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Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.26 | 2606 ratings

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5 stars My turn. Let's get the clichés out of the way: Porcupine Tree's a talented band and I have followed them from day one. Steve Wilson is a musical genius (if anyone has any doubts, they are secret "Twavis Twitt" country fans), a dazzling guitarist, composer, woefully underrated lyricist and stellar producer with a PROVEN pedigree. Ex-Jap Richard Barbieri always was a "behind the scenes" cult keyboardist, more Eno than Emerson but a master at electro-colorings and mood meister par excellence. Bassist Colin Edwin has a simple role: "put down a groove that we can fly over" and he does that really well, no flash but solid substance. Longtime drummer Chris Maitland was replaced 2 albums previous by the massive Gavin Harrison, a truly masterful session drummer who proved to me live that he is among the very, very best (hello, Neil Peart the Rushian and Bungalow Bill Bruford). The music has certainly evolved over the last 15 years, going from swooning psychedelia, to space-prog in the finest Floydian tradition to some of the best original prog ever recorded. The recent harder edge has made this crew progress even further into some powerfully emotive musical environments, adding a scathing critique of today's culture (or lack thereof), where the directionless youth fall prey to obesity, despair, ennui and lousy drugs, all leading to the ultimate nadir = apathy. It's about time someone gets lyrically angry in the prog world, we cannot constantly burden Fish' still resilient shoulders with all the injustice of the universe. Having seen this album in concert, I cannot aptly describe how stunning the material is in a live context, a crowning achievement in prog by the way, the presentation was simple but overpoweringly effective and just blew the entire audience away. Power, passion, emotion, feeling, art = five muses, five musicians (John Wesley is the live silent 5th guy), what a combination! The title cut (9) kicks off the proceedings emphatically with a steady beat that marshals in the "sunlight coming through the haze", a false hope as the lyrics spew venom at a society having lost its most basic values, diving into the deepest moral abyss and addressing a drug infused lethargy that is nothing more than cowardly suicide. Hey, this is not pretty prog by any stretch but it's also the very modern definition of blasé without a punk, two-chord vomit vocal delivery (more Syd than Sid, both misunderstood baskets). "My Ashes"(10+) is an outright melancholic essay that proposes a chorus melody to die for (pun intended.), the "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin-like e-piano expressing all the pain of the universe, with assorted colorings courtesy of Barbieri's keys and the saddest lyrics this side of rehab. "Anesthetize"(10+) is the 17 minute classic that has been the subject of everyone's drool and in a live setting , it provoked a standing ovation with a few hot, long-legged Montreal babes dancing in the aisles (how's that for a rare sight at a prog venue?). Can we have some more, please! Gavin Harrison just pummeled us to smithereens during this hallucigenic musical voyage and with John Wesley providing a fine rendition of Alex Lifeson's blistering guitar solo, this piece had an ultra decadent Roxy Music-like atmosphere tied to some heady Crimsonian guitar rage and a vibrant chorus "It's All in Me, All in You " that had everyone screaming, fists a pumpin'! The last 5 minutes provide a dreamy outro finale that has all the typical Watersian angst ("Water so."), swirling like a gentle breeze, helter-skelter, going nowhere. One of PTree's crowning pieces. "Sentimental" (10+), as the title aptly describes, is another extremely poignant, melancholic assessment, with a "self-killing" melody ("You can't blame your parents anymore"), more bile rising ("Stoned in the mall, the kids play") and despairing hopelessness ("Sullen and bored the kids stay") . "Way Out of Here"(9) is another heavier piece that starts out somewhat indifferent until the raging guitars kicks in with savage abandon and batters the listener with contrasting nightmarish scenarios, almost like the incoherence of a drug overdose. Very slow burn gruesome. "Sleep Together" (10) is the final musical stab, a "Do or Drown in Torpor" dirge that somehow sanctifies the escape from reality "Lets leave forever, switch off the future right now", a sweepingly incoherent plea for a warm body that may or may not care anymore but it's still better than solitude. Wilson is my friend, just like the ball with Tom Hanks' character in the movie "Castaway". The disc ends on a very George Martin/Beatles like orchestral goodnight. Well, on that cheery note, I need a shower to wash away the morbid sweat, singing "And I fear tomorrow, I'll be crying".. 5 mangled trees.
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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