Penk's Prog Odyssey: Caravan

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inside-out fox
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby inside-out fox » 01 Apr 2017, 20:50

GAH!
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby algroth » 01 Apr 2017, 21:26

Seems I dropped out of BCB at some point before the Softs' review. I'll get to commenting on it soon, and look forward to reading some more reviews! There's ELP still to go... >_>

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby zoomboogity » 01 Apr 2017, 22:35

If you're going to pick up this thread where it left off, I recommend this one. If this doesn't do it for you, then at least you know you tried. I mean, I just went over this thread from the beginning, and you sure took one for the team! At least this one goes down easier without too much effort needed.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby algroth » 01 Apr 2017, 22:57

zoomboogity wrote:If you're going to pick up this thread where it left off, I recommend this one. If this doesn't do it for you, then at least you know you tried. I mean, I just went over this thread from the beginning, and you sure took one for the team! At least this one goes down easier without too much effort needed.

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I would recommend the previous three before it myself. Angel's Egg and Flying Teapot particularly.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby zoomboogity » 01 Apr 2017, 23:10

Oh yeah, and Camembert Electrique, by all means! But compared to the Gong Trilogy albums, it's pretty spiky, and that seems to be a quality that Penk doesn't like in his prog. This album is like a chocolate shake - there's never a bad time for it.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby Lord Rother » 02 Apr 2017, 14:38

Gong, GG, King Crimson, Hatfield & The North and many other early prog bands all do my head in. 20% excellence with some great ideas but none of them are explored before the next goofy bit with no tune pops in to make me feel a little sick. (Genesis and Yes who never lost contact with accessible melody are different.)

I totally appreciate their value to the genre I love but I don't enjoy most of their output.

But the worst of the lot was Henry Cow. To my ears it is horrible stuff with absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever. Although I certainly wouldn't deride those who like them (unlike the anti-prog bores on here), I wouldn't mind seeing Penk's review of them.
Last edited by Lord Rother on 02 Apr 2017, 15:57, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby fange » 02 Apr 2017, 14:49

I wouldn't mind seeing Penk around here more, full stop. I can do without the Gentle Giant catalogue though.
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby Lord Rother » 02 Apr 2017, 15:54

Oh and I forgot Soft Machine who I would definitely put in with the 20%-ers.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby inside-out fox » 02 Apr 2017, 15:59

Not a patch on Big Big Train, eh? :)
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby PENK » 02 Apr 2017, 20:24

Image

The sound of prog today. What is it the sound of? It's the sound of a man who looks like this:

Image

I think I prefer capes. Maybe the bus-driving RPG nerd look will catch on.

Steven Wilson, who sort of is Porcupine Tree, or is at least the only member anybody mentions, seems pretty damn polydactylous judging by the number of pies he seems to have his (pasty, probably spindly and overlong) fingers not only jammed into, but wiggling around inside and prodding bits of carrot and... I've taken this a bit too far now.

The guy has remixed every single album on Carlsson's shelves and then some. He has remixed most of the joke albums posted in the spoof 'Prog Canon' threads. He has recorded about a dozen records with Porcupine Tree, plus some solo ones and some side projects, for the sole purpose of remixing them a few years down the line. Steve Hoffman has a contract out on him.

His personal project, Porcupine Tree, are a very modern take on prog: extended songs with various sections, serious musicianly chops, vague album-long concepts, and Wilson's production very much to the forefront. Few long solos here, no medieval gubbins and little comic prancing: it's all very serious, all based around riffs and synths and dynamics. After listening to this album I have to regard it as stadium prog, with the heavy riffing, powerful drumming, dramatic structures and catchy choruses that entails.

The issue I have is that, and I don't really know how else to put this, Steven Wilson - renowned prog producer and engineer Steven Wilson - is a pretty crappy producer. Sure, he gets very clear and clean sounds and works hard at the dynamics. But the actual production sound is quite horrible. It's all chrome-plated and smooth, with no edge. '90s drivetime rock tuned up. He prizes brightness and sheen over feeling and warmth, with the result that his angsty lyrics and dramatic riffs are blunted and offputting. He is very, very efficient, to the point of creepiness.

There is clearly talent on evidence in the music, as the songs have smart structures and memorable riffs. Wilson and his band are proficient and competent. There is no pointless noodling, but that's almost a pity in this context, as what we do get is funk-metal, on at least two songs. One of those songs is called 'The Creator Has a Mastertape': a bit of producer humour there. You wag, Steven.

They throw in regular acoustic passages - many of them suspiciously similar - and there are bits that sound like Radiohead, perhaps. Mostly, though, it's faintly portentous and occasionally pumping cyber-rock. Synths that lend some zoom without getting too obtrusive, guitars and drums that focus on precision and force. On songs like 'The Sound of Muzak', Wilson does that thing where you get too close to the mic and it makes you sound like you're singing inside a computer. There are few nods to Golden Age Prog; this is modern prog, taking its cues from grunge and prog-metal, prog for the Internet age.

When I think about this record on a personal level, the biggest problem is that Steven Wilson's taste in rock music is just so radically different from mine. The melodies and chord sequences he favours are not ones that I enjoy. The angsty, driving technogrunge that he wants to create is not my idea of a good time. Lyrics like "it's so erotic when your makeup runs" make me cringe. I hear on this album rock music that is utterly soulless, however many minor-key piano verses there might be and however much Wilson emotes. He wants to sound meaningful but he sounds passionless and empty. This isn't how rock music should sound: it's dated sci-fi, shiny spaceships with doors that slide obligingly open, and flying cars. It sounds like people 25 years ago thought the future would look, before it arrived and proved them wrong. It sounds like a computer game.

Image is certainly important. I listen to a lot of electronic music and the facelessness of the producers is part of the deal. They often hide their identities, play with them, and one is quick to realise that the identity is unimportant. Translate that to rock music, though, and it doesn't work. A boring-looking man making overproduced, metallic and angsty prog is a real turn-off. The biggest problem Porcupine Tree have is that they sound exactly like the kind of music you would imagine a man who looks like Steven Wilson to make.
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby Lord Rother » 02 Apr 2017, 20:44

Good to see a positive review on BCB of modern prog.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: New Reviews Forthcoming

Postby Lord Rother » 02 Apr 2017, 20:49

Excellent to see someone else is posting more often about BBT than me. Good stuff.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby Quaco » 02 Apr 2017, 21:42

Great review, and only partially because I agree!
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby algroth » 02 Apr 2017, 22:16

Yeah, I never hopped on to the Wilson hype train myself, and that album's pretty poor, partly for some of the things you mention. I don't find it particularly clever or inventive, or memorable either. Just middle of the road for me.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby kath » 02 Apr 2017, 22:50

well, i love that album... but i still loved reading the review. mwhaha

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby trans-chigley express » 02 Apr 2017, 23:40

PENK wrote: He has remastered most of the joke albums posted in the spoof 'Prog Canon' threads.

:lol: I think it's possibly true. He has also done much of the XTC catalogue, a bit of a pet project of his as he's a huge fan.


PENK wrote:There is no pointless noodling, but that's almost a pity in this context

This all depends on which PT album you listen to. Some albums do have lots of noodling but by the time of In Absentia they had certainly tightened and stream-lined their sound. The noodling has migrated to his solo stuff these days.

Needless to say I love the album unreservedly but still enjoyed reading your review.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby pcqgod » 03 Apr 2017, 00:16

algroth wrote: Just middle of the road for me.


Yeah, that's the way I feel about it. Not an album that I could imagine anyone loving or hating. I remember reading reviews of some of his earlier work described as more psychedelic, but I haven't bothered to investigate to date.
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby The Red Heifer » 03 Apr 2017, 00:30

can't wait til you get to the Emo Prog and the Coheed & Cambria review comes in!
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby trans-chigley express » 03 Apr 2017, 05:49

pcqgod wrote: I remember reading reviews of some of his earlier work described as more psychedelic, but I haven't bothered to investigate to date.


Yes his earlier stuff is definitely more psychedelic and Floydish. My gateway album was the second one Up The Downstair and have followed him ever since so I've become accustomed to his gradual shift in style and have warmed to all of it to varying degrees. I'm not sure what I would make of In Absentia if that was my first PT album to be honest as it does include a lot of things I don't normally like (the muscular heavy riffing in particular) but because it's Steven Wilson I more readily accept it and spend time with it as ultimately I know his stuff will win me over far more often than not.

I also like the rest of the band's playing particularly drummer Gavin Harrison and Keyboardist Richard Barbieri

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: Porcupine Tree

Postby algroth » 03 Apr 2017, 06:23

I find it interesting that Richard Barbieri would finish with Porcupine Tree. I like his work with Japan and Sylvian quite a bit.