Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Porcupine Tree's Octane Twisted released today

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You know what comes out today (in North America)?

Octane Twisted by Porcupine Tree, a double CD (with a DVD in the special edition being sold directly by Kscope in the U.K. -- yes, I ordered mine weeks ago, and it should be here any day) featuring the band performing the 14-part "The Incident" (the first disc of the two-disc The Incident) in its entirety at the Riviera in Chicago on April 30, 2010, along with additional tracks recorded at that show and at London's Royal Albert Hall on October 14, 2010.

You may know how much I love Porcupine Tree, and, well, pretty much everything Steven Wilson's associated with, and I've posted a lot here already, including most recently some Blackfield (here) and some of Wilson's fantastic solo stuff (here and here), as well as PT's excellent "Drown With Me" last month.

Well, The Incident is probably my favorite PT album, just ahead of the great trio of albums from 1999 to 2002 -- Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, and In Absentia. (I delved into their history a bit back in May -- but back then I wrote that Lightbulb Sun was my favourite album.) I hope they do more, of course, though they're not currently recording (with Wilson focusing on his solo career), but I see this album as the culmination of everything that came before it, as the album that essentially brings together the history of the band and its musical evolution into one giant masterpiece. 

(My favourite song on the album is the melancholic "Time Flies," which evokes Pink Floyd's Animals, but the three-song combination of "Great Expectations," "Kneel and Disconnect," and "Drawing the Line," each one blending into the next, is particularly outstanding.)

And here it is... live.

Only one of the four songs on The Incident's second disc is included here ("Bonnie the Cat"), which is too bad (I especially like "Remember Me Lover"), but the bonus tracks are great. They include "Russia on Ice" and the full-length "Even Less," probably my two favourite PT songs, as well as the wonderful "Stars Die" (from 1995's psychedelic The Sky Moves Sideways) and the epic "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" (from 2005's Deadwing).

Look, this is incredible stuff. And in the absense of new material, it's as good as it gets.

It's weird being such a big fan of a band that most people have never heard of, especially here in North America (though their popularity has grown in recent years, particularly since 2007's Fear of a Blank Planet, an album about alienated youth). I actually don't think I know anyone who knows them, but I acknowledge I don't always travel in musically well-informed circles.

But no matter. They're awesome.

Nothing will ever top Pink Floyd for me, and I suppose I'd still put The Beatles next, but after that, and of all the bands working today (even if they're currently on hiatus), it's Porcupine Tree. They really do mean that much to me.

Seriously, experience them for yourself. Start with Octane Twisted if you like (though I'd probably go back to Stupid Dream as their most accessible album). As a taste, here's "I Drive the Hearse," the last part of the 14-part "The Incident" and a great, great song. Enjoy.

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