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Album Review: TBA

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Album Review: Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring

Out of the ashes of last year’s recording sessions for their latest opus, ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’, rises a new mini-album, ‘Nil Recurring’, a self-contained work in its own right totalling just shy of a half-hour. Regarded as one of the most impressive experimental prog-rock band ever to emerge from the UK, Porcupine Tree have enjoyed a successful recording career spanning fifteen years but there is still a worry that this new offering may just be last year’s cast-off tracks. This fear is quickly allayed by the monumental title-track with its bouncing bass funk rhythm with guest axeman Robert Fripp giving us a chugging, cutting guitar which opens out into full roaring overdrive. Shorn of vocals the track makes a feature of the groove where notes are cleverly selected, lovingly toyed with, and then scattered like confetti.

The band create slowly shifting patterns and are often eager to link tracks together allowing the whole menagerie of songs to segue slowly and organically along. ‘Normal’ follows this pattern with its matching riff but becomes something more melodic, soft and sweeping. There’s an almost poppy feel with simple drum/bass patterns and catchy lyrics but the guitars break out with contrasting bright electrics falling out to reveal subtle, gently repeating acoustics. The last two tracks provide a similarly accessible sound; ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ has big, busty drums and wailing lead riffs through psychedelic pedal effects, whilst ‘What Happens Now?’ has Ben Coleman stepping in on acoustic violin, and sweeping keyboard parts, finishing in a reversed, yelping series of feedback. The lyrics have a tendency to enter very dark and disturbing places - ‘I could be boarding an aircraft with a bomb concealed in somebody’s briefcase’ - but this trend belies the overall uplifting feel of yet another accomplished and ornately carved piece of Porcupine Tree craftsmanship.

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