Sunday, December 20, 2009

They Wish They'd Seen It Coming

The following are two reviews of the latest Po90 CD "Jitters". Rick and I did not consult each other when writing our reviews, so imagine my surprise when I received his review by e-mail and found that he used practically the same opening line I did in my review. Originally the idea was to combine both reviews into one, but I have decided to let both stand as they are. The first review is mine, the second is Rick's. Have fun!

“They wished they’d seen it coming!” So starts the opening track, Interlude, and we wished we’d seen it coming indeed. After a seven years hiatus, Po90 are back in force with an unapologetic rocker of an album called Jitters. Interlude is an instrumental that is very reminiscent of Porcupine Tree’s Signify period, especially in the 5/4 section after the 16th bar, when the piano comes in. It also has a theme that is revisited and added to later on the track Backup. The next track, Standalone, starts off slow with a beautiful piano intro, only to become more chaotic and hectic, apart from a nice little jazzy bridge section. The whole feels like an arena rock song, and the ending testifies to the fact that the musicians thought so too.

Threesome is another chaotic rocker, a natural follow-up to Migraine from 2000’s Unbranded. It follows the same opening beat and pattern as Migraine, if not the same feel. Entry Level has groove, and lots of it. The opening bass line and drum beat draw you in and never let you go! Backup starts of as a continuation of Interlude, and then turns on a dime and changes tone musically until the chorus partially revisits the music of Interlude. A great track that feels like it must have been a lot of fun to play.

The title track, Jitters, starts off with a kind of African drum beat, with lots of sound effects coming in and out. The syncopated beat flows through the song until the rockier chorus. Truly an “amazing” song. I especially love the guitar and keyboard arpeggio bridge. The Dock of the Abyss is Po90’s take on the Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”. They even borrow the first stanza and chorus from Redding’s classic. Although the themes are similar (economic recession), this is pure Po90.

Finally we have the beautiful and atmospheric The Death of Jade. This might be Po90s most important song. This song is about reality TV, and the numbing effect this might have on the people watching. Inspired in part by the real life story of Jade Goody, a young woman who was a Loft Story participant in the UK, and had her last months of life filmed for TV (she died at the age of 27 of uterin cancer, although her death was not filmed), this is a perfect ending to a wonderful album.

Some people might think, Andy Tillison included, that I am uncritical of his musical output, having given a 10/10 for The Tangent’s Down and Out in Paris and London, but I must say that both Po90 and The Tangent have surpassed themselves in 2009. The only sour note I will leave you with is my rating of the cover design of the CD: I really hate it! The previous Tangent album was called “Not As Good As the Book”, and this Po90 CD should have been called “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover”. It is horrible, but what’s behind it is worth it.

Rating: 10/10.

Reviewed by Frank Marceau


"They wished they'd seen it coming"! That's how I reacted after I heard the first notes of this "in your face" album! This is how the instrumental intro track "Interlude" kicks off. If you are Porcupine Tree lovers,you will relish many of the songs here.This first number is quite reminiscent of "Signify" and"Mother and Child Divided".

The second, "Standalone", starts with soft piano and ends up being a great rocker prog song. Excellent guitar playing. We get a jazzy bridge at about the halfway point. The third offering,"Threesome" starts like a "Nine Inch Nails" tune. This song is actually
"Migraine part 2"!! This is an experimental tune that works, with it's industrial sound. Tillison even sings in french.

"Entry Level" starts with a funky bass and drum beat. A song that is as intriguing as it is bizarre, with a catchy chorus/refrain. Modern prog at it's best, with hints of "Porcupine Tree". "Back-up" starts like something you would hear on an "Opeth" album,t hen gets trippy... this song also flows greatly with the rest of this album.

"Jitters", the title track rocks! Tillison and the rest of the band really shine on this track, with hints or similarities to Canadian band MYSTERY, with a wonderful "GENESIS/MYSTERY middle section, before the singing pick up from where it had left off.

"On The Dock Of The Abyss" is a song about "disaster" movies (the likes of "Towering Inferno"/"Earthquake"/and in this case"Airport"), with Tillison singing Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay", which was a song about not finding work, as for this one is about present reality of no work, economics and world recession ("sitting on the dock of the Abyss..."). Groovy thecno electronic funk rock tune!

And last but not least, "The Death Of Jade", has Tillison singing in french again. A little difficult to understand what he's saying (for the first 2 or 3 listens...) very atmospheric beginning, which grows into a crescendo and then settles back down til the end.

This album may only be 43 minutes long, but is probably one of the 3 cds you want to buy to add to your collection. A must for all proggers, and non-ones too!

A 10/10.

Reviewed by Montreal Rick

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