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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.26 | 2619 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
5 stars The sound of music fills the halls

Porcupine Tree is a name well known in the progressive community. The band started in the late 80s as a solo project for multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson. His facetious and obscure recordings eventually culminated to On the Sunday of Life in 1991, which exemplified Wilson's early, silly recordings with the quirky, psychedelic atmosphere of the album. Eventually Wilson formed a full band and released two more albums in the first of Porcupine Tree's three distinct eras - this one being the Delirium era. With little transition space, the band flew into the Snapper era with Signify, which had a much more straightforward rock sound with little to no psychedelic elements remaining, which was a far cry from the previous album, the spacey and trippy The Sky Moves Sideways. This era lasted again for two more albums, and in 2001, with the release of Porcupine Tree's 7th studio album In Absentia, the band flew full force into the Metal era, if you will, with the music being exponentially heavier and more eclectic than previous eras. The album, blasting forth with the killer "Blackest Eyes," shows Wilson's obvious willingness to expand his band's diverse sound, and the next track, the significantly lighter "Trains," shows the Wilson is not willing to bore the listener with just one sound on this record. Even through a near paradigm shift of this band's sound, In Absentia remains a fan favorite, and easily on of the band's better albums.

As I've stated above, this album is an extremely eclectic blend of Wilson's musical ideas, tastes, and abilities. Whether it's the sound of a crushing metal riff, peppy acoustic strumming, or the spacey illustrious notes of an Appalachian dulcimer, this album has its share of diverse musical influences. Switching lanes constantly throughout the album, the music fails to stay constant and keeps its diverse pulse throughout the entire album. Different from their previous sound although it may be, the album's diverse and inviting new sound has me, and it should you, captivated by the sounds that captivate this album.

One thing I enjoy about a good portion of Heavy Prog is the lack of emphasis on virtuosity (don't get me wrong, I understand quite a number of HP bands have an emphasis on virtuosity as well, and I love virtuosity, but a break at times is nice). Porcupine Tree is one of these bands. From their psychedelic roots, Wilson has obviously developed an appreciation for atmosphere, which this album is full of. The feeling brought out by Wilson strumming or the essential filling that Richard Barbieri creates with his ambient key fills, based upon his experience in ambient and new wave bands, is essential to the Porcupine Tree sound. Colin Edwin's steady bass lines lay a fantastic foundation for the band, and the new guy on this album, stickman Gavin Harrison's skillful and precise drumming mesh together for a spectacular new sound for the band. The new era is truly an amalgamation of Porcupine Tree's diverse influences and feels.

In the end, In Absentia presents itself as a wild change in direction for the band. Whether you are a fan of their Delirium or Snapper era won't really make a difference of whether you'll like this album because it is so diverse and far reaching of influence virtually everyone will like some piece of it. The band still has the distinct ability to make not overly complex but complex enough music to keep most progressive fans listening, and the composing power of the great Steven Wilson is enough to keep many fans listening still. From the heavy metallic songs to light folky songs, the album is easily one of Porcupine Tree's most diverse and easily one of the best they've released to date. 5- stars.

Andy Webb | 5/5 |


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