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DTS presents
Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (2005)

"This unique London-based quartet make unconventional, uncompromising music that qualifies them as Europe's premier art-rock cult band"
- liner notes

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: July 15, 2005

Stars: Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin, Gavin Harrison
Other Stars: Adrian Belew, Mikael Akerfeldt
Director: Jeff Levison, Elliot Schiner

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 59m:40s
Release Date: May 10, 2005
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+BA B

DVD Review

Deadwing, released with a dramatically impressive DTS audio mix, is the eight album from the quartet Porcupine Tree, who are part of a slow building resurgence in European progressive rock, and appropriately enough the group includes Richard Barbieri, who was part of the influential prog band Japan in the early 1980s. Deadwing is a return to the concept album, this time based on a screenplay, what de facto leader/vocalist Steven Wilson refers to as a "surreal ghost story written in the European art-house tradition".

There is a distinct, well-manicured moody layering over the course of Deadwing, and regardless of tempo the songs themselves rely on a structured, trance-like repetition that helps to create a tightly disjointed atmosphere of familiarity and uncertainty. Wilson, who pens 99% of Porcupine Tree material, blends musical styles from track to track, moving from metal chords to ethereal balladry with the same level of intensity. It's tough to really pigeonhole their sound, but the band has earned comparisons to such alt-hipsters as Mars Volta and Radiohead, and as a referential nod to the prog past Milwaukee's own Adrian Belew (King Crimson) steps in for guest guitar duties on Deadwing and Halo.

The aural centerpiece here is the sprawling Arriving Somewhere (But Not Here), featuring vocal/guitar assist from Mikael Åkerfeldt of the death metal band Opeth. This is one of the definitive snapshots of the slippery sound design of Porcupine Tree, as this 10+ minute track unfolds ever so slowly, building to a fevered pitch, and then suddenly exiting as it began. Wilson and Åkerfeldt's vocals merge beautifully, even if they project an emotional cynicism that echoes Roger Waters from Animals-era Pink Floyd.

In the old days, the words "prog rock" meant self-indulgent solos and meandering lyrical concepts. Porcupine Tree, over the course of 8 albums (including their acclaimed In Absentia), has bridged the expanse somewhat, creating a sound that is rooted in traditional prog values, but with a dark, alt veneer. The DTS release of Deadwing seems like a natural extension for the band, as it increases the impact of Steven Wilson's brooding, melodic gloom.

Track List:

Deadwing
Shallow
Lazarus
Halo
Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
Mellotron Scratch
Open Car
The Start of Something Beautiful
Glass Arm Shattering
Revenant
Mother And Child Divided
Half Light

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: During playback, the screen displays a different stylized sepia-toned static fullscreen image with the corresponding song title. Some are nondescript (Halo) and some offer potentially darker meanings to a song (Mother and Child Divided).

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DTSEnglishyes
PCMEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The arty neo prog-rock roots of Porcupine Tree make good use of the format, and DTS Entertainment has issued this semi-concept set in 5.1 DTS for DTS-Capable systems and a 2.0 PCM mix for all other systems. I can't imagine purchasing this unless you are DTS-equipped, so let's assume that's the case. This isn't a hammer-to-the-head kind of aggressive presentation, instead there is a slowly building expansiveness that plays off the bands' approach to song structure, and even a quiet tune like Lazarus becomes a full-bodied piece where backing vocals and piano come in from every corner of the room.

Like the other DTS Entertainment titles, both the DTS and PCM tracks mixes are sampled at 48k, with a bit depth of 24.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Super Jewel Box
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photos
  2. Lyrics
Extras Review: Extras include three additional DTS-encoded tracks (Revenant, Mother and Child Divided, Half Light), as well as a fourth track in PCM entitled Shesmovedon. Collecting Space: A Short Film About The Making of Deadwing (06m:31s) shows the band recording and talking about the project, while Notes offers additional text-based history of the group and individual explanations of each song.

There is also a collection of Photos broken down into three sections (Deadwing, In Absentia European Tour 2003, DW Art), a Deadwing trailer and lyrics for all the songs.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Porcupine Tree has quite the following in Europe, but stateside their blend of alt-prog-rock has yet to make a major dent. Deadwing is a very interesting project that runs the gamut of intensity, and there is a subdued anger to even the quietest tracks in the set, but what is probably going to attract the most attention is the fact that is presented in DTS.

The mix avoids gimmicks just for the sake of gimmicks, and the production wisely employs all available channels in an intelligent manner, giving Deadwing a dramatic boost that should help get this band noticed on this side of the big pond.

Recommended.

 


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