Gavin Harrison’s long harboured desire to re-record some of his favourite Porcupine Tree songs has produced far more than a glorified covers album with a bit of flashy drumming (although there are drums aplenty).
At its heart, Cheating The Polygraph is an instrumental big band jazz album – a steaming rhythm section, a world-class collection of horn players, melodic playfulness and astounding syncopated ensemble performances. Imagining the late-70s Buddy Rich Big Band, adding hints of Zappa, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bernstein and Quincy Jones, wouldn’t be going far wrong, but the overall effect transcends such a crude listing of influences. There’s funk of the slow, sultry variety (Heart Attack In A Layby, Creator Had A Mastertape) and of the more hard grooving, punchy kind (Hatesong), and there’s more than a hint of West Side Story in The Pills I’m Taking. Although carrying Harrison’s name, the album owes as much to the talents of bass player and arranger Laurence Cottle, whose work in deconstructing the source material is simply mesmerising. Whatever label you wish to give it, music this complex and multi-layered deserves your attention.