Sunday, 6 September 2009
After this, things will never be the same again.
Edited 23 Sep 2009 to add: Fame (and chart success) at last!
About bloody time! The new Porcupine Tree album, The Incident, has finally leaked all over the hinterpipes.
I won't lie to you Marge, but having already pre-ordered the £60 Limited Deluxe Edition Box Set some months ago, I felt just a little entitled - and what's more, thanks to that meddling 3-strike buffoon Lord Mandy, very motivated indeed - to fire up ye olde Bit Torrent client, and deeply to inhale(1).
This is fantastic. Steven Wilson's songwriting skills have taken an upturn from the band's previous outing, the Grammy-nominated Fear of a Blank Planet. There's great stylistic variation among both the fourteen parts of the main 55-minute song cycle on CD1, and the four "bonus" songs on CD2. Most noticeably he has averted his course ever further away from the lure of predictable, empty commercial formulae, writing solidly and innovatively, and perhaps benefiting from a confidence boost after the recent release of his own momentous solo effort, Insurgentes.
Drummer Gavin Harrison and bassist Colin Edwin are both typically understated, though perhaps not apparently so. Gavin has won Modern Drummer magazine's readers' poll, "best progressive drummer of the year", in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He plays rock percussion in a very jazz-influenced mode, so even his restrained playing can sound quite busy. Colin is also reined-in with Porcupine Tree, compared with his solo work: prohibited from using both hands on the fretboard, using the Chapman Stick, and so on.
Ambience comes courtesy of ex-Japan keyboard player Richard Barbieri, whose accompaniments add texture and continuity to the song arrangements. And there are plenty of harmony vocals too, which means lots for "fifth member" John Wesley to do, as he joins them once more on tour.
Steven's production work is slick as a Steely Dan - unsurprisingly, as this is his favourite part of the creative endeavour - and doggedly old school. The Grammy nomination garnered by FOABP was for his masterful surround-sound mix. Since then, he has begun the job of remixing classic King Crimson into surround sound releases. One more compelling reason to go for the deluxe package here!
Now, if only there was a comparable demand for the new Charlotte Hatherley, we could all stop worrying about the future of great songwriting.
(1) Please support your favourite artists by always making legal purchases of their official releases!