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Porcupine Tree - Octane Twisted CD (album) cover

OCTANE TWISTED

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.51 | 138 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Spoilsport alert! I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but sometimes it's better to hear the sad truth about an album from an acknowledged fan, instead of from an antagonist with an axe to grind.

I had high hopes for this two-disc live package, especially after learning it was recorded (mostly) in Chicago, just a few days before I caught the same act at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, New York. But good memories don't always equal a good CD, and this one sounds like a perfunctory effort, hastily thrown together after the band went on indefinite hiatus at the end of the tour.

Disc One was reserved for a complete performance of the band's '09 album "The Incident", still inexplicably boasting the lowest average score of all their primary albums on this site. Apparently I'm in the minority of listeners who regard it as the strongest Porcupine Tree studio effort to date, but that's an argument for elsewhere. Here was an opportunity for Steve Wilson to reinterpret the album in a concert setting, and maybe win back some of the more reactionary naysayers.

Instead, what we get is a strictly Xeroxed performance, matching the studio version note for note, almost verbatim. Aside from the initial greeting ("hello, Chicago!") there isn't any departure from the original worth mentioning: even the tempos are identical, as anyone can see by comparing the running times of each segment.

If the intent was to prove how well the band could reproduce a daunting 55-minute song cycle without edits or overdubs, then the album succeeds handsomely. I still recall the dexterity of Steve Wilson while swapping guitars in mid-performance: a triumph of player / roadie choreography. But as an alternate stage reading of an already full studio piece (and why re-record it otherwise?) the album can only be called a failure.

The second set offers a little more variety, including the extended version of "Even Less" and rare airings of the PT oldies "Stars Die" and "Dislocated Day". Some of the songs were recorded in London, but the sound in either venue is somewhat lacking in depth and presence, curiously for a band whose leader is renowned for his mixing skills. Perhaps Wilson's attention was already preoccupied by his impending solo career; certainly his normally clear singing voice was suffering some distress during these gigs, noticeably so on Disc Two.

The playing is typically dynamic, in particular the efforts of drummer Gavin Harrison, who shoulders a lot of the performance load here. But let's hope the album won't be a valedictory statement from the dormant group: this isn't how I want to remember Porcupine Tree.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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