Porcupine Tree: Why aren't you listening?

So, I have been spending some time at the Hunter Library, Salt Lake County Library System, finding things to add to my iPod. How ecstatic I was to see not one, but TWO copies of "FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET", by PORCUPINE TREE. And if that wasn't enough, a copy of "DEADWING" (see my favorite albums list) to boot. That was two weeks ago. I have been back several times, and I still see the same copies sitting there. Now they look like they have been used, but they still sit. Porcupine Tree is one of the projects of a musical mastermind by the name of Steven Wilson. Back in the mid 90's, I worked in a music store called Tom Tom Music, a local independent chain of four or five stores. We had received a promotional copy of a CD by a group called, NO-MAN. We would often listen to the interesting looking discs, and would occasionally come across a real gem. This CD was one of those. It was called, "LOVEBLOWS and LOVECRIES", and if you get online, you could probably find it for cheap. Anyhow, after falling in love with No-Man, who was very similar in nature to Talk Talk, another of my favorite band, I (after 6 years) finally decided to investigate this band. Let's take ourselves to 2001, a week before a life altering event that changed all our lives. There used to be a website called Audio Galaxy, where you could download music. Yes, it probably wasn't legal downloading, but it was the most convenient file sharing program I have ever encountered. So, September 2001, I decided to try downloading some Porcupine Tree music. I download 16 tracks, if I remember correctly. I burn them all on to a CD, and listen to them while at work. 15 of the tracks blow me away. Not a bad percentage. Knowing this to be another project of Steven Wilson, I am surprised to hear a Pink Floyd sound, contrary to the Art-Pop sound of No-Man. Conveniently, I was once again working at Tom Tom Music, in Bountiful, Utah, and I promptly began ordering in their discs. The completely ironic thing, is that the December before, I was working and listening to No-Man, when a girl comes in asking for Porcupine Tree. Not only did I not remember (at that time) that this was another Steven Wilson project, but the girl had no idea that the group I was listening to was ANOTHER Steven Wilson project. No conversation ensued, and the girl left, having been told that there were no Porcupine Tree discs in the store.
The amazing thing with Porcupine Tree, is that the band started as a Steven Wilson solo project. LITERALLY solo. He played all the instruments on the early recordings. He did the project to help fund No-Man, which was his principal focus. Not only did the solo project evolve into a full time band, featuring Richard Barbieri of JAPAN fame, as well as a couple other extremely talented artists, but their success has increased with each and every album. Their most recent albums, now on a major label, have all certified Gold status, which is an amazing feat for a band that does NOT get airplay on commercial radio. Apparently they do get exposure on satellite radio, but I have never heard them on a regular radio station. Each album sells more copies than the previous, and their fans become more and more rabid. It is not uncommon for rare Porcupine Tree discs to sell for over a hundred dollars on eBay. Porcupine Tree has really become a monster, where this original side project has become Steven Wilson's main project. He still does No-Man projects, with Tim Bowness, one of the greatest vocalists I have ever heard, but they are fewer and farther between. Where No-Man music has almost turned into an ethereal Jazz of sorts, Porcupine Tree has become more and more progressive. Steven Wilson produced three albums for Swedish Metal band OPETH, and that experience is evident in the last few Porcupine Tree releases. I have taken two road trips to see this band, and it is worth the distance to see them. If you haven't heard them, check them out. IF you happen to live near the Hunter Library, LITERALLY check them out. PLEASE! I want to see those discs...errr... I DON'T want to see those discs, next time I'm checking some out. And if your aural tastes are a little mellower, then check out No-Man. Or maybe his other side project, BLACKFIELD. Yes, that's a THIRD project. But wait, there's more. Steven Wilson also records under the names BASS COMMUNION (an ambient electronic project), and I.E.M (which stands for Incredible Expanding Mindf**k). Sorry, this is a family friendly blog. Regardless, this is a musical genius, who must have a serious case of ADHD. He does seem very restless, when you see him live.

Recommend listening:

PORCUPINE TREE: DEADWING (for the fans of harder rock)
PORCUPINE TREE: IN ABSENTIA (ditto what I said about Deadwing... think Tool and Pink Floyd having a love child...)
PORCUPINE TREE: SIGNIFY (for the Pink Floyd fans out there)
NO-MAN: RETURNING JESUS (mellow, beautiful, melancholic, ummm... did i say beautiful?)
NO-MAN: FLOWERMOUTH (there are three different mixes of this. all are good.)


Ray Dahl said…
Alright Zeke, I'll head out and put one of those disks to work. But it's going to be difficult to tear my ears away from the tasty tunes I've discovered over the past week or so.

After spinning loads of Spock's Beard and Marillion I came across their love child; Transatlantic. Composed of Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). Hunt this project down and put it on your shelf next to Blackfield, its prog rock at it's finest.