Sunday, 24 July 2011

Porcupine Tree - The Incident (2009)

Porcupine Tree's The Incident is probably the most anticipated album of a phenomenal year of new prog. Many fans of the genre know the artist inside and out, so I offer the perspective of a more casual fan. I have downloaded one album (In Absentia) and scattered tracks from other albums, all of which I've enjoyed. I am not familiar with the early PT catalog. This is the first album I've listened to repeatedly with a critical ear, specifically with a review in mind. I'm not quite sure if my favorable impression is based more on spending the extra time, or with the material itself.

So my current opinion is that this is my favorite Porcupine Tree material. I hear a greater range of sounds on this record including more dark electronica and nastier guitars, both of which I enjoy quite a bit. For the first time, I hear Opeth influencing PT rather than the other way around, and the Akerfeldt-ish riffing gives the heavy parts some cajones that I really hadn't heard before. In fact, the whole album just seems like Wilson is pulling from a more authentic darkness rather than an imagined one. Maybe the fact that he was inspired by specific, real stories got him a little outside of his head a bit. Maybe someone kicked his dog. In any case, his menace is a bit more convincing than in the past.

That doesn't mean this is the best album of all time of even of the year. But it's a very enjoyable listen that pulls on a variety of dark prog, sometimes purposefully derivative. The centerpiece track "Time Flies," which begins by listing the music of Wilson's youth, has multiple direct allusions to Pink Floyd. The most obvious is the main acoustic riff based directly on "Dogs," but there are sections reminiscent of "Time" and "Run Like Hell" also, covering PF's classics nicely. The title track sounds exactly like a Nine Inch Nails track, though Trent Reznor hasn't recorded anything as good in over a decade. Added into the mix is a healthy helping of odd time signatures which make at least these prog ears happy.

There's nothing here you haven't heard before. There is a plenty of pop sensibility, including even a couple big choruses. What is new is that the production is better than ever. In the past, Porcupine Tree has always seemed over-worked, almost clinical sounding. I'm sure Wilson still pores over everything with a very finely toothed comb, but the sounds on this album have a bit more life in them than the older tracks I have. The harmonies on "Kneel and Disconnect" are as good as they've ever been on a PT album. Some of the outros are overlong, but all in all this is quite good.

I've wavered between 3 and 4 stars for this album, but the album has grown on me. Especially when I'm giving more attention, I've really enjoyed the album. Even after 8-10 listens and reading all the lyrics multiple times, I haven't started to saturate yet. 4/5 it is.PORCUPINE TREE The Incident music reviews and MP3 review fron
Songs / Tracks Listing Disc 1 - 55:08
1. The Incident
I. Occam's Razor (1:55)
II. The Blind House (5:47)
III. Great Expectations (1:26)
IV. Kneel and Disconnect (2:03)
V. Drawing the Line (4:43)
VI. The Incident (5:20)
VII. Your Unpleasant Family (1:48)
VIII. The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train (2:00)
IX. Time Flies (11:40)
X. Degree Zero of Liberty (1:45)
XI. Octane Twisted (5:03)
XII. The Séance (2:39)
XIII. Circle of Manias (2:18)
XIV. I Drive the Hearse (6:41)

Line-up / Musicians
- Steven Wilson / vocals, guitar, piano
- Richard Barbieri / keyboards, synthesizer
- Colin Edwin / bass guitar
- Gavin Harrison / drums

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