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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.24 | 2388 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars I used to believe that the older a person gets and the more music we listen, the less capacity of surprise have left, but as I age it has increased, still I'm able to find fantastic music where I didn't expected, and strong disappointments when I believed I would be before a great album, "In Absentia" is one of the second cases.

After reading countless reviews that describe this album as a masterpiece (even from reviewers with whom I share common taste and others I respect a lot), bought this album in 2005, and my first impression was very negative. Being that is common for me to acquire the taste for a Prog album after some time, waited four years until I wrote a review, but sadly my opinion hasn't changed. With this I'm not saying all the reviewers are wrong, because maybe the problem is my personal taste, but I believe "In Absentia" is one of the most unexciting albums I ever listened.

People talk about a Heavy Prog album with Space Rock elements, to be honest I only find an alternative album with some Hard Rock elements, but very little of Space Rock, and less of Prog.

"In Absentia" starts with "Blackest Eyes", and after a heavy introduction based mostly in distorted guitar, comes an endless display of Alternative Rock without the imagination of RADIOHEAD, but all the characteristics I dislike of this sound....Repetitive, downhearted vocals, lack of emotion and seems extremely long because the lack of versatility (despite it lasts 4 minutes), incredibly the next song "Train" reinforces my opinion, I can't understand why they bothered to make two tracks, when easily they could have made a monotonous epic of almost ten minutes, because both songs are absolutely similar.

Saying that "Lips of Ashes" is different could mean something positive, but not in his case, the song is slower, more repetitive and tedious than the previous two. I won't deny that the introduction is nice and spacey with a mysterious use of keyboards and guitar, but as soon as the vocals enter they fall again into that gloomy sound so common in Alternative bands.

When "Sound of Muzak" started I noticed immediately we were before a very good song, with nice variations, excellent drumming and at last vocals that don't induce to suicide, but it's also obvious that the influence of RADIOHEAD is more than casual, specially to "Paranoid Android".

After the first minutes of "Gravity Eyelids" I was tempted to press the skip button, because it seems as they are playing the first two tracks again, but around the second minute, a nice Mellotron made me continue even when the structure kept being as boring as in the beginning of the album. The second half of the song is much less depressive, specially because the heavy guitar, but not enough to save it.

In the beginning of "Wedding Nail", PORCUPINE TREE at least gives signs of life, the excellent guitar - keyboard interplay is enough to place me in a better mood, because a couple more songs like the previous and I would probably need Prozac. Around the middle, the experimental interplay between guitar and spacey keyboards (really jamming), places this rack as the most Progressive Rock oriented until this point. Interesting and nice to listen.

But nothing lasts forever, "Prodigal" is another slow and repetitive Alternative song with vocals trying to sounds like COBAIN. Even when the choirs are interesting, the general atmosphere is so lack of energy that a depressive person could blow his head. Again at the middle an instrumental break makes us think that things are going to change, but after some seconds, is more of the same.

"Dot Three" starts with an interesting but short bass intro that leads to another space Rock oriented keyboard passage, the drumming is so mechanical and weak that had to check the credits twice to verify if the drummer was human.

Despite this fact, Richard Barbieri does an outstanding job with his oneiric synths, an Steve Wilson supports well with his acoustic guitar...But when he opens the voice, my need for Prozac increases exponentially. I wonder if this band wouldn't be much more solid if they only played instrumentals.

"The Creator has a Mastertape" intro reminds me of STEVE HACKETT later albums, and that's already something, at least this time the vocals are so distorted that sound alm9st decent despite the lack of variations.

The instrumental breaks (1:57 and 2:55) are so violent and unexpected that reminds us we're not before a band of zombies, this guys are alive, sadly they seem to forget it most of the time, after a couple more instrumental breaks in the same vein, the song fades down in an extremely beautiful Mellotron coda.

As usual after a good track, the band returns to that sad, nostalgic and low-spirited atmosphere, as if they were not enjoying what they do, and the result is one of the most uninteresting songs in history.

The album ends with "Strip the Soul" and "Collapse the Light into Earth",mention both together because the sequence repeats, a strong vibrant song and another saddening tune, at least "Collapse the Light into Earth" has a nice piano and better string arrangement at the end, but not enough to rescue the album.

Believe it or not, I would had loved to listen a great album and rate it with 5 stars as most of the reviewers, but I would be lying if I did so, "In Absentia" has one excellent song, two or three good ones and the rest is average or less, so I have no alternative to rate it with two stars.

As in the beginning I have some questions...Are the other reviewers crazy when rating this album with 5 stars?....Am I incapable to find a beauty that is so evident to others?....I believe none of both, it's simply the personal and God given taste.

I know I'm going to receive a lot of negative feedback from the fans of PORCUPINE TREE, but that's the price you have to pay when yo don't like a high rated album and give your honest opinion.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 2/5 |

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