on 20 June 2004
I already owned and loved the CD - which is like a cross between Brian Wilson, Alice In Chains and Meddle-era Pink Floyd - but this DVD-A version is absolutely awesome. Cathedrals of sound sprout out of your head and unfurl across the room, and textural comparisons with Massive Attack spring up that hadn't been conjured by the bog-standard release. Anyone who collects SACD and DVD-A discs, as I do, will have been confronted by the incredibly classic rock-skewed selection of recordings currently available - and the few new acts releasing albums straight onto these formats are often wholly inappropriate candidates. Porcupine Tree's "In Absentia" is a searing blast of fresh air in this department, one of the great overlooked classic albums of 2003 remixed and refreshed to provide one of the best arguments yet for the new audio formats. As dark as some of the material is, I've been unable to contain an ear-to-ear smile while immersing myself in the magnificent sonic soundcscapes of Gravity Eyelids, Heart Attack In A Layby, The Creator Has A Mastertape, Blackest Eyes, Trains and more.... Unreservedly recommended!
on 5 May 2004
As far as I'm concerned, Porcupine Tree are one of those bands that just keep getting better and better - certainly the release of this, their most recent studio recording, did nothing to disuade me of that when it emerged belatedly in the UK just over a year ago. You don't expect a Porcupine Tree album to follow exactly the same formula as the last one, and this is certainly no exception, with it's harder, heavier edge. All the prescribed qualities are there in abundance, though - creativity and proficiency well to the fore.
Definitely one of those albums with no weak tracks, so singling anything out for a mention is difficult, but I'm currently obsessing over the enchantingly melancholy "Heartattack in a Layby" and the tense "The Creator Has a Mastertape". Excellent lyrics abound, but a special mention must go to the words "Train set and match" kicking off the track "Trains" - just fine by me.
on 25 October 2005
For me a new find . I am at heart a Floyd fan, but started about 9 months ago looking for other prog rock bands whilst off long term sick. I was amazed at how many bands still go under the genre of prog. Allowing for the fact that this is not what I personaly would call prog, having bought it I was blown away. Powerfull, melodic, great musicianship from all members of the band members and terrific vocals to boot.I have also rercently bought music by, Mostly Autumn, RPWL, Riverside, I.Q, Transatlantic, Spocks Bears, Dream Theatre, Kaipa, Pendragon,Magellan, Vanden Plas, amd Manning.
Older prog I was listening to included, Rush, Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Alan Parsons, Pink Floyd to name a few.
All recently purchased music have been good for expanding the old buggers previously narrow field of Prog, but finally I must say that this has been on the player most days so far.It is a little heavy for some maybe in parts, but I love it. 11/10.
on 28 July 2004
For years I have been waiting for something to really blow me away on DVD-Audio, and this is it! There is tremendous variety in the song styles, precision and clarity in the way the songs are played, and emotion and intelligence in Steven Wilson's lyrics. Combine these with SW's growing ear for production, and you end up with one of the most exceptional and underrated albums of the last decade.
Each time I listen to the album I have a new favourite song. Songs like 'Gravity Eyelids' and 'Collapse The Light Into Earth' build and soar majestically. The acoustics on 'Trains' are clear and crisp. 'Lips Of Ashes' sounds mystical, 'Strip The Soul' just sounds so powerful. I do not have to reach for the remote to skip any tracks. It is just masterful rock music.
Quite simply, this is the best DVD-Audio you can buy today. 5/5
on 31 December 2002
I'm a long time PT fan... been into them since Up the Downstair, and have watched them progress (no pun!) from a reliance on instrumental tracks with SOME songs, to albums full of proper songs. It's a progression i wanted from the band... and i love them for it!
If you think calling PT 'Prog' is correct, bethink you, as this is modern, moody, ethereal, melodic, epic and loud! Highlights are Gravity Eyelids, which is one of the most awesome PT songs ever recorded. The Euro release sees the inclusion of previously MP3 only 'Chloroform' which is also a fabulous track. These two are more in keeping with previous modern PT stuff. Other tracks are much heavier in sound (Strip The Soul, least fav on album). But there is still the loud bits followed by really sweet melodies and kewl multitracked vocals, which keep you coming back time after time.
it's an album that seems accessible at first, but reveals more layers as time goes on, as with Lightbulb Sun previously.
PT specialise in moody semi-progressive music. If you like epic guitar stuff mixed with dreamy synth textures and some real strings then this is for you.
Compared to previous...
In Absentia is, to my mind, NOT quite as good as Lightbulb Sun (my overall fav), it's more RAWWWKK than previous CDs. It's not as accesible as Stupid Dream, but you get bored of SD after a while.
Diehards will get it anyway, but give it a go if you don't know them (and get LS too), you won't be sorry!
on 19 July 2007
Porcupine Tree are fast becoming well known prog rock musicians renowned for experimentation. If they were Pink Floyd clones in the beginning then they certainly aren't now. In Absentia rings with the now well established Porcupine Tree sound. Right from the beginning thrash riff of "Blackest Eyes" to the final piano notes of "Collapse The Light..." the listener (us lucky, lucky people) is taken on a musical journey of epic proportions. The album is not happy, make no mistake about it, but at the same time it does not have the annoying air of a dog that has been kicked. There is also a huge variety of music on this album, from the acoustic "Trains," the thrash "Blackest Eyes," and the spaced out "Gravity Eyelids." I am here reviewing this album in 2005 and another Porcupine Tree album, by the name of "Fear Of A Blank Planet." This, like "In Absentia," is an anguish drenched masterpiece and is definitely worth investigating if you like "In Absentia." I am sooooo pleased that Porcupine Tree are bearing a standard of avant garde, experimental music that outshines the rubbish on the charts and radio these days, without ripping off and recycling older prog artists (a la Dream Theater). In short, buy buy buy.
on 15 March 2003
Porcupine Tree return with their loudest and most punchy album to date and it is arguably also their best. Steven Wilson has found the perfect balance between ambient soundscapes and roaring guitars. As a result the album is full of contrasts from the melancholy of Heartattack in a Layby to the angry Strip the Soul.
These contrasts can often be found within the same song. Consequently tunes like the opener Blackest Eyes (a hit if PT ever were to have half the same publicity as some bands get) and the lengthy Gravity Eyelids have a powerful dynamic quality.
Musically, the album is top notch, especially Barbieri's bass and Harrison's tight drumming. A string section is added to two of the tracks to lend a little warmth and feeling, especially in Collapse The Light Into Earth, a really moving tune.
Go and get this album. Do not be put off by the prog tag that PT are often given. This is great accessible music.
on 22 February 2003
Previously one of the best kept secrets of the British music scene, PORCUPINE TREE take their game to a new level with the latest offering, the mighty IN ABSENTIA, and are likely to finally gain the wide recognition they so richly deserve. Whilst long time fans may miss some of the atmospherics and melancholia of SIGNIFY, STUPID DREAM and LIGHTBULB SUN, front man Steven Wilson, apparently influenced by his recent stint as producer of Swedish thrash merchants OPETH, delivers their most focussed and powerful album yet. Whilst I lament the loss of the fluid, open drumming of former member Chris Maitland, his replacement Gavin Harrison generates a rhythm section with bassist Colin Edwin that is the tightest yet, best evidenced in the stunning THE CREATOR HAS A MASTER TAPE. Lyrically Wilson is in top form. The songs range from the world weary to the uplifting, alongside ferocious outburts and heartbreaking candour, with a healthy smattering of well placed humour. ("Spend my time with all my friends.....I will miss them when the series ends."
The UK limited edition contains extra songs from the sessions that are worth the price alone. DROWN WITH ME somehow contrives to be cynical yet totally joyous in equal measure, with a bass line to die for. CHLOROFORM is yet another example of Wilson as guitar maestro bar none. As a fan since the days of ON THE SUNDAY OF LIFE I feel this is quite definitely the best yet. Buy immediately.
on 9 January 2005
The odd track on Bob Harris Radio 2 show was my intro to PT, why this band is not better known is a mystery. This album is a classic, there's no crap on it, most of the tracks are highlights. Some of the lyrics are coming from a very dark place such as Blackest Eyes, Prodigal & Strip the Soul, but musically, it's a mindblower. Gravity Eyelids haunts the mind, Sound of Muzak takes a great swipe at fabricated tunes, & my personal fav, Prodigal, has to be the best use I've ever heard of 3 chords, coupled with layered vocal harmonies & blistering axe work. If you listening to this album for the 1st time, play Strip the Soul as loud as your neighbours/family will allow, or put on headphones. I'm eagerly anticipating PT's next release, (Deadwing, 21st March), but it will have to be good to beat this.
on 18 October 2002
I have now had this album in my grubby mitts for about three weeks giving myself time to listen over and over before commenting.
Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree never seem to fail to amaze with so many differnet influences on their music. This effort is certainly among their best works. Opening with a wonderfully melodic heavy riff and some great singing from Steven, Blackest Eyes is for me one of the standout tracks, and is certainly a single that will chart. This is followed by some wonderfully atmospheric acoustic driven tracks mixed with a few heavier but still wonderful songs. This leads to the albums masterpiece, The Creator Has A Mastertape, unmistakeably PT this reminds me of the days of "Signify" wonderful stuff, a mixture of heavier melodic progressive music.
This may take a few listenings to forfil its initial potential but stick with it, its well worth the ride.