The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution
I’ve never been a huge fan of The Pineapple Thief, I used to listen to their albums, liked one or two songs, and that was about it. That was until I listened to “Dissolution”. This album for me represents not only a big landmark on the band’s music history (after 11 albums and 20 years on the run) but for me personally, is the first one I really enjoyed from start to finish! I can’t really say if it is because of the general darker mood of the album per se, but I think a big part is the writing contribution of their now officially new drummer, Mr. Gavin Harrison (yes yes, one of my favorite prog drummers out there I must admit). Gavin just added THAT element that was missing in The Pineapple Thief’s music: a level of complexity that still sounds so easy on the ear but when you listen closely you begin to realize everything that is in between. For some it might not be prog enough or technical enough, but this is Artrock at its best: it sounds pleasant, easy to digest, but behind this, your ear is really catching all the complex work resting below a much simpler vocal line. For me that’s progressive.
This album’s general concept deals with the dissolution of relationships, the loss and dealing with that loss, and the negative influence that social media and modern technologies have on each of us and said relationships. Ironically, the same technology helped them to create this album, as each part was recorded in different places. As guitarist/vocalist Bruce Soord says: “It may seem odd that we were able to create something as ‘a band’ when we are so far apart, but we talked almost daily. Technology means ideas can be shared instantly. We were effectively jamming a lot of the time. Just a bit further apart.”
The album starts with ‘Not Naming Any Names’, a dark ominous intro to the album. It presents to us the subject this album deals with: how the new technologies, and over-crowded mass communication tools, social media and anonymity are affecting our daily lives. Next we’re brought back in time to what could be any Porcupine Tree song. ‘Try As I Might’ is not a copy, but the influence is clear. That said, the song is really a refreshing change from the very gloomy introduction, though lyrically deals with how social media affects our relationships with everyone else, and the increasing lack of privacy affecting our daily lives.
In ‘Threatening War’ they touch a more political subject, in which the lyrics seem to be addressed to a certain president who tends to threat and say things a president shouldn’t say, but I won’t dwell here in such matters. Musically the song starts pretty unimpressive, though still in that same popish’ Porcupine Tree‘ish vibe, but towards the half develops into a very interesting and complex piece of musicianship prowess. I must highlight the drum-work again.
‘Uncovering Your Tracks’ deals again with the “Big Brother is watching” concept: the paranoia social media’s instant notifications produce and the eagerness to know everything right now from everyone else. The song is much darker in nature than the previous ones. It has a bone chilling guitar solo that gives way to the very soft bridge that, in my opinion, breaks the scary mood of the guitar solo. If it would have been a tad darker maybe it would have worked better. I’m no composer, but for me, it just broke the climax of the song.
Here comes one of the heaviest fast paced tracks on this album. At just 3:27 min, ‘All That You’ve Got’ has a bit of everything the band has to offer. There are some bits that actually remind me a lot to Rush, which is a high praise to say the least. From the more easy-to-listen vocal melodies and repetitive lyrics, to the complex rhythmic section, toying masterfully back and forth between Gavin’s drums and Jon Syke‘s bass. A delight to listen to. Lyrically, the song seems to continue the subject from “Threatening War”.
‘Far Below’ is one of my favorite tracks of the album. Musically speaking, it has all I like in a band of the style and calibre of The Pineapple Thief: great melodies, great voice, excellent musicianship, complex rhythms and a vibe and energy that I can’t avoid to move to. Lyrically deals with the loss of hopes and the desperate cry of people around you calling you to come back to your own self.
‘Pillar of Salt’, the shortest track (1:25) of the album, takes us back to the same darker mood of the begining. Acoustic guitars and Soord’s soft voice telling us about someone who keeps coming back to the past, reminding us that we all will eventually disappear. The track is practically an intro to ‘White Mist’ which deals with the loss of control in our lives.
Musically, the longest song of the album (11:05) I can’t help to think about ‘Arriving Somewhere, but not here’ from Porcupine Tree (yep again mentioned here, unavoidable). But at the same time it is very different. The song is diverse musically, though at first might sound simplistic, the complexity of rhythmic patterns played masterfully by Harrison, are the driving force. The sounds created between the drums and the synths effects from Steve Kitch‘s keyboards, serve as platform for the solo from the experimental guitarist David Torn (who appears as guest musician). Here the band concentrated all their effort in creating a masterpiece. The different soundscapes, complexity and simplicity at the same time pays a high reward. All in all, the best track of the album. I just wished they would have created more songs following this example of a fine progressive song.
‘Shed a Light’ closes the album back to the somber mood but shedding a light of hope (pun intended). The song deals with having to take a decision: go on living a lie or change to be true to ourselves. Leave the past behind and start your life anew. The song starts on a softer mood, climaxes towards the half on a swirl of drums and guitars. Symbolizing a point of inflection, a change that must be done. The drama is pinpointed by the guitar high pitch direct solo. The song falls again to the same bleak melody of the beginning, repeating itself and again finding its way to a more energetic and more positive guitar solo and bridge that tells us that a better ending is coming and not all is lost.
“Dissolution” is an excellent album that present to us a current and difficult concept, which blends simple melodies with complex song structures in a masterful way. An easy to listen and very enjoyable album that seems to make a useless effort to conceal the prowess each band member show on their instruments. An album that made me add The Pineapple Thief among the bands I should listen to more. Now I will!
- Not Naming Any Names
- Try As I Might
- Threatening War
- Uncovering Your Tracks
- All That You’ve Got
- Far Below
- Pillar of Salt
- White Mist
- Shed a Light