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Thread: The 20th anniversary of In Absentia by Porcupine Tree

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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    The 20th anniversary of In Absentia by Porcupine Tree

    This was released on this day in 2002. It's kind of wild to think it's been 20 years already for this one. It wasn't much of a commercial success when it first came out but over time it's been recognized as a very influential modern prog album and arguably Porcupine Tree's best. It's probably at least their most well known these days. It's not my personal favorite but it has it's own charm and I can see how it would influence other bands. You probably wouldnt have some modern prog bands if it wasn't for this one (or at least they would sound different). I'll probably play it later today.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    This was released on this day in 2002. It's kind of wild to think it's been 20 years already for this one. It wasn't much of a commercial success when it first came out but over time it's been recognized as a very influential modern prog album and arguably Porcupine Tree's best. It's probably at least their most well known these days. It's not my personal favorite but it has it's own charm and I can see how it would influence other bands. You probably wouldnt have some modern prog bands if it wasn't for this one (or at least they would sound different). I'll probably play it later today.
    Still a fantastic album after all these years. I just listened to it for the first time in years last weekend, prepping for the show Tuesday night and it has held up really well

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    It wasn't much of a commercial success when it first came out but over time it's been recognized as a very influential modern prog album and arguably Porcupine Tree's best.
    I'd have to disagree with that. Certainly, in relative terms. They signed with Lava Records and in many ways it was their breakthrough album that took them to the next level.

    This from Wikipedia: "It was very well received critically and commercially, with it often being considered the band's crowning achievement, and selling over triple what any of the band's prior albums had in the past."

    Neil

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    The deluxe edition made the album all the better for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boilk View Post
    I'd have to disagree with that. Certainly, in relative terms. They signed with Lava Records and in many ways it was their breakthrough album that took them to the next level.

    This from Wikipedia: "It was very well received critically and commercially, with it often being considered the band's crowning achievement, and selling over triple what any of the band's prior albums had in the past."

    Neil
    Well, that's true but it didn't chart at all in the US unlike the ones that followed. So it's hard for me to think of an album as a commercial success if it didn't chart(although it did chart in other countries). It may very well be the bands best selling album now though. It still contains what is the only song by them I ever heard on mainstream radio ("blackest eyes) which I heard soon after it came out.
    Last edited by Digital_Man; 09-24-2022 at 05:48 PM.
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    I still like ca. half of it Ok. "Trains" is certainly one of Steven's best tunes, and I want to address him as Steven 'cause I kinda feel him in my heart and want to know him and his absolutely gorgeous wife who's gorgeous because Steven is so famous, successful, rich and more and thus surely couldn't have acquired anything but a gorgeous wife.

    I fell off the cart after this, though. And I'm not entirely convinced about the "prog" credential of it either, although this doesn't dismiss its qualities in any sense. The good tunes are ace, but there's silly filler residue.

    Their transitional album was actually Signify. Not only for contents but intents. Wilson needed and wanted to break off from minimal logistics of association to UK underground/Delerium margins and the neo-psych call for "obscurity morals", setting out for a new and decidedly more song-form measured detail of frame. Whereas "songs" were rather secondary on those first three releases (as opposed to grand arrangements of ideas into crafty "pieces"), they took driver's seat on Signify with excellent tracks such as "Sever", "Every Home Is Wired" and "Sleep of No Dreaming". Good bye-byes.

    Steven nurtured delicate talent in songwriting already from early on, of course. You can hear it on the vintage cassette recordings etc. Albeit they also showcase some scent of funny limitations or repetitions in nailing goals of variety and nuance in chordal patterns et al. Later hums such as "Small Fish", "The Moon Touches Your Shoulder" and "Fadeaway" (closer on Downstair, but the original please, not that desolute overhawl) display his sensibility for raptures of atmosphere revisioned as sound-don-lyric. Now this is absolutely one of his strong points; feel and mood juxtaposed delightfully in both words and instruments.
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    Scrotum, just out of curiosity, what do you consider to be "silly filler residue" on here?
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    One of PT's best for sure. I suppose my fave PT period is from Signify to In Absentia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boilk View Post
    I'd have to disagree with that. Certainly, in relative terms. They signed with Lava Records and in many ways it was their breakthrough album that took them to the next level.

    This from Wikipedia: "It was very well received critically and commercially, with it often being considered the band's crowning achievement, and selling over triple what any of the band's prior albums had in the past."

    Neil
    In his biography Wilson says that sales figures of In Absentia were disappointing compared to expectations of his (and his record label). It is however true that In Absentia sold much much better than most of the other contemporary "prog" albums.
    My progressive music site: https://pienemmatpurot.com/

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    I had been a fan since On The Sunday Of Life, but this is where I got off the bus. I bought the album, saw 3 concerts on the tour, bought the tour gear, etc, but ultimately the album doesn't hold up for me. Other than reading reviews and sampling a bit, I haven't bothered much with what came after.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    In his biography Wilson says that sales figures of In Absentia were disappointing compared to expectations of his (and his record label). It is however true that In Absentia sold much much better than most of the other contemporary "prog" albums.
    I think SW is a highly intelligent cat, but I'm not sure he realizes the days are over of albums like A Passion Play, Tales/Topographic, Animals, etc breaking the charts. So why would In Absentia? Most people don't know his stuff. Go into your local grocery store and ask them if they know/own In Absentia...might get lucky if ONE youngish person does. If he wants to make serious bread or try to, he needs to delve into rap/hop-hop or contemporary country.

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    And yet somehow SW after many years of being broke has made himself wealthy by selling physical product and of course being the main songwriter which is no mean feat in these times of Spotify etc. In Absentia at the time only did a bit better than Lightbulb Sun or Stupid Dream but has later sold a lot more when PT had their commercial breakthrough with FOABP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    I think SW is a highly intelligent cat, but I'm not sure he realizes the days are over of albums like A Passion Play, Tales/Topographic, Animals, etc breaking the charts. So why would In Absentia? Most people don't know his stuff. Go into your local grocery store and ask them if they know/own In Absentia...might get lucky if ONE youngish person does. If he wants to make serious bread or try to, he needs to delve into rap/hop-hop or contemporary country.
    I dunno.. I would not compare In Absentia with those records that you listed. It is pop/rock album with some prog tendencies and I think it had good chance to make it big when it was released.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    I dunno.. I would not compare In Absentia with those records that you listed. It is pop/rock album with some prog tendencies and I think it had good chance to make it big when it was released.
    I guess our idea of big is different...for me these days big is artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, etc...plus a boatload of rap. In Absentia was never going to come close to the popularity of that stuff.

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    It did feel like they were on the cusp of a genuine mainstream breakthrough in the late 2000s. But then Wilson pulled the plug. And TBH I think The Incident was easily the weakest album I'd heard by them anyway. I haven't kept up with what he's done since really.

    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    I think SW is a highly intelligent cat, but I'm not sure he realizes the days are over of albums like A Passion Play, Tales/Topographic, Animals, etc breaking the charts. So why would In Absentia?
    Yeah but this isn't really like any of those IMHO, it's much more 'commercial' anyway to these ears.

    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    I guess our idea of big is different...for me these days big is artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, etc...plus a boatload of rap. In Absentia was never going to come close to the popularity of that stuff.
    I think the comparison would be more with rock acts- like, I don't know, Muse or whoever. They broke big around that same time.

    This album probably is where more people probably became aware of him/them, I believe it was the first album I heard (though two/three years after its release). It just took a while for it to filter down commercially. I actually thought the late 90s stuff was better though, when I got to hear it.
    Last edited by JJ88; 09-25-2022 at 05:10 PM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    It did feel like they were on the cusp of a genuine mainstream breakthrough in the late 2000s. But then Wilson pulled the plug. And TBH I think The Incident was easily the weakest album I'd heard by them anyway. I haven't kept up with what he's done since really.
    His solo albums after The Incident were much better (and more diverse; each one differed stylistically). I never cared for The Incident, but I've bought everything by him since then.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    In his biography Wilson says that sales figures of In Absentia were disappointing compared to expectations of his (and his record label). It is however true that In Absentia sold much much better than most of the other contemporary "prog" albums.
    Also from the biography: Wilson tells in it that In Absentia cost ten times more to make than previous album and sold only marginally better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    I guess our idea of big is different...for me these days big is artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, etc...plus a boatload of rap. In Absentia was never going to come close to the popularity of that stuff.
    That however was the aim of the Lava/Atlantic and Steven Wilson.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moribund2 View Post
    The deluxe edition made the album all the better for me.
    Yep. This is a great package.

    IA is easily in my top 10 albums of all time.
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  20. #20
    My recollection is a little hazy but I seem to remember that the UK release was delayed and I ended up having to buy a European copy. Or maybe that was to get bonus tracks...not sure now!

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    The album is represented well on the current tour.

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