David’s Drum Off: #4 – Gavin Harrison

Porcupine Tree are hands down one of the most interesting and talented bands currently around.  Founder and main songwriter Steve Wilson is a master of his craft and has found a way to seamlessly intertwine everything from blues to jazz to metal to country to funk to plain ol’ rock n’ roll into his multifaceted brand of progressive music.  Rounding out the band is a group of multifaceted and skilled musicians that bring all of these aspects and styles together into one extremely unique compendium of sounds.

The backbone behind it all is drummer Gavin Harrison, who is simply one of the most fascinating drummers around.  He’s unlike a lot of others on this list in that on the surface he doesn’t wow you with speed and endurance; you’ll get no feverish double bass and blast beats from him, and that’s what makes him stand out.  It’s all in the subtleties with Harrison.  He keeps one of the tightest pockets of anyone out there and does so with an abundance of poise and imagination.

Not only is Harrison known for his outstanding work in Porcupine Tree, but also with groundbreaking progressive rock band King Crimson, whom he is currently touring with.  It’s no surprise that he’s joined them; he’s a perfect fit, as one of his obvious influences is former King Crimson and Yes drummer Bill Bruford.  There’s also a lot of Steve Gadd and even some Terry Bozzio in his playing, which again isn’t surprising considering I would call him the progressive drummer of our time, much like the aforementioned were in their heyday.

When you listen to Gavin play it’s important to pay close attention.  His use of ghost notes, rudiments, and accents is exemplary and keeps even the most “basic” of beats fresh and appealing.  It’s also fun to hear him burst into his short-lived but chaotic moments of spastic frenzy, throwing in double bass and tom rolls when you least expect it.  He really is a wonder to watch.

The video below is pure drumming gold.  Normally I couldn’t care less for this type of new-wave smooth jazz he’s playing, but with him behind the kit I can’t help but stare on in complete awe.  The man is truly a virtuoso.

In case you haven’t had enough (I know I haven’t) here’s a video of him playing one of my favorite Porcupine Tree songs “The Sound Of Muzak”.

Hear more of Gavin’s unparalleled playing on Porcupine Tree‘s latest album The Incident, out now on Roadrunner Records.


The Top Ten:
#10. John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak, Gorguts)
#9. Kenneth Schalk (Candiria)
#8. John Merryman (Cephalic Carnage)
#7. Mario Duplantier (Gojira)
#6. Flo Mournier (Cryptopsy)
#5. Danny Walker (Inronaut, Exhumed, Murder Construct)

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