You could call the limited edition Nil Recurring EP a fan-only release, but when you’re talking about Porcupine Tree, that’s not really a valid argument. The populace is split between those who love P Tree and those who don’t, excepting the uninitiated.
But the tag rings true a bit. With four long cuts written and recorded around the Fear Of A Blank Planet sessions, Nil Recurring can be viewed as a connect-the- dots exercise for music nerds – a fanbase that Porcupine Tree are quite familiar with. A different cut of the chorus of the standout “Sentimental” is here as “Normal,” with an alluring bridge, for instance, and the main riff of “Cheating The Polygraph” was adapted from “Anesthetize.” And all of these cuts appeared on the double vinyl release of FOABP, which some hardcore enthusiasts may already have.
So, while this might peg Nil Recurring as far from essential, it’s still one of the best half-hour sets of music you’ll hear all year, besides for Fear Of A Blank Planet, of course (see Aquarian #396 for a full explanation). After all, Robert Fripp contributes lead guitar work to the title track, which is reason enough to wait at sunrise outside your local record store. And the revisited pieces of “Normal” and “Cheating” (as well as some hints of “Anesthetize” in the closer, “What Happens Now?”) don’t feel like rehashes, rather like reprises, when listening to the two works in tandem, and autonomous units on the EP alone.
It reflects the strength of Nil Recurring. With FOABP in mind, it fits as a kind of side-story, but it has the will to serve as its own. Every section of each song is stellar and fluid, regardless of whether or not it is revisited or brand new. It makes Nil Recurring an entirely different glimpse into the band’s world, instead of what most bands would consider a set of B-sides.