Sunday, December 02, 2012

Porcupine Tree: "Radioactive Toy" and "Dark Matter"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You may have noticed that I write a lot about Porcupine Tree, by far my favorite band (if you leave aside Pink Floyd and The Beatles). These days, I'm listening to them, and their side and solo projects, constantly.

Perhaps this means nothing to you. It's likely you've never even heard of them (or maybe you have if only because of this blog). But really that's only because their excellence hasn't translated into broad commercial success and recognition -- even if their last two albums, Fear of a Blank Planet (2007) and The Incident (2009), did quite well on both sides of the Atlantic.

I could go on and on about how great they are, about how they continue to build a devoted fanbase organically (including through word of mouth, which I try to help with), and about how you should really take the time to get to know them (ten studio albums from 1991 to 2009, along with EPs, live albums and videos, and limited-edition releases), but instead I'll direct you to a fantastic interview at Rock Square with Richard Barbieri, PT's keyboardist and programmer. (I was directed to it by Stars Die, the leading PT and Steven Wilson community site and obviously a regular read for me.)

The in-depth interview goes through the history of PT through a discussion of the studio albums and Octane Twisted, their latest live album, released on November 20. It's great for serious fans, but also for anyone wishing to get to know PT. And again -- you should.

The piece includes a clip for most of the albums. Here are two of them:

-- "Radioactive Toy," from their first album, the rather eccentric On the Sunday of Life... (1991), when it was just Steven Wilson, taken here from the live album Rockpalast (2006), recorded on November 19, 2005, at the Live Music Hall in Cologne, Germany; and

-- "Dark Matter," from the album Signify (1996), their "first proper band album" and the one that saw them taking a turn away from the early psychedelia ("the band had begun to temper its cosmic jams in favor of more articulate songs with heavier guitar riffs"), taken here from the live video (DVD/Blu-ray) Anesthetize (2010), recorded on October 15-16, 2008, at the 013 Popcentrum in Tilburg, Netherlands.

Simply brilliant. Enjoy.

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  • Hi, Michael, good piece on a very worthwhile band. Porcupine Tree are one of those inventive bands that will probably always be unfairly shut out of today's Top 40 wasteland. Simon Cowell has so much to answer for in his relentless quest to make modern music as bland and dumbed-down as possible.

    By Blogger Marc McDonald, at 3:50 AM  

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