Besides having the best drummer of any prog rock band ever (Gavin fucking Harrison!) Porcupine Tree is arguably the band that made Steven Wilson famous. This was before he went solo, and then went off to make some of the best pop music of the 2010s. And some of the saddest music of any decade.
The man’s got range, but Porcupine Tree was the most energetic and effortless of his music. Well, maybe I remember it that way because I first heard it as a kid — just a freshman in high school — and I’ve jammed to it ever since.
Wilson’s music calcified my love for the open road and the longest drives. Not only because the songs are long — like all good prog rock — but because I used Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson concerts as excuses to go on solo road trips. Throughout Texas, Arizona and New Mexico bound for California. How many miles did I drive just to hear this music? I’ve lost count, but it was worth it every time. Hearing these songs, I feel I’m on the road again.
And this track, ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here,’ is originally from Porcupine Tree’s album Deadwing (2005.) This version is a live recording at Park West in Chicago first released in a concert DVD, and, later, in a two-disc compilation named after the track. I like to think that’s because the song is so good, the whole album revolves around it.
Go blast this song on repeat and let its layers seep into you. The cymbals around 03:46 counting down the guitar distortion at 04:16, and at 06:22, riffs that sound like Tool and Radiohead collapsing in on each other inside the gravity of a black hole. All of it leading into Gavin Harrison’s drums at 07:09, beating you over the head for more than a minute straight. Meanwhile, a synthesizer floats overhead. God, I love this song — even if it is about dying in a car crash.