Gavin Harrison is an English drummer / percussionist, best known for his work with Porcupine Tree from 2002-2012 and King Crimson since 2008. Along with dozens of other recording appearances he has also released three albums in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist 05Ric.
Now in 2015 comes “Cheating The Polygraph”. Recorded over a period of five years, this is an album of jazzy re-imaginings of Porcupine Tree material arranged by co-producer Laurence Cottle.
Rather than clichéd big band versions of these tracks, Harrison has strived to make something that would have a contemporary edge so that “even if you didn’t know the original tune you could still enjoy it as a modern composition”.
Musically, this is a complex record. The tracks, some of which have been spliced together with others, have been radically re-imagined but have still enough of the original versions’ melodies etc. to make them recognisable enough to anyone who knows the Porcupine Tree recordings.
The jazz musicians featured here have really stepped up to the mark on the arrangements which must have been pretty challenging to play – as Harrison notes “the arrangements of these pieces we really get ‘out there’ with some of the harmonies and rhythms”.
Naturally it’s the drums and percussion that are at the centre of this album. As a drummer myself I have always enjoyed Harrison’s work, particularly on the Porcupine Tree records, and his performances here are absolutely brilliant. His rhythms are compelling and some of his fills are just sublime. I cannot do justice in words to just how good this man is, he is up there with the best of them.
My favourite tracks here are “The Start Of Something Beautiful”, “Hatesong / Halo”, “The Pills I’m Taking (Anesthetize)” and “Futile”, but from start to finish this is a really superb record – and one that jazz fans, progressive rock fans, and fans of great music in general should enjoy…
1. What Happens Now? / 2. The Sound Of Musak / So Called Friend / 3. The Start Of Something Beautiful / 4. Heartattack In A Layby / The Creator Had A Mastertape / Surfer / 5. The Pills I’m Taking (Anesthetize) / 6. Hatesong / Halo / 7. Cheating The Polygraph / Mother & Child Divided / 8. Futile