Anyone who remembers my 2010 album selection, and even more those privileged few who saw the unblogged 2009 selection, will recall that I tend to land up on a fairly even mix of folk music and prog rock. This year has been the exception: folk has nearly swept the board, largely because of my new interest in playing it as well as listening to it. That leaves us with only one prog album this year, but what an album it is: Porcupine Tree’s The Incident. While it shares with all good prog the qualities of richness, technical proficiency and inventiveness, it adds another quality much rarer in this genre: approachability. Call it likeability if you wish. Because much as I love prog, I have to admit that it’s not always the most welcoming genre to people approaching it from the outside. This album is an exception. It draws you in.
I don’t know much about about Porcupine Tree — Amazon gave me the Time Flies MP3 as a freebie when I bought something else. I loved that opening couplet, “I was born in sixty-seven / the year of Sergeant Pepper and Are You Experienced?” (it made me sad to have been born in the year merely of the white album and Axis: Bold As Love). I liked the whole song enough to get the album, but so far that’s all I know of their material. Above, I’ve embedded the YouTube video of the single edit of Time Flies, since it comes it at a fairly digestible 5:25. But you really want to listen to the full-length version that’s on the album (embedded below), which takes rather longer to illustrate its point of the passage of time — it breathes and explores in a way that the short version can’t.
(Students of the classics will recognise several homages to Pink Floyd’s Animals album — specifically, the opening acoustic guitar pattern is a nod to the similar opening of Dogs, and the cascading descent of echoing electric guitars at 2:20 afterwards evokes a similar passage in Sheep.)