Cheating the Polygraph

Pinocchio was famous for telling porkies. Porcupine Tree is well known in prog rock circles for marrying pop melodies with metal-tinged prog rock in an ever-evolving mix of styles. Their man on the drum stool is, arguably, the greatest drummer in the business – Gavin Harrison won the best progressive drummer poll in Modern Drummer magazine every year from 2007 to 2010 (and again in 2016 and 2019). In 2015, Gavin teamed up with bassist and arranger Laurence Cottle to re-imagine some of Porcupine Tree‘s songs as jazz big band pieces. And that’s no lie. Here’s a trailer for Cheating the Polygraph, the album they made together.

Harrison’s use of the ‘Big Band’ musical sound stage isn’t some ersatz attempt to make a ‘Swing’ album; it’s closer in execution and arrangement to the innovative works of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, a layered, richly-textured selection that is both beautifully-recorded and incisively delivered.

The KScope website

Here’s the full album on Bandcamp. It’s also on Spotify here.

In the Crotchety Hall of Fame there are only a few drummers. Ginger Baker, John Marshall, Phil Collins, Bill Bruford all have their place. But, for me, Gavin Harrison eclipses them all. He makes mastery of the drum kit seem effortless. I’ve seen him live and, believe me, no-one could accuse him of cheating.


For non-UK readers, “porky” is short for “pork pie”, which is cockney rhyming slang for a lie.

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