Porcupine Tree - Anesthetize
With the release of last album The Incident, Porcupine Tree cemented their place at the top of the pile of modern progressive-rock acts. Their unique and invigorating music has been reaching out to more people than it ever has. But let’s go back in time to October 2008, in the midst of the tour for their Roadrunner debut Fear of a Blank Planet, and to the two shows which have been captured for this brand new audio-visual feast Anesthetize.
The first thing to note of great delight is that long-time artist and collaborator Lasse Hoille seems to have mislaid the effects button since the last DVD, Arriving Somewhere.... That was blighted by horrible and distracting scratchy effects at points throughout, but what Hoille presents here is a gleaming, streamlined visual document of Porcupine Tree at their finest. To begin with the band runs through the entirety of Fear of a Blank Planet in order, with the 17 minute centrepiece 'Anesthetize' being the obvious stand-out. It journeys through acoustic balladry, death metal riffs and atmospheric synth workouts all in one go, and Gavin Harrison's unique drum-style is fascinating to behold.
What happens after the band leave the stage is probably one of the most revealing and brilliant moments of the entire DVD, as it cuts to a shot of the band sitting in silence in their dressing room deep in contemplation. Coming back on stage to play a selection of tracks from the Nil Recurring EP, including a spot-on rendition of ’Normal’, the band show just how brilliant as musicians they are. They even dip into a couple of tracks from 1996 album Signify, giving ‘Dark Matter’, ‘Sleep of No Dreaming’ and ‘Sever’ rare outings, and showing the seeds of the sound which they have so brilliantly mastered since. Second guitarist and backing vocalist John Wesley really shines on the latter track, with his softer vocal styling creating a nice contrast to Steven Wilson's.
The beautifully melancholic ‘Half-Light’ breaks things up a little, as Mr Wilson enters the stage with an amazing-looking video guitar with its swirling, dreamy patterns perfectly reflecting the mood of the song. As the band finish with the fantastic ‘Halo’ after a stunning 130 minutes of Porcupine Tree heaven, this is surely marked out as the best document there could be of their live experience. And an experience it most definitely is.