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Porcupine Tree - The Sky Moves Sideways CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.06 | 1229 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars No man could sustain creative input into two bands, surely. Yet by 1995 STEVEN WILSON was the creative heart of both PORCUPINE TREE and NO-MAN. Something had to give.

It did. The early commercial promise of NO-MAN had gradually slipped away, and their 1994 album 'Flowermouth' saw them striking off in a genuinely progressive direction. Thus WILSON was able to bring his pop hooks and commercial sensibilities to bear on this and subsequent PORCUPINE TREE releases. The clamour for PT music to be played live resulted in his forming a band - the 'joke' was over, and PORCUPINE TREE was now a reality. 'The Sky Moves Sideways', more than any other PT album, is the fruitful result of his ear for a tune meeting his atmospheric space rock gift. More tuneful than 'Up The Downstair', it still has enough space rock for everyone (including WILSON himself, subsequently) to cry 'FLOYD'!

Fair enough. 'The Sky Moves Sideways' reeks of PINK FLOYD. But who said originality was the prime concern of music? This album works because it feels so familiar the moment the synths of the title track start sending chills of primordial delight up your spine. I care far more for musical quality than originality, and this has quality enough to power a small galaxy. After a gentle opening full of promise, Part 1 of the title track delivers with lyrics and a chorus redolent of - and easily as good as - 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. 'Sometimes I feel like a fist' is a monster hook, and he uses it to maximum effect. Finally his confidence in his own voice allows him to assign melody to the vocals, with stunning results. Then the track explodes into a techno-OZRIC extravaganza with a pulsing beat, wonderful funky bass and squealing guitars, followed by a rhythm workout of incredible energy. The sky has indeed moved sideways. The comedown to finish the track is exquisite, the fadeaway just right, a great end to a memorable track.

Part 2 of the title track concludes the album, another nod to 'Shine On'. The track has another stellar riff, though the music itself is perhaps a little long for the depth of ideas sustaining it. In between these two enormous bookends is an eminently listenable album. 'Dislocated Day' is a song with a strong hook, and 'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder' showcases WILSON's growing songwriting ability.

Now things get complicated. Depending on what version of this album you have (UK, US or 2004 reissue), you might get any combination of tracks. They're all good. In the case of 'Stars Die', inexplicably left off the original, genuinely great. And then there's 'Moonloop', the single most obvious pointer to WILSON's interest in ambient techno. This is redolent of THE ORB and STEVE HILLAGE's SYSTEM 7 - in fact, the ORB track 'The Back Side of the Moon (Underwater Deep Space Mix)' must surely be WILSON's inspiration here, with sustained-note guitar overlaying lush synths, building slowly to a genuine climax (the 'Coda' on the reissue). It's beautiful ambience is one of the best things WILSON has ever done.

WILSON is on record as retrospectively dismissing this album as too FLOYDian. I do wish musicians wouldn't do this. Why not let the punters just enjoy the music? (Though I understand how he might have wanted to distance himself from the commerically suicidal prog-rock label.) It would be a serious mistake to regard this as a knock-off. It is a heady combination of extended compositions and pithy musical moments, and every moment is of a high standard. This is a must-listen. I can't imagine any serious progressive rock collection without this record.

russellk | 5/5 |


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