* Prices may differ from that shown
Deadwing by Porcupine Tree is a good album to start off your Porcupine Tree collection it contains some well crafted music, Released in March 25 2005 its PT 8th studio album its conception was by Steven Wilson the PT frontman Vocalist and guitarist and producer.
Its apparently the tale of a surreal ghost story but full details of the story were never disclosed due to plans to make the album into a film, a screenplay had been written well 15 pages in all but the project never got off the ground but apparently the screenplay can still be found online.
The copy I'm reviewing is the DVDA version of the album DVDA is a high resolution format that is not only a very high audio its in 5.1, plus three additional tracks that are not on the CD version.
Track 1 Deadwing. Our story begins, some pulsing synth opening the track with a sound effect of a train station in the background, then the band come in with quite a heavy hard rock beat this continues until we revisit the opining dreamy synth this is the theme of the song heavy driving rock with mellow sections a good beginning.
Just to note the 5.1 surround version is played via a DVD player so you get Audio and imagery with tracks with the Deadwing song it's a young bog lying down in a forest Its only one image but it's a clue it keeps you guessing to what the story might be.
2 Shallow. A very heavy track but with Porcupine Tree they show these so called heavy metal bands how its done, power and precision with a vocal that is understandable not some grunting howl.
3 Lazarus. If I was on radio 4 desert island disks, this would be one of my choices, It's a beautiful song with some gentle piano underpinned with soothing synth and some lovely vocals by Wilson starting the number off, On one occasion before performing the song live Wilson announced that Lazarus was about a young boys mother communicating from the grave.
What makes the song so special is the wonderful lyrics the chorus goes like this, "follow me down to the valley below, moonlight is bleeding from out of you soul" and then this "My David don't you worry this cold world is not for you, so rest your head upon me I have the strength to carry you" moving words. The song picks up the tempo with the introduction of some slide guitar before we return to just piano and vocal then back to finish the song off, but as the track ends the train sounds are heard once more, are we on a journey!.
4 Halo. Back to the heavy riffing distorted guitars playing at quite a pace with pounding drums and bass, it shows off the power of this band and its diversity.
5.Arriving somewhere But Not Here. Space keyboards a ticking of a clock with a gentle pruccusion tap unill a repetitive guitar section with organ in the background then the vocals before the song lifts up tempo with a nice guitar solo, our journey continues, brilliant number.
6 Mellotron Scratch. Slow start with some nice vocal harmonies with electronic drums gentle bass and keyboards in the background there is a momentary blast of guitar before this gentle song meanders on
The final section is a vocal harmony workout and tails off to the finish of the track.
7 Open Car. A belter of a number and one of my desert island disks, storming power chords overlaid with dramatic keyboards bass and drums interspersed with gentler moments and some great lyrics to quote "Hair blown in a open car summer dress slips down you arm" bring it on.
8 Start Of Something Special. A steady beat intermixed with acoustic guitars and organ and spacey keyboards with powerful injections of heavy riffing guitars, the song rises and falls in this manner from beginning to end.
9 Glass Arm Shattering Another epic song that's builds with electronic textures slide guitar gentle bass and vocals, but as with the rest of the album its full of twists and turns light, dark up down round and round layered sounds distorted guitars, a musical rollercoaster.
10 The additional tracks
Revenant. Electronic soundscape weaves and flows with bells chimes and splashes of cymbals a very Asian feel.
11 Mother and Child Divided. Sharp distorted guitar and blazing drums heavy rock but laden with keyboards hawkwind revisited, it settles down to a pulsing hypnotic beat, with all sorts of Si Fi spooky sounds before taking off into a out of control spiral.
12 Half light. A organ swirls and echoed guitar builds this song a very Floyd like but still a lovely pleasant track that seems to be the journeys end, maybe mother and son reunited spiritually it certainly is a reference to Lazarus glorious end to a stunning album.
About 5 years ago I stumbled upon Porcupine Tree not through the TV radio or on advise from a friend it was just That PT was one of the bands that not only produced CDs they were involved in the 5.1 surround sound format, I gave them a try having read a review of the album Deadwing, so without hearing a single note I took the plunge.
Having been through the Floyd, Yes Genesis era I had become bored with today's music bar a few bands but even those didn't quite hit the spot, but Tree brought the good times back they were inventive exiting heavy and mellow.
Steve Wilson is a brilliant producer and excellent guitarist blessed with a classic English rock voice as good as any of the big names Richard Barbieri is the keyboard player and although he's no Keith Emerson he is very much the man who underpins the band with soundscape and atmosphere Colin Edwin Is on bass solid and steady as they come, and last all on the drums Gavin Harrison he is a very good drummer on a par with Neil Peart or Carl Palmer but no 20 min drum solos from him, he plays the song he's not just the rhythm guy.
If your reading this and either never heard of Porcupine Tree or don't have Deadwing, I can highly recommend this Album it's a story that the listener can come to their own conclusion and it contains some wonderful music and will lead you to explore the Porcupine Tree Catalog further.
This is a review on the original 9-track edition of Porcupine Tree's 8th studio album: Deadwing. It was released March 28th 2005 under the record label 'Lava', produced by Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison. It falls under the genre of Progressive Rock/Metal.
-==- Porcupine Tree -==-
Briefly, Porcupine Tree is a band from Hemel Hempstead, England. Steven Wilson (guitar, vocals, piano, composer, producer...) originally formed it as a 'fake band', as he was the only member, but after a few releases, decided to collect members so that the band could perform live. Richard Barbieri, formerly of Japan, was assigned to keyboards and synthesisers, whilst Colin Edwin was handed the role of bass guitarist. Although Chris Maitland was originally the drummer and percussionist of the band, after the release of Lightbulb Sun, drummer-extraordinaire Gavin Harrison replaced him, and can be heard providing the rhythm in this album, Deadwing.
-==- Concept: Unknown -==-
Deadwing, primarily, is a concept album. What that concept is, however, is a mystery. There has been many a theory, but Wilson, who is the main composer of Porcupine Tree's music and the main man of the band, leaves the true story of the album unidentified. His lyrics are personal and undecipherable (to the extent of linking the songs together) and the main reason for this is that these songs only tell part of a story that Wilson has conceived. He plans on eventually creating a motion picture for the story, also entitled 'Deadwing'. A section of the script can be found online.
And Steven Wilson is a mystery himself. He holds many views and opinions but his background and current lifestyle always remains quite hazy to the public eye (not that he is a celebrity as such...), and this is always reflected in his concepts, music and lyrics. I think he is a fantastic talent myself. Firstly, his lyrics are consistently poetic and interesting. Prog music has an annoying tendency to focus too much on the music and forget about the lyrics, and Porcupine Tree, driven by Wilson, gets the balance just right. The band doesn't quite achieve the instrumental virtuosity that the likes of Dream Theater and Opeth possess, but I don't feel that this is vital. I mean members of Yes and Pink Floyd were never exactly top in their fields, but were each fantastic in their own respect. The same goes for Porcupine Tree. Steven Wilson gets a balance of excellent, meaningful music and emotive, well-written lyrics, whilst being based on an interesting concept - although in this case, the concept is simply unknown, in a definite sense at least.
-==- The Start of Something Beautiful -==-
Porcupine Tree is a band of two halves, really. The split is seen when Gavin Harrison replaced Chris Maitland. Now, it wasn't exactly the change of percussionist that caused this, it was merely coincidence. Wilson sensed a change of direction, and he proceeded. Before 2002's 'In Absentia', Porcupine Tree couldn't simply be described as a Progressive Rock band. Although Progressive elements were readily identifiable, there was a more alternative, folk and psychedelic vibe present. One of Wilson's main influences back in the 80s was Pink Floyd, but the likes of The Beach Boys was also very influential to the front man. The inspiration was present in their music, and particularly in 'Stupid Dream' of the late 90s, a real radio-friendly aura was present. The music was easy to listen to. 'Lightbulb Sun' followed, and although I don't like it as much as their previous, there were some very good tracks in there.
I got into Porcupine Tree only a few years ago, so I've not exactly been following them from the start. Well, actually, that would be virtually impossible considering I was born five years after the "band" formed, which was in 1987. But 'In Absentia' is where I began, and I feel that is where Porcupine Tree really began. Although their music prior to this 2002 release was great in its own respect, 'In Absentia' onwards was clearly a new direction, and a far more popular one. The music was far more interesting, the ideas were more complex - I much prefer it! Three years after 'In Absentia' came my favourite album of them all: Deadwing.
-==- Deadwing -==-
The album features nine tracks, as follows...
1. Deadwing (9.46)
2. Shallow (4.17)
3. Lazarus (4.18)
4. Halo (4.38)
5. Arriving Somewhere but Not Here (12.02)
6. Mellotron Scratch (6.57)
7. Open Car (3.46)
8. The Start of Something Beautiful (7.39)
9. Glass Arm Shattering (6.17)
Eponymous track 'Deadwing' opens the album with a very dark tone, featuring jarring synths and heavy guitar chords. I really love the bass line through a lot of this song too. Generally, the track is aggressive and eerie, but I feel it as an effective opening. The following track, 'Shallow', is single material. But heavy single material. The verses are based around a very typical rock-like guitar riff, with rather aggressive lyrics, but the bridge, introducing piano to the song, creates a lighter feel to the song, before a much heavier chorus. The instrumental break is particularly heavy too, and rather virtuosic in Wilson's case at least, but this heaviness does not speak for the entire album, but does establish a sense of unrest that ties in with the concept.
Far from it, in fact. 'Lazarus' is a ballad, but not just your ordinary love ballad. The lyrics are spoken from beyond the grave (not literally, don't worry!), from a mother to a child. The word 'Lazarus' has religious connotations, and the way in which the child is called 'David' enforces this notion. The song has a wonderful blend of soothing synth sounds, beautiful piano writing and light acoustic guitar accompaniment. Bass guitar and drums join in properly after the chorus too. The lyrics are rather disturbing, but there is a pure sense of beauty being evoked here. The vocal harmonies work wonders too, and overall, the song is fantastic!
'Halo'. Many a Porcupine Tree fan's favourite, and it's clear to see why - it's one of mine too! Edwin delivers a brilliantly cool bass line that acts as an ostinato through the verses, and half of the choruses too. The song works with rhythm and manipulates it fantastically, while still managing to have a great vibe to it. The lyrics are a little simple and restrained, but completes the downbeat aura well. The vocal harmonies, like in 'Lazarus', are a really nice touch too, and the song is just brilliant. 'Ive got a halo round my head.'
'Arriving Somewhere but Not Here' is the centrepiece of the album, and continues this downbeat air with style. The moody aura is conveyed very well through the music and the delivery of the lyrics, and this continue in 'Mellotron Scratch'. This song, along with 'The Start of Something Beautiful' isn't my favourite, but I do think that the two would be missed if they did not feature on the album. They are great tracks, don't get me wrong, but I think that Deadwing is the rare occasion in Prog where the single tracks are the stronger of the bunch, and it does work! Though saying that, 'Arriving Somewhere but Not Here' is a bloody great track.
'Open Car' opens with a staccato guitar riff with Wilson's vocal phrases interchanging between the left and right speakers, and this technique continues in the verses. The verses, complete with the lyrics, are very restrained, but the bridge becomes more dramatic, and the chorus - well, that's a different story altogether. The lyrics are basic: 'Hair blown in an open car, summer dress slips down her arm', but they work fantastically with distant vocal effects, sustained guitar chords and synths. The song becomes epic, and it's amazing how Porcupine Tree have managed to create such an effect in a song that clocks in at under four minutes. You just want it to continue, and again, it's another short song that just works brilliantly. Again, one of my favourites. 'Glass Arm Shattering' is the final song on the album, and is my least favourite. It is there for functional reasons, I feel - to complete the story. It is very ambience-based, and quite "arty", but really just doesn't do it for me, and I feel it is a disappointing end to such a magnificent album.
Upon describing Deadwing to you, the overall picture of the album does not sound as impressive as such concepts albums that I have reviewed ('In Absentia', 'Metropolis pt.2: Scenes From a Memory' to name but a few), but there is a reason. Although a concept album, the esoteric nature of this concept prevents it from being looked at as a whole. On the surface, it doesn't appear as a concept, but rather a collection of tracks, which most albums are. And I do look at it that way. Deadwing has a dark vibe running throughout, and in a way, that is a concept in itself. I do recommend this album to you, because it a fantastic piece of work, and my favourite Porcupine Tree albums to date.
-==- A Word on Production -==-
Steven Wilson is one of the main men to go to when talking audio production. Many of his albums have been praised for their sound quality, particularly due to the use of 5.1 Surround Sound, which has been used in many of Wilson's works. His albums have won awards for this employment, and also for the general quality. What you are guaranteed with any of Wilson's work, including this album, is great quality of sound. There are moments when I have questioned, but these moments are deliberate, and all is done for a reason. He is a master of the field.
-==- A Word on The Cover Art -==-
Lasse Hoile, Danish photographer, again provides interesting art for the Porcupine Tree's albums. Deadwing features some of is finest, in my opinion. And having read up, it is clear that the artist had had discussions with Wilson, as there are some links to the screenplay, present in the script. His art is evocative and cool, and it compliments Wilson's concept and Porcupine Tree's style.
-==- Three to Download -==-
'Deadwing' - a great establishing, interesting track
'Lazarus' - a beautiful but unique ballad
'Halo' - a cool, cool song - one of the band's bests
Ever bought an album on the strength of one song?
"Deadwing" by British prog rockers, Porcupine Tree, was a lucky find for me. So impressed was I by their song "Lazarus" that I thought: "Hey, let's just buy the album too". I'd read many glowing reviews on Amazon and I was keen to hear it for myself.
I was not disappointed.
"Deadwing" is a wonderful piece of work. In my opinion, it is Porcupine Tree's most solid and consistently excellent album. There's a definite theme in this album - though it's hard to say exactly what it is. The lyrics are strangely haunting - with repeated suggestions of desertion, mystery and fear. I'm led to believe there's some kind of story woven into this album - but I can't honestly say I understand it. But this really doesn't matter. It's the music that's impressive.
There's a mixture of atmospheric rock ("Arriving Somewhere But Not Here"), hard rock ("Shallow" - lead single for the American release) and progressive metal ("Open Car" - which has a definite "Tool" feel about it). There's also the beautiful ballad "Lazarus" with a spine-tinglingly good piano riff. My personal favourite is "Mellotron Scratch" - which cleverly switches from 4/4 to 6/8 and shows off Steven Wilson's talent for layering music - check out the last minute of the track for the multi-melodic vocal part.
There's a lot going on musically - but this doesn't spoil the album. It holds together. Admittedly, some of the heavy sectios (particularl in "Arriving Somewhere...") come as a bit of a shock, but they never get too over zealous. Lyrically, this album sports some fantastic lines - such as the chilling line "I survived against the will of my twisted folk, and in the deafness of my world the silence broke" from Lazarus.
Like "In Absentia" (the preceeding album) there's a sense of coldness and disturbed detachment in this album. It's not one of those records to listen to on a sunny summer's day. But it is one to savour, prefably in the dark. And it's not al thrills and chills - "Lazarus" and "Mellotron Scratch" are beautiful songs.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
5 Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
6 Mellotron Scratch
7 Open Car
8 The Start Of Something Beautiful
9 Glass Arm Shattering