There’s something to be said for consistency.
Some bands figure out what works for them, and then run that formula into the ground. Others go out of the way to make radical changes from album to album. Bands like The Pineapple Thief take a third option: They have a sound that works for them, and continually allow that sound to develop, expand, and flourish. The sound may be familiar, but there’s more of it. Such is the impression left by the band’s new release, Dissolution (out on KScope August 31).
When Steven Wilson unofficially dissolved Porcupine Tree, I felt a void form in my art-rock world. Fortunately, Bruce Soord has stepped into that void, and made it his own. The singer/guitarist, along with Steve Kitch (keyboards), Jon Sykes (bass), and Gavin Harrison (drums) have created a marvelous new album centered around the theme of the modern world in the social media era. From Soord’s point of view, the world is much worse off because of Facebook, Twitter, and other sites like them. “The (album) title ties into how we’re now bound by this hideous technology that means everybody knows everything about everybody, and everything is played out in the open,” Soord says via the band’s press release. “And it’s horrible and invasive.”
Soord attempts to come to grips with the modern world, but is clearly struggling with it, as songs like “Try as I Might,” “Uncovering your Tracks,” and “Far Below” tend to indicate. Still, among the doom and gloom is some mighty fine music.
The music is all the more impressive when one considers the band was never in the same room at the same time. Each part was recorded individually, with the band communicating with each other as they did so. One might consider this approach a tad ironic, given the album’s central theme. Still, each musician’s contribution is both well presented and unobtrusive. Each instrument is allowed to shine without muddying anyone else’s contribution to the mix. This is truly a musician’s album, while one doesn’t have to be one to appreciate it.
Soord sees Dissolution as an evolution for the band, particularly because Harrison is now a full-time member of The Pineapple Thief, after touring with the band following their 2016 release, Your Wilderness. (Seriously, is there anything Harrison isn’t on these days? He was the drummer for Porcupine Tree, is one of the three current King Crimson drummers, and now this gig!) With a top-tier musician behind the kit, Soord deemed it necessary to raise the level of his songwriting. Not that his songwriting was all that shabby to begin with. Fans like me are obsessed with this band for a reason.
This is not to say The Pineapple Thief is identical to Porcupine Tree. I tend to see them as two sides of the same coin. Soord does not let his music get quite as heavy as Wilson did, even if both are deeply introspective songwriters. Plus, Soord’s sound continues to grow within the context of the band, where Wilson needed to go it alone to take things to a new level.
Given the nature of Dissolution‘s recording, I am eager to hear how the band puts things together live. Something tells me it will be a sight — and sound — to see. For now, the new album is a welcome addition to The Pineapple Thief’s catalog, well worthy of everything else fans have come to know and love. It is also a fine entry point for beginners looking to learn about this exciting band.
Dissolution is the sound of wonderfully consistent evolution.
Check out my new book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine bookstores.
The Pineapple Thief is one of my favourites bands and I’m looking forward to the new album.
I don’t think I agree with Bruce Soord’s take on social media, though. I refuse to join Twitter (but I love twitmericks). I don’t see the point of Instagram (although I do publish photos on Flickr). I am on Facebook (but only because it’s a way to stay in touch with one or two remote friends) and I recently joined WhatsApp (but only under protest). None of those organisations make much of an impact on my life and … here’s my point … there’s no reason they should make a big impact on your life, either. And I’m talking to everyone, here: Bruce Soord, all readers of this blog and anyone else out there in cyberspace.
It seems to me that social media is turning humanity into a hive species, like bees and The Borg, but we might as well embrace this change, use the good bits and forget the rest. Just go with the flow, as your last post recommended.
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As this will be the 1st cd with Gavin sitting in from the start and included in the writing process, I am looking forward to see what kind of impact Gavin has had with respect to the songs – i.e. will they be heavier/more crunchy?….the impact his addition to Porcupine Tree had on “In Absentia” was pretty dramatic (in a good way)…can’t wait to hear this and hopefully a 2019 US tour
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