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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.25 | 2455 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Fight Club
Prog Reviewer
5 stars This will be the first review I have submitted to progarchives as this is the one album that absorbed me directly into the genre. I think when reviewing this album one has to review it from the standpoint of someone who is just getting introduced to the prog genre. Since this is one of the bands that's up there in popularity I believe it will be one of the first bands explored by someone new to the site, so I won't go directly into how "progressive" it is. The truth that Porcupine Tree has a very distinguished sound. This was the first album I picked up by them after just hearing about it on a forum about a year ago. I listened to it one summer morning and was blown away. At the time I was into mainly classic rock not very much prog. I had heard Dark Side of the Moon, Images & Words and some others, but none really seemed to take major flight away from classic rock. Now this album was a very new and hard to describe sound. The mix is perfect. The vocal harmonies are are very nicely done and the way they switch off between acoustic and heavy electric blends so well you barely notice the transition. When I first heard this album I couldn't stop listening to it. The sound was just so rich and emotional and I just floated off to another place while listening to it. This is probably one of the first albums that made me realize that an album could be more than just a collection of songs, it could be an "entity itself" in Steven Wilson's words.

Blackest Eyes - From the opening guitar riff through the melancholic vocal harmonies this a beautiful song. There's something so catchy and uplifting about the song, even though the lyrics are not meant to convey that. The thing is that it shows the character, in which In Absentia revolves around, feels alls these horrid twisted emotions, but it does not occur as twisted in his mind. This is a very catchy song and makes a really great opener.

Next we move onto Trains - This is almost as close to perfection as song writing can get. Very emotional and well orchestrated. Every part of the song melds so perfectly into the whole, the final outcome is near flawless. The acoustic guitar with the synth effects behind it makes a great ethereal/spacey feeling. This song is proof that Porcupine Tree isn't a band where each member plays seperate instruments that go into a song. There a band where each seperate instrument makes one coherent sound.

Lips of Ashes - This is the first track on the album that really sucks you into the trance- like state that keeps you absorbed in the album. Something about the surreal string arrangements that makes you feel like you're in a different world. A world called In Absentia. This is a very nice spacey track.

The Sound of Muzak - This is an album highlight for me. The song has a very interesting arrangement between the time signatures and odd drumming. To anyone with limited musical knowledge the drumming would sound simple and unoriginal. However most people hearing this song hear all the complexities of Gavin Harrison's drumming. The mixing is very well done on this track as well. The harmonizing in the chorus is incredible. This is a song everyone can appreciate, from the emotional chorus to the guitar solo and then thru the outro this song is stunning.

Gravity Eyelids - This song is even more of a trip than the last. The song opens with eerie synth effects and muffled drum tracks. This is probably the song that brings one into the eerie dark state of the album. Some ways into the track, a monster guitar riff breaks out into a complete tsunami of distortion. It's quite intense, with the layered riffs and keyboard effects piling ontop of one another. Then it suddenly loosens into the surreal state again and closes with some nice eerie slide guitar from Steven Wilson.

Wedding Nails - This track was the first to blow my mind when I first listened to the CD. When I first popped it into my comp is was busy messing around and didn't quite pay attention to the tracks before this. They just floated into my head pulling me into that surreal state of consciousness without me even realizing it. This track awoke me. It starts off with a nice guitar riff then goes completely nuts. It really wakes a person up. I woke up from the trance and thought to myself "holy crap, what is this sound??" Just sitting there with my mouth agape. Then I went back and replayed the disc from the beginning and was astonished by the music.

Prodigal - A very nice mellow track. Just as the others, the mixing is incredibly clean on this one. Definately one of my favorites off the album as the chorus draws in and then delivers 2 stunning guitar solos. Amazing song.

.3 - This is one of the first space trips I have encountered in music. The string arrangements and synth effects are done very well and convey all the right emotions that the band wants them to convey. Some parts put a nice chill running down your spine. Very nice song.

The Creator Has A Mastertape - Here's another track proving Gavin Harrison's skill as a musician! This is a very bizarre song. I can hardly describe it except for saying that it's uhh... bizarre! Haha, well just listen. Definately a good song.

Heartattack In A Layby - Very nice relaxing song. Depressing in a way. The guitars and vocal harmonies are very nice on this track and leads quite well into the next song.

Strip The Soul - One can tell why this was a single off the album. Driving guitars and looping basslines galore. One of the first tracks where I noticed Colin Edwin's ability to make a bassline that sucks you right into a song. The only problem I can say I have with this track is that it's maybe a minute too long. Very nice though. Here you can tell that the album has gradually been getting heavier to fit the storyline. Nice work!

Collapse the Light Into Earth - Now all the anger and chaos subsides into this song, Collapse the Light Into Earth. This is a piano oriented song and it serves well to illustrate the emotions at the end of this album. The vocals harmonize well once again and I think this song is a perfect closer for this perfect album.

All in all, In Absentia is an experience for someone just getting introduced to prog. To someone who has been quite absorbed in the genre for some time it might not come off as amazing and original as it does to someone who is a modern rock/pop fan, but they can both agree on one thing. Whether you're listening to it for the complexities of the arrangements or the quality of songwriting; In Absentia is an incredible listen.

Fight Club | 5/5 |

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