Ok, now to quantify this review lets start by saying that I'm not the biggest Porcupine Tree fan. I thought The Incident was excellent, Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun was pretty good, and the rest pretty average, a few good tracks here and there but nothing too remarkable.
I would not have bought this if it had not received a glowing review in Classic Rock and thought I'd give it a punt and run a download. For £5.43 what could go wrong?
As soon as it was downloaded (took a while, broadband not too speedy here) I settled down with a mug of tea googled the lyrics and off we went.
Sailing from the speakers came a sublime mix of very retro prog mixed with jazzy interludes, atmospheric keyboards - each song intertwined with a narrative story of regret, death, etc - all the usual 'happy' prog staples. Wilson has assembled a very talented band capable of playing out his visions, an unashamed romp through extended pieces that billow out slowly and dramatically with all their prog roots showing. This is the kind of music that Punk tried, and failed to kill off in the 70's, but with a pristine clarity of recording that is frankly breath-taking. If it sounds good on an Ipod, what does the blue ray version sound like?!
Highlight for me has to the last song, the title track that tells of a man who loses his sister early on in her life, and struggling to come to terms with it convinces himself that a raven he has captured will prove that there is life after death if he can get the bird to sing. As the title suggests, the raven refuses and he is left to ponder whether there is anything beyond this life. Weird? Yes, Morbid? Indeed. Beautiful, heart wrenching and downright genius? You bet your bottom dollar...
Music for the heart, the head, the soul, the past, the future. Marvellous stuff Steve, thank you so much