Friday, 19 February 2016

Porcupine Tree "Fear Of A Blank Planet" (2007)


Being an avid fan of Opeth, its hard not to hear of this band who are frequently discussed and cited as a big influence on the Swedish bands sound. Porcupine Tree are a four piece British Progressive Rock group who formed in the late eighties long after the genres heyday. Beyond that there isn't much I can tell you about them, however they have certainly stirred my interest with this stunning record. Its remained on my playlist for several months and has resisted my understanding, my reach to put feelings into thoughts and this is a sign of its weight, its value, its strengths. There is so much to digest in this dense lavishing of musical passageways and emotional narratives that one is continually indulged and at the mercy of its evolving direction. With every listen I have wished to better understand my experience, yet each time I find their is more to be learned and discovered.

Having heard a fair share of lush and expansive music like this, I found myself most fascinated by the lyrical content which was starkly blunt and different from my exceptions. Fueled with teenage angst and the line "My Xbox is a god to me", this procession of youthful thoughts referencing school, anger, isolation and pornography was initially confusing but eventually it clicked that of course its conceptual and the subject weight is being expressed through the perspective of adolescence. Its quite dark and deals with the problems of youth in such a technologically charged society that causes its share of mental health problems in young people both connected and isolated through technology.

Behind it a continually unraveling flow of luscious instrumentation plays through its share of striking, memorable moments between lengthy, relaxing mellower periods. The most noticeable traits is the depth of sound behind the core instruments and the metallic tenancies that take over moments in these songs. At all times through this record synths, organs or strings can be heard layered in the backdrop, stepping forwards sometimes to enrich a climactic moment. There's a main direction to follow but always depth in the details these additional instruments add. The guitars on occasions dip into some heavy, sometime Djent guitar tones and heavy, crunching moments which personally felt dry as the other instruments drop out of focus for underwhelming, agressive grooves.

Despite a minor quibble this record is a striking effort, possibly their best investigating the critical acclaim of their discography. I do wonder if the title is a reference to Public Enemies 1990 record of the same name and on a final note the production quality of this record is practically flawless, sublime in all measures, a fine piece of work.

Rating: 9/10

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