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Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair CD (album) cover

UP THE DOWNSTAIR

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.93 | 720 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The 2004 edition that I own is a double cd with the second disc ("Staircase Infinities") being the EP that was released originally on a Dutch label called "Lazy Eye". These two discs really are companions anyway as the songs from the "Staircase Infinities" were actual leftover pieces from the "Up The Downstair" sessions. That is except for "Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape" which is from the earlier cassette days.The reason Steven Wilson had these leftover songs in the first place was the fact he was going to make "Up The Downstair" a double album with "Voyage 34" as the centerpiece. Instead he released "Voyage 34" as a single and then decided to make "Up The Downstair" a single album release instead. The title "Up The Downstair" actually is a line in the song "Voyage 34". Steven Wilson has said that "Up The Downstair" is really the first "proper" PORCUPINE TREE album as "On The Sunday Of Life..." was really a collection of the best songs from his earlier cassette days from 1988-1991.

"Up The Downstair" opens with the short intro track called "What You Are Listening To". The synths build then spoken words come in as the song blends into "Synesthesia". This is an uptempo song with a catchy beat. The guitar is aggressive as Steven fires off some scorching solos. "Monuments Burn Into Moments" is a 22 second intro to "Always Never", which is such a great spacey, dreamy song. Acoustic guitar and synths lead the way until the outbreaks occur which are fantastic ! The drumming is so crisp (and real, haha) with some cool guitar.The song turns atmospheric and spacey 4 minutes in, while a minute later Steven blesses us with some ripping guitar melodies. Nice. "Up The Downstair" has some spoken words from Suzanne Barbieri, while her husband Richard impliments some electronics on this song. It is very spacey for 2 minutes, and then we get a beat, and then a full sound 1 1/2 minutes after that. This is great ! Spoken words come back 7 1/2 minutes in and what a powerful sound 9 minutes in. What a song !

"Not Beautiful Anymore" has more spoken words as pounding drums come in.There is such a powerful sound to this one as well,and the spoken words come and go. "Siren" is a short intro to "Small Fish". This song has vocals and an amazing spacey soundscape.The drums sound so good and the guitar soars to heaven. "Burning Sky" are the last two words that are sung from the previous song "Small Fish".This is an instrumental with some blistering guitar and more fantastic drumming from Gavin Harrison. Synths arrive before the song calms down for a spacey interlude. It kicks back into gear with some incredible guitar before 9 minutes.The song builds to the point where you think it's going to explode. "Fadeaway" is one of Steven Wilson's favourites off this album and mine too. It's like waves of pleasure rollong over me again and again."You are only coming through in waves, your lips move but I can't hear what your saying..."

Disc two the "Staircase Infinities" begins with "Cloud Zero", it opens with various sounds as drums rise out of them and are joined by guitar. Nice melody as synths arrive as well. "The Joke's On You" has some very psychedelic lyrics, and is the only song on this second disc with lyrics. Acoustic guitar is strummed as reserved vocals come in. I love it when Steven really sings out as the soundscape also gets louder. It sounds incredible ! This contrast continues. "Navigator" features drums, synths and some guitar melodies that sound incredible.The song has a spacey ending. "Rainy Taxi" opens with spacey sounds that continue for 3 minutes when the guitar joins in. Beautiful. This song reminds me of "The Sky Moves Sideways" it's just so darn emotional, there is some organ as well. "Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape" is a live song with drums pounding slowly as waves of synths come and go.The beat speeds up before 4 minutes as the guitar lays down some good melodies. It feels like the song is going faster 7 minutes in.

"On The Sunday Of Life..." was a collection of diverse songs that often brought to mind the Syd Barrett era of PINK FLOYD. This double album brought to mind the "Dark Side Of The Moon" era of PINK FLOYD, if only for how melodic, dreamy and spacey it is. I have never heard Steven play as aggressive as he does on these discs either. I love that combination of great guitar with spacey soundscapes. And Steven just blazes a trail through space on this one folks. It's tough to even pick the top three songs here because they are all so amazing.

This is my favourite of his Psychedelic period. A masterpiece !

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |

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