Closure /.Communication by Porcupine Tree

Release date: June 24, 2022
Label: Music For Nations

From the moment the train-chugging 5-string bass kicks in on the introduction of ‘Harridan’, you can tell that it is going to be one hell of a ride from the welcoming return of Porcupine Tree. It’s been 13 years since we last heard from the group after the release of their tenth studio double album The Incident on the Roadrunner label in September of that year in 2009.

From 2008 to 2021, Steven has embarked on an amazing solo career releasing six studio albums including an upcoming release for next year entitled The Harmony Codex. Not only that but he’s collaborated with Blackfield with Aviv Geffen releasing the 2011 album Welcome to my D.N.A., Mikael Åkerfeldt on Storm Corrosion, and Tim Bowness with No-Man and as a co-host for The Album Years podcast during the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile Gavin Harrison has played drums for both King Crimson and The Pineapple Thief whilst Richard Barbieri released the 5-part album Variants, followed by Planets + Persona and 2021’s Under a Spell on the Kscope label. Now Colin Edwin, he’s pursued projects and collaborations with Armonite, Lorenzo Felicati (Twinscapes), Jon Durant, O.R.k, and metal-influenced projects Random Noise Generator and Metallic Taste of Blood.

When it was announced last year that the band was coming back with their 11th studio release Closure / Communication, I was quite surprised and unexpected to hear the news myself. Now the band have moved from being a quartet to a trio. Yes it’ll be different without Edwin, yes there’ll be a dividing line in the sand whether they prefer the band as a quartet or as a trio, but let’s see what Wilson, Barbieri, and Harrison have brought to the kitchen table for 2022.

Porcupine’s latest release is like an eruptive cannon blast waiting to happen at the right place at the right time. In an interview with Prog Magazine in issue 131 by Dom Lawson, Wilson described that they’re very happy about being modern prog’s important band.

The more I look back on things, the more I realize we had this really unique sound, this hybrid that no one had really done before. When people discover it, they realize it’s something that they can’t get away from any other band. It’s got elements that people recognize, but it’s also some kind of step into something else entirely.

 

For 35 years since the band’s launch, Steven is right on the money on the band’s influence and inspiration through many generations young and old have admired their music. Through good and bad, it’s been an incredible ride that he has kept the train rolling for adventures in the Porcupine Tree story. If this might be the last album, then the band have finally come full circle to bring the story to a heartwarming end.

So let’s dig deeper into the new album. Alongside ‘Harridan’, ‘Rats Return’ becomes this crazy attack of a time signature between Wilson’s powder-kegging riffs and Gavin’s machine-gun sound on the drums as they enter the dystopian political landscape to witness both the left and right are in this attack mode in a Orwellian universe that has become a bloody and gruesome war, non-stop.

You feel the clock-ticking momentum in the midsection channeling Miles Davis’ ‘Freddie Freeloader’ from Kind of Blue before the alarm bells start to ring as Steven howls in the distance like a blood-thirsty werewolf ready to reign in more human flesh until the very end. ‘Dignity’ continues where ‘Drive Home’ had left off from The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) as Steven details the struggle that Carl has to go through over the loss of her fiancé, June.

Richard’s Mellotron, Steven’s bass, and acoustic guitar makes you want to reveal all of the emotion and devastation over losing a loved one by letting it all out until the last three minutes of the song. ‘Herd Culling’ returns back to this crazy ticking time-bomb ready to explode at any second from Skinwalker Ranch located in the Southeast section of Ballard, Utah.

The stories of people being abducted by UFO’s whether true or not, the band go into this terrorizing attack to witness the disturbance of the Martians torturing their victims with devices that are graphic, gory, and right in your face to witness. And I can imagine the band watched the 1993 sci-fi film Fire in the Sky starring D.B. Sweeney and Robert Patrick for inspiration.

Porcupine Tree goes inside Travis Walton’s mind as they dive deeper to see the torture and P.T.S.D. vision he had to go through from being abducted. Then Steven, Richard, and Gavin dive deep into the salty-oceanic waters of the Atlantic to witness a city gone decay with insanity as they ‘Walk the Plank’.

There’s the Curtis Mayfield vibe from the Superfly sessions, followed by Radiohead’s textures, and nightmarish textures come to life while ‘On the New Day’ reflects the good memories of childhood. You want to remember the good memories that you had with your parents, despite of them being dysfunctional and all, they are a family, no matter what.

Wilson goes in for some brutal midsection arrangements to bring all of the energy out there, front and center. ‘Population Three’ is like a dance to the death that the trio have created. You feel this dangerous tightrope you’re walking on as the music creates this intense environment not knowing when the rope is going to be cut before the two dancers, who made a pact, knowing there’s no coming back to this, fall towards their doom in a Shakespearian twist.

Closure / Continuation is quite a long journey for Porcupine Tree to unleash this year. They proven themselves that they still have the fire inside their hearts and minds to bring the stories to life. And this album here, will be talked about in the years to come. It’s an adventure worth taking.

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