Review Summary: A culmination of fifteen years as the world's most relevant progressive rock band.
Porcupine Tree are a band that the majority of people haven't heard of...yet they are one of the most 'important' bands to emerge from the UK in a long time. Over the last fifteen years they, with the guidance of visionary Steven Wilson, have modernised progressive rock by adding a dash of everything that's happened to music in the days since the genre's heyday. Their latest album, "The Incident", is their tenth and is the culmination of their aforementioned fifteen years of experience as a band, not including the years when Wilson was the only member. This is an album that combines everything Porcupine Tree have ever thrown into their music with dashes of industrial, metal, psychedelia and Radiohead littered throughout the record. This could be seen as the end of an era for the band before moving off in new directions.
It is noticeable to those familiar with Porcupine Tree's discography how there is a lack of anything especially 'new' about "The Incident". Whereas the previous nine Porcupine Tree albums each added something to the band's sound this does not, preferring instead to focus on blending sounds to create something close to the definitive 'Porcupine Tree' record.
What is truly remarkable about the album's first disc, consisting entirely of the fifty-five minute song cycle "The Incident" is that the songs are so memorable. The likes of "Blind House" and "Drawing The Line" are catchy enough to become radio favourites, they won't of course because commercial radio only plays things from the Top 40 but that's not the point. Even short interludes such as "Great Expectations" and "Your Unpleasant Family" etch themselves into the brain on first listen. Wilson has always been a fantastic songwriter above all else and he really does prove it here with the epic eleven minute "Time Flies" sounding accessible enough for the mainstream audience of today to not have a heart attack while listening to it. Wilson's skills are further emphasised on the second disc which, despite being slightly weaker than the rest of the album, features four very decent songs with "Flicker" and "Remember Me Lover" being the highlights.
It is important to recognise however that Wilson is not the only genius in Porcupine Tree. Richard Barbieri's keyboard textures may often be subtle but they are key to the band's sound as are Colin Edwin's often overlooked basslines. Gavin Harrison's drumming meanwhile is sure to gain him further recognition, having already been recruited by Robert Fripp to join King Crimson as a second drummer. Most importantly of all however is how well the four work as a group, never jostling for the limelight but always capable of filling it if the need arises. It is perhaps this cohesion as a group that makes "The Incident" a fine record. At the end of the day it does not need to contain new influences, although they will be expected on the next album, because when a combination of your previous influences is this good then why bother risking messing it up?