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Porcupine Tree | Deadwing
a radio bobo-k music cd review

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This recording took about a half dozen listenings for me to want to write about it. I listened to it in my car, didn't quite get it and said I'd come back to it. A few weeks later, checked it out while at the gym, again it was ok, but I needed more time. When I finally said, hey-you've had this for 2 months either review it or not, I popped it in again. And this time something finally worked. I think I realized why - my disc was damaged and it skipped directly to track 2.

But then a few tracks later the next twelve minute pseudo-psychedelia kicked in and it lost me again.

You see, Blunterettes, Porcupine Tree is a concept band of sorts, a London-based art rock cult fav in Europe who pray to the altar of Pink Floyd. Like many of these art rock bands (or as I like to call it, bands which only psychedelic drug users could like) many of their songs aren't accessible outside of that genre. Which made Deadwing hard for me to like.

But when I popped the CD - which I apparently damaged somewhere between listenings five and six, the CD started off with Shallow - which clocks in at just over four minutes, is a very accessible rock cut. As Steve Wilson, the principal songwriter/guitarist of Porcupine Tree calls it "the equivalent of a big, dumb rock song." I guess that means I am, pun intended, shallow. Lazarus, the cut that follows, is a very mellow, pleasant cut-a bit reminiscent of Coldplay. And the next cut Halo has a great groove with some nifty production work (with Adrian Belew on guitars). And then the next ten minute opus begins and it loses me again.

The album is uneven, altering between atmospheric, trippy, ten minute pieces and shorter rock-riff laden cuts. Can you tell that I'm biased--I'm not a fan of atmospheric bands. I much prefer Yes's radio singles to their esoteric cuts, same with Pink Floyd, and other than one or two tracks Rush makes me want to scream. I feel much the same way about the modern equivalents - Mars Volta and Radiohead bore me to tears. As a reviewer my biases come into play when I review recordings and I feel that you should be privy to such full disclosure.

Now that you are fully aware of my biases, there are three stand out tracks for me … Shallow, Lazarus and Halo. The rest become background fodder which I might probably enjoy if I did drugs. But I don't. Like Yes, I listen to the more "radio-friendly" cuts and wonder what a kick-ass album they could create if they really wanted to. Instead, we are left with three cuts (Deadwing, Arriving Somewhere, and Glass Arm Shattering) that total over thirty minutes of songs which to me is the sonic equivalent of bad a bad acid trip. If you like that kind of thing, these guys are quite proficient.

Track listing:
1. Deadwing
2. Shallow
3. Lazarus
4. Halo
5. Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
6. Mellotron Scratch
7. Open Car
8. The Start of Something Beautiful
9. Glass Arm Shattering
10. She's Moved On (Bonus Track)

 

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