumping metal, touching softer parts, atmospheric ambient moments as well. One of the greatest parts of Fear of a Blank Planet, and Porc Tree's music in general, is their ability to change the feel or mood of a song in a split second. The commanding mood of the album is a very blue one. Blue as in the colour, as well as the attribute. Something about the music produces the colour blue in my mind. If I closed my eyes, I see the blue on black of the album's haunting cover. Strange? Quite. Perhaps someone knows what I mean, and likely there are more who think that I'm glorifying mere rock music. But this isn't mere rock music; it's meaningful, conceptual, substantial prog: and I kid you not, it is great.

Despite one of the most wicked guitar solos ever (courtesy of guitar legend Lifeson) and very compelling atmospheres (courtesy of prog legend Fripp [on one track, anyway]) and very beautiful segments (particularly My Ashes), I find the album is missing the very, very slightest icing on the cake, as it were. The cake is a tad dry, but absolutely satisfying. When In Absentia rose to a climax and delivered an emotional explosion, this album is missing a plot line, and there is no climax. It's a bit flat. But, again, as flat as it is, it's full of scenery.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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