Porcupine Tree – Octane Twisted

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Somewhere in past reviews I’ve commented on live recordings.  Intruding crowd noises, less than stellar recording, Peter Gabriel-ish studio “fixes” to band or recording errors (so, is it still live?), uninspired song selections, little deviation from studio versions... whatever.

I was all but unacquainted with Porcupine Tree when I ventured a couple years ago to their Atlanta concert, not coincidentally on The Incident tour.  It was all new to me then; it’s very familiar now, as is most of their other work.  I like most of it.  I like some of it a lot.  But whether I like The Incident most because I heard it first or it’s their best is a pointless exercise. 

As the band is currently on hold due to leader Steven Wilson’s assorted side projects, the news of Octane Twisted was a pleasant surprise.  It’s a purchase to be made without fear of the peccadillos that otherwise might annoy me on a live recording.  Wilson is a gifted producer, and if there’s something I’m not supposed to hear, I’ll never hear it.

The content is impeccable, including the full Incident set list on one CD, as well as other songs that were tacked on during the tour as a second.  The sound is amazing, and it’s honest to my memory, regardless of the location at which it was recorded.  It’s also honest in that it is live.  I have the production values of the studio version in my head, and it’s amazing now to look back and hear how the band recreated the work in front of an audience.

The 2 CD pack is well worth the attention of fans of the band or others who might look to what progressive rock has evolved.  “Russia on Ice/The Pills I’m Taking” is a special treat amongst the bonus songs.

That said, it’s worth ordering the deluxe edition from the band’s site.  After exchange rates, the price escalates to ~$30.00 U.S. (including postage).  But, you get a pretty fantastic DVD that is the visual companion to Disk 1, a worthy, worthy addition.

4 of 5 STARS

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