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Porcupine Tree - Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip  CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.25 | 366 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars One of the most psychedelic releases ever, no doubt, is Porcupine Tree's Voyage 34. I would suggest buying this edition, and avoiding the other 2, because this is a collection of the key moments from the entire Voyage 34 experience, to form the complete trip. In fact, there is very little that was cut out from the others. Phase I, II and III remain virtually unchanged, and IV is still fantastic. This is essentially a combination of the two EPs/singles.

In Phase I we see clearly the direction of the album. It is the story of a young man named Bryan, who was having an LSD trip when he couldn't end it, and was caught going up the downstair (the concept for another Porcupine Tree release). The only vocals are narration by various voices, all of them perfect for this music. They don't grow annoying, and aren't silly narration, thankfully. The insights through the narration aren't exceptionally interesting, however. Throughout the album, Porcupine Tree really show their inspiration by basically imitating Pink Floyd's sound during The Wall days, particularly the guitar-work on Another Brick on the Wall, and perhaps even Run Like Hell. They even borrow some distinct sounds from A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers by Van Der Graaf Generator. But besides the Floydian impersonation, the guitar work is excellent, and the ethereal keyboard and percussion add a perfect psychedelic touch. Some of the percussion voices are a tad stale and synthetic, though.

During Phase II, we pass again into a Pink Floyd section, but I find there is a bit more of keyboard dominance here, and the tempo is more usually upbeat. It is generally similar to Phase I, however there is some narration from other LSD users, who describe their experience on the drug. This is the most orthodox piece of music on the album, and the most structured, and ends with the voice of the narrator repeating the phrase "Is this trip really necessary?"

Phase III begins with the phrase the previous phase ended on. Phase II shows the first significant sign of variation for the album, with more ambient ramblings than either of the other two. Keyboards, along with strange electronic devises composing bizarre effects are throughout (which is The Tree's undisputed signature) are the main focus of Phase III. There are even touches of female singing, which is really genuine, and extremely hypnotic. Soundscapes continue to evolve as some percussion joins the scene, and soon after a throbbing beat begins, and some soothing bass. The feel and atmosphere remains generally the same, though.

The darkest, most sinister, and perhaps most prolific of the four phases, is without a doubt IV. Richard Barbieri adds his distinct vibe to this one, and a load of darker, heavier soundscapes to the mix. I find this the most gripping and compelling of the four, the most polished, and the most foreboding. This one is nearly deficient of any percussion or bass, and has much less guitar than any of the previous four. It still has the Van Der Graaf sound clip, and plays it endlessly between improvised guitar stabs. This terrifying album ends with the most haunting array of sounds Porcupine Tree has ever produced, complemented by the voice of a woman proclaiming "...I'm scared..."

Though this is one of Porcupine Tree's more psychedelic efforts, it's not altogether a masterpiece as it is extremely repetitive, even for an ambient album, and some of the stale voices grow annoying, and the Pink Floyd guitar is unfairly stolen. Despite that, it is a very rewarding journey for any psychedelic journeyer.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |


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