The concept for The Incident (the bands much lauded 10th and most recent studio album from 2009) emerged as Porcupine Trees creator Steven Wilson, was caught in a motorway traffic jam whilst driving past a road accident. There was a sign saying POLICE INCIDENT and everyone was slowing down to see what had happened. "Afterwards, it struck me that incident is a very detached word for something so destructive and traumatic for the people involved. The irony of such a cold expression for such seismic events appealed to me, and I began to pick out other 'incidents' reported in the media and news, I wrote about the evacuation of teenage girls from a religious cult in Texas, a family terrorising its neighbours, a body found floating in a river by some people on a fishing trip, and more."
Consisting of 18 tracks, each song is written in the first person, attempting to humanise the detached media reportage of each associated event. The first 14 tracks form part of a 55-minute song cycle, with the last 4 having been recorded later (and originally released as a second disc to stress their independence from the song cycle).