Defying categorization, Porcupine Tree blends a wide variety of textures and sounds in their music.
Together since 1993 and consistently finding themselves at the top of the British indie charts, Porcupine Tree has sold over 350,000 albums worldwide. Their previous release on Lava Records, “In Absentia,” garnered much critical acclaim and helped them break into the fickle US market. Now on the heels of that release comes “Deadwing.”
According to principal songwriter/guitarist Steven Wilson, the album is based on “Deadwing,” a film script he and friend Mike Bennion wrote while he was working this album. “The entire album; the lyrics, the subject matter, the packaging, all the images, are clues to the story of the movie” says Wilson.
The title track, "Deadwing," an ambitious 9+ minute opus, starts off the CD with a variety of tempo, style, and timing changes. Multi layered and enjoyable… The album’s first single, “Shallow,” is sure to get steady airplay in many American markets. It’s a straight-forward rocker! In the words of Steven Wilson it’s “the equivalent of a big, dumb rock song, but in the way that people who are not dumb would do.” What follows is “Lazarus,” a beautiful acoustic guitar and piano filled piece that’s wholly unlike the previous track. Guitar legend Adrian Belew (King Crimson, David Bowie) provides a great ‘signature’ second guitar solo on “Halo” which also features an equally impressive and eerie solo by Wilson. A haunting track, “Halo” is appropriately titled to reflect its Nine Inch Nails influence.
Reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” or “Animals,” “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” is a 12 minute centerpiece on the disc. It pulls in progressive music elements of Rush, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and early Genesis, along with the rock compositions similar to Led Zeppelin or The Who. This track needs to be experienced with headphones in order to appreciate its magnificently layered sound.
“Mellotron Scratch” is a dreamy, laid back tune filled with three-part harmonies. The heaviness and riffing come back to the forefront with “Open Car” with its staccato vocal and guitar parts and all the while maintaining the harmonies of the previous tracks; A feat that Porcupine Tree pulls off wonderfully throughout the entire album.
The band plays with time signatures all throughout “The Start of Something Beautiful” and it all builds to a fully textured sound towards the end. Keeping with the textured soundscapes, “Glass Arm Shattering” has a dreamlike, Floydian feel that seems to float about in space.
The hidden bonus track – “shesmovedon” is a re-recorded, slightly different version from the band’s previous offering “Lightbulb Sun.” It’s the second single off that album and a fantastic stand-out track!
In addition to Adrian Belew performing on the album, Mikael Ackerfeldt, from the Swedish death metal band Opeth, is on board to lend backing vocals and secondary guitar work to a few tracks. Steven Wilson has worked with Opeth in the past as a producer/collaborator and their influence shines through on several tracks.
Porcupine Tree is a band that refuses to be defined by their influences; but instead shape their own distinctive sound from them. "Deadwing" is clearly one of the top releases of 2005 and you’d be doing yourself a favor by picking it up.
The band is currently on tour and when they hit the States, you can bet I’ll be there waiting for the house lights to dim!
Rock Eyez interview with Steven Wilson (05/12/05).
- Steven Wilson - guitar, vocals
- Richard Barbieri - keyboards
- Colin Edwin - bass
- Gavin Harrison - drums
- Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
- Mellotron Scratch
- Open Car
- The Start of Something Beautiful
- Glass Arm Shattering
- shesmovedon (Bonus Track)