The title of Porcupine Tree's new album 'Closure/Continuation' presents a riddle in itself. The responsibility of interpretation is up to the listener, whatever meaning they want to make out of it – the end of the band or a fresh start after a decade-long hiatus.
Steven Wilson himself isn't entirely sure about the answer to that question, as he told The Guardian earlier this year, "I genuinely don't know whether it is closure or start of another continuing strand of the band's career."
Listening to the album one can feel the reflection of the change the musicians have gone through over their elongated hiatus. In many instances, one might stumble upon moments where the influence of Steven Wilson's solo projects can be felt, which have a strong touch of pop music. However, all throughout the album, the real Porcupine Tree shines through and the taste of progressive rock remains.
The production of the album is simply brilliant. The nuances of every instrument are kept intact, and none of the subtleties is ignored. All three Steven, Gavin and Richard showed their highest level of skills and efficiency as musicians, through their extremely tight playing.
The album-opening track, 'Harridan', which was released as a single at the end of last year, was magnetic enough for Porcupine Tree fans to eagerly wait for the entire album. It starts off with a funky bass line, which easily makes the listener stick with the whole song.
The eventual introduction of Gavin Harrison's precise drumming groove and Richard Barbieri's soft synth creates the trademark Porcupine Tree vibe. The heavy guitar riff that follows the beautiful bridge comes as the true symbol of variation in progressive rock music.
'Rats Return' and 'Herd Culling' appear to carry the vibe of 'Harridan', containing heavy guitar riffs, irregular synths, and a mixture of high and low tempo phases at regular intervals, all of which are carefully crafted to satisfy the appetite of a progressive rock fan. The intro of 'Herd Culling' has a lot in common with 'The Sound of Muzak', both in terms of sound and composition.
'Of The New Day' is very reminiscent of the sound and composition of 'Lazarus'. The trademark Porcupine Tree chord progressions are brought back along with varying time signatures and wide gamut of keyboard synths.
'Dignity' is a true example of a mind-blowing acoustic guitar melody constructed with chords that easily take the listener's mood to that of dark loneliness, backed by retro synths.
'Chimera's Wreck' starts with a 'Hey You' by Pink Floyd sort of tone, but gradually transitions to progressive rock and flourishes with melodic guitar riffs, complex drumming and occasional keyboard melodies. 'Walk the Plank' has a more electronic atmospheric experimentation that imparts a dark and gloomy ambience.
Overall, Porcupine Tree has produced a great album from every perspective, considering the group came back after more than a decade. From here, Porcupine Tree fans can only expect further continuation, not closure.