‘Porcupine tree’

By Peter Boskey

“In Absentia,” Porcupine Tree’s latest and first U. S. release, looks funny, but it’s not.

The English quartet consists of Steve Wilson on guitar and vocals, Richard Barbieri on keyboards, Colin Edwin on bass and Gavin Harrison on drums. “In Absentia” contains 12 tracks woven together to ultimately produce an awesome album. The songs in the album blend together like those found in Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s.”

The album opens with “Blackest Eyes,” which begins with a hard rock, almost metal, feel and moves into a mellow verse and chorus. The band shows off its knowledge of seventh and ninth chords throughout the whole track, and Wilson’s vocals give the track an ethereal feeling.

“Trains” is similar to the preceding track; only it starts much more relaxed, and eventually the distorted guitar and synthesizers take over. Wilson’s ingenious producing is heard when the song stops and a banjo and percussion break into the song.

Another track that is incredible is “The Sound of Muzak.” It starts with a heavily chorused bass and soon Harrison drops a funky, offbeat rhythm.

“Gravity Eyelids” is a seven-minute piece that builds slowly until the end, very reminiscent of Radiohead. The instrumental “Wedding Nails” completely contradicts the other songs’ mellow style, with a fast, funky drumbeat playing off quick, distorted guitar riffs. Later in the track, the music breaks down to where only samples and synthesizer sounds are heard.

The last track worth mentioning would be “Collapse the Light Into Earth,” a very Beatle-esque track that incorporates only a piano, bass and a string quartet. Though the piano is extremely simple, it does the job, especially when the bass and strings enter.

The album is not perfect. The vocals are tough to understand sometimes, many times because of too many effects. However, it can be listened to without having to press the “skip track” button.