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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 | 1890 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Only MTV and cod philosophy"

"Fear of a blank planet" is Porcupine tree's latest album at time of writing. The first things which catch the eye before even listening to the music are A) the presence of a couple of notable guest musicians, and B) the inclusion of an 18 minute track.

In all, we have just six tracks here, the album running to a rather brief 50 minutes (especially when we consider that a half hour EP from the same sessions has subsequently been released). The title track kicks things off in an upbeat mood, Wilson's vocals being variously distorted over a rich wall of sound. The song portrays a concerning vision of the way society is heading with lyrics such as "X-box is a god to me" and "Don't try engaging me.. You'll never find a person inside". Musically, the track repeats the accessibility of more recent Porcupine tree albums while offering a well crafted arrangement.

"My ashes" is a soft ballad with strings orchestration by Dave Stewart and Steve Wilson. The song is uncharacteristic, even in terms of Porcupine Tree's softer tracks, with a lush melody and arguably Wilson's most sensitive signing to date.

It is though "Anesthetize" which we anticipate, and wait for impatiently. The length of this 18 minute epic harks back to the days of Porcupine Tree's long tracks such as "The sky moved sideways". After a soft vocal intro, we venture into a dark, haunted instrumental passage with dramatic percussion and incisive guitar. Alex Lifeson of Rush makes a guest appearance on the track adding his distinctive guitar style to complement that of Steve Wilson. Lyrically, the track continues the theme of the title track with observations such as "I'm watching TV. I'm totally bored but I can't switch off". In reality, the piece is a suite in four or five sections; while the sections fit well together they are nonetheless disparate. The track is thus more of a "Supper's ready" than a "Gates of delirium" if you get my drift. In all, while this is a reassuringly epic piece, it is for me not one of the band's best.

"Sentimental" is once again built around the depressive theme of the bleak future for the youth of today, set once again to a soft melody. "Way out of here" offers a possible escape, but this proves to be a false hope. The song has echoes of the band's psychedelic past with dreamy Floydian effects and delicate vocals. The latter half of this, the first of two 7+ minute pieces, is more orthodox riff driven PT.

"Sleep together" finally offers a kind of solution, proposing to "Switch off the future right now". Musically, the track remains depressive but powerful, offering a marked contrast to the trend of previous albums of ending with a downbeat, reflective song.

In all, "Fear of a blank planet" is a well constructed album whose underlying concept is depressive but worryingly realistic. For me, there are no killer tracks such as "Arriving somewhere.." from the previous album, but when heard as a whole, the tracks add up to more than the sum of the parts.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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