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Porcupine Tree - In Absentia CD (album) cover

IN ABSENTIA

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.24 | 2276 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In Absentia is the Seventh full-length studio album by British progressive rock act Porcupine Tree. The band has gone through quite a development in sound since their debut release On the Sunday of Life..... (1991). Starting out as a one man bedroom recording project playing psychadelic progressive rock and growing into one of the most influential and succesful modern progressive rock bands is quite the achivement. I haven´t been much of a fan of the early releases from the band even though most were good efforts ( nothing outstanding IMO though). In Absentia has totally changed my view on Porcupine Tree though and finally Steven Wilson & Co. have created a sound that fully captures my attention.

While the music is still unmistakably Porcupine Tree, a couple of new elements have been added to their sound. Steven Wilson had acted as producer for progressive death metal act Opeth on their 2001 release Blackwater Park and on Deliverance (2002) and Damnation (2003) both of the latter was recorded during the same sessions as documented on the Lamentations (2003) DVD release. Maybe the Swedes have had an impact on Steven Wilson because Porcupine Tree have surely gotten a lot heavier than they used to be. Especially compared to the two more mainstream oriented and polished predecessors Stupid Dream (1999) and Lightbulb Sun (2000). There´s an emphasis on beautiful song melodies but there´s certainly also an emphasis on experimenting with song structures and genres. The music is not overtly complex though and the experiments never take away the melodic focus in the songs. The heavy element which is heard in songs like Blackest Eyes, Gravity Eyelids and Wedding Nails is only a new added element in the sound not a dominant feature in all songs so by all means don´t expect this to be a heavy metal album. There´s some excellent mellow and beautiful songs on the album in addition to the more experiemental and heavy songs. Songs like The Sound of Muzak ( which has one of the most infectious choruses I´ve ever heard), the ambient .3 ( which reminds me of the Dutch pop/ rock act Hooverphonic) and the closing Collapse the Light Into Earth are all good examples of the more mellow side of Porcupine Tree on In Absentia.

The musicianship is fantastic. Excellent and tight performances by all musicians involved. I really enjoy Steven Wilson´s beautiful vocals ( even though he has quite an anonymous voice he really knows how to use it to full effect) and his occasional fierce guitar playing. The rythm section is outstanding too and ex-Japan keyboardist Richard Barbieri has a tasteful style to my ears.

The production need a special mention as it is fantastic. Absolutely wonderful clean and modern production. Some people might miss a bit of organic warmth but I couldn´t wish for a better sound.

In Absentia is by far the best album Porcupine Tree had released when it came out and finally an album by the band that I enjoy for the whole duration of its playing time. There was always something on the earlier albums that I found dull or superfluous and that annoyed me every time. With In Absentia the band have cut away all unneccesary and disturbing elements from their sound and what is left is an almost perfect album of progressive rock. As close to a masterpiece as you get without being awarded the 5th star by this reviewer ( and I might change my mind in the future). A BIG 4 star rating it will be and a recommendation from me that this is a must hear album.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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