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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.25 | 2444 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

sbrushfan
5 stars As I was getting my thoughts about this disc together last night, taking notes over dinner, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that, since there was SO much here to listen to, it demands a track-by-track account. Wait; I hate doing that, and I never have. They take up far too much time, and I find myself getting bored by reading some of them. But this disc, as I said, DEMANDS it. Not doing that would discount other tracks that have merit of their own. Pout and groan, though I may, here goes.

BLACKEST EYES: Weird (and I do mean WEIRD) lyrics ("it's so erotic when your makeup runs"...huh?). Wilson's voice is kinda twee in places, somewhat precious, even when whispered. But it's more than made up for next. When the distorted guitar kicks in, with the full band, my ass was kicked too. This dude can play! Thank God for real guitarists! My air guitar is wailing too! Great opening. 5/5

TRAINS: Lyrics take a step up from weird to BIZARRE (What's he doing in his cousin's bed? Why is she tying him up? How do you "kiss someone wide"?) And those backing vocals are kinda fey. Never mind that, cause the midsection negates that. Is that a...BANJO? Handclaps? What the...? Oh; wait...the full band's back in. That's MUCH better. And Wilsons harmonies don't sound so fey here. The keyboards are excellent, carrying much of the main melody. I'm diggin' it! 4/5

LIPS OF ASHES: Mostly acoustic, except for a lone, gained-out electric popping up in spots, but that's a good thing. It's one thing to drench a six-string in gain and fuzz to cover up mistakes; it's quite another to play an acoustic with as much emotion as he is and make it sound good. I'm happy so far. The harmonies are doping really odd things to the hairs on the back of my neck. WIlson sounds like a clarion call or a siren's song. Wow! 5/5

(FAVE SONG) THE SOUND OF MUSAK: Since hearing this one here on the site, I've been hooked. Thanks guys; I owe you. Again, the bulk of it is acoustic, but when backed by the full band, an enormous wall of sound is erected, especially when the harmonies kick in during the chorus. Awesome so far. Unlike other recordings I've heard, I can actually hear Colin Edwin! YAY! Wilson's leadwork, starting at 2:38 is quite Gilmour-esque, in the way he stretches out those notes to make his guitar sing. LOVE IT! Gavin sounds like he's been canoodling with some Rush CD's (2112 and HEMISPHERES, among them), as the drums give off an odd time signature. Could leave Peart scratching his head. Threw me off the first time I heard it, and yes; I AM a drummer! LOL I could've done without the girlish "da-da-da-da-da" backing vocals, though. All in all, 5/5

GRAVITY EYELIDS: Stunning harmonies here. Let me get that out of the way. The instrumental opening almost put me off, as I could've done without the drum programming (too techno-ish for my tastes). Wait...a MELLOTRON? OK...that's better. Keyboards carry the bulk of the melody here, which is cool to me. At 4:02, I hear a distorted guitar. Play that thing, Steve! MAKE IT SING! Great song! 5/5

WEDDING NAILS: I'm a sucker for a good instrumental, and would have no trouble listening to this along with anything from Rush. Kicks ass from start to finish, excpet for a few minor blemishes. Nicely distorted guitar, aggressive drums and a sexy, funky bassline. Yes, now here Gavin Harrison makes clear his debt to Peart (aren't all us drummers indebted to Peart?). Haunting keyboards too, but they seem to come in almost amelodically, threatening to create chaos. Later on...is that a guitar or a seagull? Sounds like a seagull. That's right; I forgot...solidbody guitar+humbuckers+high gain amp+Whammy Pedal=you can make any sound you damn well please. And yes, that IS a solo. OK, Steve...lay off the f&^*$#@ sound effects already! UGH! More Mellotron follows (I can't get enough), with Harrison then going absolutely nuts. And more of those DAMN sound effects; ARGH! Oh well; great track nonetheless. Would be even better if they pared it down by 1.5 or even 2 minutes. 4/5

PRODIGAL: Slower track here. Is that a slide guitar? Yup. Steve seems to be in love with his slide; it's all over this track. Again, flawless keyboards and another solid (yet restrained) bassline. Excellent backing vocals courtesy of Aviv Geffen and John Wesley. Nix the processed vocals though, Steve. They're tiring. But the harmonies throughout, as well as the high-gain guitar at 4:35, make up for it. I'm totally DIGGIN' the outro lead! 5/5

.3: Hot bass line here. Haunting keyboards (Mellotron???) with drums, then guitar. Oooohweee...this be gettin' good! But more sound effects; backwards, this time (As if the regular ones weren't bad enough.) Gorgeous vocals, but sometimes Wilson teeters on the edge of tweeness. Oh...there's the harmonies! Whew! Beautiful string arrangement too, thanks to Mr. Gavyn Wright. Edwin dominates here, providing the main melodic motif while Steve f%^&* with a talkbox. Give it a rest, please! Jeezus! 4/5

THE CREATOR HAS A MASTERTAPE: The opening sounds kinda Hendrix-ish. And that's a mighty funky bassline. But what the hell is Steve doing to that guitar; playing it or having sex with it? Can't tell; it's pretty disorienting. More processed vocals (yack; no thanks), but the great distorted guitar and pounding drums smack me back into reality. I'm really liking it so far. But the (brief) interlude is a different story. Is that a... dance beat? I thought this was Porcupine Tree; not Gloria Gaynor! Anwyay...Oh, there it is..."Pills and chloroform, all the pages torn..." OK, Steve; sure. Whatever. All in all, nice track. Good usage of Mellotron too. 4/5

HEARTATTACK IN A LAYBY: Opens with car sounds. Fair enough. I've been battling those damn sound effects for 9 songs now. A bit more won't kill me. WAIT! Steve opens his mouth, and starts to (gasp!) SING! Wow. The harmonies are angelic! I'm still turning a deaf ear to the sound effects, though. Nice counterpoint vocals at 2:35 (dual non-harmonic vocals, if that makes any sense...lol). The tweeness is gone, thank God(dess)! 5/5

STRIP THE SOUL: Aggressive bass line here. Head-bobbing drums too. Lyrics go from weird to bizarre to downright SINISTER. At 0:49, the drummer launches into an odd time signature as well. Excellent electric guitars here...not too distorted and not too fey. Wait...vocal processing? STEVE! ENOUGH!!!!!! Is that a guitar I hear? Yeah. Is that a solo? I think. It is, and we're back to real music again. More WHISPERED vocals, followed by a wah-dreanched guitar. Side note: I wonder if Wilson's guitar of choice (PRS) has a tremolo bar, cause it sounds like whammy bar abuse near the ending. Weird...but I like weird. Solid 4/5

COLLAPSE THE LIGHT INTO EARTH: Piano opening. Nice so far. Good (not great) vocals and more Mellotron. I'm diggin' it, and HOW! String arrangement adds a wonderful melody to the melody...as it were. The harmonies at 3:23 are brilliant too. Truly gorgeous song we've got here. Simplicity is genius, and it shows here. 5/5

Production is clean without sounding (terribly) digital. I may only be 26, but the albums released lately sound harshly digital, whereas I prefer the organic sound of records released in the 70's and 80's. I know he did it in Pro Tools, which would normally turn me off, but not here. It doesn't FEEL digital. Delivery has passion and conviction. Well done, people! Thanks! A record that can hold its own with anything in my Rush collection. 55/60=91.6%, rounded up to 92%. Five stars. That's a wrap!

sbrushfan | 5/5 |

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