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Porcupine Tree

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Porcupine Tree Futile album cover
3.48 | 164 ratings | 16 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Collapse (1:39)
2. Drown with Me (5:22)
3. Orchidia (3:19)
4. Futile (6:04)
5. Hatesong (live *) (8:32)
6. Chloroform (7:15)

Total Time 32:11

* Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA on 26th July 2002.

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven Wilson / guitar, vocals
- Richard Barbieri / keyboards, electronics
- Colin Edwin / bass
- Gavin Harrison / drums

Releases information

Download only mini album rounding up non-album tracks recorded during the "In Absentia" era.
Three tracks (#2,3 & 4) were previously issued on the promo only CD, and two on the limited Europe only 2CD edition of "In Absentia". The short opening track was originally intended to open that album, and is previously unissued.

Artwork: Carl Glover

Digital album -

(Partially issued in 2003, as a promo CD - not commercially available - by Lava Records)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PORCUPINE TREE Futile ratings distribution

(164 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PORCUPINE TREE Futile reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars In Absentia has 253 ratings to date but this one has only 12. Rather odd as this one has some excellent supplemental stuff to that album. There's currently a pay to download version available with a different track listing than what's listed on this site:

collapse (1.39) drown with me (5.22) orchidia (3.19) futile (6.04) hatesong - live in philadelphia (8.32) chloroform (7.15)

It comes with PDF art so you can make your own CD booklet. Four of these tracks are completely new. Collapse is an alternate version of the regular album track. I find the rest as enjoyable as the main album. You can basically extend your In Absentia by about 21 more minutes, cool!

I do hope they continue the trend making bonus tracks available for pay download and I wouldn't complain if it was free. I bought a special edition, DVD audio, of Deadwing just to get the three bonus tracks.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Although this EP holds well its name ("Futile"), there are several worthy tracks on here.

Some unreleased ones as "Orchia" and "Futile" which are to be considered almost as prog-metal tracks. But remember that "PT" toured with "Opeth"...these days. There are definite influences (but it works vice-versa since "Damnation" was also released in 2003 and it will be the most true prog "Opeth" album). But these two songs are not truely great to say the least.

For those of you who purchased "Absentia", there will be one bonus track featured on their "Special European Version" (a bad habit of "PT" to release this sort of album, as if they couldn't release onesame version worldwide) which is featured on this EP. It is the excellent "Drown With Me". One of the best song here: truely melancholic and catchy. A really good soft-rock instant. "PT" should have made this great song available on the original version. Shame on you "PT"!

The band will often re-release a "special" version of an existing album a short time after the initial release. I can understand that an "old" band does this type of remastered version (from vinyl to remastered CD with bonus tracks for instance), but "PT" really exaggerate and is too much fooling the fan. I don't like this attitude.

There will be a long interview from Steve Wilson in which he is confirming his discovery of a "new metal scene" from which "Opeth" is one of the most interesting one. He will also confirms his appreciation for some death / doom metal bands. And he tells us how much his latest work has been influenced by these genres. Some info as well about his songwriting (mostly about "In Absentia").

To close this album, we'll get a good live version of "Hatesong" and an "Opeth" one as well : "Death Whispered A Lullaby" featured on the album "Damnation" and co-written by Wilson. A very good song from this excellent album (one of my fave "Opeth" one).

This EP is definitely more than just a fan curiosity. Three stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars Entry number 19 (!) in the long list of Porcupine Tree collectables, "Futile" brings a few interesting musical gems to table which will doubtless please fans of the peerless "In Absentia", but will definitely not be the one you'll be reaching for when a PT mood strikes.

Concerning the new music, "Orchidia" and "Drown With Me" are quite good, fitting right into the style of "In Absentia" with menacing sound effects and heavy guitar; the live version of "Hatesong" is excellent as well, featuring a savage guitar solo. The track "Futile" is the weak link, offering nothing especially noteworthy compared to the other new tracks. And that's about it. A can't give so limited a disk much more than a "for the fans" rating-- but I am sure fans will still enjoy. I did.

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

Review by russellk
2 stars An EP of PORCUPINE TREE's high quality, but perhaps suffering from poor song selection.

There are three new songs here (though one has been issued as a bonus track from 'In Absentia'. 'Orchidia' is a pleasant enough rock instrumental, and 'Futile' is a superb track, a composition deserving of inclusion on 'In Absentia' proper. 'Drown With Me' is an odd juxtaposition of upbeat music and maudlin lyrics. Of the other nine tracks, one is an interesting interview and another a station id. That leaves two live tracks, always a mixed blessing at best, an edited version of 'Strip the Soul' that feels tantamount to sacrilege - so good is the album version - and, oddly, an OPETH track, tangible evidence of the friendship between STEVEN WILSON and MICHAEL AKERFELDT.

So, one outstanding track - the title track - and a selection of curios. As other reviewers have noted, the 'In Absentia' sessions created a great deal of other unreleased material which might better have been placed here. The appearance of 'Out Absentia', a non-sanctioned release, shows there was a demand for supplementary material. It's out (or in) there, but is relatively hard to find. This release, while welcome, goes only part of the way. The downloadable version is superior.

Review by ProgBagel
2 stars Porcupine Tree - Futile EP 2.5 stars

This is not a sufficient EP compared to some of the others.

In a nutshell, this EP has two outstanding tracks, 'Futile' and 'Drown with Me'. 'Orchidia' is the only other new track that is a full on prog-metal track, but it is ok at best. Other than that, there is nothing new on this EP.

An edited version of 'Strip the Soul' does not make it any better, the song was just not a good one at all. The live track of 'Hatesong' is so similar to the original that there is really no reason to have it. I would like to say that after hearing a live version of 'Tinto Brass' on the Stupid Dream EP's really made them worth hearing.but not this one, nothing starkly contrast. Another good pointer is the Steven Wilson interview.but to me that is just a fan thing. There are many interesting things to find out during the interview like who has influenced his metal side. I already knew about Opeth, but didn't really think he was a Meshuggah fan. The biggest surprise was definitely Morbid Angel and Dillinger Escape Plan.they came out of nowhere. 'Blackest Eyes' was another live track put on there which wasn't any standout either. An Opeth track is also included in this EP, one that Steven has co-written titled 'Death Whispered a Lullaby'. Since this is not a Porcupine Tree shouldn't really be taken into consideration for my rating. As a big fan of Opeth as I am.I don't think it is that good of a track.

This is a great collector's item, but it halts there. I wouldn't recommend this to someone that wasn't a really big PT fan.

Review by LiquidEternity
5 stars I am thoroughly impressed with this EP. I was quite wary of the format, being in a download only style, and I prefer to own physical copies of the albums. However, as I looked at it, I decided that five Porcupine Tree songs I had never heard might be worth it. And it certainly was.

Collapse is the only disappointment I had, with it being merely a different version of In Absentia's Collapse the Light into the Earth, but it still is a very good track. It gives this EP a nice intro, and a haunting sense that will remain throughout the CD length.

Drown with Me is a stunning song with nice harmonies and vocal layers, filled with glistening acoustic guitars. This is a fairly unique Porcupine Tree song, at least to my mind, though it certainly could have fit very well on In Absentia.

Orchidia is a neat little instrumental piece somewhat in the vein of Wedding Nails (also off In Absentia) with chilling guitar chord work and great drumming from Gavin. The guitar soloing throughout is quite tasty.

Futile is one of the heaviest pieces the band composed, ranking up there with Strip the Soul and Deadwing. The halting guitar riff is definitive Steven Wilson, and it really works in this context. The chorus is nice and distorted. At one point, even, the music drops off and the guitar kicks in all sick like, and there honestly is no point in Porcupine Tree's musical history where a death growl could have been more appropriate (and I do not really like death growls, but it certainly would have fit here, and been pretty neat).

Hatesong is Hatesong, only in this context, live. It's played well, but there is not much that needs to be said about it that is not said about the original version of Hatesong.

Chloroform is a quirky closer, driven by a tom-heavy drum bit throughout and a dark ambiance underneath. Very creepy in terms of mood, with haunting vocals sitting over the top. Another great, great track that probably would have improved In Absentia.

In short, if you like anything from Porcupine Tree from Stupid Dream on, this is a great album to go for. Especially if you really like In Absentia.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I have to thank Martijn (evenless) who not only sent me this EP, but downloaded the artwork that came with it. This is an EP that is as good as it is rare, in fact it's probably the best EP i've heard from PORCUPINE TREE so far. I think part of the reason I like it so much is the fact that these non-album songs were recorded during the "In Absentia" era, my favourite PT record.

"Collapse" is a short intro track that was originally to be the opening song on the "In Absentia" album. Piano and reserved processed vocals create a melancholic mood. "Drown With Me" is my favourite tune on here. Strummed guitar opens the song,soon to be joined by synths, drums then vocals before a minute.The bass makes some noise and electric guitar comes in before 1 1/2 minutes. Just an awesome sound ! The guitar takes the lead briefly before 3 minutes, then we get some harmonies before the guitar returns a minute later. "Orchidia" is a heavy instrumental that opens with riffs.The guitar comes blazing in as riffs come and go. Check out the wah wah guitar after 1 1/2 minutes. Harrison is amazing on the drums.Themes are repeated.

"Futile" opens with heavy and fairly slow riffs as drums pound. It settles a minute in as vocals arrive. Aggressive vocals and sound before 2 minutes. The contrasts continues. Piano before 4 minutes as some sinister bass comes in before 4 1/2 minutes. "Hatesong" is a live version recorded in Philadelphia in 2002. Love the deep bass to open and the synths that come and go, especially 3 minutes in just before Steven sings yeah, yeah, yeah... The guitar is wound out after 4 minutes, and we get more great synth work from Richard before 5 minutes. Classic PT. Scorching guitar 7 1/2 minutes to the end. Incredible version of this song. "Chloroform" opens with drums as bass and synths come in early. Vocals follow and are very mellow. A fuller sound before 2 minutes with organ.This contrast continues. Blistering guitar after 3 1/2 minutes. Keys 5 minutes in with lots of atmosphere and it ends as it began.

For me nothing less then 4 stars will do. A valued recording.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In all honesty, I do not find In Absentia, one of Porcupine Tree's most celebrated albums, to be progressive rock. It is, however, an excellent album of mostly heavy pop songs, most of which appeal to me. This EP contains a few tracks that did not make the album (but probably should have), as well as some bonus goodies. What I don't really understand is why there are three different versions of this downloadable EP. Sometimes I question the judgment of whoever decides what tracks go on the main album and which ones get relegated to bonus material or a separate EP (some of the material here would be have been much better suited for the main album than say, "Wedding Nails" or ".3"). The "Strip the Soul" edit is decent abridged version of the track from In Absentia. "Orchida" is a nasty spider of an instrumental, at once jumpy and menacing, and it manages to simultaneously highlight the guitar and the drums throughout. "Futile" retains the edge, but involves acoustic guitar and Steven Wilson's lazy singing during the verse, while straddling the fence of metal with heavy guitar and even distorted vocals. "Drown With Me" is brilliant. It possesses that acoustic strumming vibe featured on "Trains," but keeps things upbeat with a clean electric guitar filling out the sound and a fulfilling vocal melody. The live version of "Hatesong" is excellent, and features some great guitar jamming, but the rendition of "Blackest Eyes" is a bit hollow sounding, and due to the nature of the overlapping lyrics, words in the refrain get cut off (the proper use of background singers could have eliminated this issue). It's tempting to think that, because the two bands were touring together, Opeth rubbed off on Porcupine Tree and vice versa (making the former softer and the latter heavier, since Damnation came out about the same time as In Absentia)- that makes sense I suppose. At the time of this writing, I've only heard Opeth on Internet radio, and mostly I've enjoyed what I've heard. Everyone keeps telling me to pick up Damnation, and I still mean to, but now it is high priority after hearing "Death Whispered a Lullaby," because quite frankly, this song overshadows pretty much everything on this Porcupine Tree release (of course, Wilson did co-write the song). Finally, "Chloroform" is a subdued piece with gentle percussion and a laidback riff on fretless bass.
Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars 3.5 stars really!

A nice EP with a really good collection of songs, such as the title track, "Drown With Me", "Orchidia". All of these songs in my opinion should have included into one of their studio albums. We also have a really interesting interview with Steven Wilson, where he talks about his previous album at the time, "In Absentia", and about the band's changes stylistically speaking and about Wilson's new musical influences. We also have a couple of live songs, a great Opeth song taken from the album "Damnation". Oh, forgot about the radio edit of "Strip The Soul", but it isn't really as good as the original version; this new version in fact is shorter and it cuts off my favorite parts.

If you really like Porcupine Tree, then you should give this EP a try!

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Futile' - Porcupine Tree (4/10)

As a collectible item first and foremost, the mere fact that this is an official Porcupine Tree release should have the band's more hardcore fans already salivating. As a product itself, it is certainly non-essential and won't be a staple for anyone's music player, but a handful of interesting tracks make 'Futile' worth checking out once or twice, at the very least.

Reviewing the downloadable EP version of the release, there is certainly a wealthier dose of material to dig into on the physical material than what I am listening to. This particular version of 'Futile' opens with a very nostalgic rendering of 'Collapse The Light Into Earth,' cutting the original track down to a minute, changing lyrics and putting a 'tin can' effect on it for the added change.

Other tracks here will likely have been heard by Porcupine Tree fans before, in one way or another. 'Drown With Me' is a more popular track of the band. Followed from that are a couple of other tracks that lend a much heavier, grungier tone. Throw in a live edition of 'Hatesong' (a track I never really cared for in the first place) and you have 'Futile EP.'

A relatively unmemorable release, but there's enough here to be worth checking out a couple of times.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A great companion E.P. to "In Absentia" as it contains a variety of material from those sessions. This review is based on the digital version of this release. The other "hard copy" version contains another live track, and interview with Steven Wilson, an Opeth track from their "Damnation" album which SW helped co-write and produce and contributed to some of the instrumentals, and a promo ID from SW. This downloadable album makes more sense since it is more available than the original E.P. and is more consistent since it contains only music from PT.

It starts out with "Collapse" which is a very shortened alternative version of "Collapse the Light into Earth" from the original album. I love the original song and this acts as more of a intro to the E.P. and give you an idea of how the entire song sounds. It serves the purpose of being a great opener and only lasts a minute and a half. This was originally supposed to open the "In Abesentia" album, but was left off probably because of repetition, so it is used as an introduction to this E.P. From there, we go into the MOR song called "Drown With Me" which is also available on the European edition of IA as a bonus track. This one is very accessible and has a nice hook with a great chorus full of the signature PT harmonics. Following this is a hard edged instrumental called "Orchidia" which sounds more upbeat and even in it's current underdeveloped state, still is an excellent track. The title track of the E.P. is next and is also a harder edged PT song this time with vocals. Any of these outtakes would have fit quite well upon the original album, but who is to complain when you can add these extra songs yourself to an already excellent album.

The following track is a live version of the excellent epic song "Hatesong" performed in Philadelphia on July 26, 2002. This is a definite hard and heavy song in a live atmosphere and is one of the excellent highlights of the original album. The song transfers well to a live format, and you can hear some differences in the vocal harmonics and a slightly heavier sound with some pronounced keyboards in certain passages and also features an extended guitar solo. This gives a slightly more developed sound to the song, which remains amazing. The last track is another great outtake that isn't available on the hard copy of the E.P. or anywhere else before this called "Chloroform" which is a very moody mid-tempo song with an accentuated bass line, some amazing vocals from Steven Wilson and later develops into a hard instrumental break with an excellent guitar solo. This one lasts over 7 minutes, so you know it's worth getting the downloaded copy over the hard copy (which is actually just a promotional release which explains the strange addtions of the interview and the Opeth song).

Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson fans owe it to themselves to get this as it is one of their best E,P.s and it is worth the money to get the extra additions to one of the most loved albums in the PT discography. I can't call it essential because it really belongs together with the "In Absentia" album, but it is definitely excellent even at the 32 minute run-time. Excellent companion to the IA album by all means. 4 stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Futile is the best EP from Porcupine Tree, as far as I'm concerned. Many of the songs would have fit nicely onto In Absentia. I received the download from Burning Shed, so I will review that version of the EP. Collapse is the sparser arrangement of Collapse Light Into Earth from In Absentia, ... (read more)

Report this review (#912622) | Posted by wehpanzer | Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars this ep by porcupine tree is very heavy like prog metel, I would compare fuitel to a tool song the druming is outstanding and I've never hired pt get this hard. My favorite song on this album is ''drown with me'' it is a leftover from in absentia the song has stevens 3 part harmanys and is jus ... (read more)

Report this review (#45734) | Posted by | Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's almost crazy, me putting "4 stars: Excellent addition to any prog music collection" for a short (new tracks wise) EP by Porcupine Tree. In my opinion "Futile" EP beats out many 2003 albums, even though there's not much NEW to it, song wise. I found this EP very interesting and worthwhile. ... (read more)

Report this review (#38626) | Posted by The Ryan | Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not very new things from Porcupine tree on this release, but what is new is just great. I could finally hear Orchidia, and it's true that now PT goes to a different direction, more Prog Metal, more Opeth-Tool like, but with the Psychedelic greatness of Steven Wilson. Of course, check out the t ... (read more)

Report this review (#19586) | Posted by | Thursday, July 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars More a maxi single than full album. Futile includes two new tracks: the Lightbulb Sun outtake Orchidia and a totaly new title composicion (plus one song from Opeth's last album: "Death Whispered A Lullaby"). The sound on those tracks is more "metalish" than on their previous works and gives us an id ... (read more)

Report this review (#19585) | Posted by silentman | Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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