Yesterday I left the Guitarist lair in Bath to visit London with good reason: two reasons in fact. I went to a North London studio to listen to the new Porcupine Tree album, The Incident, in 5.1 and to meet with PT’s incredibly talented mastermind Steve Wilson for a forthcoming Guitarist feature.
Said studio was clearly the place to be yesterday as I was greeted by the somewhat surreal vision of spotted Paul McCartney eating his lunch in the studio canteen, former Adam Ant guitarist Marco Pirroni milling about and Peter Gabriel was due to arrive in the evening. But enough of my lame attempts at namedropping, what’s this new Porcupine Tree album like?
It’s different – you already knew Mr Wilson wasn’t just going to write Fear Of A Blank Planet II. Even so, this is a challenging album – 55 minutes of continuous music (I didn’t hear the four separate songs that will make up disc two) that contains plenty to surprise fans. It’s a lot to take in one listen so I don’t really think I can evaluate it to the degree it deserves until I hear more. About thirty listens should do it!
It’s definitely taking the lead from Wilson’s Insurgentes solo album last year in terms of experimentation and I really enjoyed the guitar work – there’s no guest guitarists this time and Steve’s playing is varied and constantly engaging, often very bold too. And the album really does flow – but that’s not so say it isn’t jarring at times too despite its sumptuous production. The impression I walked away with was that this is a brave album, a truly unique record and one as a complete journey – underlined by its format and one prog fans will savour. Should we have expected anything less from one of the most talented musicians and producers in the country?
I really don’t want to spoil things for people too much and you’re sure to make your own evaluations but I can say there’s a couple of movements that feature the heaviest guitar tone Wilson has ever had, and he’s using a custom commissioned PRS Baritone for the job – it sounds fantastic. Elsewhere fans are going to love the nods to Pink Floyd during the 11-minute Time Flies – The Incident’s centrepiece with some fantastic wall of sound guitar breaks. It’s the most immediate song on first listen and by far the longest piece within the 14 parts.
Look out for our interview with Steve in a future issue of Guitarist when he reveals more about his gear (including that guitar in the pic) and playing on The Incident. The album will be released on September 21, in the meantime visit www.porcupinetree.com for more information on the band.