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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 | 1872 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "I dream of escape, but a song comes onto my i-Pod..."

This concept album has certainly made an impact in the prog community, hailed as one of Porcupine Tree's finest and for good reason. There is so much on offer on this excellent project. The actual concept of the album was heavily influenced by Bret Easton Ellis' novel "Lunar Park", a story told from the perspective of a father, and the difference here is the album tells the story from the perspective of the 11 year old son, Robby. The lyrics are often taken directly from the novel, focussing on the themes of two typical neurobehavioural developmental disorders that affect modern teenagers, namely bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. As I work with some kids with these disorders the album definitely touched a few chords with me. A member of my family has suffered in one of these mental illnesses and I know how hard it is to cope with this even from a third party perspective. The lyrics also deal with the youthful aspirations of attempting to escape by turning to drugs, or X box games, I-pods and technology that cause social alienation. The mass media gets a real serve on this album as the cause or part of the cause of this disassociation and I think the album has some potent remarks on the harm that is being done with the mass appeal of technology based infomedia.

The album begins with the killer title track that pounds along at a brisk pace and has some absolutely wonderful melodies. The song is unforgettable and is the best on the album. I always liked how the lyrics mention X Box as a symbol of techno addiction.

'My Ashes' sounds like 'No Quarter' by Led Zeppelin at some point, perhaps noticeably the keyboard sound encapsulates the psychedelic atmosphere. It is a song filed with pathos and pain but with dark beauty. The lyrics are quite downbeat as is most of the content of the album. There is a melancholy feel throughout, and it really punches a hole into the consciousness as one listens to the album. It seems to get darker and more intense in mood from track to track. 'My Ashes' is a homage to the last chapter of the novel where the ashes of Bret's father are scattered effectively burying the memories of his life.

'Anesthetize' is the multi movement suite masterpiece that drew me to the album in the first place. A 17 minute epic with incredible guitar interplay and powerful synth lines. The melody is brilliant and the lengthy instrumental section is prog bliss. A track to be heard over and over.

'Sentimental' is a very gentle sad song with sweet melody lines, similar to the chords used in 'Trains'.

'Way out of here' is another of the masterpiece songs that deal with some very tough issues. The lyrics are full of mystery and intrigue; "Out at the train tracks, I dream of escape, But a song comes onto my i-Pod, And I realize it's getting late, I can't take the staring, And the sympathy And I don't like the questions: "How do you feel? How's it going in school? Do you wanna talk about it..." These sentiments seem to capture the teenage angst experienced in adolescence when one does not feel understood and loses track of communication with others. Steven Wilson explained partially some of the content of the album in "Revolver" music magazine when he stated, that the protagonist of the tale was a "terminally bored kid, anywhere between 10 and 15 years old, who spends all his daylight hours in his bedroom with the curtains closed, playing on his PlayStation, listening to his i- Pod, texting his friends on his cell phone, looking at hardcore pornography on the Internet, downloading music, films, news, violence." This is why the lyrical content mentions these technological mediums, though it does not attack them as much as one may expect, at least not as much as Wilson who has infamously smashed i-Pods and MP3s many times.

'Sleep Together' is a popular live track and although I look upon it as one of the weaker tracks here it still works as a good way to close the album, putting the protagonist to rest as he searches for love in an interminably cold faceless world.

My final thoughts are that this is an album that gets better over the years like a fine wine. On first listen I was impressed with about 3 tracks but the rest kind of washed over. Later on returning to the album after a long break, I began to appreciate the material as a whole concept which is hauntingly melancholy and bleak, and yet imbued with an uplifting ray of hope entrenched within. It certainly is one of the best albums of 2007, even winning Collaborator's album of the year on this humble site, and it is a thought provoking master work from a brilliant band.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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