Steve Wilson is a master painter and his canvas is your eardrums. In Absentia is Porcupine Tree's U.S. debut. And finally it can be said that those of us on the far side of the pond are finally being exposed to what, up to this point, had been one of England's better kept secrets.
The Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Rush influences are unmistakable-- but when you mix all of those influences with Steve Wilson's imagination you get a new style, a new sound all its own.
There's a somber and ethereal feel to this album from start to finish, even when it verges close to metal on songs like Gravity Eyelids you still get that feeling that you're not just listening to the music, you're feeling it-- because one thing this album has an abundance of is ambience.
Initially I only "stumbled upon" this musical masterpiece after being exposed to Steve Wilson's guest vocals on shutDOWN on OSI's 2003 debut album. While that album is also wholly enjoyable (another review, for another occassion), shutDOWN really stuck out as being one of the best, if not THE best track on the album. I simply had to find out more about this Steve Wilson gent-- and where did that lead?
Straight to In Absentia! This band in general and this album in particular is not one that can be pigeon-holed. Mixing the styles of their prog-rock forebears and adding a strong ambient spin will almost get you there-- but rather than waste time trying to describe them, the best way to enjoy this band, and this album is to pop on a pair of headphones, close your eyes, shut up, and completely surrender yourself to the music. You won't be disappointed.