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Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (DTS) Review

by December 07, 2006

Introduction

Prior to writing this review I had never heard of the quartet Porcupine Tree. Where I live in New Hampshire , the selection of FM stations is limited unless you have a large outside antenna or live closer to Boston . I have digital radio with my DIRECTV package, however, I never find myself listening to it. I love finding new music and finding good rock is always a special treat for me. I am a product of the 70's and overdosed on groups like Pink Floyd, STYX and Yes. Like Pink Floyd, this group is also from the UK and they seem to have been influenced heavily by the whole album orientated rock concept and added a few other things as well. The group fuses rock and metal with new age, which makes them difficult place into any single category. This is a good thing. While I wouldn't put this group up there with Pink Floyd or Yes, it is certainly a refreshing step in the right direction. You can read more about the group here .

The Songs

  1. (Blackest Eyes) This first track starts off hard and then slips into a more mellow gear. Nice use of surrounds.
  2. (Trains) This is a cool rock song, very melodic with some nice guitar work and even a little banjo slipped in.
  3. (Lips of Ashes) This is an awesome song and my favorite on the disk. Best described as a blend of new age and rock it has some slick guitar work and is very active in the rear channels without being distracting. This is the best sounding song on the DVD and would be a great choice to demo your multi-channel audio setup to your friends.
  4. (The Sound of Muzak) This song is only fair, it has some nice guitar work but a little repetitious with the chorus.
  5. (Gravity Eyelids) This is an odd song with some metal overtones, starts slow then builds.
  6. (Wedding Nails) This is one of two instrumental songs on the disk. The song has a good hard rock sound, but suffers for lack of fidelity.
  7. (Prodigal) This song has some nice vocal harmonies but again, it suffers from lack of fidelity.
  8. (.3) A good solid instrumental combining rock and new age.
  9. (The Creator has a Master Tape) This is a strange song with punk overtones, very active surrounds that will have your head spinning around at points.
  10. (Heart attack in a Lay By) This is an easy melodic song with good use of surrounds, cool vocal harmonies and little better audio quality. The vocals come at you from all around and there is a great sense of depth. This is another good demo track.
  11. (Strip the Soul) This is a good rock song with a hint of metal. It offers a little better fidelity than the other hard songs and is pretty active in the rear too.
  12. (Collapse the Light into Earth) This was a good song to end with, laid back with nice use of orchestra and piano. This cut showcases the group's versatility.

Audio Quality

The only thing that brings this DVD down is the audio quality. This music deserves a better treatment then what is present on this DVD. There is a harshness in the highs that permeates all of the hard songs. On a few of the cuts it is actually painful to my ears. There is also a lack of bass; there is not much going on here in the low end and I think the music suffers because of it. Since I did not have the Redbook CD to compare it against, I don't know if this is what the band intended or if something went wrong in the mixing and mastering of this DVD. There is not much in the way of any real dynamics either, a lot of it sounds very compressed. The odd thing is, on the slower tracks the fidelity improves greatly. While still not having any real low end, the harshness disappears, the detail comes back and the music sounds less compressed. The DVD is presented in 5.1 48/24 Packed Pulse Code Modulation (PPCM), 48/24 DTS 5.1 and 48/16 2.0 PCM. The PPCM track offers the best audio quality.

Extras

The DVD contains a good amount of bonus materials that should satisfy all but the most ardent of supporters. There are three music videos in DTS 5.1 and three bonus music tracks. One of the videos (Strip the Soul) has some disturbing images, so you may want to use caution if watching around very young children. However, there is no profanity or nudity. Also included are two photo galleries, a biography and lyrics.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is a good DVD and fans of the group will be pleased with its content. The music is innovative, fresh and reminiscent of your favorite 70's rock albums. The songs all seem connected and paint a vivid picture while listening to them. The audio quality is the only problem with this DVD. If it were better this would be a four star DVD, because of that however, it only rates a three.

 

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