However much I tried, each attempt to compose this review resulted in me discarding what I had written. The problem is that this album has received quite a bit of media attention. One of my intentions whenever I do any writing is to be original. I don't want to repeat what others have already written. What's the point? There is so much obnoxious repetitious trash online already. One benefit of focusing on the obscure Progressive albums that is the point of this blog, is that quite often there is scarce prior work in terms of reviews on the web. Thus, originality is all too easy. Then Porcupine Tree came along...
As I've mentioned recently, Porcupine Tree has garnered unprecedented success with their most recent album The Incident. A quick glance at this Wikipedia article will serve as ample proof of this fact. While this isn't exactly a number one hit, you have to remember that this is in reality a ONE SONG ALBUM!!! When was the last time such a composition reached such heights in the popular charts? I would guess that honor would most likely befall Jethro Tull's A Passion Play. That number one album contained one epic length 'song' split into various sections and movements. The Incident follows a similar structure. In the year 2009, nearly four decades removed from the peak of Progressive Rock's popularity, this is quite an achievement.
This brings me to my own opinion on this album. Since the vast majority of the press reviews have been positive, I considered staking my claim to originality by panning the work. When the album was released I was deep into a study of Frank Zappa's catalog and Steven Wilson's latest composition seemed all too simple and tame in comparison. Really though, who was I kidding? I'm sure most things sound simplistic and formulaic when compared to Zappa's creativity. Porcupine Tree was never about complexity and insane originality. Comparing them to Zappa would be like comparing computer monitors with banana peels.
I then remembered Mr. Wilson's general hatred towards the modern day 'download culture' and the Single Track mentality that comes along with that. He's an album man! He comes from a background of creating long flowing compositions that are meant to be digested in one sitting. In a way, The Incident's structure is really a way of encouraging the '3 minute song' crowd to consider the album as a whole as opposed to simply a collection of unrelated tracks. Every one of Porcupine Tree's albums actually does follow this model, but this didn't stop the modern day music fan from going on iTunes and just purchasing Trains instead of all of In Absentia in one go.
What does that make The Incident then? In one sense you could compare its effects on popular culture to what The Beatles did with Sargent Pepper's in the 60s. (Of course Porcupine Tree is still completely obscure by comparison so the comparison isn't really fair.) After decades of the Hit Single ruling the music business, The Incident proves once again that it is The Album that is the real platform for creative composers in the Rock genre. The way Wilson guides you through the extended length of The Incident provides a powerful experience that simply cannot be achieved in the 3-5 minute length of a single song. It is only after sitting through the 55 minute composition that even the most skeptical Pop Song fan should realize that music is really capable of being much more than a catchy tune and a nice voice.
As my last essay stated, I am sure that creativity is making a comeback. The faster the old monolithic record companies bite the dust, the better it will be for music as a serious art form. I feel that the age of Big Money in the world of music has reduced it from a true medium of creativity to bland aural wallpaper, decorating the bland boring life of the bland sheepish consumer. I have always believed that listening to music can provide as much emotional and intellectual stimulation as a good film or book. Those of us who chose to stick with Progressive Rock during the 80s, 90s and 00s are already well aware of this fact. Let's all encourage Mr. Wilson and the rest of Porcupine Tree as much success as possible. They are on the front lines of a musical revolution that started online but is making its way, however slowly, through the current of our societies.
Oh, and if you haven't guessed, The Incident comes with my highest recommendations! If you have yet to purchase it, do so immediately and help spur on music's renewal.
Keep The Prog Alive!!!