Exposé Online banner

Porcupine Tree — In Absentia
(Lava 83604-2, 2002, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2003-02-01

In Absentia Cover art

With In Absentia, Steven Wilson and company add a few new tricks to their musical bag, the first being really heavy riffing. Not that a heavy riff is anything new to this band, but these are different, reminiscent of Soundgarden or even Tool. This feature of the music is perhaps emphasized by placing “Blackest Eyes” as the lead-off track, with its crushing sections. In true Tree fashion, those heavy parts are offset by verses of Wilson’s beautiful singing (massively harmonized) and acoustic guitar, along with Richard Barbieri’s atmospheric keyboards. The other new trick shows up on track two, “Trains”, which in addition to a bit of banjo, gives us some of the most elaborate vocal arranging yet heard on a Tree album – maybe not as complex as Gentle Giant, but at least on the level of the Beach Boys, no mean feat. Similar vocal arrangements show up on “Lips of Ashes” and “Heartattack in a Layby.” My favorite moment on the album is the tricky rhythm in 7/4 on “The Sound of Muzak,” aided greatly by the drumming of Porky newcomer Gavin Harrison. As always, the meticulous production provides the whole thing with a luscious sheen where all the details shine. The heavy elements of the CD may be seen as an attempt to cash in on the success of bands like Tool, but Porcupine Tree’s artistry sets them at least a couple steps above such popular groups without compromising any of the craft and complexity I look for in music.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 26, 2002 releases

Related artist(s): Porcupine Tree, Richard Barbieri, Steven Wilson / I.E.M., John Wesley, Colin Edwin

Latest news

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

2018-02-26
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Various Artists - Lost Years in Labyrinth II – Remember Lost Years in Labyrinth? It featured material by four Japanese Canterbury-ish/Chamber Rock bands — Lacrymosa, Il Berlione, Zypressen, and Soft Weed Factor. OK, now forget it. There is...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues