Porcupine Tree — Metanoia
(Aether 3, 1997, LP)
by Dan Casey, Published 1999-11-01
This hard-to-find treat was released after the live album Coma Divine but prior to the latest album Stupid Dream as a limited edition gatefold double 10" vinyl-only release. Recent interviews with band leader Steven Wilson indicate that it will most likely be issued on CD at some point in the future although no plans are in place as of yet. Metanoia is a collection of improv jams recorded on two different dates during the sessions for Signify in 1995 and 1996. The recordings were then later mixed and edited by Steven Wilson at his home studio. The album is in every way the antithesis of Stupid Dream, and simultaneously every bit as brilliant. The opening track "Mesmer (i)" showcases drummer Chris Maitland and bassist Colin Edwin really opening it up in a masterful display of finesse and energy. The syncopated groove continues to build, leaving the listener with a profound sense that this band must have really meshed into a cohesive unit in order to pull of difficult riffing like this in an improvisational setting. Chris and Colin easily steal the show from Wilson throughout this album, and it's a pleasure to hear. Wilson spends a lot of time noodling with guitar effects and keyboard atmospherics, all to great avail. Occasionally, he steps out front with some soloing, but for the most part the emphasis is on the full band sound rather than individual performances. The last portion of "Mesmer (iii)" is positively sublime, easily one of the band's finest moments. A more raw, intense version of "Intermediate Jesus" is contained here as well (but without any of the shortwave radio samples and overdubs). The band shows quite a sense of humor here, too, as "Metanoia (ii)" builds into a frenzy with Maitland going completely out of control until the tape unwinds into a hilarious mock interview at a crowded restaurant in Milan where the guys are discussing what to order and how they feel stupidly overdressed. If this doesn't recall Spinal Tap for you, then the hand-etched phrase "None More Black" in the run-out groove of Side 4 ought to do it. Unlike anything they've done before, Metanoia is a very unique release and comes with the highest recommendation. It will feel like an eternity waiting for this to reissue on CD, so even though the vinyl may be a bit pricy (if you can even find it), it's well worth it.
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more