What I am Listening To, February 2022

2022 is already proving to be an exciting year with two new releases from Porcupine Tree The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Karnivool. The Porcupine Tree reunion has come as a surprise as for many years Steven Wilson has been adamant that the band getting back together was totally out of the question. Regardless, they have now released a new song Harridan. However, this is not a full reunion of the classic lineup as Colin Edwin is no longer part of the band.

The first thing that struck me when listening to Harridan is the absence of Edwin’s bass playing (Steven Wilson is playing bass on the recording) the bass feels more functional and does not add anything interesting to the track, the tone is and the rhythmic approach used are far more in keeping with Steven Wilson’s solo music that of Porcupine Tree. These criticisms aside, the song was enjoyable to listen to and does not sound like anything I have heard from the band before. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the album. I am curious to find out if the band will change there sound significantly from the style they had adopted for their previous album The Incident , will the album be very guitar-centric and heavy or will the band move into new sonic territory? Alternatively, will they readopt a softer sound they were know for in their earlier years. If this song is indicative of the rest of the album it would appear that Porcupine Tree are going to continue to write within the darker aesthetic the band are best know for.

One of my favourite bands Karnivool have also put out a new song All It Takes to promote there new album that I believe will be coming out sometime this year. I am excited to discover that Forrester Savell has returned to mix for the band. His mixing achieves a high level of clarity and space in the mix that is usually never part of the makeup of heavier music. Every instrument can be heard distinctly but not at the expense of the overall sound of the song. Karnivool do not release music often I think this is a smart way to operate as it means that a significant amount of anticipation surrounding each release. On the opposite end of the spectrum there is someone like Steven Wilson who is constantly releasing new music, for me, there can be no excitement surrounding a new release by him; his audience are totally oversaturated. However, it must be said that with greater anticipation comes great pressure on the artist to present to the world work that is worthy of the long wait. Tool are an extreme example of this, with there being over ten years between their last two albums. Their latest effort Fear Inoculum was certainly not worth the wait.

I have also been listening to the new song from The Red Hot Chili Peppers Black Summer. This the first song the band have released since they have replaced Josh Klinghoffer on guitar with John Frusciante the player who is responsible for their best work. The levels of anticipation surround this release were very high as many hope the return of Frusciante will allow the band to return to a more powerful sound. There is also a cult like following of Frusciante online which having been starved of sustenance for so many years is now able to gorge itself on more music from their idol.

I need to give the song a few more listens but my initial impressions are that the song is an odd choice for a single. The main problem in that Anthony Kiedis lyrics are not very strong in verses. The references to climate change is clich├ęd and are reminiscent of celebrity activism and empty gestures. However, there are 16 other songs on the album so I hope that one of these will be better that this initial offering.

Looking ahead I will checking out some artists I have never listened to before: Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares, The Caretaker and others. If you have any other suggestions on what I should add to the list please leave a comment.