Sound — 10
Porcupine Tree's signing to Roadrunner Records and their debut for them, 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' has really done wonders for their commercial success. Roadrunner are notoriously good at getting their acts out there and if you pop into an HMV these days you'll find about 5 or 6 CDs by the band as opposed to the usual 1 or 2. So, 'Nil Recurring' is an EP that functions as a continuation of 'Fear Of A Blank Planet's lyrical and visual theme, with all of the songs being written during the sessions. Considering it was originally released as a strictly limited pressing from the band's official website, I was shocked to find around 20 copies of this jewel case version stacked in my local HMV. Obviously, it was reduced to 19 within seconds. Musically, the album is very spaced out, much like it's bigger brother. However, unlike the very desolate atmosphere of tracks like 'My Ashes', 'Nil Recurring' offers up sounds more reminiscent of the band's much earlier works such as 'Signify'. This exotic psychedelic feel melded with the progression of the band since then (including a lot more metal elements) provides a very interesting listen for any Porcupine Tree fan. Even though 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' boasted a track over twice the length of the longest track on 'Nil Recurring', the EP seems to be far more progressive. There are references to other works by Porcupine Tree in the EP, with 'Normal' being a direct sequel to 'Sentimental', and 'What Happens Now?' featuring a riff found in the epic 'Anesthetize'. In this way, the album becomes much less recognisable as a stand-alone effort and is even more pinned down as 'Fear Of A Blank Planet II', which is both an advantage as a disadvantage. If I'm totally honest though, the grooves and sounds which Porcupine Tree churn out on this recording are better than most to be found on their previous release.
Lyrics — 10
Steven Wilson has always been a talented lyricist but his massive concept for 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' and 'Nil Recurring' is the sort of thing that should be explored, but not overplayed. The lyrics on 'Nil Recurring' are masterpieces, to put it boldly. While 'Normal' and 'Cheating The Polygraph' are solid additions to the computer-age concept and the title track is an instrumental, 'What Happens Now?' is quite simply the best set of lyrics I've heard from Porcupine Tree. Using only two stanzas, it puts across a bleak, nihilistic atmosphere that the other songs in this collection could only attempt to create.
Overall Impression — 10
It is evident when listening to 'Nil Recurring' that 'What Happens Now?' and the title track were very collaborative efforts, written by the entire band as opposed to mostly just Wilson. In fact, these two tracks are the most enjoyable on the album, more musically removed from 'Fear Of A Blank Planet', drawing in influences from PT's lengthy back catalogue. A guest appearance on lead guitar from Robert Fripp (of King Crimson fame) further improves the involving experience that this EP will have on any Porcupine Tree fan, but that doesn't mean that this is a 'fan's package', in any way. 'Nil Recurring' is a beautiful piece of work that should and could be appreciated by anyone with an interest in rock music.