The free spirit of the 60s and 70s in the notes of Porcupine Tree

The free spirit of the 60s and 70s in the notes of Porcupine Tree

In the second half of the 1980s Steven Wilson gives life to the Porcupine TreeIn 1992 the first album of the British group was released, “On the Sunday of Life…”. The following year comes out “Up the Downstairs”the second album. The Australian bassist collaborates on this album Colin Edwin who later joined the band, and was a part of it continuously until 2010 when, after having released the album “The incident” in 2009, the group goes on an indefinite hiatus. A hiatus that will last until 2021 when the Porcupine Tree they return in a three-man formation: Steven Wilson, RichardBarbers And Gavin Harrison. In 2022, after thirteen years, here is a new album:

“Closure/Continuation” (read the review here). Today is the birthday of Colin Edwinwe celebrate it by proposing the reading of the review of “The incident” who wrote for us Alfredo Martian.

“I was born in ’67, the year of Sergeant Pepper and Are you experienced?”. That’s it. In “Time flies” – the linchpin of the new Porcupine Tree album – Steven Wilson explains where he comes from. He’s forty-two years old, and he’s just had time to enjoy the era in which LPs were listened to lying on the bed with eyes closed, or sitting in a circle with friends around the totem-turntable. He loves shooting iPods or melting them with an oxy-acetylene torch, and he’s not afraid of being seen as a Luddite-revanchist: the heart of the new double CD from the Porcupine Tree (actually a record and a half, about 75 minutes in total) is a mammoth 55-minute suite, something that not even Yes in their golden days could match.

It is divided into fourteen tracks/movements that intertwine and chase each other, agreed, but it is understood that it must be listened to all at once, without interruption.

Maybe lying on the bed, and with your eyes closed, taking a break from your daily commitments (what an old-fashioned concept). Someone will run away terrified, but if you like the genre and accept the challenge you will not be disappointed. Because “The incident” is a strange beast, cumbersome yet agile, with a complex morphology but a compact and streamlined profile. A technological dinosaur of the 21st century, and Dave DiMartino on Yahoo is right: Porcupine Tree are perhaps the only ones to play progressive rock without sounding even a little retro. Their music, more than ever, is a dramatic succession of chiaroscuro, storms and rainbows, delicate acoustic breezes and explosive electrical discharges.

Inside you can find Radiohead and a lot of Pink Floyd (“Dark side of the moon” and especially “Animals”, this time): in the “Time flies” mentioned above, which its author defines as a “sentimental” song, there is the perfect welding between “Sheep” and “Breathe”, the Gilmourian touch of the guitar and the nostalgic Watersian lyricism. The game of references could continue forever: spasmodic accelerations à la Mars Volta and elegant embroideries in the style of Genesis from the “Foxtrot” and “The Lamb” periods, and we don’t want to forget the crooked geometries of King Crimson, the recurring riffs in pure nu-metal style, thatindustrial music violent and dark like Nine Inch Nails? (describing “The blind house”, another episode of the suite, another reviewer mentions Linkin Park and Emerson, Lake & Palmer: a somewhat forced comparison, perhaps, but it gets the idea across).

The good news is that it (almost never) sounds like a cloying, self-serving pose.

What is celebrated here above all in the Sixties and Seventies is the free and bold spirit, courageous and why not even self-indulgent. Wilson, Barbieri, Edwin and Garrison want to force us to listen (perhaps with headphones, or with a 5.1 system), to take the necessary time and force ourselves to understand. They help us by avoiding useless displays of their technical expertise and by keeping magniloquent temptations reined in, most of the time. The Stakhanovite Steven (who has just published a beautiful live with Blackfield) is a quiet boy from a good family born in a “suburban paradise” (again “Time flies”), but here he digs further into his latent anxieties by exploring the accidents of life, stories of death, pain and madness, séances and car accidents, which the mass media accumulate, distort and amplify in the collective feeling. It could have turned out to be an indigestible rant, but instead this cycle of “vaguely surreal” songs soaked in a .spleen much English is saved by its lyrical outbursts, by the airy melodic openings, by the singable and easy to memorize choruses. A tunnel with light at the end, and a record that is truly an adventurous journey. Like in the days of Jimi and the Fab Four, and never mind if out there there are X Factor and American Idol, not Monterey or the Magical Mystery Tour.