14 September 2009
by Raziq Rauf
The very notion of a 55-minute title track should be enough to make most people giggle a little bit. There are implications of ‘concept album’ and insinuations of ‘prog-rock’ involved in that notion. Neither of these things are not cool, but they encompass exactly what The Incident is, and exactly what Porcupine Tree do.
After consistently releasing stunning works which are as thought-provoking as they are sonically mesmerising, the Hemel Hempstead quartet have slowly been recognised as masters within their field of modern progressive rock, and rightly so.
If you’re familiar with any of their older works, you’ll understand that chief songwriter, frontman and all-round major protagonist of the band Steven Wilson might have seemed far from jolly in the past. You’ll be pleased to know that nothing has changed in that respect.
The focus of his attention has shifted somewhat, from the disillusioned youth and throwaway electronic culture that surrounds him all the way to talking about how modern mass media doesn’t actually relate to anything tangible any more. Ah, the woes of disenfranchisement as recited by a miserable sod.
Over 11 minutes of the 55 is taken up by the epic arrangement of ‘Time Flies’. It intersperses jangled acoustic guitars with angular complexities that might fly over some heads – repeat listens are deserved. The song is organised so intricately that all the nuances and difficulties that might have gone into recording such an extraordinary song are totally lost in its beauty.
Watch the video to ‘Time Flies’ by Porcupine Tree
At the other end of the spectrum, however, sit songs like the title track (of the title track) and ‘Occam’s Razor’, which will shower the listener with jagged shards of heavy metal; jagged shards that will bypass your vital organs and instead embed themselves within the deeper, darker echelons of your mind. Some of this album is simply unforgettable.
Wilson and Porcupine Tree really do lead by example: with The Incident acting as a fantastic example of how to take inspiration from all the sub-standard facets of day-to-day goings on to create a stunning collection of songs, they’ve proved that not everything in modern life is rubbish.
Sounds like: an angry Pink Floyd, or a chilled out Meshuggah
Top tracks: Occam’s Razor, Time Flies
Porcupine Tree – The Incident tracklisting
<->I. “Occam’s Razor”
<->II. “The Blind House”
<->III. “Great Expectations”
<->IV. “Kneel and Disconnect”
<->V. “Drawing the Line”
<->VI. “The Incident”
<->VII. “Your Unpleasant Family”
<->VIII. “The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train”
<->IX. “Time Flies”
<->X. “Degree Zero of Liberty”
<->XI. “Octane Twisted”
<->XII. “The Séance”
<->XIII. “Circle of Manias”
<->XIV. “I Drive the Hearse”
Bonnie the Cat
Remember Me Lover
This review can also be found at BBC Music.