On Spec 14: Porcupine Tree – In Absentia
I knew the name of the band, but couldn’t have said why, and definitely hadn’t heard any music from them before this (to my knowledge). So I threw on the good headphones and gave this 2002 album a spin. I liked it! There’s an intelligent, tasteful aspect to everything they do, whether they’re gently strumming a ballad or rocking the hell out in almost metal sounds… which is to say, when they want it beautiful, they’re certainly beautiful. And when they want it to rock, well, they got it in spades. But the whole thing is rather restless, shifting approaches and sounds within songs…
There are elements of prog and psychedelia for sure, and some funky punker moments too, so it feels like a complete album as it is definitely varied enough to keep things interesting. I struggled most with what I heard of other bands’ signature sounds in these tunes, which I know is totally unfair, but objectivity was hard. Album opener Blackest Eyes has sections of cool Soundgarden and Tool to it, though the main focus seems to be gentler, rock/pop with the heavier bits as accents. Elsewhere, I hear Pink Floyd big-time, as well as a lot of Marillion, but by and large it sounds like just about every 90s rock/pop band that was halfways decent. And that’s not a slight, it’s just what I heard.
Knowing nothing of these guys going in, and having this as my only example of their sound (so far), I will say that I enjoyed this album. I don’t know how much I would choose to throw it on to listen to it just yet, but I’m going to let it gestate a while and come back to it in a week or so. Perhaps it’s more of a grower, as my instincts say this is one of those albums that one day will just ‘click’ and I’ll ‘get it’ and everything will be grand. I liked it enough that I’m willing to try!
You can read lots about this album RIGHT HERE.
And here, try out the first track. The opening is awesome and had my attention, but the verses not so much… it’s quite a juxtaposition… it all comes back at 2:45 and there’s a great wee instrumental chunk there as well as the outro.