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5 stars To be short....This EP has everything that FOABP didn show... A real progression by PT. Nil Recurring + Normal...can be approached as a single song..amazzinggg!!. Cheating The Polygraph, a little different from the live version. but still showing the great skills of G.Harrison with his kit. And..What Happens Now..a beautiful way to end the album with elements from Anesthetize...

Worth every single penny....A great piece by PT.

Report this review (#138642)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nil Recurring: a refuse from Fear Of A Blank Planet? No way! This album should be issue in two discs including those six well known songs from FOABP, and those from this mini album Nil Recurring. We have here four great progressive tracks. First number, a title track is whole instrumental with nice riff, sometimes quiet and electronic and sometimes with heavy guitar work. "Normal" it's an intresting different version of my favorite track from FOABP "Sentimental" keeping same refrain, with nice background guitar. "Cheating the Polygraph" reminds me "Way Out Of Here" in his form. It's as good as this fifth track from FOABP. And the last track "What Happens Now" with this beautiful electronic beginning. It gives me same great ambiency feeling like beginning from "Buying New Soul". Anyway, great song at the end of this (unfortunately) short album. Four and a half star.
Report this review (#138791)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nil Recurring has finally arrived, and the impact of it is slowly sinking in. Not only do these four tracks stand by themselves as a very pleasurable listen, they are a fitting completion of the "Fear Of A Blank Planet" album. The studio production is flawless, and the musicianship is of the highest standards. Robert Fripp's influence and contribution is evident on the title track, a Crimson-like offering that even has sax-like guitar in parts, and a wild anarchy driven Fripp solo near its finish. "Cheating The Polygraph" is a power-packed offering that was first heard in concert on the fall 2006 tour and does not disappoint. "Normal" is almost a reprise of "Sentimental," with parts of that song cemented in. Some acoustic guitar parts sound like Steven Wilson invited Ian Anderson to play, but he didn't! The over 8 minute epic "What Happens Now?" starts as a dreamy almost psychedelic offering, but slowly builds into a more intricate symphonic-prog sound, and then ends in an almost metal-like, power-driven frenzy finale. Parts of "Anesthetize" can also be heard within this track. If you add these tracks to the "Fear Of A Blank Planet" album, "Cheating The Polygraph" would be track number 3, between "My Ashes" and "Anesthetize." "Nil Recurring," "Normal," and "What Happens Now?" would follow "Sleep Together," being tracks 8, 9, and 10 respectively. This gives a totally new perspective to the "FOABP" album. But the EP itself stands as another excellent, quality effort by this amazing, prolific group. I could not recommend this more highly to any rock music lover, let alone the prog fans. Total satisfaction.
Report this review (#138966)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is truly awesome. You don't need to wait for this one to grow on you, for the initial impact when you first hear it is breathtaking! I know a few moaned about Fear of a Blank Planet - I didn't really understand that, because that also was breathtaking - especially Anethetise (which I still think is the best rock track of the 2000's so far). Anyway, whatever those few felt was missing from Fear of a Blank Planet will be found here - more self-indulgence, guitar solos to make your mouth water, drumming of the highest quality, beautiful synthesisers, great singing and very good production. I know I'm biassed as I always give PT 5 stars, but I can't help it because I really honestly feel all the albums deserve it (except perhaps Stupid Dream) - however, this really is PT at their finest - Iwould give it 6 stars if I could. Progressive rock - too too right!!! Whatever Steve Wilson says this is Progressive rock with a capital P - the new stuff with metal that the metal-heads like. I'm telling - Prog rock is becoming cool again for the first time since 1976. With bands like PT, Mars Volta, Sigur Ros, Oceansize, the wave is rising. I know a lot of you old proggies don't like the metal bits, but now PT are doing it with true skill and have developed it to a new plain. I took 10 metal-heads under the age of 20 to a PT gig in Bristol, and they all loved it!!! 2 of them tracked them down at Download and got all their signatures for me, but really wanted to meet them themselves!

Get yourselves a copy if you can - AWESOME!

Report this review (#139035)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Really good quality EP.

Tittle truck "Nil Recurring" is a perfect collaboration between Porcupine Tree and Robert Fripp. 5 stars

Normal is a alternative version of sentimental or even Trains - version3 ;-) 4 stars

"Cheating the Polygraph" was played live last year - it really does not fit to FOaBP but is too good to be rejected. 4 stars

Finally What Happens Now? - the best truck from this EP. And perfect violin sounds. This song is something between No Mane and Porcupine Tree. The collaboration of Ben Coleman was the biggest surprise for me. This is the song for wich You should gey this EP. 5 (or even more) stars

all in all 5 stars

Report this review (#139251)
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars First, 'Nil Recurring' is absolutely not a smaller 'FOABP'. The only thing they share it's the "wtf, it's already over!" sensation when time is out... And despite the timing, Nil Recurring has no defects. Music will blow you away in all over the 30 minutes with no salvation chances.

'Normal' and 'Cheating The Polygraph" are definitely the highlights of the album, but there's anything boring or not right in Nil Recurring. Simply click Play, again and again.

5 stars.

Report this review (#139270)
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars More than fifty reviews, and only 8 from them are wordy. Are PT fans kinda gone mute from their excitement?

Unfortunately, PT went the same old road. I simply can't understand and share all the hype around both this EP and FOABP. They just made them a bit harder and more mainstreamy (read "accessible") than their previous works (BLACKFIELD's influence?), but people tend to claim this is how Prog must look like these days. I feel myself frustrated, as I'm totally unable to share all this excitement. IMHO, PT lost themselves. Two more albums like these two, and I'll give up listening to them. Actually, songs follow the simple scheme "calm-loud" with few complex signatures thrown into them ("to make them sure that we're still Prog"). Melodies and harmonies are the same as on FOABP (hence less interesting than on previous efforts), the whole sound is the same was heavy, and only GAVIN's genius drumming prevented me from giving 2 stars to this EP. BTW, I bet I heard chorus from "Normal" somewhere before.

This is IMHO the wrong road PT takes now, and if they'll continue (something tells me they will), they might become another THE MARS VOLTA for me - good group, samey albums, mediocre as a result

Report this review (#140353)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars In my honest opinion, the songs on this EP have the same sound that Porcupine Tree has been following since In Absentia. While there are arguably some differences between IA and FOABP, this is pretty much a condensed version of FOABP. Same kinds of riffs, same kinds of time signature changes, same everything.

Recommended for anyone who really likes the last three PT albums. If you didn't liked these, this EP isn't going to change your mind. Disappointing middle of the road effor, especially given all the recent hype over this.

2.5 Stars

Report this review (#140378)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars One might think that these four tracks are simple leftovers from the "Fear Of A Blank Planet" Album, but they are not just that. While written for that Album and some shadows from the original are displayed in "Normal" and "What Happens Now" this EP has a life of its own.

The first track "Nil Recurring" is a haunting instrumental, that features Robert Fripp (with a frantic Fripp-Solo) and sounds definately like a track that they could have done around the "Signify" Era, especially the middle part sounds like some of the "Metanoia" material. This is something I missed since then, and I'm glad they'd reinvented this kind of music here. This song has a great groove. Great opener.

"Normal" sounds like an alternate take on "Sentimental", but it is only the chorus that is revisited here, while the whole verse theme is completely different as is the coda, that takes one back to the days of "Stupid Dream". This is a nice crafted song much more in the original vein of their typical sound, that we are all used to. The second part of the song features some splendid acoustic guitar parts, that sound almost "Tullish". Only the short metal break in the middle is quite pointless, but seems to be needed to combine both parts of the song. Well I think they could do better than that. But this is the only complain I have with this EP.

"Cheating The Polygraph" was played on tour in 2006 and I remember this song well. Nothing special really but nevertheless a good song. This sounds like the little brother of "Futile" at times, but it is more atmospheric and straightforward. A good rocking tune that would have fitted well on the original album, but it was replaced by "Way Out Of Here", which is my favourite song on the album. On the LP and the DVD-A this song is placed right after "My Ashes" and I think that this is a better transition into "Anesthetize".

The Last track "What Happens Now" is one of the trademark songs this band creates once in a while. Like "Dark Matter", "Hatesong" or "Gravity Eyelids" this song is a perfect example what this band is about. Many trademark sounds and styles are represented here. From the hypnotic eastern percussion during the intro to the dark brooding finale, we are visiting every phase from the PT catalogue. I especially like how this song builds up to the almost trance-like middle part with its infectious groove, where Richard Barbieri ads lots of swirling synthesizer sounds. "Anesthetize" is revisited and acts as a bridge for the last part with intricate rhythm patterns that leads into the BIG finale. Great, great song !!!

The whole atmosphere of this EP is remiscent to the album and all songs would have fitted into the concept. But Wilson wanted a compact 50 minute piece of music, so we got another great Porcupine Tree album in 2007 - allthough it is quite short ;-).

5 Stars

Report this review (#140422)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Outstanding EP! Although I found FOABP to be an excellent album, I felt a bit cheated since there were only 6 tracks. That was the only thing that prevented me from ranking FOABP on the same level as "In Absentia" and "Deadwing" (both of which I consider to be masterpiece albums). Had Steven Wilson decided to include a couple of tracks from 'Nil Recurring' in the original release of FOABP, it would stand on its own as a masterpiece as well.

'Nil Recurring', although only 28 minutes in length, will deliver many hours of listening pleasure. It picks up where FOABP leaves off, but never sounds tired or repetitive - not even when certain themes from FOABP are restated here. PT never cease to amaze me. They have managed to tap into something very special. Very few bands are able to achieve this level of consistence excellence. Here's hoping they can keep it going for as long as possible.

Report this review (#141340)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars What an EP!

1. Nil Recurring is a excellent instrumental. With some Robert Fripp interventions. 2. Normal is an highlight. A reworked version of Sentimental. 3. Cheating the Polygraph is a mix of electro/atmospheric rythmic (reminding of Voyage 34 sometimes) with loud guitar tunes. 4. What Happens Now? With excellent violin interventions by an old cobirth : Ben Coleman (ex No-Man).

5 stars. No doubt about it.

Report this review (#141974)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nil Recurring - Very interesting instrumental, my favorite since Wedding Nails. Robert Fripp guest stars on this piece on lead guitar, and the track really has a nice vibe to it. Very heavy and Fripp sounding. Normal - A bit poppy and repetitive, but still a fine track. Better than it's sister track on FOaBP - Sentimental Cheating the Polygraph - Very nice track. Very soulful guitar solo around the 2 min mark that sounds like something off of Arriving Somewhere. Sounds a little bit too much like Anesthetize though, but I realize these were changed and borrowed parts. What Happens Now? - I love Richard on these last two tracks. Great soundscapes. Reminds me of Tinto Brass a little bit.

I have to say, this has generated a lot of excitement, especially for an EP, and I was skeptical at first, but it is well deserved. Personal Rating: 5/5 ProgArchives Rating: 4.5/5, might not be everyone's cup of tea, but still a great and progressive release, though very similar to FoaBP

To me, this has to be some of the most progressive stuff that Porcupine Tree has recorded in a while. I'm a huge fan of it :)

Report this review (#142577)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What the hell????? I guess all I can say here is that all that Steve Wilson and co. touch truly turns to gold. In some ways even superior to the last outing FOABP, at least in terms of total brevity, stylism, and progressiveness. I'm shocked that this is and EP and not a full scale record release. I guess I shouldn't be considering the talent of which I am speaking. Anyway if I must pick favorites I'd have to conclude the #1 slot goes to "Norma"l, I love the time change and thrash at the end of the 4 minute second and then the conclusion. "Cheating the Polygraph" is cool, probably my least favorite, although I love the ambience and spacey feel.The title track "Nil Recurring" has an incredible heavy vibe to it and the solo at the end (Frip I believe), is awesome. 2nd slot goes to "What Happens Now", just an overall awesome song, love the "Anesthetize" rythm in it too.......... Enjoy fellow proggers Wilson and Co. are truly the maestros of the modern prog scene.
Report this review (#144196)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
3 stars Though inconsistent (and way too short!), Nil Recurring has inklings of where Porcupine Tree is going - and it looks (and sounds) good. The opening title track is a surprisingly weak instrumental (compared to some of PT's other instrumentals), despite the appearance of Robert Fripp (who shows yet again why HE is Robert Fripp, and John Frusciante (as good as he is) is not). The second track, Normal, is a nice companion piece to "Sentimental" on FOABP (it uses the same chorus), showing where the kid in the latter might be as an adult. However, it is with the other two tracks that PT truly shines. "Cheating the Polygraph" is an excellent composition with a decidedly darker edge (and I thought little could be darker than FOABP!) which harks back to the best of In Absentia or Deadwing. What Happens Now is the group's best effort in some time, a lengthy (8.5 minutes), layered and heavily textured affair that goes even darker still, and includes some of SW's best guitar work to date. [N.B. PT opened their NY show with this, and not only did it work well, but the audience was absolutely mesmerized.] One reviewer complained that he did not hear any progression on this EP from earlier work. Even were that true, I would say that PT has settled quite comfortably into a compelling style that allows for continued experimentation without carrying the work too far in any direction, and that there is nothing wrong with that. Finally, although I gave the EP only three stars, if it had been a full CD, and the remainder of the material was as good as the three vocal tracks, I would likely have given it a fourth star. It is certainly a must-hear for all PT fans.
Report this review (#144850)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album is an excellent epilog to the previous albums. I rate it 2 stars only because, accordingly to the ProgArchives rating scale, 2 stars is for fans only. If you're new to Porcupine Tree, this album means nothing. But if you're a real fan from the beggining, this album is a 4 stars because of the always great production from PT, the pleasure I have to listen it again and again and the idea behind this album.

So that idea I call epilog... An epilog is a speech spoken directly to the audience following the conclusion of a play. My opinion is Porcupine Tree has played with essentialy the same material for so many years, they wanted to close something and this album concludes a long march. Like Mike Oldfield did with the Turbular Bells I. He played TB II, TB III, TB LIVE, TB everywhere. And then, one day, that last and final replay of his very first success, "the way I would have played it the first time". We will never hear new TB stuff from him again. Done, case closed. I guess PT decided to do relatively the same operation with Nil Recurring -- which could means "it will not occur again".

Yes, maybe the first piece is weak. But the second one, Normal, is to me a very nice reprise of so many themes developped in previous albums. Listen to Trains from Absentia and then to Normal... After announcing something new, the nice acoustic guitar opens to an old-and-so-much-exploited theme, this is delicious. And what about the harmonica, which picture the departure of an old buddy, a very first apparition of this instrument for PT. Cheating the polygraph is complex signatured song, with parts in 6/8 and 5/8, very cool for drummers, a tight play for Harrison again, a must for any PT album and any Progressive album. In Absentia, we had The Sound of Musak, with the first parts in 14/8.

What happens now? Well, we'll see. But this last song is so Peter-Gabriel inspired (from US - Secret World), is this musician the next collaborator with PT? Is this the next PT sound? The question is asked : what happens now?

Hope we'll not wait too long.

Report this review (#148593)
Posted Friday, November 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars An awful lot of five stars rating without review for the latest "PT" offering. As loads of "current" bands I would say.

Five stars meaning MASTERPIECE...

It is of course, and by no means a weak effort (but "PT" released few of these). But the same is true in terms of masterpieces. IMO, they released none. Lots of hype about this band (too much). From their whole discography, it is the live albums that are more appealing to me.

Since "In Absentia" in 2002, the orientation of the band is definitely towards heavier, more metal music. As if "Opeth" influence invaded Wilson's inspiration. "Normal" is a great backup to this theory. But before this number, the band offered some "Dream Theater" moments with the title track "Nil Recurring". Strong riff, wild beat at times. A good song though.

As most of their latest work, this EP sounds as:

1. Déjà vu

2. Too much of the same kind

"Cheating The Polygraph" could have been released on any of their last albums since "In Absentia".

"PT" was pioneering the revival of an old genre when they started a long time ago. Even if IMHHO, nothing really outstanding has been produced. Their latest releases awfully lack in personality. Still this EP is a good and pleasant work.

Three stars.

Report this review (#148794)
Posted Sunday, November 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars A logical extension of the type of music heard on "Fear of a Blank Planet" and, as a result, is hurt by the lack of creative song writing and sonic variety which hurt that album's overall quality. "Nil Recurring" has a few moments of genuine brilliance in say, the return of Wilson's quite, delicate vocal deliveries and the band's use of Barbieri's considerable keyboard talents, but as a whole I maintain that these song's heavy elements are present merely because they are expected-- they are contrived and near the level of pointlessness. "Cheating the Polygraph" might be the worst song the group has ever recorded.

That being said, "Nil Recurring" is still fun. Fripp's frantic solo in the opening track is one of his best in a long time, and so long as Wilson isn't chugging out metal riffs to Harrison's crashing symbols the album has a fine energy and solid groove. "What Happens Now" is more original than anything on "Fear of a Blank Planet", and "Normal" outshines its full-length counterpart on that album as well.

Fans of "Fear of a Blank Planet" will be wholly satisfied, while fans of PT's stellar earlier output will be waiting for their favorite band to return.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#149634)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An Excellent EP which leads to Great Album! I wish .

WOW! This is really a great EP that I am pretty damn sure it would lead to a brilliant album in the very near future. It anchors the band's existence in the style of music they have been focusing on, giving away the influences by legendary band like Pink Floyd. It's very obvious in fact through the opening title track "Nil Recurring" where I can hear its music subtleties by playing the music loudly. All the soundscape and the music grooves come out clearly with its excellent sonic quality of the CD represented by tight bass lines, powerful drumwork, ambient keyboard and its effects plus stunning guitar riffs and melody. It's so wonderful and mind-boggling, I would say. This song blew me away at firs spin and in fact I played it loud when I listened to it the first time. It's a great instrumental track!

"Normal" kicks off with inventive acoustic guitar work followed by great music with brilliant grooves in relatively fast tempo followed with nice break that accompanies Steve Wilson's vocal line enters the music. The inventive acoustic guitar work still provide nice fills at background. The song moves brilliantly with a combined style of symphonic music indicated by long sustain keyboard work at background in mellotron-like sound and psychedelic music. This has made the song really attractive and enjoyable to my taste and I am sure it would satisfy wider listeners as well. When the music slows down, there is a violin-like sound followed vibrantly by a blast of music with heavy riffs. It's quite enjoyable the change from one style to another.

"Cheating The Polygraph" flows with medium tempo and provides good break after quite heavy music with previous two tracks. But the music moves into high tones again with nice guitar riffs and floating vocal line. Bass guitar provides great solo right after the high tones and it remarks the music to slow down as the vocal line will enter again. It's really an excellent track. The music returns back to higher tones with heavier guitar riffs.

"What Happens Now?" starts with an ambient nuance followed with percussion work. The music flows steadily with bass lines as beat keepers followed with keyboard which then accompany Steve Wilson's vocal line. The percussion work still work continuously at background. The music moves in crescendo with a great sound effects resulting from guitar and keyboard. The vocal line turns into distant-singing which makes the music more space psychedelic in nature. The drumwork enters and brings the music into its full-blown style, typical to Porcupine Tree rhythm section. It's so wonderful!

Well, I know that this is an EP which serves as a teaser of the band's upcoming album. But, I respect the music highly. I confirm that this is a masterpiece EP that prog lovers must have it or at least they must buy the full album length which I believe would be a masterpiece as well, knowing that the four tracks in this EP are all masterpiece. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#151671)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4 / 5

This EP, if listenned to without considering FOABP is superb. In fact, if you like PT already, you'll find all the elements that kept them doing so great. But it's the good same old Steven Wilson style, with mixtures of mellow and violent riffs, passing from full distortion to acoustic with great majesty.

Still, this album has almost NOTHING original. It's just new material coming out of the "factory". But I like it! I don't get bored from beginning till end, even if the wacky transitions don't surprise me anymore. I specially like the sound PT carries, that clean production with full round pounding sounds.

Musically, this EP is mostly in the drums for me. Great subtilty from drummer Harrisson with superb rolls as usual, and rythmics that give a whole new meaning to a basic normal riff (check out 'What Happends Now"). The rest is as you know it, the style hasn't changed, maybe a little more 'mainstream' (less than FOABP though).

My favorite here : Normal.


Report this review (#156047)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars Oh no! Not again! I liked the first Nil album much better.

Well, not really as this is really Nil for the first time. It would have been nice if it could have been offered initially in a package with Fear Of A Blank Planet, but I suspect that's in the works at some point. What you get here is some nice supplemental material to FOABP, which was written during the same recording sessions and finished up after it's release.

I like this a little better than FOABP so I think this bodes well for the next regular Porcupine Tree release. We get Robert Fripp doing a nice cameo on the first track, Nil Recurring. Normal is a reprise,. of sort, of Sentimental from FOABP. I love that opening sitaresque guitar lick. Cheating the Polygraph is a nice mix of heavy and mellower bits. The final track is an instrumental, What Happens Now. It has a Porcupine Tree first, a guest on electric violin, Ben Coleman. Some of the parts hearken back to pre-In Absentia PT. Nice percussion work by Harrison in addition to the usual excellent drumming.

If you haven't picked this one up, the first run of CDs were only 5,000, so now your only option to get it is pay for download. This is certainly an essential acquisition for PT fans.

Report this review (#157679)
Posted Friday, January 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars What is it? More Fear of a Blank Planet music, thus more progressive rock songwriting that reflect the perspective of a depressed, angsty teenager. (see Fear of a Blank Planet). These tracks further explore the sound of progressive rock.

Voice (5 stars) ? The vocals, while relatively scarce, make a much stronger impression than its parent album and one could argue this is his vocal and lyrical pinnacle as a singer. The utilization of the vocal effect that makes him sound distant is perfected in 'Cheating the Polygraph'. Melodic singing that includes counterpoint harmonies help make 'Normal' an excellent song. Steven Wilson also delivers one of his most disturbing performances throughout 'What Happens Now?'. While other singers may be more technically skilled and have a wider range, it is impossible to hear these songs performed by anyone else.

Sound (5 stars) ? Perfection in instrumentation and sound production with all band members at the top of their game. The band delivers addicting intricate rhythms: Gavin Harrison not only established himself to be among the best drummers in the world, but has a great chemistry with Colin Edwin (bass). The keyboards help set the mood, and the guitar playing is excellent and versatile. The band is allowed to shine in 'Nil Recurring' and 'What Happens Now' ? the latter featuring extremely complex yet accessible polyrhythms halfway through its buildup.

Song (5 stars) - Porcupine tree as a full-fledged progressive rock band can craft complex, coherent songs of the highest caliber without losing touch of the emotional touch that kept their fanbase. The deeper exploration into progressive rock works as long as songwriting is fluid. Take for instance the middle of 'Nil Recurrent' with the quieter, but dense middle part exploding into a very memorable wall of sound. 'Normal' uses a progressive structure, but retains the melodic themes from 'Fear of a Blank Planet' ballads. 'Cheating the Polygraph' is a structurally simpler song allowing the band to rock out with some of their heaviest musical passages, and also establish lengthy amount of space for the keyboardist (middle section). 'What Happens Now' has some of the best displays of songwriting in modern prog rock and is possibly Steven Wilson's best prog rock song ? building from dark thoughts, to intent, to planning, to action, to chaos from the eyes of a terrorist. It is extremely visual in nature and gets more and more horrifying by the minute.

Key Tracks: Normal, Cheating the Polygraph, What Happens Now?

Report this review (#158134)
Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nil Recurring is a delightful EP from the excellent Porcupine Tree. Make no mistake - the material here is not composed of out-takes from FOABP. All four tracks stand on their merits, though there are a number melodic and lyrical passages referenced from the prior album. But I won't bore you with song details - just darken the room and turn it up!

This EP is damn exciting - never mind the comments about lack of originality - we've been hearing such pointless criticism since the release of Deadwing. For goodness' sake, Pink Floyd hadn't produced anything truly original since Meddle. But that hardly subtracts from the value and enjoyment of their subsequent work.

Porcupine Tree have gone through a number of stylistic stages (I believe we're presently at Mark III) and I've loved them all. I'm looking forward to seeing the fellas perform again - always a pleasurable adrenaline rush!

Report this review (#161228)
Posted Friday, February 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring

It sometimes makes you wonder, doesn't it? Exactly what makes a band decide to drop a song from their full length album? This EP is in a way a bit like the whole of the Recordings CD. It's not an official full-length album, but to call it mere 'leftovers' doesn't do the music right.

Nil Recurring was first released months after the Fear of a blank Planet album, and it is in a way a clear continuation of that album. I'm not per se referring to the fact that this EP features an excellent companion piece to the song Sentimental, but more in general, I feel like these four songs could fit on the original album perfectly. What am I saying... What happens now? might be one of the best Porcupine Tree songs I've heard as a fun!

Musicwise this EP shows a continuation of mainly the last two albums. There's the familiar use of heavy guitar riffing, but this EP also uses various electronica elements from time to time. I am not only referring to the guest performance by Robert Fripp, but there's a general use of subtle electronic elements, as for instance in the closing track. In this song you hear simple, repetitive electronic melodies, which work perfectly for the built-up in this song.

Problem with this CD at the beginning was that it sold out rather quickly. Luckily for fans of Porcupine Tree's music, the EP is being rereleased in a short while, with the only change that it is presented in a jewel case packaging instead of the digipack version the first edition came in. I, myself, was lucky enough to manage to purchase the Japanese version of this EP, and this version even offers a bonus track in the form of the edit version of the Fear of a blank Planet title track.

Nil Recurring is a typical Porcupine Tree band effort, occasionally showing a bit more folky and electronic side to the band, but mainly seeing the band continuing on the laid out path of dark and brooding hard rock... Yes, it's as out of this world as ever, but with a punch!

Report this review (#161386)
Posted Saturday, February 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am really late in getting some words up about this one and have read all the reviews above. Agree with many and many are well said; disagree with a few. My best advice to listeners of this release is listen for the phrasing. You can listen to each piece as a whole song or you can try to grasp it as a whole EP, but for me, this one is best appreciated by attuning one's ears to pick-up what is being conveyed by the music, moment by moment. Otherwise you won't get it. Let go of the desire to compare it to previous works or to other bands. Take it where it is, and let it take you with it!

Someone suggested dimming the lights; with this release it really helps. Isolate your hearing because some of the phrasing is very far-out there, with tons of subtle explorations that your ear/mind just won't pick-up on a casual listen. This release requires full attention, perhaps more than FOABP. I guess that is what generally draws me to PT. iTunes tells me that I've listened to Trains (from In Absentia) two dozen times since loading it in Sept. 2005 (with over 1800 songs in iTunes, it takes a while to cycle through, and its not counting the iPod listens). The thing is, with each listen I get something from every PT song that I missed before. Very few bands can write compositions that do that for me.

Its all about phrasing, the mix of instrumental voicings, the rhythms and percussion of a master with his masterful colleagues. If all you see is soft-loud-soft, then you probably haven't paid enough attention. Pay attention and listen again. Close to masterpiece if you can break free of preconceptions. Four and a half stars.

Report this review (#162460)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recurring indeed.

Porcupine Tree's latest EP was released publicly only very recently, and based on the reviews it had been getting as a order-off-the-website-only deal I was expecting the thing to blow my friggen skull open when I gave it a spin the day I found that it was finally waiting for me on the store shelf. While the EP certainly has it's charms and works very well as a partner to its big brother, Fear Of A Blank Planet, it seems the the hype was a bit too high.

In other words, it's not a masterpiece on par with Close To The Edge. That said, it's still a worthy disc.

Certainly tight in it's musicianship, Nil Recurring deserves most of the praise it receives. The opener (and title track) NIL RECURRING is a very well done instrumental featuring one Mr. Robert Fripp of King Crimson, and he certainly makes his mark. The song comes off as exactly what it is, a PT-KC collaboration that allows both guitar virtuosos to noodle. Running strait into the song is the next track, NORMAL. Basically 'Sentimental Pt. II', NORMAL recycles Sentimental's chorus and some riffs as it makes its way along. Not in any way the same track however, NORMAL has it's own flavor -- as though it has the same narrator speaking from a different chapter of his life. CHEATING THE POLYGRAPH is next, and this one's another good one. Reminiscent of Rush's 'Jacob's Ladder' in terms of structure (one big dark overture with some lyrics to start it off), this one chugs along with some very catchy instrumentalism until it reaches it's eventual end. The album ends with the dark WHAT HAPPENS NOW, which basically reprises not only the ep, but 'My Ashes' from Fear... as well. Similar in style to 'Sleep Together' this one has it's charms in it's mix of flavors.

On a side note -- Packaged in a spiffy ''Super-Jewel-Case'' this one is quite pleasing to the eyes with it's extension to FOABP's artwork.

While the music here is quite good as a partner to the album that goes with it, it's not quite as strong on it's own as some of PT's other EPs have been. Certainly a good extension to FOABP (does the phrase 'extended play [ep]' ring a bell?), but not a good stand alone. Not really essential but certainly a good buy if you really loved FOABP or even liked it. If you want nothing more to do with that album then avoid this. Cautionary note, though -- Don't buy this album expecting completely new material.

I'm always tight pressed to give an ep more than 3 stars... so being a good one, that's what this one gets.

Report this review (#164803)
Posted Monday, March 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars These four tracks, produced in the Fear of Blank Planet sessions, were rejected for the album by Steven Wilson himself, stating that it would spoil the album continuity and experience, even though not considering them inferior to those present in the album. Months later, and with even some improvements, these 4 tracks were released as an independent EP called Nil Recurring. Lyrically, they can be seen as a sort of continuity of the boy's disturbing mind and quest for a more substantiated life.

Musically, some tracks would definitely add even more positive effects to the Fear of a Blank Planet album (unless the sparse experiments are increments post-album). The instrumental guitar myriad of Nil Recurring and the folk Normal with its difficult and appellative acoustic riff both show a particularly meticulous work of perfection of every detail, with its positive and not-so-positive effects. Cheating the Polygraph was supposed to be the Way out of Here of FoaBP but was rejected after the fans disapproval on pre-album gigs. However, its improvements resulted in a solid and appellative track. What Happens Now? ends the album in an atmospheric, quasi post-rock mood, perhaps spoiled nevertheless by its cathartic final guitar solo.

In sum, in the continuity of the album released on the same year, this is a fine complement of its good vibe, and perhaps one or other track should have been stayed on its integrity.

7/10 (good)

Report this review (#166454)
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This EP is definitely good, but not great. The title track is fairly weak, despite some very quality contributions by Robert Fripp. Normal is the most powerful off the CD, featuring mostly acoustic guitar work, punctuated by sudden bursts of crazy drums and electric guitar at critical moments. Definitely worth the price of the album alone. Cheating the Polygraph and What Happens Now? are both smart tunes as well, replete with some of the best drumming Harrison's done for Porcupine Tree, aside from Fear of a Blank Planet itself. There is even some awkward time work in What Happens Now?, which is rather different for the band.

All in all, definitely a good place to go, a good album to buy, but a weak first track drags it down to just under four stars. Probably worth checking out simply for the drum work throughout.

Report this review (#168647)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring 4 stars

Can you recur again, one last time?

This is a collection of B-side tracks to the album 'Fear of a Blank Planet'. Each song on here is considerably different, but keeps a similar tone overall. The guitar is usually distorted with some chorus effects put in and seems to be the real driving piece of this EP. The bass and effects are thrown way in the back, not even really having a defining presence. In other words, this is really a new sound.

The title track serves as a simply structured instrumental intro with the guitar dominating on primarily rhythm work. Robert Fripp is a guest on this track and provides some nice backing. 'Normal' is one of the best tracks among Porcupine Tree's work. A very tough acoustic intro is played followed by a heavier rendition of it. The 'Sentimental' chorus is all thrown in, showing its tie to the album. Following this is one of Wilson's best chord work on the acoustic guitar followed by a massive amount of vocal melodies. 'Cheating the Polygraph' is a growing track. It really hit me on the personal level. Started off with Gavin's signature dynamic and tom work, followed by Wilson hitting a fuzzed and delayed chord every measure with some haunting lyrics really creates the atmosphere of the song. Some good parts follow this main course like some jams and solo's. 'What Happens Now' is a great closing track. The vocals dominate the beginning of this track. The drums once again last the whole track, but towards the middle this song turns into Porcupine Tree's typical wonderful jams.

This is one of my favorite EP's. It is clearly a step above most artists entire albums. I just hope PT can put their next album up with a sound similar to this. Wilson, always the progresser.

Report this review (#168986)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Porcupine Tree fans who have already heard the acclaimed Fear Of A Blank Planet album will likely know what to expect from this EP of inconsistent songs recorded during the same sessions. Normal is the pinnacle song here, closely associated with Sentimental from the original album, it stands up as one of the strongest tracks to emerge from the entire sessions. The rest of the Nil Recurring is a rung below, Cheating The Polygraph and What Happens Now? characterised by their growling basslines and edgy, wah- laden guitar solos are both interesting but never quite a reach a level of true genius. Surprisingly the weak link however is the title track, an unmemorable instrumental that not even a guest appearance from veteran Prog Lord Robert Fripp can save, Wedding Nails (From In Absentia) is just so much more accomplished. Fear Of A Blank Planet die hards may be more enthusiastic towards Nil Recurring and while decent Porcupine Tree have certainly done better.
Report this review (#170228)
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Well i'll admit right now that i'm a PORCUPINE TREE fan boy. There was a reason for the "tree" on the end of Sinkadoten. Anyway this EP explores the same subject matter as "Fear Of A Blank Planet".There is something about hearing Steven Wilson singing and playing his acoustic guitar that transports me. Barbieri's synth work is for me like coming home after a long trip. It's familiar, comfortable and where I want to be. This is a powerful recording.

The title track features the Frippster leading things off(love the intro), and I like the way it builds to a nice heavy sound 1 1/2 minutes in. A calm follows 2 minutes in with deep bass and synths. A fuller sound returns 3 1/2 minutes in as drums pound with prominant synths(i'm home). Harrison is fantastic 4 1/2 minutes in. "Normal" opens with some cool sounding intricate guitar as drums beat their way in. It settles with vocals before a minute. Love the vocals with synths before 2 minutes that reminds me of the PORCUPINE TREE of old(and Sarah). Heavy outbursts after 4 1/2 minutes followed up by vocals and acoustic guitar. Nice. Cool line that is sung over and over to end it. "Wish I was old and a little sentimental, you gotta see the waves, not the wine bottles". Amen Steven.

"Cheating The Polygraph" reminds me of RUSH to start with before the vocals come in. A full heavy sound 2 minutes in. It settles back down quickly as this contrast continues. Aggressive and raw sounding guitar before 4 1/2 minutes as Harrison puts on a show. He's at it again 6 minutes in while the synths that follow are classic PT. "What Happens Now ?" is pastoral to begin with as percussion and synths lead the way before reserved vocals join in. It's building. It's brighter 4 1/2 minutes in. Heavy 5 minutes in.The guitar is great after 7 minutes.

This is a great companion EP to go with "Fear Of A Blank Planet".

Report this review (#171941)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Nice but for the fans

PT is a favorite of near everyone and I'm no exception. I think "Fear of a Blank Planet" is an incredible chunk of rock music, one of the finest in recent memory. And while "Nil Recurring" is good, and a nice addition to flesh out FoaBP, it is nonetheless an expensive extra that is "for the fans" which means a two-star rating. No one should buy this EP in place of FoaBP as it is not the complete, complex work that the Fear is. There is a nice twist on "Sentimental" dubbed "Normal", the fine space-instrumental title track, and two other average tracks. Generally speaking the music is along the same lines as Fear though not quite as arresting. The digipak design is quite nice with some great photographs of teens, though I've wondered how teens perceive the 40ish Wilson's presentation of them both visually and lyrically. I think the real question is: do any of the 4 tracks on NIL deserve to have been put in place of any track on Fear? I don't think so. I think "Sleep Together" is the weakest track on Fear, but in retrospect I wouldn't trade any of NIL for it. If these tracks were recorded at the same time as Fear then I credit Wilson for making exactly the right song selection for his masterful Blank Planet album. NIL is a nice cherry on the top for fans but it is hardly a necessity, and thus, two stars is appropriate. An essential EP could be worthy of more stars but NIL is not essential if one possesses Fear. How some can call this a stand-alone 5 star masterpiece is beyond my grasp. 4/10

Report this review (#172557)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm giving "Nil Recurring" the same ratting as "Fear of a Blank Planet" since I feel "NR" is "FoaBP2.0". Many of the same riffs and movements from "FoaBP" are found on "NR" and it seems as though these were the filling spots on "FoaBP" which would have made the album more the length of most album now-a- days, but that wouldn't do for Porcupine Tree. I applaud Porcupine Tree for doing it this way and hope more bands take up this example. Just because an album can run over and above one hundred minuets doesn't mean it should.

That being said, since it follows so closely to "Fear of a Blank Planet" my same concern and major draw back to the album, and the culprit for dropping it out of the 'masterpiece' race is presented. "What Happens Now?" the final track on the album follows "Sleep Together" example and is too short. All other songs on the album are perfectly sized and fitted, but "What Happens Now?" should have been, as "Sleep Together" should have been well over ten minuets long. It's one of those songs that ends the album on an epical scale that only a ten minuet song can present. Again, as with "Sleep Together" I understand and can appreciate why the song stops where it does, but I would rather see it in the double digits. But I must say that the ending climax with a three key sequence on a four / four beat is a treat to my ears and I want to eat the song up each time I hear it.

Other then that little slip up, this little EP is a must for any one who enjoys 'Porcupine Tree', or for someone who wants something more from the music being made today. I didn't know if it was possible, but this is even closer to a Masterpiece then "Fear of a Blank Planet" was, and had "What Happens now" gone on longer making this album feel complete, we would have a masterpiece on our hands. But this just feels like one of those unexpected surprises at the end of a movie when all the credits finished rolling and an additional scene is presented which is better then the movie itself.

Four stars.that final star is on it's way boys! Keep up the great work!

Report this review (#172799)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Because these four tracks were rejected from the 'Fear of a Blank Planet' album, they can hardly be considered essential. They continue on the good work from that album, having the same feel: tight drumming, crunchy guitars, not as melodic and perhaps a little less progressive and a lot more metal than the PORCUPINE TREE we've known.

The four tracks are an odd bunch, and don't really flow together. The title track is an instrumental, and I feel it's an odd choice to open the EP. 'Cheating the Polygraph' might have been a better selection, despite it being a slghtly warmed-up remix of 'Anesthetize'. I'm also not sure that an inferior arrangement of 'Sentimental' - masquerading here as 'Normal' - ought to have followed the opener. Because this means we don't get to the meat and veg until the last track, which is indeed the equal of anything on their latest album.

From me, however, that's not the highest praise. I don't find FOABP that convincing, and these four tracks add little to the puzzle. At times they sound - well, recycled. The best of them, 'What Happens Now?' should, I think, have been on the album, but the rest are marginal. This is not up to the standard of some of the other supplementary PT releases, such as 'Insignificance', 'Staircase Infinities' and 'Recordings'. Still, FOABP and Nil Recurring do make a nice package - at nearly twice the price.

After this less than satisfactory change in direction, I wonder what happens next for PORCUPINE TREE.

Report this review (#173659)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am a music lover who considers "Fear of a Blank Planet" to not only be the deservingly-anointed prog album of the year 2007 but a strong contender for album of the decade. It's that special. If you have a comparable, lofty opinion of it then adding this bonus disc to your collection is a no-brainer. "Hold on. It's a bit pricey for an EP of just four songs" you may complain but I'm here to assure you that I've spent a lot more and gotten a lot less quality in my day so it's well worth the extra lettuce. Basically these are tracks that didn't fit into the magnificent flow of the masterpiece that is FOABP but that doesn't mean they're substandard at all. Au contraire, monsieur. All four are ripe fruit from the Porcupine Tree and they stand on their own merits accordingly.

The opening salvo that is "Nil Recurring" just may be one of their best instrumentals ever. It constructs a patiently crafted, wonderful piece-by-piece build up to a near frenzy over the first few minutes, then levels out over a psychedelic plateau where the band floats in suspension with guitar and synthesizer incidentals darting in and out of the sky. A large-scale guitar/bass riff follows and that opens things up for drummer extraordinaire Gavin Harrison to dazzle your senses with his amazing stick work before they tack on a wild, frantic ending where guest Robert Fripp performs his unique magical mayhem. It's nothing less than a thrilling, six-minute roller coaster ride. Hop on and strap yourself in.

"Normal" is a variation on the PT song "Sentimental." Don't worry, it's not just a remix but a totally different tune that happens to share some of the same lyrics. They aren't pulling a scam here at all. An acoustic guitar and a short rocking segment start things off before a lighter vocal space ensues with synthesized strings creating a deep backdrop to Steven Wilson's melodic lines. "Here is my car, my phone and my TV/I've got it all but you can still see through me/but am I here?/its kind of hard to tell/I do a good impression of myself/but what's normal now anyhow?" Wilson's unadorned portrayal of the unending angst of the younger generation is poetic yet straight to the point, just as it was throughout FOABP. There's a cool synthesized soprano sax solo to enjoy along the way and then they lull you into a relaxed state of mind prior to jolting you rudely awake with a stunning cannonade of dense sound tidal waves. And then just as unexpectedly they drop down into an acoustic guitar-driven air where intertwining vocal lines chant "wish I was old and a little sentimental" like some child's nursery rhyme. (Careful what you desire, Steven, age and sentimentality aren't always what they're cracked up to be. Take it from one who knows.) A tight, spirited ending brings the song to a tasteful close.

You get a good dose of Harrison's deft touch during the onset of "Cheating the Polygraph" as he rolls effortlessly underneath stark guitar chords and a lonesome vocal. Here Wilson is the voice of the teenage outcast who feels destined and doomed to forever be a disappointment to his parents. "Lying through my teeth again/I've been bad again, black lies/skirting round the truth again/to escape the look in your eyes," he confesses. The number evolves to an intense, riff-based segment, then moves into a jazzy interlude and returns to another round of the verse/chorus. Steven turns in a blistering, edgy electric guitar lead as the group gathers to fire up a big-time finale where Gavin flies over, under, around and through his drum kit. The man is a monster and this is an example of why he's one of the best in the biz.

Light congas and percussion make "What Happens Now?" a welcome change of pace as the group lays the foundation for an outstanding cut that's filled with surprises. An airy atmosphere constructed by keyboard man Richard Barbieri surrounds the vocal in which Wilson expresses how crass materialism pales when one is confronted by the puzzle of existence. "So I got all these things, but so what?/in the end you can't take them with you/you think you can save my soul?/well, ok./tell me, with all your conviction/what happens now?" he questions. A pulsating synth program enters and the song grows and grows until it finally finds a fat groove to drive comfortably inside. It's not unlike some of the soundscapes they traversed back in their 90s "Up the Downstair" phase but they don't linger too long and soon develop a musical segment where they cleverly combine and overlay a variety of beat patterns with fantastic results. Harrison handles the complexity with ease, of course, and eventually "God's Guitars" engulf the track like the aftermath of the parting of the Red Sea. I love it when he does that.

This is simple, really. If you are a fan of Porcupine Tree then you owe it to yourself to indulge in these fine tunes while you wait for future releases. You won't be disappointed. 4.4 stars.

Report this review (#194595)
Posted Sunday, December 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Had Porcupine Tree cut "Sleep Together" off Fear of a Blank Planet and made Nil Recurring the rest of that album, they would have had, instead of a four-star LP and a four-star EP, one five-star masterpiece. As it stands, this is a reliable short album that serves as a continuation of the aforementioned album.

"Nil Recurring" Innovative guitar work saturates this frenzied instrumental. In a way, the piece is similar to recent King Crimson, and no wonder- Robert Fripp is in the studio on this one, and I find his work here is better than some of what he did with King Crimson. Speaking of Fripp's main creative outlet, the first two minutes feature the same repetitive but steadily built-upon structures that make up a good King Crimson instrumental. Throughout other sections, there is a static rhythm on distorted electric guitar that serves as a basis for the other instruments to create the dynamic aspects. The different guitars provide different textures: While one may be heavily distorted, another won't be, and yet another is laden with reverb.

"Normal" There is a frantic introduction that somewhat bridges the previous track into this, then things slow down with some soft instrumentation, distorted bass, and Wilson's voice. The first time I heard this, I was blown away with how the song is the separated twin of "Sentimental." Thematically, the two songs are bound together by the same cell phone chargers, mp3 player headphones, X-box controllers, and cold apathy, and the songs feature the same chord progression at times. The music and musicianship of "Normal" is better than "Sentimental," but I find the lyrics and vocal work of "Sentimental" to be superior. However, the sudden acoustic section- "Wish I was older and a little sentimental"- is superb. The counterpoint line, "You've got to see the waves, not the wine bottle" is particularly meaningful to me.

"Cheating the Polygraph" I initially found this to be the weakest track on the album, but it gradually became what was in my opinion an excellent Porcupine Tree song. Wilson does sound a bit nasal on this track, and his distorted vocals in the chorus in 5/8 make the words nigh impossible to make out. The clean guitar solo two minutes in is lovely, and the various effects on the other sounds are generally pleasant and compliment the composition. The heaviest parts of the song are fitting, even if though I don't always care for them. The weird instrumentation that bridges the heavy moments is intriguing and worth checking out.

"What Happens Now?" Otherworldly keyboard work and hand percussion begin the fourth and final track. The lyrics are a little cliché, and the singing is very close to that of recent Bono for some reason, but things pick up and get creative again. The lyrics reprise "My Ashes." There is some absolutely stunning music halfway in, and later, the music reprises "Anesthetize." Afterwards, the music temporarily has two distinct rhythms occurring just before some dramatic, heavy business and a lead guitar solo that brings things to an end.

Report this review (#197923)
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this i like alot,its got porcupine tree doing wat they do best it might be an ep but its a good ep for that matter,the first track is kind of porcupine tree like there gone into another world not weird like just porcup[ine tree doing it if u understand wat i,m going on about lol,next track normal is a brilliant track and is sentimental of foabp like an earlier version of it kind of the same but i bet this is one of the first versions of the song or retryed again and is a good song to but the song is alot like sentimental which that track i love alot so its a welcome on here,next is cheating the polygraph which is so porcupine tree like foabp and if youve got foabp you must get this for this anmd the next song to,next is what happens now is i think the best track on the album everything on this track is porcupine tree at there newest sounding just like foabp,if you own foabp get hold of this to as its a must have not as good as that album but it is an ep if it was a proper album i reckon it would be just as good as foabp i give this 4 stars buy tjis if you enjoyed foabp.
Report this review (#216581)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Having just reviewed Allan Holdsworth's Road Games earlier today, I felt like tackling another short selection of songs in the form of Porcupine Tree's EP, Nil Recurring. The tracks that make up this EP were conceived and recorded around the same time as their Fear Of A Blank Planet album, so perhaps you can think of this as sort of a companion piece to FOABP.

The title track is an instrumental with not only King Crimson's Robert Fripp making a cameo, but also drummer Gavin Harrison in a role we aren't accustomed to: as a guitarist (though he still lays down drums as well). Harrison plays the tapping guitar part that is the main driving force the song. It is a solid tune, but it seems kind of odd starting off this EP.

"Normal" is a rather beautiful song with bandleader Steve Wilson front and center with nice strumming acoustic guitar work (though it briefly gets heavy) and emotional vocal delivery. Keyboards add some strong support during the chorus of the song, which itself sounds awfully familiar ("Sentimental" of FOABP). This is my favorite song on the EP.

"Cheating The Polygraph" has a rather melancholy verse but is paired quite nicely with a heavy, more upbeat chorus. Harrison once again proves that the drum throne in Porcupine Tree is among the most secure jobs in existence. Steve Wilson adds not one but two well played guitar solos, perhaps just to let Gavin know who's the boss : ) .

"What Happens Now" has a jam vibe to it, which it not a bad thing, but it lags on quite a bit too long. Besides some solid rhythm section work by Harrison and bassist Colin Edwin, there it very little I remember from this track.

Some strong stuff, while grouped with some not-as-strong stuff still make this EP worth listening. 3-stars!!

Report this review (#228229)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree ? Nil Recurring review

By ProgkidJoel

"Please note that the material on the album is definitely NOT comprised of "rejects" from the Fear of a Blank Planet album, in fact we consider it every bit as good, they just didn't fit into what was a very concept driven record. Nil Recurring is a completely self-contained and carefully executed work so you can consider this the second (albeit slightly short) Porcupine Tree album release of the year!"

- Steven Wilson, PORCUPINE TREE

Nil Recurring is a companion album to Porcupine Tree's 2007 release, Fear Of A Blank Planet. It is comprised of four excellent tracks which sit perfectly into the FOABP song cycle. Although these tracks were left out as they didn't fit into the mood of FOABP, they're none the less quality tracks, and take a place ahead of FOABP in my own tastes.

The EP opens with the instrumental title track, NIL RECURRING.

"I just thought it was an interesting idea I had. I had this instrumental, and I didn't have a title, so I called it Nil Recurring. It's always quite hard to name instrumentals, because obviously there's no subject matter to relate it to. I just thought the idea was quite funny. I kind of like absurd titles. I kind of have a history of having these titles that make no sense, like Up The Downstair (1993). I mean Nil Recurring is another paradox like statement. You cannot have the number nil recurring. So it's just a bit of fun really. And of course, it seemed to fit in with the lyrical concept of some of the other pieces that featured on Fear Of A Blank Planet. It was that idea of blankness, of not being there or negativity that helped gave that piece, and the E.P. its title."

- Steven Wilson on NIL RECURRING, the track.

This track features Robert Fripp on lead guitar, although this seems unnecessary, as Steven Wilson could have easily handled the guitar virtuosity shown throughout this track. This track is marked by a heavy sound, although a different type of heavy to the majority of Fear Of A Blank Planet. This feels much more clean and rehearsed. This track is filled with lovely chords and great drums. The track continues with a solidly enjoyable formula of insane percussion and heavy guitar work, closing with a display of insane technical virtuosity from Gavin Harrison.

NORMAL is without a doubt the best track on the EP, featuring a lovely intro in the style of Opeth and all round fantastic playing. This track is a companion to FOABP's SENTIMENTAL, featuring the same chorus. The track has a great ebb and flow, but it didn't suit the atmosphere of FOABP, and as such, was replaced by SENTIMENTAL. This feels much less atmospheric and much more song-based than its counterpart, and is a class Porcupine Tree track. The acoustic guitar work is once again lovely on this disc, and plays wonderfully. This track continues in its bitter-sweet fashion, and around halfway through, heavy acoustic guitar and drums break through, opening up a whole new emotion and feel to the track. After this section comes the best part of the song ? A repetition of a great lyric (Wish I was old and a little? Sentimental) and some lovely guitar work yet again. These lyrics transpose the opening lyrics to SENTIMENTAL, which state "I never wanna be old? And I don't want dependence". The centerpiece to a fantastic EP.

CHEATING THE POLYGRAPH is another solid track in the style of Fear of A Blank Planet, featuring a masterful guitar solo and all-round delicious instrumentation. This track is definitely in the same vein as FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET (track), although its still a lovely song on which stands perfectly on its own two feet. Another lovely midsection to a fantastic disc.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Is another great song, this time featuring part of the mid-section to ANESTHETIZE. It opens with a drum repetition, which is somewhat similar to PT's older work on SIGNIFY. This song has a dark atmosphere and some great vocal work. The guitar work on this track is super-melancholic and virtuous, and fits perfectly with the rest of these great tracks. A massive change of pace marks the last two minutes of this song (and disc) and closes with an incredibly dark feeling and genuine emotion.

This disc is a must have for PT fans ? I prefer it to FOABP, on the whole.

Enjoy it! -Joel

Report this review (#230784)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars An outstanding EP!

After the absolute masterpiece "Fear of a Blank Planet", Steve Wilson and his buddies released this short EP with only 4 tracks... But so full with good music, that it will please the most demanding prog listener!

"Nil Recurring" is for "Fear of a Blank Planet" what "Staircaise Infinities" was for "Up the Downstair"... It's similar in style and sound, but it doesn't really fit with the whole album. The orientation of these tracks is more psychedelic, experimental, and it requires more patience from the listener. Nevertheless, it's still very related with the original album. Even a pair of melodies (specially from Anesthetise...) are repeated in "Nil Recurring".

The sound of the EP is also excellent, specially the drums... I have no more adjectives left for Gavin Harrison. What a drummer! The Barbieri's keyboards have also a lot of protagonism, in detriment of Steve Wilson's voice (the EP is motly instrumental...) and guitars.

Conclusion: taking a pair of take offs from "Fair of a Blank Planet", and some new recordings, Porcupine Tree released this very worthy EP, wich is a pefect extension for a great album in a more psychedelic and experimental way, wich also brings to the mind the older band's style, but with the incredible musicianship that the group has gained through the years. A very recommended EP, and totally obligated for fans!

My rating: ****

Report this review (#236354)
Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars An EP or 'mini-album' comprised of outtakes from the sessions for stunning 2007 studio album 'Fear Of A Blank Planet', Nil Recurring is a fine disc in its own right. These four songs are so good, you'll be wondering why the heck they were left off the FOABP album proper. They would have fit on the disc. The general vibe of the album, and some of the lyrical and musical ideas, are the same as FOABP.

Porcupine Tree fans are very lucky in that the band leader, main songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Steven Wilson is a very prolific artist. He writes so many songs, it is sometimes hard to keep up with his output. As a result, PT release a disc every couple of years or so. A fan only usually has to wait up to two years for new material. And it is always of high quality. It reminds me of when bands like the Beatles or Led Zep would release a new album each year, all of high quality for a disc produced on such short notice. SW contends that if you're really into your music, it does not take three years to make a disc, it takes a few months.

The EP kicks off with the killer instrumental, and titular track, 'Nil Recurring'. It's a seriously prog-inflected and heavy piece, reminiscent of King Crimson. Indeed, Crimson's Robert Fripp returns as a guest on this track (he cameoed on FOABP too). Awesome piece of music. Drummer Gavin Harrison is on fire on this track. He's one of the best drummers of this generation, in my opinion. Things just get better and better from there.

'Normal' is one of the best, and most emotional, PT songs ever written, if I do say so myself. Utilising the same chorus as 'Blank Planet's' 'Sentimental', it's like a more cynical and mature sibling of that song. How they have managed to take the same musical idea, and make an entirely different song out of it is beyond me. Steve Wilson really is a genius songwriter. 'Cheating The Polygraph' could possibly be even better. What a great song. It's melodic, heartfelt, yearning, and crushingly heavy all at once. Continuing with the Fear Of A Blank Planet analogy, its like 'Anesthetise's heavier cousin. All on the band members are on top form here. Wilson's voice is at its absolute best on this track. 'What Happens Now?', the final piece, takes us into somewhat psychedelic, meditative territory. There are some seriously inventive and groovy rhythms on this song. These guys are extremely tight musicians who manage to demonstrate their technical abilities whilst also writing superb songs. They always put songcraft first, and don't show off too much.

One of the most unique things about PT which makes them stand out, is how they merge melodic balladry with moments of unbelievable heaviness. What makes it all work is that the heavy metal moments are couched in the centre of such dazzling beauty. The heavy parts are nearly always unexpected, and yet they always feel like they maintain the mood of the song, and don't ruin it. What's more, when the Tree want to, they can play tech metal better than most straight up metal groups can. Buy this. Seriously. It is a good companion piece to the Fear of A Blank Planet album, and it's a taste of what was to come on this year's brand new (and excellent) album 'The Incident'. Some fans and critics were put off by the length (or lack of it). Well, I would rather have 28 minutes of high quality material by one of the most consistent bands in modern rock than 60 minutes of mindless commercialised sugarcoated pablum.

Report this review (#244571)
Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nil Recurring is an EP release by UK progressive rock act Porcupine Tree. The four songs on the EP were written and recorded during the same sessions as the songs that ended up on the Fear of a Blank Planet (2007) album ( some parts were finished a bit later though). The band didn´t feel that the songs would fit on the album but they also felt that the four songs on the EP were too good not to released.

The 28 minute playing time means that there is lots of quantity for the money and after listening to Nil Recurring the conclusion is that there is lots of quality as well. All four songs could easily have fit on Fear of a Blank Planet IMO. High quality songs in the typical alternative rock/ psychadelic rock/ progressive rock ( and slightly metal) style of latter day Porcupine Tree. The title track is a great instrumental while the three other songs have vocals. All very high quality tracks.

The production is naturally similar to the production on Fear of a Blank Planet which means that it´s a bit more organic than the production on the last couple of albums.

If you enjoy In absentia (2002), Deadwing (2005) and Fear of a Blank Planet , this EP is mandatory listening IMO. A 4 star rating is well deserved.

Report this review (#250889)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is basically the left over's from Fear Of A Blank Planet, with some earlier versions of the songs, but to be honest, some of these songs could have been put on the album.

Keeping the similar sound, these songs are alot more experimental and maybe a wee bit improvised, but what's Porcupine Tree without a wee bit of weird?

1. Nil Recurring - Robert Fripp? On guitar. Ok, that makes sense. This instrumental is pretty odd, but enjoyable. Maybe a new King Crimson album could be made while Robert is on the loose.

2. Normal - I prefer this to Sentimental. The end chorus wasn't even in Sentimental...and it has the title of the song in it. In my head, this is in the album.

3. Cheating The Polygraph - You could have easily slip this is in. Very underlooked and a great song. Hopefully they won't forget this song.

4. What Happens Now? - A wee bit overdrawn, but to be honest, what isn't. Again, could have easily been slid onto the album.

CONCLUSION: Not essentilal, but should be bought nontheless. A bit short as well, but they are leftovers.

Report this review (#276602)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nil Recurring is a nice EP follow-up to the full length release Fear Of A Blank Planet. The big question is whether it should have been released as a stand alone release?

I definitely think so because although the 50 minute studio album can be considered short it could keep my attention for the entire duration of its running time. By this I mean that there wasn't really much need to add another couple of tracks to the mix. This short EP was originally only obtainable through the band's online store and concert performances but eventually received a broader release. It was definitely a welcoming addition for the increasing fanbase.

The EP's title track features a second collaboration with King Crimson member Robert Fripp who adds his surprisingly unrecognizable guitar touches to the performance. For everyone who is already familiar with the preceding album will recognize Normal as a different much longer take of Sentimental.

The only performance that I don't care much for comes in the form of the composition titled Cheating The Polygraph. Surprisingly enough this track was the closest to be actually released as a part of the full length album since it was performed as a part of the set during the early performances of the complete yet untitled new album that the band unveiled to their fans in 2006. Later this composition was removed in favor of the Robert Fripp collaboration Way Out Of Here.

The band have officially stated that these performances didn't make it to the full length album due to their inferiority to the rest of the material and because of the proposed 50 minute play time restraint. Personally I don't consider it to be the case and consider these tracks just as great as most of what Fear Of A Blank Planet has to offer.

**** star songs: Nil Recurring (6:08) Normal (7:09) What Happens Now? (8:23)

*** star songs: Cheating The Polygraph (7:10)

Report this review (#277903)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The release of FoaBP was soon followed by an EP with recordings from the same sessions. With 28 minutes it's a decent length EP that unfortunately has been priced as a full length CD. I wouldn't blame the band for this, but it sure strikes me as an inappropriate attempt to cash in on the success of the main album.

Now, on to the music. Nil Recurring is a co-operation with Robert Fripp. It is slightly more jazzy and experimental then the normal PT song and many parts of it wouldn't have been out of place on recent King Crimson or ProjecKt releases. Fripp adds a frenzied attack of dissonant noise at the end of the track. Amazing piece of music. 5 stars

Normal is an extended version of Sentimental from FoaBP. The alternative arrangement of that track sounds awfully awkward. The heavy guitars don't fit, the drum beat is rather bland and the string arrangement out of place. The stripped-down version that ended up on FoaBP is much better. The second half is new material but not very inspired. 2 stars.

After this dip, we're in for a treat. Both Cheating The Polygraph and What Happens Now? should have featured on the main album and would have worked much better for me then Way Out Of Here and Sleep Together, which lacked a bit of edge on the studio album. Cheating The Polygraph is a typical modern PT track, with atmospheric dreamy verses, a heavy chorus and rousing instrumental parts. 4 stars.

What Happens Now? is the magnum opus of this EP. Really, I don't know any band in rock history that has such quality material as a mere 'leftover' from the studio albums. This one track is better then some other band's entire albums. 5 stars.

If this EP proves one thing it is that PT were at the creative highpoint of their heavy style in 2007. Except for Normal, nothing is inferior to FoaBP. Some of it works even better for me. It rates as excellent for me and won't disappoint any FoaBP fan. This is just an EP though, so I'll opt for the 3 stars.

Report this review (#285301)
Posted Sunday, June 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Interesting tracks here in Nil Recurring. All of these are songs that eventually got rejected for the "Fear Of A Blank Planet" album, even though some of them do appear in the vinyl release of the album. These songs are also some big hits at concerts, and the band plays them all the time ( see the Anesthetize DVD).

The EP starts with the title track, "Nil Recurring", which is my least favorite. It's an instrumental with many heavy moments but nothing else. I just never got into it. "Normal" is a little better even though it's not as powerful and appealing as "Sentimental", which is very similar to this one. "Cheating The Polygraph" is for me a great song, possibly the best off this EP. It has some catchy and heavy moments alternated with mellow keyboard driven ones, with a great performance by Gavin Harrison, one of my favorite drummers. "What Happens Now?" is another great song, the second best one of the EP. Even this song hs some heavy moments and mellow ones, and it has a similar structure to the previous track.

As a conclusion, I must say it isn't bad for an EP, definitely an excellent addiction to anyone who loves this band.

Report this review (#287415)
Posted Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is no rehearsal

Porcupine Tree do not do sub-standard material. If a song or songs are left off an album, it is probably because the band feel they do not fit in rather than because of any quality issues. So it was with these tracks which were written during the sessions for the "Fear of a blank planet" album. While space could probably have been found on that album for one or more of the four tracks on this EP, it is fair to assume that in the band's view they simply did not work in the context of that album as whole.

"Nil returning" may be a 29 minute set, but it is generally regarded with much the same reverence as a full Porcupine Tree album. It was released in the same year as "Fear of a blank planet", the album coming first. The EP title was coined by Steve Wilson as a light hearted paradox.

The title track, which opens the set, is a 6 minute instrumental which takes us back to the early space rock days of the band, around the time of "Voyage 34" or "The sky moved sideways", but altogether heavier. Robert Fripp makes a guest appearance as a second lead guitarist on the track. "Normal" alternates light acoustic sounds and soft vocals with louder passages. The mellotron like backing offers a nicely retro feel, while emphasising the strong melody on which the song is based.

"Cheating the Polygraph", which was included on LP versions of "Fear of a blank planet", is the most complex track of the set. The EP concludes with "What Happens Now?", probably the lightest of the four tracks. It features electric violin played by Ben Coleman, who had previously associated with Wilson in NoMan. The closing chiming guitar section is reminiscent of the Beatles "Abbey road" album. This is also the longest of the songs here, running to around 8½ minutes.

"Nil returning" is a fine if all too brief bonus release, complementing the "Fear of a blank planet" album which precedes it. It is clear throughout this EP that as much effort has gone into these songs as would go into any full album by the band.

Report this review (#442268)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Your good old-fashioned re-runs

Porcupine Tree is widely known as one of the more influential modern progressive acts, starting as a humble psychedelic side project and progressing (ha) into a mature, full blown pretentious progressive band. Fostering a style little would have called heavy prog or metal when they started until the arrival of In Absentia in 2002, when the music really got heavy, the band has gone through a variety of musical phases, and this one of heavier, not quite metallic but almost, has sustained them for nearly a decade. This EP, titled Nil Recurring is a short work of songs not included on the band's 2007 album, Fear of a Blank Planet, which was a dark, emotive release, and one can see how these would have both fit and not fit on that album. The band never really releases non-quality material, as one can see even in the B-sides of their album. Overall, the short EP is packed full of Porcupine Tree greatness, and although it seems like a bit of a repeat from what we've seen the past few albums, it certainly still is a blast to experience.

When one looks at FoaBP and then looks at Nil Recurring, one can see both the resemblances and the differences that made this EP separate from the main album. FoaBP is a very mellow, dark, and brooding album, full of ironically angsty tracks and rather interesting lyrics. This EP is full of high energy, somewhat lighter but still quite dark, and less angsty (but still following a similar theme). The music has a jazzier feel than the album, and has some more funky and fast moving lines than the album. Overall, the EP is at many points different than the full length album, but still has the same thematic elements that make it understandable why the songs were not included on the album.

Overall, the EP is a really fantastic display of the band's prowess, whether it be the really thought provoking lyrics on some of the songs, the incredible virtuoso musicianship (mostly from Gavin), and the overall atmosphere crafted by master keysman Richard Barbieri. The EP, although it may seem like much of the same, is really a great release, and is highly recommended to any fan of the band, especially those who liked Fear of a Blank Planet. 4 stars.

Report this review (#457745)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The valuable currency of Porcupine Tree is that over the last two decades they have offered a wide variety of sonic landscapes from which to choose. If your mood lends itself to more introspective music, Up The Downstair might be right for the moment. However if you are in th mood for a bloodletting, this EP with its crashing guitars, Frippisms, and solid rock drumming by Gavin, may just be the right ticket.

It seems many people attempt to take ownership of PT in a sort of smug, "I was there in the beginning and saw their vision and embraced it" sort of way. This can lead to bitter feelings when the band explores different ways of musical expression. It also appears that there may be a backlash to the heavy marketing of the band (read "selling out") that some folks think is anathema to prog rock. Yes, this EP is expensive and aimed at parting you from your hard earned prog dollars, but, for MY money, I love it. This is not an album I put on when I have a dinner date, but it sure is, when, me and the lads are getting ready to go to a hockey game.

Enjoy this spectacular 28 minutes of heavy prog when the mood is right.

4.6 stars

Report this review (#586459)
Posted Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Porcupine Tree's "Nil Recurring" is the companion to "Fear of a Blank Planet", an EP with some outstanding tracks that make the experience of FOABP all the more endearing. It begins with the title track, an instrumental with tons of psychedelic guitar and a pulsating riff. The heavy sound is excellent and it could have done with some vocals I felt. It is nice to know though that Robert Fripp was guesting on the track with his inimitable lead guitar style.

'Normal' has an acoustic intro, then an outburst of metal and finally Wilson's gentle vocals. The melody is similar to previous PT songs, especially 'Sentimental'. It works though as a reminder of that style and is a companion piece to the material on FOABP, perhaps even belongs on that album somewhere. It has a great drum and guitar explosion later, and some multi layered harmonies.

'Cheating the Polygraph' is Wilson in contemplative mood and features the tense metal breaks juxtaposed with dreamy ambient passages. The wah-wah lead break is certainly outstanding and has an emotional edge then it moves to a spacey atmosphere; perhaps the best song on the EP.

'What Happens Now?' is a post rock exploration with dark tones, a nice recurring motif, odd phased vox, and a strange guitar solo. It feels like part of 'Cheating the Polygraph' as it has the same melodic vibe. Perhaps it would have been better as part of one epic that clocked over 15 minutes giving the band a chance to launch into some great improvisations and crescendos. Unfortunately the EP does not have enough space for such things and it ends far too soon. The riff at the ends are taken from FOABP I can tell, but I like the way the guitar riffs blend at the end into a solid brew of complex time sigs.

After this EP I was left with the question of why it was not released as a bonus CD to FOABP but that's the way it is, I guess, and Wilson would have his reasons which hopefully are not purely based on financial gain. He believed it would break the continuity of the album, but as a second CD surely this would have worked okay. This EP came with a whole slab of hype at the time, people raving it was a masterpiece and that it was brilliant unmissable prog, but of course in retrospect it is nothing of the sort; Wilson has gone on to do so much better especially in his solo career, such as with the masterful "Grace For Drowning". "Nil Recurring" is a decent EP, though of course only a shadow of the quality of FOABP.

Report this review (#846901)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a huge fan of "Fear of a Blank Planet" I was very eager to get my hands on this album, which amounts to a nice companion for the major release. In the end it's a relatively short but engaging collection of songs.

Consisting of four songs developed during the creative phase of FOABP, "Nil Recurring" is not only a fascinating insight into an "alternate" version of the major album, but a damn fine collections of songs to boot. I haven't researched the chronological order of how these songs came about - whether the NR versions came before, after, or alongside those on FOABP, and to be honest I don't care. These versions stand on their own merit. In parts you will hear melodies, choruses and riffs taken straight out of FOABP, but built around these are entirely different arrangements. To me, it's very interesting to hear the tangents that were explored on these songs and the similarities and differences from the songs that were eventually released on FOABP.

Even though you could conclude these were B-sides, they don't sound that way. The production values are terrific, and the arrangements themselves are well thought out. It's not a matter of changing a lyric here, a lead break there, or adding an extra verse. These are new compositions with their own personality. In short, they are great songs, which most bands would be happy to label as their first choice material.

At just under 30 minutes duration, this is not a lengthy release. There might be the argument that it could have been included with FOABP as a bonus. In fact, I usually only listen to "Nil Recurring" as an extension to FOABP at the end of that album. However, there's enough merit in Nil Recurring for me to be satisfied that it justifies a standalone release.

"Nil Recurring" is not necessarily a good starting point for those new to Porcupine Tree, but for established fans it comes highly recommended.


Report this review (#965362)
Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree is synonym of excellency when creating music. This EP could have perfectly been part of the Fear of a Blank Planet album, and maybe to make it a longer album, or double album and without any problems it would have fit without any problems. This EP is the companion to the album and is excellent because none of the songs appears in the album, we just have some little excerpts of 'Sentimental' and 'Anesthetize' in the songs 'Normal" and 'What Happens Now', respetively, but they are completely different to the ones mentioned first. The other two songs are excellent and full of the classic psychedelic and ambient landscapes created by Barbieri and the good guitar riffs of Wilson and Weasley. Perfect EP.
Report this review (#1026737)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

This could very well be my favorite EP of all time, next to "Jar of Flies" by Alice in Chains and "Memories in My Head" at the Riverside. While at first glance the listener can make the mistake of thinking that these four songs are "leftovers" of the masterpiece Fear of a Blank Planet (released a few months before) - and indeed there are moments here that refer to this album as much lyrical and musically - this is a disc worth in itself, and is among some of my favorite records of Porcupine Tree.

The title track is one of the best instrumental band, and features a cameo from master Robert Fripp (which makes a significant contribution here than in Way Out of Here). The music blends the psychedelic vibe of the first album with the metal, aggressive sound of the most recent works, opening this disc with praise. The dynamic here is out of this world: the music grows aggressively to break a middle section full of soundscapes that evolves into new melodies, before returning for their initial theme and heavier than ever quit.

Normal is both lyrical and musically a progression of Sentimental FOABP - see the same refrain. But it is a song in its own right: I especially love the acoustic air this song with Steven Wilson doing a terrific job with the acoustic guitar here and atmospheric keyboards, courtesy of Barbieri (a keyboard that I have learned to admire) . There is only a brief moment in which she reveals more metal-oriented, but he is soon broken by the voice of Wilson: "Wish I was old and a little sentimental, you gotta see the waves, not the wine bottle at the way is now ". The end is almost a different, but still this is a great song that alternates between softer moments and other more aggressive, reflecting an impeccable dynamics.

Cheating the Polygraph music on this disc is the fastest growing on me, and could very well be my favorite here. It is here where I see the talent of these guys, especially the Gavin Harrison, a guy whom I have learned to admire more and more thanks to a dynamic, rich, subtle and heavily soaked jazz style. The live version of this song on Anesthetize reflects what I'm talking about (especially in the latter end of it). Also the poignant Colin Edwin's bass and atmospheric keys of Richard Barbieri (which provides a very psychedelic solo here) are worth mentioning in this song that could very well be one of the best of the group.

What Happens Now is the most atmospheric and progressive music here . Opening with sound effects and a delicious and simple percussion, she has some partially modified Steven sparse vocals. In short , this is a more instrumental music : not endless solos or musical masturbation - after all, this is not the style of Porcupine Tree , who has always been a joint band, where the four members operate in favor of a single musicality . I really love the moment when one of the themes of the epic Anesthetize runs , members conducting the music ( note the mad compass Gavin uses here , and that still comes in perfect sync with the rest of the band ) before it explodes in a grand climax with one of the most amazing solos Steven .

And here we are. Despite its slightly less than 30 minutes Nil Recurring is one of the most impressive records of Porcupine Tree , and owes nothing to the best albums of them . Every song here is an absolute highlight , and even electing Cheating the Polygraph my personal favorite are all the same level . 5 stars.

Report this review (#1166998)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nº 127

"Nil Recurring" is an EP of Porcupine Tree and was released in 2007. This mini-album is composed only of four tracks and was written during the recording sessions of their ninth studio album "Fear Of A Blank Planet" and it was completed over the same year of 2007. Of all the four tracks on it, all were composed for "Fear Of A Blank Planet" album. However, later they were dropped from the final track list. So, these are leftover tracks from that album.

When the group met in 2006 to work on the new material for their new studio album "Fear Of A Blank Planet", at the time, two songs were already written, "My Ashes" and "Normal". Those musical sessions produced all the album's songs except "Way Out Of Here", plus four more songs of which three wouldn't quiet fit the concept. The only track that the group thought that could make the way into the album at that moment was "Cheating The Polygraph".

However, later the band decided that none of the four songs were up to the standards needed to the album. As they weren't properly developed yet, and there was a policy not to make the album with more than fifty minutes long, they weren't included. So, the four tracks were mixed to make the "Nil Recurring" EP. "Normal" was entirely composed by Steven Wilson. Later he reworked it, simplifying its musical structure to transform it, into the song "Sentimental".

The line up on the album is Steven Wilson (vocals, guitars, piano and keyboards), Richard Barbieri (keyboards and synthesizers), Colin Edwin (bass guitars) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion and tapped guitar). This mini-album has also the participation of Robert Fripp (lead guitar) and Ben Coleman (electric violin).

"Nil Recurring" has four tracks. The first track is the title track "Nil Recurring" which was written by the four band members. This is an instrumental track, quite heavier, so don't expect the return to the days of "Stupid Dream" or "Lightbulb Sun". As Porcupine Tree thought, I also think that this is a track which wouldn't really fit in "Fear Of A Blank Planet". This is a more experimental track that has more in common with some of the work of Fripp, whose his trademark's sound is present on it. This is the most original song on the album, seemingly using no material from "Fear Of A Blank Planet". The second track "Normal" which was written by Wilson could fit easily on "Fear Of A Blank Planet". This is in reality a reworked version of "Sentimental". However, don't expect this is the same song because basically only the chorus is copied. While "Sentimental" is an emotional ballad, this energetic rendition is a lot more adventurous with an acoustic riff intro and a heavy middle section before moving into a closing section with acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. The acoustic guitar performance on this song reminds me the style of Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. I must need to say this is a wonderful song and I probably prefer the structure and production of this new version. The third track "Cheating The Polygraph" which was written by Wilson and Harrison is a more experimental song. Although, it opens in a relatively conventional way, with strident power chorus, a marching drums beat and Wilson's vocals. However, the song soon veers into a more avant-garde musical territory with sparse electric piano, some atmospheric sound escapes and crunchy riffs. It was one of the songs that was originally part of "Fear Of A Blank Planet", and the group played it live during the Arriving Somewhere 2006 tour. It eventually was replaced by "Way Out Of Here". The fourth track "What Happens Now?" which was written by the four band members has some of the lyrics from "My Ashes". It's another different song, more of a slow burner that builds up to a splitter and distortion effects. It starts with some native rhythms and dark moody synthesizers. Slowly it builds in tension and finally all the band kicks in. The last five minutes are instrumental, including an electric violin solo. The song continues to be building with guitars and bass lines to a heavy climax guitar, in the end. It finishes these set of songs in a very competent way.

Conclusion: All in all, this EP makes an essential addition to any Porcupine Tree fan's collection. Especially because it represents an essential addition to their album "Fear Of A Blank Planet". But, this is not merely a collection of inferior songs. These songs stand up in quality and can easily match the material on any of the band's albums. For reasons of style and concept and in order to keep the length of that album bellow one hour, Steve has decided not to include them. The overall mix of the EP is a little rawer with a less polished sound than is usual on any Porcupine Tree's recent full lengths. The EP differs from "Fear Of A Blank Planet" in a few ways. It's less claustrophobic with some songs moving more toward jam sessions and flowing a lot better. The constraint put on songs like "Sentimental" isn't found here at all. Because all the songs are reasonably long, they seem to have less emphasis on conventional rock structure than on "Fear Of A Blank Planet", and this allows for a more varied feel to the EP. If you are a fan of Porcupine Tree's music you will find "Nil Recurring" a worthwhile addition to the collection of a band that is constantly experimenting new things.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1741553)
Posted Friday, July 7, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Porcupine Tree's sixth and final EP, Nil Recurring, was certainly a pleasant gift for many fans as it came out just a few months after the release of their fantastic album Fear of a Blank Planet in 2007. The EP featured four leftovers the band had piled up from the album's recording sessions as the group felt they would just bloat the record, resulting in Fear of a Blank Planet having a lot less fat on it than their previous albums. Ultimately, I would say it was a good thing these came out here rather than on the album itself, as this EP tends to be a bit of a mixed bag overall.

The EP begins with the title track, an instrumental piece featuring Robert Fripp. It's a pretty nice track, featuring the band's characteristic 2000s era heaviness with a few more psychedelic passages sprinkled in. However, unlike Fripp's feature in Fear of a Blank Planet, he brings a bit more to the table here as he actually sounds like Robert Fripp at times, especially towards the end of the track. Something that I could really appreciate, as if you are gonna bring someone on to feature on a track, it would be nice for them to actually bring something interesting to the party.

Then comes the second track on the album, Normal. This is the weakest track on the album, as it is just an early, bloated version of the track Sentimental. Nothing that happens here is really all that interesting. It also features some of Wilson's weakest vocal work that I have heard so far. Sure, Wilson has never been the most dynamic or compelling vocalist ever, but he usually does a much better job than he does here. Here he just sounds flat, like he is not really giving it his all, this is particularly noticeable in the "Sullen and bored the kids stay" section of the song as his vocals and harmonies here are just so hollow sounding. Really this track just makes me appreciate the Sentimental we got on the album a lot more, as it expresses the ideas found here much better with a shorter run time.

Next up to bat is Cheating the Polygraph, away from the dull Normal and back to heavy goodness. This is pretty standard Porcupine Tree fare, a moderate length track with plenty of heaviness and a bit of a quieter break about 2/3rds of the way in featuring keyboard and effects work. Really nothing all that special here, but it is still a solid track nonetheless, not much for me to say here.

Of course, the group saves the best for last with the track What Happens Now? It is not a very heavy track, instead the heaviness takes a backseat to the more electronic sounds and psychedelic effects throughout the track. It feels somewhat like a throwback to Wilson's earlier work with the group, and overall it is a pretty nice track. Probably the only track on this EP that I could legitimately see myself coming back and listening to casually.

Nil Recurring all-around is hardly anything spectacular, but being a collection of leftovers, that was probably not what the group was shooting for with this release. Sure there are interesting moments, but it is not really hard to see why most of this material didn't make the cut. I would give this anywhere between a two or three, but I feel like overall it is good enough to earn a three. Though it should be noted that if you are interested in listening to these tracks, there are plenty of newer editions of Fear of a Blank Planet that feature these tracks along with the regular track listing, so if you want to listen to these tracks that would probably be your best route rather than buying an individual EP just for these tracks. Unless you are a collector or already have it, there is not really much point in buying this release on its own anymore.

Report this review (#2118906)
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
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!

Report this review (#2773222)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2022 | Review Permalink
3 stars In the second half of 2007, Porcupine Tree released the Nil Recurring EP, featuring four songs recorded during the Fear of a Blank Planet sessions. As with many Porcupine Tree releases, the title track opens this release. Robert Fripp plays lead guitar here, and drummer Gavin Harrison contributes some guitar as well. It's an interesting instrumental, but I can see why it was excluded from the album. "Nil Recurring" stands fine on its own, but there's no obvious spot for it on the album. "Normal" is a gloomy, mostly-acoustic piece with a chorus which is a further development of "Sentimental" which fails to otherwise stand out. "Cheating the Polygraph" shares significant DNA with "Nil Recurring" and "Fear of a Blank Planet": it's heavy, weird, and thoroughly engaging. "What Happens Now?", meanwhile, directly quotes a riff from "Anesthetize" and features some electric violin, but it ultimately fails to do much for me. The last two or three minutes are dramatic, but it takes way too long to get going.

Review originally posted here:

Report this review (#2903286)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nil Recurring is a fairly simple EP to review in some respects. Did you like Fear of a Blank Planet? Would you like more Porcupine Tree in that particular vein, consisting of a brace of songs (some devised in those sessions, some only coming together afterwards)? Does the idea of Robert Fripp paying a visit to lend his guitar and some blessing to a band as important to progressive rock in the 2000s as King Crimson was in their heyday appeal to you? Then you probably already have listened to Nil Recurring - but if you haven't, don't snooze on it, because whilst some secondary Porcupine Tree releases are a little ancillary (Metanoia, for instance, is an acquired taste), Nil Recurring is of much the same standard as the album that preceded it.

Or do you think Fear of a Blank Planet was rubbish? I don't agree with you... but Nil Recurring won't persuade you to like this phase of Porcupine Tree any more than you already do.

Report this review (#2954647)
Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Review Permalink
Hector Enrique
4 stars In the last third of 2007, Porcupine Tree released "Neil Recurring", an EP that could well have been included as a bonus album on the excellent "Fear of a Blank Planet", released less than half a year earlier. Far from being a collection of discards or extended sessions, "Neil Recurring", while maintaining the hardships of the tormented teenager "Robby" as its thematic axis, takes on a life of its own with four very good pieces that in several passages come very close to the hardened sound of progressive metal, combined with some reflective brushstrokes of melancholic sadness.

The spacey "Nil Recurring" kicks off the EP with the collaboration of Robert Fripp and his guitars, and imposing his personal stamp on the song with undisguised similarities to the experimental dalliances so typical of King Crimson, continues with the painful "Normal", a rearranged and more complete version of "Sentimental", follows with the powerful "Cheating The Polygraph" and Harrison's mastery of percussion and Colin Edwin's bass to support Wilson's infectious solos and guitar riffs and Richard Barbieri's intriguing electronic sounds, and concludes with the full band in a state of electronic hypnosis that becomes dramatic as the unfolding of "What Happens Now? "grows in intensity and yields its final stretch to a suffocating, schizoid guitar solo from Wilson, suggesting a desperate and fatal denouement.

"Nil Recurring" is a soaring EP, complementing "Fear of a Blank Planet", and is probably one of the band's best in that format.

Very good.

4 stars

Report this review (#2969321)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2023 | Review Permalink

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