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I.E.M. - I.E.M. CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.86 | 58 ratings

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4 stars After the release of "The Sky Moves Sideways" album, Porcupine Tree became more of a full-fledged band than a project and the band's music started to move away from the psychedelic mind trips of previous years to a more progressive sound that centered more around the heavier aspects of metal and hard rock. However, frontman Steven Wilson still wanted to have a creative outlet that would continue to explore the psychedelic genre and delve more into the krautrock aspects of that style. For that reason, he continued as a one-man band (with guests) with the beginning of a new project called I.E.M. which stands for "Incredible Expanding Mindfuck".

The debut album was released in 1996 with very little information. There were only 500 copies released on vinyl initially, but a CD version with an extra bonus track would be released in 1998 and have a much wider distribution. The music here has very little resemblance to what most people recognize as Porcupine Tree's sound in their later years, but those that have explored PT's earlier music will find that it does have a lot in common with that music. The music on the debut album is very exploratory, psychedelic with krautrock traits and some eerie passages. As for myself, I really enjoy it as it takes the early PT sound and expands on it becoming even more experimental. However, those also familiar with Wilson's other project Bass Communion, will find that it isn't quite as experimental as that. I.E.M. actually fits somewhere in between the two styles.

Long tracks reflect the exploratory nature of this album that is easy to get lost in. Trying to describe the music to those who are not familiar with the psychedelic or krautrock elements is a bit tough, but the best word is definitely experimental, yet there is always a lot of forward movement as repeating motifs, beats and very few key changes are among the main traits of the music presented here. Percussion is persistent, as you would expect with this style of music, however, there is a bit of variance from one track to another as is especially evident in the two tracks "The Gospel According to the I.E.M." and "Fie Kesh". Each track does have it's own distinct personality which you'll notice even more with repeated listens. The most accessible of the tracks is the bonus track on the CD edition. "Headphone Dust" seems a tad out of place as it features a more acoustic sound as the foundation, and an almost Floyd-ian atmosphere. It is a nice addition, but some might find that it takes away a bit from the cohesiveness of the album. It definitely sounds like a recording from a different session.

This is an excellent example of Wilson's love for krautrock and psychedelic rock from earlier decades, but it doesn't try to copy that sound as much as build upon it, which is something we've come to expect from Wilson. All in all, it works as a great introduction to those that might not have a lot of exposure to those styles of music, but be warned that it isn't anything like the more popular style of Wilson. It is his experimental side. It is a look inside the deep mind of Wilson for those that dare to explore there.

TCat | 4/5 |


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