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The Pineapple Thief - Your Wilderness CD (album) cover


The Pineapple Thief


Crossover Prog

3.93 | 327 ratings

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5 stars The Pineapple Thief remain dedicated to their way of making music, growing in reputation and fame, though routed firmly in going way beyond just standing still , rehashing a tried and truly glorious career, but instead choose to explain away their lives, their loves , their hopes and all of their dreams. Yes, occasional nightmares and even tragedies. We survive. Somehow. Steve Wilson concentrated on the analysis of apathy, drug addiction, ignorance and of course, inner pain. All very existential. Bruce Soord prefers a more basic suffering in human terms, dealing with tragedy, loss, grief and often, discouragement. Both vistas are surely depressive but also altruistic in its desire to understand and to heal. On this monumental album, the long-awaited masterpiece has arrived, aroused by the cosmic beauty of past works such as the tragic "Little Man", and the correspondingly majestic "What We Have Sown?" . After a couple of more obscure releases, they are back to proggier realms, with insanely stellar poetry that hits hard and straight, in pure agony. The rather toned-down instrumentation is one of the finest examples of 'less is more', certainly in progressive rock terms, as these musicians simply seize the divine mood and bloom accordingly.

The somber "In Exile" is a mood setter par excellence, scouring for skin deep emotions, sensually sung by Bruce, who never sounded more mournful and penetrating. He can now join the top prog elite with the likes of Steve Wilson, Danny Cavanaugh (Anathema), Marco Gluhmann (Sylvan) and old-timers like Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) to challenge and emote on the wildest level. Incredibly infectious and deeply aggrieved, he arms himself with lyrics that tend to focus on human emotions, something we used to call 'feelings' back in the day. "Don't be afraid to miss me, don't be afraid to hate me", gulp. In exile is a sense of solitude, internal penitentiary and pensive bondage. Bruce's high pitched wail is flooded with an intense mellotron squall, ticked by deft percussives, the band barking up the Porcupine Tree.

Poignant, bold and surreal, the score is minimalist with simply dense drum work from master Gavin Harrison, a genial choice to man the rhythmic arsenal, with a spectacular display of basic percussive mastery as projected on "No Man's Land", beyond a gorgeous a song as it aims to become a hymn to the human condition. Soord croons the dejected song with complete assurance and believability, mainly because it's heartfelt as well as the consequences of his personal grief, the nature of which I will not divulge, at this time. If you want to know then research it, I guess. The song's final section is jaw-dropping, oozing atmospherics from every pore, drenched in restrained exaltation. Harrison again shows his mettle, delivering punchy accents and deft propulsion when the after burners kick in and turn this piece into an epic classic.

The volcanic "Tear you Up" is quite the entertaining ride as well, maintaining the vacillating heartache and shoving it a little harder along, articulating "a distant shore", a solitary figure "drifting on the open sea". It gets punchy with a rough guitar rasp that expresses all the agony of loss, a powerful dose of reality. Another persuasive killer track, "That Shore" has a radiating quality of near ambient desolation, a vaporous mist of infectious aromas, captained by a despair-ignited soul singer, and a melody that owes a great deal to Wilson's fabulous ballad "My Ashes", off the "Fear of a Blank Planet" manifesto. Except here, Bruce aims for the loftiest highs, his hushed voice crushingly sorrowful, the instruments at their most basic, enriching pools of pearled emotions that defy categorization. Devastating !

Two tracks destined to live well together as they focus on the follow up twin emotions to shock, known as rage and anger. Jon Sykes shows off his considerable bass guitar skills on the thus punkier "Take Your Shot" , a gallant compulsion to defend the principles behind civilized behavior by fighting back, at least with words and with imperative music. The competing hard and soft voices demonstrate clearly the deep discord and the ripping confusion, a nasty guitar slaying the beast of despondence. "It's time to make your move. Oh Yeah!". Its roommate is the equally blustery "Fend For Yourself", a clear message of survival from above, from the heavens that rule all of our fears. Terrific Harrison shuffle, an effervescent beat to liven up the soporific voice that 'never looks back", a charming clarinet solo from Supertramper John Anthony Helliwell, a kaleidoscope of simple mosaics that firmly anchor the survival mode message.

But what comes next is the true slayer of the beast of indifference, "The Final Thing On My Mind" is a masterpiece of prog, period! Mournfully melancholic, it exudes a universe where pain is transmitted within a vessel of delirious music, superbly crafted and emotionally intense. The lyrics here play a preponderant role, recalling a story of love that turned into pain and into heartbreak, a crushing admonition ultimately, acquiescence and then survival. Ughh! I can relate having my love walk away into silence, a few months ago. Not a good feeling, being so suddenly alone. So when these words hit home, I can smile and pray for salvation. "Every waking dawn it's you I see, coming back to me". Musically, its breathtaking, a very swooning entrance with an almost minimalist arrangement, pushed by the masterful Gavin Harrison's humble and yet relentless pummel. At the four minute mark, it falls into a magnificent atmospheric pool of deep ambiance, crushingly slow "Everything you did is a part of me, ripped apart from me" as mentioned already by my colleague mellotronstorm. I can feel it and I know John can too. We survive, as best we can until a new sun comes into our existence. The most beautiful melody slowly emerges from the mist, delicately caressed by a forlorn piano motif, a gut-wrenching guitar solo trails but somehow this is all very comforting. A witness to agony, we all commiserate.

The dexterously woven "Where we Stood" ends this magnificent opus, not on a positive note but rather a long look back at what once was and not anymore. A memory, a reminder of "such a beautiful feeling", scorched by a stunning but short guitar outburst.

Need to say something about the artwork, part and parcel of that fabulous No-Man album "Wild Opera" that featured vintage 60s 'America is Great' pictures, courtesy of Beech. A family wretchedly waiting for the encounter of the last kind, searching for a missing father, a missing man, lost somewhere on the upper slopes of desolation. "Your Wilderness" is also a crowning achievement for the man who should be hailed as among the very best talented drummers in the world, which is permanently seared into the grooves with stellar stick work that should impress every stripe of music fandom. He makes Bruce Soord's at times demanding music shine. Their finest album ever and maybe a permanent monument to 2016 prog, who knows? Well, not quite true, Donald Trump knows everything! But I digress. Number 1, I say!

5 Our wastelands

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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