Year Of Release: 2007
Record Label: Transmission\WHD\Peaceville
Recommended for fans of: Tool, King Crimson, Anathema, Opeth, Robert Fripp and Nine Inch Nails.
- “Nil Recurring” – 6:08
- “Normal” – 7:09
- “Cheating the Polygraph” – 7:10
- “What Happens Now?” – 8:23
This will be my last Porcupine Tree review for a while, with the addition of this one, I’ll have the last 4 releases done and dusted. The PT back catalogue can wait for a while whilst I concentrate on other bands and artists from my collection. I feel like a swan about to take up flight and spread his wings!
First off ‘Nil Recurring’ is not a full album, a brief look at the track listing above will tell you this! What ‘Nil Recurring’ is, is a mini-album containing 3 tracks that were written during the ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ sessions, and 1 track that was originally going to be on the album, but later dropped in favour of ‘Way Out Of Here’.
This is not a bad thing though, these tracks are not ‘rejects’ at all, its just they didn’t fit onto the 50-minute conceptual album that became ‘FOABP’. Instead of letting the tracks rot away in some dark corner of Hemel Hempstead, the band decided to show them off in this E.P release! Quite rightly so!
There is no messing around either, the title track ‘Nil Recurring’ which is entirely instrumental, starts off with some nice guitar-work. Robert Fripp, [who also guested on ‘FOABP’] plays the lead guitar in his instantly recognisable style, whilst the rest of the band plays around his licks. The metal riff sounds a whole lot of fun, and the layering of the instruments is very well done. The quieter middle section, which features Colin Edwin’s groovy bass playing, is almost a nod to the bands improvisational days last witnessed on ‘Metanoia’. The track ups its ante for the last 2 minutes and finishes on a high, one of the better instrumentals the band has produced!
The next track ‘Normal’ is almost like a companion track to ‘Sentimental’ from ‘FOABP’. In fact the chorus is almost identical, however I actually prefer this track to the effort on ‘FOABP’. It has lots of energy, a typical ‘lets catch the listener off guard’ section before some thrash metal is injected into the mix. The vocal harmonies in this song are almost as good as the ones in ‘Drown With Me’. The guitar playing is quite complex mostly because of the tempo, lets just say that Steven Wilson had a little trouble playing the part, so much so he rang Robert Fripp up for technique advice!
‘Cheating The Polygraph’ was originally debuted with the rest of the ‘FOABP’ material on the fall 2006 tour, yet wasn’t as well received by both the fans and the band. ‘Way Out Of Here’ ultimately replaced it on the final edit of the album, which was a good choice. Not that ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ is a bad song at all; it’s just its like biting into more chocolate cake, after you’ve already eaten too much. It’s terribly sweet on the old ears, the guitar solo whilst initially sounding awesome goes on for too long, and everything is just drawn out for too long. The main riff sounds like ‘Futile’, a PT song that I’m not exactly thrilled about. It all adds up…
However despite my criticism, ‘Cheating The Polygraph’ fits very nicely onto this E.P instead of being forced onto ‘FOABP’. A brilliant decision to include it really!
The E.P closes with ‘What Happens Now?’ that features a frequent collaborator of SW, in the form of the very talented Ben Coleman. Fans of this song might want to check ‘No-Man’ one of SW ‘other’ bands! Mr. Coleman features quite prominently on a lot of ‘No-Man’ material. Whilst this song has some lyrics in, its largely instrumental and it closes the E.P off quite nicely indeed. Richard Beriberi’s talents are used alongside Colin Edwin’s during a wonderful elevated middle section that almost seems to make you float along with it! Echoes of ‘Anesthetize’ appear soon after, which is a nice nod to the epic centrepiece of ‘FOABP’ before the song finishes with a rather crushing melody and disjointed sound effects. It would seem at the moment, gone are the days of ‘Stop Swimming’ and ‘Feel So Low’ type album closers, rather the band are finishing heavily and abruptly. Loving it!
Now, recent scouring round the old internet has shown me that ‘Nil Recurring’ has been getting very positive reviews everywhere; [for an E.P that’s tremendous] I don’t want to upset anyone with my score for this review, but it might be slightly lower then you expect it to be. This is because:
- I don’t want to get into the habit of giving every PT release top marks, just because they are my favourite band.
- It’s an E.P not a full album so should get scored accordingly.
Ok, so that’s the disclaimer out of the way! ‘Nil Recurring’ is a worthwhile addition to your PT collection, and if you were going to pick up a copy of ‘FOABP’ I’d get ‘NR’ as well, because they complement each other very nicely. Very nicely indeed…
Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards
Richard Barbieri – keyboards and synthesizers
Colin Edwin – bass guitars
Gavin Harrison – drums, percussion, tapped guitar on “Nil Recurring”
Robert Fripp – lead guitar on “Nil Recurring”
Ben Coleman – electric violin on “What Happens Now?”