Category Archives: Porcupine Tree

The Sky Moves Sideways-PORCUPINE TREE-1995

Aha. The album that really introduced Porcupine Tree as a force to be reckoned with, a “band” and not just a joke, somewhat similar in nature to Spinal Tap, the only difference being that Steven Wilson was making fun of 70’s prog bands. It is the first time Porcupine Tree is used to denote an actual band, as opposed to a pseudonym for Steven Wilson.

Putting that away, this is the album that revealed to me the experimentative, rambling tendencies of the band, as opposed to the meticulous, song oriented approach of later albums. Mind you, I am not saying that later albums do not experiment, just that they do not cover genres in quite the same way as this does. Also, by 1998 Porcupine Tree had almost found their unique prog/metal/symphonic/PT ambience, while here they are just, for the most part, soundscaping around, shall we say? There are significant electronica influences to be seen in The Sky Moves Sideways Part 1, trance beats galore, so on and so forth, let’s not destroy the surprises okay? This album is a must listen, displaying a completely different approach to album making, so you better not ignore this one; this would rank higher on my PT scale than Lightbulb Sun or Stupid Dream, the simple reason being that they are two sides of the same coin, while this is different experience by 180 degrees. It need hardly be said that I use this album to fall into a coma at night after a tiring and hot day in college, with a whisky peg in hand, of course. All those tribal beats and ambient directions, you know, they help.

Oh, and about the Pink Floyd factor. I have read more than once as to how Porcupine Tree is supposed to be the “new” Floyd. Now, I won’t deny that their sound draws heavily from the Floyd, the ambience and the darkness, the long, drawn out lead lines, the soft vocals, yes, but its called “influence” and as long as it sounds good and it is not imitation, which it is not, I don’t give a rats ass. There is a significant part of this album, where you will get a chance to compare this with Floyd’s schtick, especially the guitar solos. Oh, and if there are Floyd fans who have not heard PT, to give them a idea, I would say that In Absentia was their Dark Side of the Moon, while Fear of a Blank Planet can be called their Wish You Were Here. This one can be seen as the Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Recommended Songs:- N/A. This is not a song album. You need to hear the whole thing, and that I do recommend. Also do remember that this album had two versions, US and UK, and there is this one song, called “Stars Die”, which is absolutely fabulous, and it is to be found only on the US version. So get that too.

-Baba T

Stupid Dream-PORCUPINE TREE-1999

Perhaps Stupid Dream is one of the most melancholy and somber albums that PT has ever made till date. Yes, the mood that this band conjures up is always so, but on this even it is even more so. Maybe that is why this one has always ranked a little lower on my scale than the other PT albums (leaving the Incident aside of course).

On the other hand there are some songs on here that you would do well not to miss. The opener, Even Less, is one of my all time PT favorites, and is the best song on here. One for the greatest hits collection playah!! I rather not describe the song, in fact, I do not think that I can describe it. The second song to note on here is the poppish, catchy “Piano Lesson”. Check the lyrics-: “I remember piano lessons/The hours in freezing rooms/Cruel ears and tiny hands/Destroying timeless tunes/She said there’s too much out there/Too much already said/ You’d better give up hoping/You’re better off in bed” . Most of the times Steven Wilson’s lyrics are incredibly vague, though picturesque, but sometimes he just hits the button. Like on this one and “The Sound of Muzak” from In Absentia. Great stuff.

To tell the truth, the rest of the album passes in a sort of a haze. Maybe because the best cut is the opener, but the rest of the stuff is a bit iffy (for PT anyways). This might also be because of a lack of variation in song structure and style, but I can hardly remember what happens after “Don’t Hate Me”, which song has btw, some great sax going for it, also a rare occurrence. However, no real complaint again, since that is almost half the album! The album again is PT finding their sound and heading for what they must not have known, but we know, as In Absentia. Damn, how many times am I gonna mention that one in these PT reviews. As I shall note, the albums before this, namely Signify, The Sky Moves Sideways and Down the Upstair were high on experimentation, while from Stupid Dream onwards, till Fear of a Blank Planet, PT discovered the unique PT sound. Does that make sense? Whatever. And as for The Incident, the less spoken about it the better.

As for Stupid Dream, it is one the album that even a casual fan must hear to complete the PT experience. If not that, you are at the very least obliged to hear “Even Less”, which must be one of the all time great songs, in my book at least.

Recommended Songs-Even Less, Piano Lessons, Don’t Hate Me.

-Baba T

Lightbulb Sun-PORCUPINE TREE-2000

Their least “progressive” record, so to speak, if we speak in context of stereotypical notions of what is progressive since there are no lengthy, multi-part instrumental jams ala The Sky Moves Sideways, except for one (“Russia on Ice”, but then they have to maintain that proggy image with the marks, eh?), instead for the most part this is pleasant, guitar rock with lush keyboards and what I like to call the “Porcupine Tree Ambience”. In hindsight, this was the logical step towards the unique PT sound of In Absentia, which I see as the culmination of the first half of PT’s career. Some of the acoustic, understated filler on this album could have been done away with and doesn’t quite have the effect of “Heartattack in a Layby” from In Absentia, because the album pacing and track listing is not properly organized like on that humdinger, but these are mostly petty nitpickings, coz I have nothing else to do right now and have to make this review bigger, so that you guys feel that I am actually reviewing a record rather than writing one liners and tag lines. Just a touch of metal, here and there, for good measure, once or twice, for example in the excellent “Hatesong”, in many ways the precursor to the dangerous “Strip the Soul” that followed on In Absentia. It doesn’t have the variety of In Absentia, or the impact, but it is nice. A very worthy addition to your PT record collection.

Hahahaha, that’s what I come up with, after listening to this album for years….that its nice…..hahahahahaahahahahaahha……that is why, for asinine and incomplete discographies I recommend that you come to That (Doesn’t) Sound(s) Right, the new era of rock’n’roll reviewing, hell, we are the next Lester Bangs!! And as for this record, enjoy more of the PT ambience!! The dreamy guitars!! The dusk type atmosphere!! Perfect soundtrack for evenings in the countryside when the sun is sending its last rays over tired Mother Earth!! The almost whispered vocals!! Yay!!! Lets rock!!

Recommended Songs- Shesmovedon, Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth before it is Recycled, Lightbulb Sun, Hatesong.

-Baba T

4 Chords that Made a Million-PORCUPINE TREE-2000

This is not a LP or even a EP. Just a single, but what the heck? It has 3 brilliant, classic PT songs, in their golden age, released just a month, as a promo to the album, Lightbulb Sun, which album I shall be coming to, very soon. Only “4 Chords that Made a Million” is to be found on the studio album mentioned above, while I don’t know where “Disappear” and “In Formaldehyde” are to be found, hence a separate review for this “limited edition” disc. Heh. Just download it from the net. The above mentioned songs, showcase the mellow, plodding side of our favourite 21st century progressive band. Though they muffed up big time with the “Incident”, you can easily go back to the period of Signify through to Fear of a Blank Planet, where there is so much good material that it will make you puke.

Err..lets call it a great precursor to a great album.

-Baba T

More Porcupine Tree reviews HERE.




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