Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Customer Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
DVD Reviews
Sign up for newsletter
Gig reviews
Get Your EMail Address
Submit your website
PORCUPINE TREE The Incident RoadRunner Records (2009)


Steve Wilson's concept is based on a real life experience of a fatal crash which he witnessed on his way home and left a lasting impression on his psyche. By Wilson's own admission, Porcupine Tree tend to deal with darker issues and, learning of the subject matter, won't exactly make the buying public jump for joy in these rather low economic climes. Nevertheless such morbid fascination with the sudden ending of life in a car has been dealt with successfully in other media such as film.

It's clear by the fourth track on this album, the haunting Kneel and Disconnect that Porcupine Tree have returned to writing songs rather than the fussy Yes style movements which characterised Fear of the Black Planet. The acoustic rhythms of past masters like Trains, which have become a trademark for the Porkies, provide the signature. FOABP confused this particular journo, but The Incident engages the listener more directly.

The title track is a rather disturbing musical portrait of the aftermath. What Steve saw. How he reacted. Richard Barbieri's electronic noises come to the fore here to help create that picture for us. And as a composition it works as a pivot to the rest of the album. It's certainly the most experimental piece.

The honour of the longest track though goes to Time Flies which Wilson himself describes as a happy song, with the simple message that time flies when you emerge from childhood. It's not clear how this then relates to aforesaid incident but it moves from dusk to dawn smoothly if not succinctly at 11 minutes 42 seconds. I can't say I was cheered up by the reminder that I progressed from 21 to 49 all too swiftly but, as an emotional piece of music, it is going to rip through the senses on the forthcoming tour.

Porcupine Tree have the knack of waking the dead with metal riffs which invade the melodic refrains of songs like Octane Twisted. In context, the chosen topic is dealt with sensitively. Put aside the title I Drive the Hearse for a moment and simply accept it as a beautiful piece which meanders through the bio rhythms like any love song. Flicker continues in this vein. Thoughtful, comforting, ambient but with a warning of imminent danger which arrives suddenly courtesy of the curious Bonnie the Cat. The calm complacent cocktail moment is crushed with a monotone yet rhythmical chant underpinned by the contextual drumming of Gavin Harrison.

Remember Me Lover concludes the album with a rather Sabbathesque riff suggesting that the issues of The Incident have not been entirely resolved to the writer's satisfaction. Rather like a Tarantino ending, we're left slightly puzzled.

You couldn't stick this on as background music for the family barbecue unless you wanted to cause another tragic incident. The Seance which describes a disembodied hand certainly won't be contributing to a volume of The Greatest Driving Songs Ever any time soon.

Perhaps these are unnecessary cheap shots. Wilson is not a comedian and we don't expect him to be. But what distinguished the likes of Floyd from their chin stroking counterparts (with the possible exception of Gabriel and Genesis) was that the “dark sarcasm in the classroom” added a humorous dimension. Now Steve Wilson would of course baulk at any mention of Floyd which he would see as a tiresome comparison but, in order for an album to appeal more widely, a special familiarity with the audience should exist. Flying pigs for example. Publicity stunt? Yes. Did it sell an album? Yes. Maybe this engagement is more a feature of the live show which I am looking forward to seeing this Autumn.

The Incident does stand up as a statement musically. Wilson does not claim have all the answers to the questions he raises about the fragility of life and the taboos which define death. Iconic concept albums like The Wall or Lamb Lies Down do not offer a template for our understanding of the chosen topic. No single record can do that. But we must judge these melodic philosophers by their ability to raise those questions and, more importantly, apply the vibes that move us (or not). Whilst it's not the band's Opus Magna, The Incident succeeds on the levels it defines.


Review by Keith Thompson

GRTR! Recommended

Print this page in printer friendly format

Print this page in printer-friendly format

Tell a friend about this page

Tell a friend about this page

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Featured Labels
Label Archive
Do you want to appear here?