Posts Tagged ‘Porcupine Tree’

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Porcupine Tree Signify

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Signify (1996)

Last winter, I listened to a lot of Porcupine Tree. I listened to, for the first time, Signify, Lightbulb Sun, and Stupid Dream. Of these, I probably like Signify the best.

I always remember winter when I listen to Signify, mostly because it was the default as I drove to work each day in ice and snow. And it is a suiting winter album.

I think and feel several things when I listen to Signify. The themes are usually bleak, dealing with disconnect and numbness. The lyrics ask haunting questions, such as “Where will be when the future comes?” It expresses discontent and anger toward religion and those use it for power, perhaps even outrightly condemning religion itself.

But musically, this is Porcupine Tree at their best, and they’re at their best quite often. If you’re used to In Absentia or Deadwing era Porcupine Tree, as I was, the style might take some getting used to. After all, it was composed in 1996, six years before In Absentia. But they rock as hard as ever and sound quintessentially Porucpine Tree. This album is host to several classics, such as “Sleep of No Dreaming,” “Sever,” “Idiot Prayer,” and “Dark Matter.”

This is one of those rare albums that’s good from start to finish. The message isn’t very good, expressing bleak discontent and outright negativity that could be depression-inducing at times, aided by the minor key tonality. It is certainly haunting and even creepy at points. But it’s Porcupine Tree and that’s to be expected. Just be aware that the album will deal with dark themes that it doesn’t attempt to answer positively.

Signify is a good album. Porcupine Tree is a highly talented band, and this album is worth a listen, if only for its outstanding musicality.

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Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

Saturday, April 18, 2009
Deadwing (2005)

Deadwing (2005)

From the first time I listened to this album it felt so innately familiar, like I heard all these songs before. This is definitely not a bad thing, in this case.

Every one of these songs are great and add something to the album, which I can’t really say for In Absentia. Certainly some are weaker than others, but every song shines here.

It starts hard with the nealy ten minute “Deadwing.” Next the pop-metallish “Shallow.” Then my favorite song on the album, “Lazarus,” is very pretty and spacey. It has a piano background which really make the song tender and warm while maintining its progressive elements.

Deadwing is my second Porcupine Tree album and it just makes me want to explore the band further. This is the beginning of a great and new obsession, I’m sure.

“Arriving Somewhere but Not Here” is just an epic twelve minute thrill ride. “Mellotron Scratch” is also good. I could just go through the rest of the songs and devote a sentence to each of them, but there really is no point. I’d just be repeating myslf.

I’m not really an expert on Porcupine Tree, but this album makes me want to be one. It’s very surprisng to me that they are not as popular. I know, there are a lot of people who know about Porcupine Tree, but I guess what I’m saying is if you were to walk up to someone at my unversity and ask them if they’ve heard of them, maybe one of fifty would say “yes.” As such, Porcupine Tree seem to be a secretly amazing band that only a lucky few will ever hear about.

Deadwing is fun. While In Absentia has some better songs, Deadwing seems more consistent. I’ll probably review Fear of a Blank Planet soon.

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Porcupine Tree – In Absentia

Friday, February 13, 2009
In Absentia (2002)

In Absentia (2002)

Though unique, In Absentia doesn’t sacrifice accessibility. On first listen, it is engaging, and remains so to me over a year after I got it.

In Absentia is a concept album about a serial killer – or the darkest elements of people. “The Creator Has a Masterpiece,” for example, is about child abuse. The music itself reflects the dark lyrics – the strumming is violent and thrashing, while some songs have a calm yet disconcerting vibe – “Lips of Ashes” is a good example. It’s a really cool album to listen to – it has many unexepected turns.

Given the murderous themes, this was a fitting album for my friend and I to listen to on our way to see Friday the 13th yesterday.

Some people really love Porcupine Tree. But I’m of the school that they aren’t the BA new gods of the universe some make them out to be. I admit Porcupine Tree’s musicality is impressive. The banjo solo in the almost poppy “Trains” is amazing, and the song’s hand claps are well-placed (I’m a sucker for hand claps). Other highlights include “Blackest Eyes,” “The Sound of Muzak,” and  “Gravity Eyelids.”

Though the front half of the album has the lion’s share of the best songs, my favorite song is actually the album closer,  “Collapse the Light Into Earth.” It’s a haunting piano refrain which repeats itself over and over, adding layer upon layer – first, voice, then strings, then all of them together. The song feels like a passageway from life to death, or life to new life. I can’t really explain why it feels that way to me.

I can’t understand Porcupine Tree, genre-wise, because they use so many ideas in their music. As a good progressive band, Porcupine Tree can take these varying ideas and combine them seamlessly.

Great album, great band.