Porcupine Tree – In Absentia

What can you say when you are writing a review of an album you bought because of reading a review?  As I read Billboard Magazine that my cousin gave me I saw the review of this album, In Absentia.  They talked about a dense, layered, prog album with melancholy pop sensibilities.  Reading this intrigued me.  So I went out to my local music store, Newbury Comics and picked up the CD.

When I put the CD on in my car I was taking aback by how the songs were dense, lush, powerful, layered and yet had hooks galore.  After my first listen what immediately came to mind was Pink Floyd meets Tool.  I got home and decided to delve into it more since my wife had to work late that night.

So putting on my headphones I dove right in to the album again.  As Blackest eyes started to play I was instantaneously overwhelmed feeling that this was what Pink Floyd would sound like if they evolved into today’s music.  Reading the lyrics I felt how a man could make this dark theme seem that is so poetic and beautiful at the same time dark and disturbing.  The layers of acoustic and guitars done by Steven Wilson were staggering.  Add the atmospheric layers of keyboards by Richard Barbieri and I was brought into this song like it was a disturbed painting that I could see its beauty in layers.

The pure genius of Trains is that it is a simple structured tune that’s not that simple.  What sticks out in this song and all of In Absentia is that throughout its dark themes comes a plethora of hooks and melody.  Where has this band been and why haven’t other bands been able to master this dark beauty?

Lyrically this writer, Wilson delves into the dark mind of a disturbed man who can’t stop his carnal urges.  In songs like Lips of Ashes, Darkest Eyes, Gravity Eyelids never sounded so poetic yet so disturbing.  As if a poet is writing all his evil urges while slipping into psychopathy, yet the music connects to the lyrics making the listener feel like you are following a man into a bewitching spiral downward.

From the crescendo and then spiral down of Gravity Eyelids to the instrumental prowess of Steven Wilson and kinetic drumming of Gavin Harrison in Wedding Nails to the dark grooves of Colin Edwin in .3 and the bombastic metal infused, Strip the Soul, In Absentia is a pure masterpiece of how beautiful something so dark can be.

Is there anything more beautiful than a man giving up on love and maybe life in the dreamy, melodic, melancholy song, Heartattack in a Layby?  I think not and for that, Steven Wilson and Co. has made their musical Vincent Van Gogh in Audio.  From start to finish In absentia is their magnum opus.

Review by – kingshmegland

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