Porcupine Tree are unquestionably one of the most difficult-to-categorize and innovative bands out there. The music is breathtaking, ranging from psychedelic trip-hop to progressive metal, and a compendium of other sounds in between.
The band is fronted by Steven Wilson, who also is well-known for his work producing other artists; from Swedish progressive metal group Opeth, to Norwegian chanteuse Anja Garbarek. He also has several other projects, including No-Man, Bass Communion, and the highly acclaimed collaboration with Israeli musician Aviv Geffen, Blackfield. Porcupine Tree was founded as a self-indulgent creative outlet for Wilson, and the first major release was On the Sunday of Life… in 1992, an album of psychedelia and studio experiments which bears little relation to the band’s current sound. From here, Wilson expanded the sound, creating the progressive rock/ambient trance fusion on the 30-minute long single Voyage 34. One of the only constants in Porcupine Tree’s music is how it continues to evolve and confront the expectations of the band’s fans from album to album.
In late 1993, the solo project became a band, as Colin Edwin (bass), Chris Maitland (drums), and Richard Barbieri (keyboards) were recruited to enable Porcupine Tree to perform live. Richard had previously been a member of experimental 80’s bands, Japan. The first real band album recorded was Signify in 1996, which was followed by Stupid Dream (1999), a breakthrough album which saw the band move into a more song-orientated direction. Lightbulb Sun continued along that song-oriented tack, but, never content to rest on their laurels, Porcupine Tree changed course again for their next release, shuffling their line up for the first (and to date, only) time. Chris Maitland departed and was replaced by Gavin Harrison in 2002, as the band signed a new international recording deal with Lava/Atlantic Records.
The band’s first two major label album releases were In Absentia and Deadwing, heavier than previous releases, the albums have found favour with older fans and introduced Porcupine Tree to a whole new audience. This new audience has continued to grow with the release this year’s ‘Fear Of A Blank Planet’ album on Roadrunner Records.
Universally lauded the album has been described by Q as “a genuinely thrilling rock record,” and as “the first mandatory album purchase of 2007” by Classic Rock, who also awarded the album the prestigious Album Of The Year award at the recent Classic Rock Awards, while it moved Mojo to state ‘Porcupine Tree’s time has come.’