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Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.95 | 536 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Having been released five months after the album 'Fear of a Blank Planet,' the 4-track EP titled NIL RECURRING was basically the leftover tracks that were written and recorded during those same sessions but for whatever reason were not deemed as viable candidates to be included on that album. This EP is just shy of 29 minutes of playing time with each track running form the 6 - 8 minute playing time. Considering these were all a part of the larger 'Blank Planet' recording sessions, it's no wonder that these four tracks sound very much in the same stylistic approach of the third phase of PORCUPINE TREE which began with the band's critically acclaimed breakthrough album 'In Absentia.'

The all instrumental title track begins the EP and has been explained by Steven Wilson that the title was sort of a joke because the subject matter of an instrumental track can only be NIL. With the help of King Crimson superstar Robert Fripp on lead guitar the album displays a fierce dedication to meaty metal guitar riffs and progressive oddball time signatures all battered and deep-fried in Wilson's classic psychedelic secret sauce. Featuring variations on a RECURRING theme, this track exemplifies the band's rise to fame by upping their game as key player's in the world of 21st century prog and the band's uncanny ability to seamlessly mix and meld all the elements that forged the band's unique sound.

'Normal' is the most confusing because as you first listen to it you start to have a sense of deja-vous like haven't i heard this before? It's like one of those Dr Strange in the Multiverse moments where you swear you've heard it before but yet you haven't. This track was in reality the early working of what would become 'Sentimental' on 'Blank Planet' only it features parts of other tracks as well ranging from 'My Ashes' and 'Anesthetize.' The track is as good as anything from the band's most lauded albums but showcases a completely written mishmash of various songs that work quite well. The track features new guitar riffs and other experimental touches while cranking out the familiar lyrics heard on the 'Blank Planet' version.

'Cheating The Polygraph' is the one track that i can understand why it didn't make it onto the original album. It's a bit too loud, a bit too eclectic and a bit outside of the parameter of the 'Blank Planet' sound however this is one of my all-time favorite PORCUPINE TREE tracks with its balls to the wall alternative metal heft and diverser than normal vocal style of Wilson. Also Gavin Harrison delivers some excellent percussive duties as he showcases both his off-kilter restraint as well as pulling out all the punches for some ferocious metal attacks. Even the guitar solo is unhinged while Colin Edwin's bass antics whizz up and down the scale more angsty than usual. The accompanying electronic ambience and space rock effects are also in fine form. This track should've been the next direction of the TREE instead of 'The Incident' but that obviously wasn't in the cards.

The most indulgent of the tracks, 'What Happens Now' is considered the track that most wears out its welcome due to the lengthy noisy jam that comprises the latter half. The track starts off with some tasty tribal drumming and psychedelic space rock as usual in classic PORCUPINE TREE fashion complete with Wilson's mopey vocal delivery. Once the oscillating electronic features chime in the track becomes more lively and the contrasting dynamics and build up of counterpoints becomes quite stimulating and magical. The track engages in that delectable psychedelic noodling with cool ass production gimmicks before engaging in an all out frenzy of ratcheting up the tension with subtle tempo increases, incremental shifts in agitation and a more bombastic series of explosive noisy propositions. Many consider this one too long but personally i love how it ends the EP by just going for it with NIL a f.u.c.k. to give.

It may only be an EP and probably should've been tacked on to 'Fear of a Blank Planet' and simply called bonus tracks but personally i find this album as essential and brilliant as anything PORCUPINE TREE has unleashed onto the world. Of all the so-called EPs that the band has released (something like 15 or so) only the 1994 'Staircase Infinities' and this one, NIL RECURRING are what i would deem as essential. Originally this was self-released in limited quantities and not so easy to find but with the band's continued popularity always increasing the entire back catalogue has seen a resurgence of reissues with the most elaborate having been released by Peaceville. What can i say? This is an excellent album in its own right and leaves me wanting more!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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