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PORCUPINE TREE

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Porcupine Tree biography
PORCUPINE TREE are incredibly hard to describe because their music doesn't fit into any one genre. I like the description on the back of the album "Signify" (one of my all time favorites). It says "Porcupine Tree have managed to defy genres and blend together numerous ambient, rock and avant-garde styles to create a musical landscape that is both refreshing and compulsively seductive". The great post-GONG revival which gave birth to OZRIC TENTACLES now brings us PORCUPINE TREE. The hypnotic rhythms, spacy synthesizers, glissando guitar and crazy voices which made the style successful are all contained here.

The band started as a solo project of singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Wilson who, back in the early nineties, released a series of increasingly spaced-out ambient excursions. PT is one of the most innovative bands in prog today combining intense musicianship, unconventional composition and superb studio production. They are unquestionably one of the UK's most inspired and inventive rock groups.

The bands 4th studio album from '96. "Signify" saw Porcupine Tree truly gell as a studio band producing a blend of psychedelia, heavy rock, melancholic pop, kraut rock, and wild experimentation that brought the best out of each band member. Their latest two albums ("Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun") move the band further away from their influences and into their own catagory, by which other bands eventually will be compared. But if you are a fan of progressive, thoughtful, briliantly executed and flawlessly produced music, you will do no better than PT.

PORCUPINE TREE's eighth studio album, "Deadwing", was released in March 2005 by Lava Records / Warner Music. Less rock-oriented than the previous album "In Absentia", "Deadwing" is partially based on a "surreal ghost story" screenplay written by Steven and sometime PORCUPINE TREE / NO-MAN art collaborator Mike Bennion. The 60-minute, nine-track album contains material varying from short airplay-friendly songs such as 'Shallow' to lengthier pieces like the 10-minute-plus 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here'. Most of the music was written by Steven but the album features the largest amount of full-band compositions since "Signify" in 1997. The album also features guest appearances by Adrian Belew (KING CRIMSON) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (OPETH).

In 2007 the band scored it's biggest chart success to date with "Fear Of A Blank Planet". Featuring contributions from Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp...
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AnesthetizeAnesthetize
KSCOPE 2015
Audio CD$11.82
$9.99 (used)
In AbsentiaIn Absentia
Lava 2002
Audio CD$4.63
$4.62 (used)
DeadwingDeadwing
Lava 2005
Audio CD$7.94
$3.90 (used)
Fear Of A Blank PlanetFear Of A Blank Planet
KSCOPE 2012
Audio CD$9.49
$9.53 (used)
Lightbulb SunLightbulb Sun
Import · Special Edition
Snapper UK 2008
Audio CD$10.05
$8.95 (used)
SignifySignify
Special Edition
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$11.25
$9.50 (used)
Up the DownstairUp the Downstair
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$10.47
$7.99 (used)
Incident [Vinyl]Incident [Vinyl]
Import
Tonefloat 2012
Vinyl$31.21
$59.66 (used)
Stupid DreamStupid Dream
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$8.10
$14.53 (used)
Sky Moves SidewaysSky Moves Sideways
Kscope 2009
Audio CD$10.30
$7.10 (used)
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PORCUPINE TREE shows & tickets


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PORCUPINE TREE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PORCUPINE TREE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 669 ratings
On The Sunday Of Life.....
1991
3.91 | 785 ratings
Up The Downstair
1993
4.07 | 1067 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
1995
3.81 | 951 ratings
Signify
1996
3.98 | 1078 ratings
Stupid Dream
1999
4.02 | 1194 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
2000
4.24 | 1986 ratings
In Absentia
2002
4.09 | 1628 ratings
Deadwing
2005
4.23 | 2020 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
2007
3.69 | 1271 ratings
The Incident
2009

PORCUPINE TREE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.45 | 384 ratings
Coma Divine
1997
3.73 | 72 ratings
Spiral Circus Live (LP)
1997
3.67 | 121 ratings
XM
2003
3.75 | 8 ratings
Live in Poland
2003
3.93 | 271 ratings
Warszawa
2004
4.04 | 121 ratings
XMII
2005
4.24 | 145 ratings
Rockpalast
2005
4.47 | 147 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
3.35 | 213 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
2008
3.64 | 106 ratings
Ilosaarirock
2009
4.24 | 167 ratings
Atlanta
2010
3.51 | 161 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

PORCUPINE TREE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.57 | 473 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
4.72 | 467 ratings
Anesthetize
2010
4.25 | 52 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

PORCUPINE TREE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.51 | 96 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
1994
3.21 | 316 ratings
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip
2000
4.17 | 319 ratings
Recordings
2001
4.22 | 222 ratings
Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997
2002

PORCUPINE TREE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.46 | 51 ratings
Tarquin's Seaweed Farm (K7)
1989
3.21 | 40 ratings
Love, Death & Mussolini (K7)
1990
2.98 | 37 ratings
The Nostalgia Factory (K7)
1991
3.45 | 22 ratings
Radioactive E. P.
1992
3.67 | 95 ratings
Voyage 34
1992
2.91 | 46 ratings
Voyage 34 : Remixes
1993
3.26 | 56 ratings
Moonloop E.P.
1994
3.83 | 152 ratings
Staircase Infinities
1994
3.81 | 42 ratings
Waiting
1996
3.30 | 75 ratings
Insignificance (K7)
1997
3.95 | 20 ratings
Ambulance Chasers
1997
2.83 | 39 ratings
Stranger By The Minute
1999
2.82 | 40 ratings
Piano Lessons
1999
2.88 | 40 ratings
Pure Narcotic
1999
3.79 | 15 ratings
Coma Divine II
1999
3.97 | 30 ratings
Stars Die - Rare and Unreleased
1999
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Rest Will Flow
2000
3.03 | 55 ratings
4 Chords That Made A Million
2000
3.20 | 49 ratings
Shesmovedon
2000
4.09 | 85 ratings
Transmission IV
2001
2.95 | 182 ratings
Metanoia
2001
3.00 | 2 ratings
Blackest Eyes
2002
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Sound Of Muzak
2002
4.00 | 3 ratings
Trains
2003
3.31 | 27 ratings
Delerium EP
2003
3.44 | 126 ratings
Futile
2003
3.55 | 105 ratings
Lazarus
2005
2.00 | 1 ratings
Shallow
2005
2.50 | 2 ratings
So Called Friend
2006
3.00 | 1 ratings
Way Out Of Here
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Normal
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet (Single)
2007
3.91 | 430 ratings
Nil Recurring
2007
2.00 | 1 ratings
Novak
2008
2.62 | 57 ratings
Time Flies
2009
3.97 | 63 ratings
Transmission 10.1 - Ilosaarirock
2009
3.80 | 5 ratings
Acoustic Session Jan 2010
2010

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 On The Sunday Of Life.....  by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.02 | 669 ratings

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On The Sunday Of Life.....
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Billy900

3 stars This was my first PORCUPINE TREE album, and I was blown away when it came out. But looking back now, it's obvious that Steve Wilson has come a LONG way since then.

In retrospect, I'd say this is overall a good album:a solid three stars. I never feel the need to skip any tracks, and I still play it reasonably often. The album is mostly very experimental, trippy and comparatively low-budget, but with TWO outstanding tracks..

1) Radioactive Toy 2) Nine Cats

The sound is obviously dated, but these standouts wouldn't be out of place in a modern day Steve Wilson concert. Having just come back from the gig in Seattle (Jun 2015) though, I suspect he'd rearrange them for extra heaviness, and turn the volume up to 11.!

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 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.69 | 1271 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yet another great album from my favorite current progressive band and frontman Steven Wilson and once again, a lot of reviews for the album. This album obviously is not getting the love from the ProgArchives reviewers that some of the band's past albums received, and even though I agree it's not their best, especially following the last 3 albums, I don't believe it deserves the harsh criticism that it has received. I still find it an enjoyable album and definitely still at a higher quality than a lot of artists. The songwriting is still stellar, the concept is great, and the prog elements are all there. But, even with that, and with the album also coming in between some excellent albums also released by Steven Wilson as solo albums, this album does suffer from something. For some reason, the songs overall don't have the same impact on me, or just aren't quite as memorable as they have been on previous albums. The music is still leaning towards heaviness, but not quite as heavy as previous. There is still an excellent use of dynamics also. So where does it suffer?

The album is made up of a very long, multi-movement song cycle lasting around 55 minutes with 14 movements. The concept of the song cycle is an attempt to personalize the use of the word "Incident" to describe what would be a life-changing occurrence in someone's life. Even though an actual automobile accident inspired the work, SW wanted to make the concept more general to include any type of incident. The song cycle is made up of many medium to short tracks which are interesting and varied enough, but may be the reason for the slightly lower quality of the album because of a lack of development among the tracks. Some themes are recurring, but they are not necessarily catchy enough to remember right away, and it takes the listener a little longer to appreciate the album. This could be part of the reason why so many reviewers are harder on this album, and I feel is the reason why it has a little less appeal to me than the previous albums. But I'm not saying that I don't like this album, because I do. I still listen to it a lot, but there is a slightly lower amount of enthusiasm for it from me than on some of PT's other albums. There are a few longer tracks, namely "Time Flies", which is the centerpiece of the album at over 11 minutes, and definitely the most memorable track on the album, and also "I Drive the Hearse", which is still only just shy of 7 minutes. There are some great guitar parts in here, especially in tracks like "Circle of Manias", but I find myself wishing for more development anyway.

After the song-cycle is over, there are 4 more tracks unrelated to the main concept, and these make up the 2nd CD in the album which runs an additional 20 minutes. "Flicker" and "Black Dahlia" are both ok songs that don't stand out a lot. "Bonnie the Cat' is awesome and probably one of my favorite PT songs, but it is probably the most original song on the album. Finally, "Remember Me Lover" starts out as a slow burn and quietly, but the intensity increases as it goes on and develops into an excellent heavy guitar sound before calming again. A nice melody and it has the great development that helps give the tune the life that was present on previous albums.

So, anyway, it's not their best effort, but it's still excellent and still a worthy effort nonetheless. Many bands would do great to only have an album as good as this. But we come to expect so much from PT and SW, so when something is a small step back from previous output, then we tend to be a little more aware of a slight dip in quality. If you are just starting to explore PT, then make sure to start with "Deadwing" or "In Absentia" first, then you might venture to this album later. If you have a choice, make sure to pick one of SW's better solo albums over this one too, but don't just ignore this one either, because it is still an excellent addition to your collection. And it really is better than a lot of people have given it credit for. 4 stars.

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 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.24 | 1986 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is the first of the louder and harder PT albums. It is also one of the best of one of the greatest current progressive bands in the biz. Personally, my favorite is "Deadwing" which is the release after this one, but this one is so very close to being the favorite. It has been reviewed on this site so many times already, so there is really nothing new to say that hasn't already been said. So, I'll keep it short and sweet, but I still have to add my 2 cents worth since I'm PT junkie. If you are a progressive rock fan, then you should have heard this album by now, and if you haven't, then you have some work to do. While it is true that not everyone loves PT and not everyone thinks the lead man Steven Wilson is a prog God like I do, but you can't deny Steven's influence and his contribution to the genre in these current times.

This album is definitely one of the louder PT albums, and the guitar work and loudness of the album works very well. SW's lyrics have always been dark, even in his other projects, of which he has many. But that doesn't mean they have always been loud, in fact some are quite mellow and beautiful. But the harshness in this album and the following two releases is very well executed and drives home the meaning of the lyrics most effectively. The album starts out instantly very loud with the heavy introduction to "Blackest Eyes", but PT uses dynamics very effectively, so the music is constantly changing, even in their heavier albums. The contrast of soft and loud leans more towards the loud side in this album of course, but that really makes the contrast very noticeable and effective in all of the songs. The most beautiful of the contrasts occurs in the transition between the last two tracks; namely of the harsh and abrasive "Strip the Soul" and orchestral and expansive "Collapse the Light into Earth" which is soft and simply lovely with the repeating piano chords and the beautiful harmonies in the chorus. It's examples like this that make PT an album-oriented band and also makes them the masters of dynamics. If only more modern music artists could be this dynamic.

Anyway, after all is said and done, this is a masterpiece of prog rock especially in the use of contrasts and dynamics. It is essential and Porcupine Tree deserves to have it's name up there with the best of the best in progressive rock. Definitely essential. 5 stars.

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2020 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Review nº 226

Porcupine Tree - Fear of A Blank Planet

Simple music full of ornaments.

Come on, time for rebellion, a statement in opposition to a whole community thought. I'll tell you why. Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson are the most overrated artists from the progressive rock history. I'm an ecletic multi-instrumentist musician who listen to the most technical rock to the more noisy jazz and electronic ridiculous stuff. And as a musician, Steven Wilson is totally what I'm not. His songwriting is made of the most easy chords, and most of his songs could be played in power chords with an acoustic guitar, but the recording quality is superb, the arrangements are amazing. It's like an enemy thought. I don't give a flock to the recording or mastery quality, since most of my favorite musical geniuses never had any chance to record other stuff than poor cassete tapes at home. Even some friends into radio pop enjoyed Porcupine Tree. The guy obviously focus on the background and I keep digging him because I enjoy the concept behind his works, and most of the albums really carries a masterpiece track, as my favorite, Deadwing (from Deadwing, of course, also the only PT album I could rate more than 3 stars). That track is marvelous! But what about this album? There's some forgettable - even if you're enjoying at the moment, totally cliche - crossover metal/pop rock decorated with spacey keys, synth, mellotron, whatever, as a little fanservice for prog fans like him. Somewhat interesting concept about the children of our generation or something like that, probably taken from Lunar Park. Really? Does it really deserves to be on top charts? I would prefer some Radiohead there. Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm hurting anyone's feeling, including Steven Wilson, because I feel some sympathy for him, I don't know why, and I will always give him another chance.

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 Coma Divine II by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Coma Divine II
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by thwok

4 stars I consider it a tragedy that these 2 or 3 songs (I would call it 3) were not on the original COMA DIVINE album. The only reason might have been that they wouldn't fit on the CD. Luckily, that problem was rectified with the Delerium reissue. It obviously has nothing to do with quality. This is great music. I would guess that this EP hasn't been reviewed by others because these songs are easily available in other formats. I would also guess that a lot of people just don't bother with EP's or singles; I like the short format a lot.

I've used up enough words not talking about the music!. Anyone who listens to enough Porcupine Tree probably knows these songs, if not these versions, so I won't discuss them at length. I'm rarely effusive in my reviews (or in my life generally), but this live version of "The Moon Touches Your Shoulder" is amazing. The guitar playing is unbelievable. This version is one of the greatest listening experiences I've ever had. "Always Never" is almost as good. Only two considerations prevent me from giving COMA DIVINE II a 5-star rating, which is something I rarely do. First is my opinion that "Up The Downstair", as good as it is, isn't on the same level as the other two songs. The other consideration is the possible low interest level, which I alluded to earlier, of this EP for a lot of Porcupine Tree fans. IMHO everyone with an interest in Porcupine Tree would be well served by listening to this.

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 Futile by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.44 | 126 ratings

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Futile
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.24 | 1986 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I've found as I've gotten older as a musician, a composer and a fan of listening to music in general, I've found my tastes in music change. As well as pretty much everyone does at one point in their life or another. Ever so slightly, but they do change. The most notable of mine which takes the form of moving slowly away from the more symphonic prog (Yes, Flower Kings, etc.) and moving more into more digestible, shorter tracks, but still filled with emotion and juicy stuff. I've hoarded onto Haken's entire discography for quite some time, yet haven't truly listened in depth to their stuff until just recently, and am also currently on a Porcupine Tree binge.

I've never been a fan of pop music, yet I'm always a sucker for a catchy lick, a cool lyric, and maybe once in a blue moon, a high pitched falsetto. My sheer addiction to electronic infused indie pop and rock music can attest to that, but PT fills that niche as well, believe it or not. I've had "Trains" on my driving playlist for quite some time, and it's become one of my favorite tracks ever. The beautiful simplicity to it, the complex rhythmic and yet completely accessible structure, and maybe just the overall mature sound of it is just hypnotic. It's the same case I've made for "Piano Lessons". Both are mature examples of a British prog pop sound.... I think. Or I could just be making stuff up, I'm not sure.

After all, the opening sentence of PT's bio on this site sums them up nicely; there is no one word to describe their sound or genre. Maybe it's just the smoothness of which their music is composed and performed. Or maybe it's their British accents. I am, after all, a sucker for British accents. Or maybe that's just to do with my love for famous British automotive television shows (RIP Top Gear).

Either way, Porcupine Tree as a subtle way with inserting catchy and sophisticated songs in between straight up hardballs with a subtle and rhythmic complexity that prog fans adore. Part of it falls to Steven Wilson's masterful composing skills, and part of it lies with the extraordinary drumming of Gavin Harrison. I personally believe as a drummer, Harrison is underrated. Each drummer strives to create their own unique sound: Bernard Pretty Purdie for the "Purdie Shuffle", Mike Portnoy with his chest-crushing bass sounds out of his set, Terry Bozzio with his 5-million tom drum set (or is it 5-million and 1? he might have added a few more, I'm not so sure). Point is, in every facet of life, you have to stand out from the crowd with a distinction completely unique to your self.

Harrison's greatest contribution is his ability to fool you. He doesn't focus on blistering solos around the kit or furious double bass onslaughts. He doesn't try to be clever and throw a 12/25 polyrhythm in 5/8 bar. His style is much simpler than that, yet is still clever. He throws accents on the offbeat, displaces it, relies more on syncopation. He'll play, for example, in 9/8 on a track in 3/4 and fool the listener it's just a standard 3/4 groove. You can never play in time with him because every time a rhythmic cycle turns around, he'll throw the snare on a different beat, add in an extra bass hit, throw in another fill, displace the beat not once, but TWICE in the same measure.

In short, it's genius, but subtle. Very subtle.

I recently bought his books "Rhythmic Illusions" and "Rhythmic Perspectives" for drumset, and it's both a fascinating read, and great to practice. First off, unlike most drumset methods books, he introduces every excercise or set of excercises with explenations on how to perform it and what illusion it emits or what it's supposed to convey. You get a feeling that he actually wrote the book himself, rather than just let the publication company rip off some of his beats from PT tracks and simply stuck his name on it. And that philosophy really echoes in his drumming style. You get a sense that he isn't just "rocking out". He's creating a groove, and then playing with it a bit. An extra snare hit here, a displace bass drum hit there. All resulting in a groove that you can feel and bounce to, but you can't air drum to it, simply because no two grooves are ever the same to him.

This frankly is what upset me with the disbandment of Porcupine Tree. Wilson and Harrison are like Yin and Yang, Lennon and McCartney, Hall And Oates (ok, maybe scratch that one). Point is, both cannot survive without the other, and yes, while I do still like Wilson's solo stuff, the drumming tends to be more static and less interesting sometimes, luckily without detriment to most of his music, but it still isn't the same. Harrison's solo stuff hasn't fared that well, where you stay for the drumming, but ignore everything else.

Maybe this is why I've been listening to more Porcupine Tree. I've had this stuff for so long, yet haven't listened it so much until a few years ago. Maybe it's for nostalgia's sake, I don't know. But In Absentia is one of those rare albums where you can't quantify it into a singular sound or motive, yet it's so distinctive and pronounced, you'd never be able to mistake it for anything else. Yes, it's a bit heavier than their previous work, less psychedelic and less jam band-y, but tighter, more focused, more concise, more mature.

This album really does have everything. From the ballad-like "Trains", to the instrumental "Wedding Nails", from the ethereal "Lips of Ashes" to the grunge-echoing "Strip The Soul". It's album that's a testament to the time of its recording, yet manages to be so much more that it's still a fresh and inviting listen each and every time, even 13 years later, and when you come across music like that, you know you've found a future classic right there.

Faults? The drums do sound a bit tinny at times, and the heaviest sections on the album, such as on "Strip The Soul" and "Wedding Nails" have a bit too much bite, and not enough sound, more of a gut punch than musical phrasing. Apart from that, the composition and songwriting is just mesmerizingly brilliant.

Now, is it for everyone? Admittedly, no. No prog album can be recommended to every prog fan. Even fans of progressive rock are divided in styles. Most fans of traditional symphonic prog will probably find it too depressing for their tastes. Some people I know actually loathed Porcupine Tree for phasing out of the psychedelic phase, to which I responded "Well, that's what happens when you mature; your tastes evolve". And frankly, I don't think there's any better evidence of maturity than In Absentia. It finally caps a superb trio of albums with Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun. Sure, In Absentia isn't the most accessible album. In fact, Stupid Dream has the most pop-like songs that PT has recorded. Yet, it's still a complete piece of music that just can't be ignored by any fan of music in general. It's unique, it's catchy, it rocks hard, and delivers a unique listening experience every time.

I may regret comparing Wilson and Harrison to Hall and Oates... or Lennon and McCartney.

At least I didn't compare them to Pinky and the Brain.

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 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.24 | 1986 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Terakonin

5 stars The first album in Porcupine Tree's metal phase, I personally think it is both the best and most original, and among their very best work, and a great example of what I believe Porcupine Tree do best- many relatively short (for prog) but great tracks. It has quickly become a favourite of mine.

The album opens with Blackest Eyes, a track full of rather malevolent and heavy guitar work and savage drums. It opens with some deceptively quiet guitars, but it's not long until the new drummer Gavin Harrison ramps things up, working with Wilson to belt out high quality, cutting hard rock sections interspersed with beautiful, drifting ambient passages for Wilson to sing over.While only five minutes long, there's not much missing in this song, and it feels longer. The transition at 0:55 is to die for. (10/10)

Following up the hard to beat opener is Trains- a beautiful acoustic track where Wilson's singing is more emotional than usual. Separated into two distinct sections that however share perhaps one of the greatest choruses in recent memory, and with stunning chords and melodies that alternate over its six-minute run time, it shares the number one spot on this album with Blackest Eyes. (10/10)

I said that Trains followed up a hard to beat opener, and held its own- but the next track, Lips of Ashes, has to follow up two of the best tracks of the album. It certainly manages to do so, with unusual instrumentation and bell sounds. Strange string-like arrangements and stranger percussion provide a backdrop to Wilson's self-harmonies. The introduction of the electric guitar near the end provides an excellent contrast to the rest of the song, and is accompanied by Wilson's wordless vocals. (8/10)

The Sound of Muzak is a bass driven, slightly sinister track about the death of music and the industry. Perhaps just as important as the distinctive bass riff are the introspective and darkly humorous vocals. (8/10)

Gravity Eyelids, the longest track on the album at four seconds shy of eight minutes, is an atmospheric track, with instrumentation that sounds strangely muffled. The only sound unaffected by this effect seems to be Wilson's vocals, but then the strangely beautiful chorus comes in with piano chords, and even his singing gives way to the subduing filter on the music. When the next verse returns, his vocals are clear again, and the next time the chorus rolls around it plays over the top of the verse, which then disintegrates. A well handled track that is more complex that it appears. (9/10)

Following Gravity Eyelids is the hard rocking instrumental piece Wedding Nails, with incredible and intricate guitar work. Cycling between equally driving and distinctive riffs in the vein of King Crimson's Red, screaming guitar notes, and sinister ambience, it provides a great heavy metal-style interlude to the vocal tracks. One of the best tracks on the album. (10/10)

Just when you thought Wilson had run out of great riffs, he brings in Prodigal, with a melancholic riff supported by a thick bassline. The introspective lyrics deal with religion and finding oneself, from a glass-half-full perspective, typical of Porcupine Tree and most of Steven Wilson's work. As the track slowly increases in intensity, processed robotic vocals come in, interspersed with Wilson's wordless harmonies, as his electric guitar reaches new heights. (9/10)

The strong bass sounds evident in The Sound of Muzak return in .3, where they are much more prominent. Short bursts of rippling keyboard synths that can only be described as weird come in, providing a delicious counterpoint to the melody, just before the track turns into a softer, more ballad-like piece, with piano, acoustic guitar, and, once again, Wilson's melancholy vocals. After a while the keyboard returns, bringing the track soaring back up. (910)

Ah.The Creator Has A Mastertape. An urgent, intense piece of music. The prominent bass continues and in this song it can only be described as paranoid. Wilson's vocals are distorted, accompanied with rising synth-string blasts and frenetic drumming. After the first chorus, the track becomes incredibly chaotic, before dropping suddenly into the next verse. The schizophrenic feel of this track and its mindblowing lyrics put it up there with Blackest Eyes and Trains. (8.5/10)

Heartattack in a Lay-by is a depressed ballad with clean but faintly jangly acoustic guitar work that controls the mood and direction of the song with ridiculous precision. Wilson's vocal lines interrupt each other, creating an ethereal layered effect that that rides over the top of the slow guitar riff. (8/10)

After a short absence, the bass returns in Strip the Soul, which, partnered with The Creator Has a Mastertape, is one of the two paranoid tracks on the album. The vocals and lyrics are menacing, as if Wilson has repressed homicidal tendencies. They are once again distorted, and accompanied an impressive variation of guitar lines that link the segments of the song into a coherent piece. Around halfway in, an acoustic chord progression comes in, with whispered vocals by Wilson that sound like he's breathing down the back of your neck. Dissonant guitar work enters and the rest of the song becomes a juxtaposition of the themes of the first half of the track, with melody lines swapping instruments constantly and faint snippets of a dialogue recording. (9/10).

Collapse The Light Into Earth is the finishing track. The piano chords, vocal delivery and lyrics seem to represent a catharsis, as if Wilson is recovering from the hellish psychological terrors of the majority of the songs on the album. It also has a faint love-song feel to it. Along with Trains, it is one of the more conventionally beautiful tracks on the album. A good finisher to a great album. (8/10)

The cover of this album and the lyrical and musical themes of the songs lead me to believe that this could be a semi-concept album about paranoia or something similar. Nothing I have said in this review can truly describe the excellent production and layered textures of this album. Porcupine Tree's masterpiece. 9.5/10.

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 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.69 | 1271 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Dead leaves at the end of the Tree.

There's something heartbreaking about The Incident that I've never quite been able to put my finger on. The story at the core of the album would probably like me to believe that it's the entire concept that puts a damper on each and every listen that I have of the album but that's just not it. If the album had actually achieved what it had set out to do by hitting my heartstrings in a way that made me feel for a character or concept the album would be a triumph - and that's not how I feel.

No, the heartbreaking thing about The Incident is that the whole thing feels lackluster. Half-assed. Effortless. Tired riffs and monotonous singing may have attempted to bring across an emotion that started with the rather nihilistic Fear of a Blank Planet but without the care and attention that was brought into each well crafted song. The 55-minute song cycle that makes up the first disc of the album has so few ideas stretched out over so long a time period that often times it feels like a drone album done by a drone band trying to expand into rock and roll without knowing how. The guitars clunk, the vocals whine and there are very few standouts that make my hair stand on end the way this band usually can.

Even Time Flies, the notable standout (and single) of the album is not without major flaws. Clocking at nearly 12-minutes it becomes the only song to actually leave a place in the listener's mind. However, any prog fan with depth to their catalog will not easily be able to dismiss the fact that it rings so heavily of the riff to Pink Floyd's Dogs that they will likely be put off of it.

The redeeming part to having made purchase of this album is the second disc. What a shame that is is only 20 minutes long! If they had combined this with the Nil Recurring recordings and released that as a kind of FOABP 2 they would have been met with much greater success! The odd tone and grumblings of Bonnie The Cat ring back to their Signify days while expanding on their current themes. Flicker is such a haunting melody that it DOES send shivers down my spine and Remember Me Lover takes us back to a darker version of Up The Downstair and finally ends off the hour plus long album.

In conclusion, The Incident is not without it's merits. It is simply unfortunate to see a band so lauded in the progressive, metal and alternative communities release an album that feels like an afterthought. Steven Wilson clearly had other things on his mind when the album was released, having already released his album Insurgents. His solo career has taken the music of Porcupine Tree to an entirely new level and continues to be truly progressive, but it's too bad he left the Tree to fall with no one around to hear it.

2 stars for an album that is worthwhile for the 2nd disc (a must for fans) but an ultimately disappointing, perhaps final, release by a once titan of the genre we adore. If you have not already become familiar with their music check out Up The Downstair or The Sky Moves Sideways if you are a fan of Floyd-flavored psych rock, or Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet for brooding Opeth style psych-heavy-progressive bombast, or Stupid Dream and In Absentia for top notch song-driven crossover prog with feeling. Avoid this release until familiar with what made the band an impressive force and solidified Steven Wilson as a demi-God of music.

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 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.23 | 2020 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Wow this album has been reviewed a lot hasn't it? It does my heart good to see Porcupine Tree so popular here in the Archives and to see that a lot of people appreciate their music. Steven Wilson is no doubt a major force in progressive music and he keeps the dream alive for everyone. He has so much influence on many current progressive bands, whether if it's through re-issuing older albums by King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Yes and so on or if it's through production help as with Opeth, Anasthema, or Orphan Lands, or whether it's through inspiration as with I.Q., Archive, Pineapple Thief. Of couse, his most obvious influence is through Porcupine Tree or his own solo works.

So, this album is what I consider the 3rd and last in a series of heavier albums by PT, the first being "In Absentia", then "Deadwing" and now this one. These are the bands best albums in my opinion, I love the hard edge and how it gels so well with the softer passages in the music. These albums are the most inventive and dynamic throughout their discography (even though I love everything from PT).

This album is based on a concept of the fear of how electronics are influencing youth to lose individuality and social skills. It is comprised of 6 powerful songs that are loaded with progressive elements including excellent dynamic use, changing meters, non-traditional rock song structures and so on. The music isn't really challenging as you find in avant-prog music, but it doesn't have to be. If you want that, then check out Steven Wilson's work as Bass Communion or I.E.M. It is powerful music that is more advanced than your standard pop or rock music. There is plenty of beauty and harshness on every single track here, and it is also full of heavy, loud passages and in contrast plenty of soft and quiet sections, just like you have come to expect from the two previous albums from PT. 2 songs here are over 5 minutes, 3 are over 7 minutes and 1 is over 17 minutes, but they all seem to fly by quickly because there is so much to listen to here.

There are beautiful and tight harmonies on the more mellow tracks "My Ashes" and "Sentimental", there are the atmospheric guitar soundscapes of Robert Fripp on "Way Out Here", and there is plenty of darkness bubbling under all of the songs. On "Anesthesize" you get an epic 17+ minute 3 part song that features a bit of everything for everyone. There is something there that would make anyone happy and it all sounds cohesive which is quite a feat considering the many moods that it travels through on it's length. It is never boring and you are always on edge to hear where the song goes next. Alex Lifeson from Rush does a guest guitar solo in the first part of this track. This came about because Alex mentioned in an interview how he was a huge fan of PT, so SW called him and asked if he would like to play on this album. Of course, he jumped on the chance and SW re-wrote the song in order to include his solo.

There is no reason to write a longer review about this album because so much has been said about it already in the many reviews already written here. But since I am an avid fan of the band and of SW, I have to put in my own 2 cents worth and hopefully the few things I have said about this masterpiece of an album will entice someone else to listen to PT's music and enjoy it as much as I have. It is bands like PT that give me hope in music, that there are so many great bands still out there making the best music ever. PT inspired me to explore so much more, and though the music takes some work to find it, there are still countless bands out there that are as good as and sometimes even better than there ever has been. All I can do is hope my words and reviews of great albums like this will inspire others to search as I have and know that progressive rock is still alive and well! Oh, and this album gets masterpiece status.....5 stars.

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