REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/18/2009
Although wisely left out of Fear Of A Black Planet, the four cuts on Nil Recurring are in no shape or form embarrassments. But despite being just six tracks long, the length of FOABP seems just right; nevertheless, the rejects, which ended up on Nil Recurring, are every bit as great.
It is for good reason that Porcupine Tree promoted this EP seriously, playing tracks off of it on the second leg of the FOABP tour (and they’re still doing so on the tour for their latest, The Incident). This is a serious record. Similar to FOABP, the cohesively arranged tracks maintain a sense of continuity, giving this EP its own conceptual flair. Emerging from the same gene as Black Planet, Nil Recurring is a prog-metal journey, with no cut shorter than six minutes. It doesn’t feature mellower numbers – unlike Fear, which had quite a few of these: “My Ashes,” “Sentimental,” the third part of “Anesthetize…” In fact, “Normal,” which could be considered an alternate version of “Sentimental” (it shares the same musical theme and chorus), is nowhere as melodic and poppy.
The lyrical aspect of Nil Recurring is as disinteresting as the album it spawned from. The one letdown of that disc – its clumsy melodramatic lyrics – is also the only weakness of this record: “Prescription drugs they help me through the day / And that restraining order keeps me well at bay / But what’s normal now anyway?” (“Normal”); “Well, I could be boarding an aircraft / With a bomb concealed in somebody’s briefcase / And my body will spread through the heavens, across the sky” (“What Happens Now?”). But like FOABP, the weak lyrics are eclipsed by the band’s brilliant songwriting and musicianship.
It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if these cuts were crammed into Fear Of A Black Planet, but it definitely would have been a mistake if they were never released at all. The band has made a wise decision here.