âIâm probably busier than ever in my whole career,â Wilson says at the beginning of a Zoom call. Itâs a startling statement from someone whoâs released so many albums that one imagines Spotify building an entire server room to accommodate his vast discography.
âIâve got the book, which just came out,â says Wilson. âThe Porcupine Tree album. Iâm almost finished writing my next solo record. Iâm remixing about 10 albums at the moment. And then the family life as well, which is great.â
Asked for comment, Edwin responded by email: âWe hadnât fallen out or anything, and were in contact occasionally about various things, reissues mainly, or odd business things, but there had long been no indication or hint of any new band activity, writing sessions or any possibility of reactivation. My band O.R.k toured with Pineapple Thief in 2019, we all got on fine and there was no mention at all from Gavin about any possible new PT stuff, certainly nothing from anyone else. So it was a surprise to me in March 2021, in lockdown, to get an email from Steve telling me thereâs a new album and as heâs already played all the bass parts thereâs âno role for me.â Soon after that Steveâs lawyer gets in touch. I have had no real contact from anyone since.â
Why was the album created without Colin Edwin?
The simple reason is that when we started making the record back in 2012, myself and Gavin started to work on ideas. I picked up the bass and it wasnât like, âIâm going to be the bass player on this record.â Colinâs not going to get a look. It wasnât anything as self-conscious as that. It was simply I think I was already a bit bored with the guitar at that point. So I reached over and I picked up the bass and I started to play the bass line to âHarridan.â We came up with that, that groove in five, which kind of not uncoincidentally opens the record, because I think they straight away thereâs a kind of what shall we say, a kind of statement of intent right at the beginning of the record. This is not going to be the same old, same old.
The bedrock of the whole record really became the way I âplay bass,â but allied with the fact that I was jamming these grooves with Gavin. So whole chunks of the record, you know, the âHarridanâ song was all writtenâeven the chorus was written on bass. âRats Return,â the big heavy riff actually was written on the bass. âChimeraâs Wreck,â all written on the bass. So these songs which were started way back in 2012, 2013, that became the sort of the foundations of the record were written with me playing bass. And I played bass in a very different way to Colin. I played bass like a guitar player because I am a guitar player. I pick it up and I start playing melodies up the top and I play chords and I play things that âproper bass playersâ probably wouldnât think to play. So there was no great conspiracy. We just got to a point where we realized, âOh, Stevenâs going to be the bass player on this record.â From that point on, it was just, âOkay, so itâs the three of us now.â
I would also say that I think, and this is not just me being pragmatic or looking back in hindsightâand no disrespect to Colin, heâs a fantastic playerâthe creative core of the band was always Gavin, Richard, and myself anyway. If you listen to the sound of the band going back certainly from the In Absentia days onwards, it was Gavinâs approach to drums, his very polyrhythmic technical approach to drums, Richardâs sound design and use of texture and ambiance. Both of those things filtered through my songwriting aesthetic.
We donât have Colin on the record, but neither do we have anyone else on the record, which is something that you canât say of any Porcupine Tree record going back a long time. Thereâs always been guests, whether itâs been string arrangers or guest vocalists or guest guitar solos. Thereâs no sound on this record that isnât made by myself, Richard or Gavin. No engineersâ actually Paul Stacey helped me a little bit with guitars later onâbut apart from that, it was part of the very, very latter stages of the recording and mixing process. But we really just made the record in our own studios. Just the three of us without anyone else knew we were doing it.
Very interesting stuff. Finally just listening to the album as an album after ripping and hearing each side at least 3 times in the process. With 3 different copies it was about 40 sides altogether so getting to this point was kinda brutal. Side E on the 45 rpm version skips and repeats so everything had to be opened and played immediately. Same problem on the second copy in the very same place. The standard 33 black vinyl set played great although didn't sound quite as good as the 45 even with the many other noise issues. Colored vinyl sucks.
Dignity and Never Have are the two tracks most likely to end up on the playlist here. Dignity reminds me a lot of Interstate Love Song. Chimera's Wreck is pretty powerful and an instrumental bonus track, Population Three is very nice. I'm really late to the PT train other than listening to what BG plays. SeriousLee and Westslope nudged me deeper into them. So I really had no idea what to expect and any other ingrained previous work to think about while listening. I can't anticipate if long term fans will like it or be disappointed.
It does work as an album after getting used to it now being brand new music to begin with. Not music to do housecleaning to be sure. Couch potato stuff. Have to see how it does on the road. Can already tell not for traffic jams with a manual tranny. Varies enough to keep you interested along the way.
Glad I got it. Been way long time since getting any brand new and unheard music to digest. Just hope getting things returned and exchanged goes well.
The cult prog band fizzled out in 2010 when leader Steven Wilson lost interest â but never thought to tell his bandmates. Whatâs brought the trio back together? And is this closure or a fresh start?
In Air Studios in London early this year, I watch three men play music together for the first time since October 2010. When they walked off the stage at the Royal Albert Hall nearly 12 years ago, two of the three members had assumed that the band remained a going concern. But Steven Wilson, their frontman and guitarist, had decided that was it for the group, at least for the time being. Only he hadnât told his bandmates. Or their management. Or their label. Or anyone.
He says he felt resented by the drummer, Gavin Harrison, and the keyboard player, Richard Barbieri, for being the one who got all the attention; he felt his musicianship was being judged. âI didnât feel particularly liked or respected in the band â or at least if they did have respect, it was never vocalised.â
So Wilson didnât bother saying anything to them. He just left, leaving Porcupine Tree as a perpetual loose end. For a couple of years, the other two waited for Wilson to return. But then they read interviews in which he would talk about his solo career and deny any interest in their band.
âYou canât help but feel bitter and hurt,â says Barbieri, who found himself in the same situation as when David Sylvian walked away from Japan at the end of 1982. âYou get to a point of critical and commercial success and, at that very point, itâs just dragged away. And, of course, itâs not easy for the members to just carry on. It requires a lot of time before you step back into a career. But for the person at the front, they carry on with the same manager, the same record label, the same fanbase, the same publisher, the same promoter, the same agent. So itâs very painless for them. But it leaves people behind who spent as much time working as they did, so itâs tough.â
Now, the band comprising Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison are back with a frenetic new single, which you can listen to below. Their new album âCLOSURE/CONTINUATIONâ is due for release on June 24, 2022 via Music For Nations/Sony. ......
Porcupine Tree UK and European tour 2022:
OCTOBER Friday 21 â GERMANY, Berlin, Max Schmelinghalle Sunday 23 â AUSTRIA, Vienna, Gasometer Monday 24 â ITALY, Milan, Forum Thursday 27 â SWEDEN, Stockholm, Avicii Arena Friday 28 â DENMARK, Copenhagen, Falkoner Theatre Sunday 30 â POLAND, Katowice, Spodek Hall