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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.22 | 1797 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
4 stars My conversion from skeptic to PT fan has been a rather slow one. I saw the band live in 2001 and was not impressed. I really liked Sky Moves Sideways and figured that was as good as it would ever get.

But, as we all know, time passes and tastes change. A bit. So now I'm buying up their albums and finding that I really like them a lot.

First off, I want to make an observation. This band is NOT prog, nor are they progressive. To me, this album is a perfectly logical follow up to the preceding 2 albums, and combines all the same elements that they've been using since at least Up The Downstair (though, of course, that was pretty much just Wilson). I keep reading about the heaviness. This isn't really all that heavy. At all. I don't hear anything heavier on here than on Signify (the song) or even Dislocated Day or the heavier parts of Sky Moves Sideways. Yes, Wilson has honed his songwriting more, tightened it up. But he still uses all the same elements he always has to create them.

Nonetheless, this is a great album, filled with great songs. The only reason I won't give it 5 stars is because it is simply not a masterpiece of progressive music. But it is a masterpiece of rock music for sure.

The first track is what leads people to believe that they've suddenly become heavy with this album. They haven't, but the main riff is a somewhat heavy and distorted one. It's also good, but hardly original or prog. The chorus of the song goes back to a more sedate style, with the some of that characteristic PT languidness, though still retaining a good pace and volume. It's also a great chorus. The song also features a nice bridge with some banjo for flavor. It works quite well, even though it seems like it shouldn't.

Up next is Trains, one of the most beautiful songs I've heard yet by PT. Great acoustic playing, great singing, and great lyrics.

Rather than continue this song by song, I'll just jump to the highlights for me (the first two songs are highlights, so I guess I've been sort of doing that anyway). The sequence of Gravity Eyelids, Wedding Nails, Prodigal, and .3 is probably the best group of songs I've heard from PT. We get some mild psychedelia, heavy instrumental riffery, great choruses, and some downright spacey stuff in the vein of Sky, spread across these 4 tunes. Great stuff that just puts in everything I like about PT. Heart Attack in a Layby is another great mellow tune, while Strip the Soul comes on heavy again with some great playing by the whole band.

Really though, I like every song. If I could somehow find something progressive about it I'd certainly give it 5 stars. But really, it's not very original or innovative or challenging musically. But none of that is required to make it a great album for me. But it is required to make it a great Prog album. What PT really does, that works for me, is create excellently crafted rock music, sometimes bordering on pop, and wraps it all in an incredible sound production. This is what eventually drew me in. When I finally stopped trying to understand why people said this was Prog, and just started to enjoy it.

So, this isn't Prog, but it IS great music. So I'll go 4.5 stars even, with the caveat that it's an excellent addition to any music collection, as long as you aren't expecting Prog.

infandous | 4/5 |

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