PORCUPINE TREE — Love, Death & Mussolini (review)

PORCUPINE TREE — Love, Death & Mussolini album cover Promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs) · 1990 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
"The Love, Death & Mussolini" is the second studio release by UK artist Steven Wilson under the pseudonym of Porcupine Tree. "The Love, Death & Mussolini" was released through No Man's Land in early 1990. It succeeds "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm" from 1989. The catalogue status of "The Love, Death & Mussolini" is a bit unclear as it has been called an EP, an album, and a demo by various souces. I´ll go with the latter as it was released in a very limited number of copies on cassette tape. Tracks 1 to 7 would be included on "On The Sunday Of Life... (1992)" (the official debut full-length studio album by Porcupine Tree).

"The Love, Death & Mussolini" features 9 tracks and a total playing time of 35:39 minutes, so while it is generally considered an (demo) EP it´s an almost album length long release. The short ambient intro "Hymn" seques into the delightfully dark and atmospheric "Footprints", and it´s interesting to hear a song from this early stage of Wilson´s career, which could well have been written much later and included on an album like "Signify (1996)" or maybe even "Stupid Dream (1999)". But the next track "Linton Samuel Dawson" is completely different and takes the listener into psychadelic comedy rock land, with Wilson´s vocals pitched to sound like a mouse singing. It´s a high energy track with a great positive energy, but...it´s not exactly great art. "And The Swallows Dance Above The Sun" opens with a sample and an energetic and busy programmed drum beat, which more or less continues for the duration of the track, with ambient keyboards, soaring lead guitar themes, and Wilson´s melancholic vocals filling the remaining part of the soundscape. Had the drums been played by a human being and had featured an organic tone, that track could have been a little more accomplished. It´s still a pretty great track though.

"The Love, Death & Mussolini" continues with "Queen Quotes Crowley", which is another ambient psychadelic track featuring omnipresent guitar leads by Wilson, while all sorts of studio experiments with volume and backwards recordings run in the back. "No Luck With Rabbits" is a short ambient transition track to "Begonia Seduction Scene", which is a beautiful track comprising acoustic guitar and some atmospheric lead guitar themes. About midway through the track it gets a little darker and the atmosphere changes towards the ominous. The 8:59 minutes long "Out" is up next, and it´s a hard rocking psychadelic rock song, featuring a driving rhythm and a middle eastern tinged lead theme. It´s like listening to Wilson playing Hawkwind or something in that vein. "The Love, Death & Mussolini" closes with "It Will Rain For A Million Years" which "Out" seques into. "It Will Rain For A Million Years" is an ambient layered track featuring spoken words and subdued singing, soaring majestic lead guitar motifs, acoustic guitar and layers of keyboards.

While not all tracks on "The Love, Death & Mussolini" are equally interesting or accomplished, the big difference between the material on "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm (1989)" and the material on this release, is the level of professionalism in both the musicianship and the recording techniques. It´s obvious Wilson was fast learning more about recording and also honed his skills as a musician. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
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