Fear of a Blank Planet

Fear of a Blank Planet

Steven Wilson has been leading Porcupine Tree as if the 1970s never ended. His group shuns the dictates of the marketplace, ignores the current musical trends and focuses on delivering a progressive rock fan’s dream: long, instrumental passages that swell with audiophile grandeur, and songs that unlock an alternate world where time and space act very differently. An obvious take on Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, Blank Planet concerns itself with a 21st century of sex (an apathetic way of passing time), prescription drugs (necessary and evil), and MTV, with the internet and other forms of escapism (Xbox is a god) providing the necessary panacea to a world of dubious information overload. But while the concept is something to ponder during the 17-minute build-up of “Anesthetize,” the album’s main draw is, well, that 17-minute build-up. Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson adds a guitar solo, which is an interesting curio, but this is Wilson’s project and he shades everything in his own futuristic take on progressive music, unafraid of adding a soothing chorus to the twisted paths. Also of note, King Crimson’s Robert Fripp co-writes and contributes to the slow-moving, ethereal “Way Out of Here.”

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