I have been eagerly awaiting an album to satisfy my music libido, something to rescue me from the vomit-inducing airwaves filled with Vanessa Carltons and Justin Timberlakes, and I have finally found it. Porcupine Tree’s “In Absentia”, is an amazing alternative to the monotony of mainstream music, blending beautiful and fragile works with heavy sounds.

You’ve probably never heard of Porcupine Tree before, and that’s because most of their success has been in Europe and the UK. Only recently have they been selling out venues in the US. What started as an outlet for exploration of psychedelic, experimental, and progressive rock has evolved into something accessible and intriguing to most audiences, as evident in their latest album “In Absentia”. Porcupine Tree mixes influences of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Yes into an album in a unique and exciting way, while also introducing a dose of their own flavor. They are different and inventive, a nice change from the mundane alternative rock ballads heard on the radio.

The first track, “Blackset Eyes”, starts off heavy, scaring away all grandmas in sight for the first few seconds, but then drifts in and out with sweet and peaceful melodic vocals, a theme that continues throughout the album.

“Trains”, is my favorite on the CD. With an incredible percussion/guitar interlude that starts three minutes into the track, this song is exhilarating. It makes me want to cry. It makes me forget who I am. It makes me want to make out with someone on my bed with the black light on.

The guitar in “Lips of Ashes” is impressive and mezmorizing as well. This piece is a good example of how Porcupine Tree uses influences from various artists. See if you can pick some out yourself.

“Gravity Eyelids”, which is featured on the band’s web-site with an accompanying music video has a haunting melody in the beginning that would seemingly fit well in a soundtrack for a movie like “The Ring”. Half way through, the song breaks into a turbulent guitar and drum sequence riddled with sound effects. This is where the head banging comes in guys. “Gravity Eyelids” is a bit heavier than the rest of the album, so I wouldn’t judge it by this one song.

An example of one of the softer songs is the heart-felt ballad called “Collapse the Light into Earth” that concludes the CD. The simple piano paired with violins and soulful cries of human voices ends this manic-depressive conglomeration.

Overall I’d have to say that “In Absentia” is the work of geniuses, but as Lavar Burton used to say in “Reading Rainbow”, “Don’t take my word for it.” Check out www.porcupinetree.com and find out for yourself. Expand your musical horizons. Break away from Dave Matthews for two seconds and give this album a chance.



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