Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Lava/Atlantic
Catalog Number: 83604-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:18:00

If you pick up In Absentia, know that delightful delerium awaits you at the masterful hands of Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Gavin Harrison, and Colin Edwin. In Porcupine Tree's current form, they have been delivering the best in experimental psychedelia to progressive audiences for almost a decade. In Absentia is no exception.

Porcupine Tree was created as a made-up band (in the style of Fozzy and Spinal Tap) in the late eighties by Wilson, and despite since gaining real members, real popularity, real albums and real fans, it hasn't got any less strange. In Absentia delivers a unique brand of cerebral weirdity, mixing bizarre yet poetic lyrics with complex, diverse music that is a pleasure to soak up. Sometimes heavy?sometimes light and flowing?sometimes stilted and slightly sinister?it is an album never repeats itself.

In Absentia puts its best foot forward right at the start with "Blackest Eyes," an ear-catching, heavy-riffing track that I've been known to play on loop for nearly half an hour. Somewhat lighter tracks follow, with "Trains," and "Lips Of Ashes" sounding almost Beatles-like (this is what Oasis might have been if they were any good) but still driven by a veiled, shadowy urgency that seems to be a trademark of Wilson's work. "Gravity Eyelids" also starts this way, but contains a harder passage in the middle which is evocative of the album's opening. Then the psychedelic Pink Floyd / King Crimson style instrumental "Wedding Nails" throws one off-balance, before slowing the pace down again for "Prodigal." At "The Creator Has A Mastertape" the direction changes again with a boppy, swift jazz beat. "Strip The Soul" is a creepy, sly piece, made even more so by the inclusion of a bonus Quicktime video which isn't something I'd want to examine too closely on a dark night. The album finishes with "Collapse The Light Into Earth," a wistfully simple piano-and-vocal-driven piece that fades slowly down into nothing.

There is also a special edition available, released in Europe, which contains a second disc with three bonus tracks ? "Drown With Me" (an accessible, rhythmic piece with some lovely harmonising work), "Chloroform" (mostly laid-back and sleepy, with great metallic guitars in the middle), and the video edit of "Strip The Soul." In my opinion this is worth looking for if it's available.

Have a listen to In Absentia, but beware, it may take a few spins before you get into it. Though "Blackest Eyes" snared me immediately, the rest of the album took me a little while to get used to. Now I love it, and I recommend this album as one to try.

Similar to: Pink Floyd, No-Man, King Crimson

[This review originally appeared June 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Blackest Eyes (4:23) / Trains (5:57) / Lips of Ashes (4:39) / The Sound of Muzak (4:59) / Gravity Eyelids (7:57) / Wedding Nails (6:34) / Prodigal (5:32) / 3 (5:26) / The Creator Has a Mastertape (5:21) / Heartattack in a Lay By (4:16) / Strip the Soul (7:22) / Collapse the Light into Earth (5:54)

Richard Barbieri - keyboards
Colin Edwin - bass
Gavin Harrison - drums
Steven Wilson - guitars, keyboards, vocals

Additional musicians:

John Wesley - guitars & vocals
Aviv Geffen - background vocals

On The Sunday Of Life... (1991)
Voyage 34 (1992)
Up The Downstair (1993)
Voyage 34: Remixes (1993)
Staircase Infinities (1994)
Moonloop E.P. (1994)
The Sky Moves Sideways (1995)
Signify (1996)
Coma Divine - Recorded Live In Rome (1997)
Stupid Dream (1999)
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip (2000/2004/2005
'4 Chords That Made A Million' (2000)
Lightbulb Sun (2000/2008)
'Shesmovedon' (2000)
Lightbulb Sun - Special Edition (2001)
Recordings (2001)
Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 - 1997(2002/2005)
Metanoia (2002)
In Absentia (2002)
In Absentia (European version) (2003)
Warszawa (2005)
Deadwing (2005)
Porcupine Tree (2006)
Fear Of A Blank Planet (2007)
Nil Recurring (2008)
The Incident (2009)

Arriving Somewhere... (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: January 17th 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website: www.porcupinetree.com
Hits: 934
Language: english


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