Sunday, 29 March 2015

Porcupine Tree - The Meme

I’m sorry, dear reader, but it’s time again for a little self-indulgence. Recent readers will have heard me sing the praises of Steven Wilson, an English progressive rock musician and singer whose talents are endless.

Steven Wilson is a multi-instrumentalist with the fantastic ability to produce memorable songs  and is criminally unknown to most people.

I said in a previous post that I would start with Steven’s solo career but I have decided to begin with the band that made him famous (well famous-ish) – Porcupine Tree.

1. How long have you been a fan?

I have recently written about my war on crap music but the truth is I started fighting this war a few years ago. In 2010, I decided that I wanted to discover a new band – well new to me anyway. I am a huge fan of progressive rock music and after a few searches with my good friend Mr Google, I stumbled on an article recommending a band called Porcupine Tree. I’m always willing to at least give a band a try, so I fired up my trusty Spotify program and searched for the band.

The first album that appeared was called In Absentia so I clicked the album and set about my business with the music as background. It didn’t take long for me to stop what I was doing and fully concentrate on the music.

I played it repeatedly over the next couple of weeks and bought the CD.

So the answer is, I have been a fan for five years.

I really wish I had discovered them earlier.

2. Do you remember the first song of theirs you heard?

The first song that really made an impression was called Trains from In Absentia. This is a truly beautiful song – but don’t take my word for it; see the next question below.

3. What’s your favourite album(s)?

I have seven albums by the band and I love all of them. However, I do have three albums that I prefer to the rest. They are:

In Absentia (2002)

Deadwing (2005)

Fear of a Blank Planet (2007)

4. What’s your favourite song(s)?

It is so difficult to choose my favourite songs but I am going to have a go at picking five for you. The songs range from being extremely beautiful and melodic to much heavier as well as fully fledged progressive leviathans bringing together a wide range of musical styles. 

If you were to ask me again in a month’s time, I might pick a different set of songs – but for now my top five is as follows:

At 5: Trains from In Absentia (2002):

Steven Wilson definitely has a great ear for melody and this beautiful track was the first song to catch my attention. I played this over and over again, so much so that Mrs PM almost knew it by heart.

At 4: Lazarus from Deadwing (2005):

When I saw Steven Wilson on his solo tour a couple of weeks ago, he played Lazarus, citing it as one of the songs he was most proud of. I agree – I think he should be proud.

At 3: Fear of a Blank Planet from Fear of a Blank Planet (2007):

The title track of Fear of a Blank Planet is a cracking rock song and a fitting opener for a fantastic album.

At 2: Anaesthetize from Fear of a Blank Planet (2007):

Be warned – this song is a monster, coming in at 17 minutes long. It has everything, including a guest appearance from Alex Lifeson, the guitarist from my favourite band, Rush. It flows from beautiful melancholy to rampant rock with a touch of heavy metal. It is a truly colossal masterpiece.

At 1: Arriving Somewhere But Not Here from Deadwing (2005):

My favourite song by the band is another progressive rock masterpiece, coming in at 12 minutes. It is everything I love about Porcupine Tree and songs in general – a wonderful tune that builds up from a beautiful melody, flowing seamlessly into a great rock song before cranking right up to a magnificent burst of heavy metal and finally calming down back into a beautiful mellow conclusion.

5. Have you ever seen them live? (How often?)

Sadly, no.

Steven Wilson has put the band on hiatus since 2009 to concentrate on his solo career. Having released four solo albums since then, I am not convinced that they will reconvene. Hopefully I am wrong.

However, Steven performed a couple of Porcupine Tree songs live when I saw him recently.

Does that count?

6. Have you ever met them?

No. But I would love to.

7. Do you have a favourite era of their career?

I prefer the period between 2002 and 2007 but the other albums are still excellent.

8. Is there a song or album of theirs you dislike?

The earliest albums by the band are a little too weird for my taste. I didn’t bother buying them.

9. What do they or their music mean to you?

Although Rush are my all-time favourite band, spanning decades, Porcupine Tree have made a significant recent impact and helped me to rediscover my love of progressive rock. Their music is wonderful and is still high up on my playlist. I will love the band for years to come.

10. Do you get annoyed when other people don’t like them?

I am really annoyed that this wonderful band are not well known. I am convinced that if they received the same airplay as a shit band like One Direction, they would have an army of fans.

11. Which artist do you want them to collaborate with?

The collaboration with Alex Lifeson of Rush is enough for me.

12. Are they underappreciated/unknown?

Totally. See my answer to question 10.

13. Is there a song of them that everybody likes but you dislike?

I’m sure there is. I don’t know what it is though.

14. Do people think you are too obsessed with the artist?

Mrs PM thinks I’m too obsessed with Steven Wilson generally. When she read my post about my war on crap music she said “You’re not going on about him AGAIN are you?”

I have no doubt she will say the same about this post.

Also, I have probably been boring my work colleagues about him too.

15. Do you pre-order their new albums without having heard any music from it?

No – but only because they haven’t released a new album since I started listening to them. If they get back together for a new album, I will buy it immediately.

And Finally ...

Thanks again for allowing me to indulge myself.

I hope I have created at least one new fan.


Pandora Behr said...

Alas, never heard of them. Then again, you've probably never heard of the Hoodoo Gurus....

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Alas you are correct. But now I know about them and, having listened to a couple of tunes on YouTube, I certainly prefer them to the rubbish I constantly have to endure on crappy radio stations.