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Porcupine Tree - The Incident CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.66 | 1446 ratings

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3 stars The Incident is a dramatic artistic statement. On paper, anyways. I find that when I finally got this album, the exact same feeling crept over me that dominated my listenings to Wilson's first solo effort, Insurgentes. It's average. The man has written some powerful music, some beautiful music, some groovy music, some creepy music, and so forth. Well, here, as with Insurgentes, he just made some music. The high point of this album (aside from the second disc) is the ubiquitous nature of psychedlic grooves and bizarre noises in the background, saving this album from being completely barren and uninteresting.

First thing to note is that The Incident (the first disc) is not one massive epic or anything, like a lot of the hype made it out to be. It plays like a fifty-plus minute series of slightly related songs with nice segues between them and some filler tracks that share riffs. In short, not too much different from any other Porcupine Tree album. What makes this especially heartbreaking, though, is that the track listing of this album makes it appear like Porcupine Tree has thrown off the trappings of their previous flirtation with straightfoward rock and turned totally to progressive ideals--while this is less the case than any of theirs since Lightbulb Sun. At least on the first disc, this is true. It opens with a heavy little filler intro piece and then moves to The Blind House, a heavy and crunchy song that is probably the strongest in the suite next to Time Flies. Soundscapes and spacey tones do find their way in here, but nothing quite like the clever bits found on Fear of a Blank Planet. A few more fillers take place and then the track Drawing the Line comes up. This one is somewhat annoying or fantastically catchy, hard to say. This turns into the title track, built on heavy and ominous guitars. The vocals are bland here, however, and not particularly exciting or melodious (the exact problem I find myself still having with Wilson's Insurgentes, but with no other releases from Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-Man, etc.).

Your Unpleasant Family continues the music with some clever and dark lyrics, but more or less serves with The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train as a transition between The Incident and Time Flies. The latter is the high point of the first disc, and not just because of its length. Rather, it features an enjoyable melody, at last some creative instrumentation, and a fantastic guitar solo. This also marks the first time I have ever agreed with anyone who says that Porcupine Tree (at least post-Signify) sounds a lot like Pink Floyd. You've probably read it in most other reviews: it sounds very inspired by Animals, especially the track Sheep. Not enough so that it isn't pleasant, but enough that it is intriguing. The suite unfortunately goes downhill from this point, certainly not ending on any sort of powerful or epic note (it's not a requirement of mine that long songs end a certain way, but I do like to feel like the piece has gone somewhere, which is not the case with The Incident). Degree Zero of Liberty is the opening track reiterated. Octane Twisted starts promisingly acoustically, but it loses that flair to more of the same instrumentation. A well performed section in the middle to late parts of the song lifts it up a bit, but it's not anything we haven't heard from Porcupine Tree before. The final three tracks wrap up the disc with much of the same sound as the parts before, being interesting but more or less thoroughly unremarkable.

Disc two is in fact the shining point of The Incident, which is rather unfortunate. Flicker is a haunting and slow instrumental bit that clearly did not fit in the first disc's song cycle. Bonnie the Cat is built around drummer Gavin Harrison's idea of a twisted rhythm, and it really shines for most of its length. It possibly is the most progressive piece of music the band has made (not counting trippy psychedelia as fulfilling the traditional demands of prog, just for the record). Some of the vocal lines are weak, but the wicked groove of the rhythm section makes that kind of unimportant. Also, a fun little musical reference to Opeth's The Grand Conjuration is pleasant, and I'm assuming that's what it is, because for Wilson to plagiarize off his friend would be a sad thing. Black Dahlia has little to say for it aside from the fact that it would fit right in on Insurgentes, but Remember Me Lover is a beautiful and passionate ending to an album that has mostly forgone these sorts of emotions. This and Bonnie the Cat are the two clear highlights of the whole album, and Time Flies appears somewhere below them.

The Incident has taken the barren bleakness of Fear of a Blank Planet, removed the rest of the melody, inserted average songwriting and planning, and just in general taken a few steps down the ladder. It's enjoyable, and most Porcupine Tree fans will listen to it and be pleased, but in my opinion, for whatever it's worth, it ranks lower than any album after Stupid Dream. Perhaps it's only sounding that way to me because the band has set pretty high standards for themselves in the past. I'm not sure. But whatever the reason, this is not the magnum opus of the band. It's just an opus, kind of on the medius scale.

LiquidEternity | 3/5 |


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