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Porcupine Tree - Recordings CD (album) cover

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Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.17 | 301 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

russellk
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Simply gorgeous offering from PORCUPINE TREE. Not classified as a 'proper' album as the material it contains is made up of B-sides, discards and extended versions. Nevertheless, it contains some of the best music PORCUPINE TREE have made.

Part of the reason for such high acclaim for this album is its relative progginess. Many of the tracks were written and recorded during the 'Lightbulb Sun' sessions but didn't make it on to that album due to their length or their atmospherics. Shame, that. 'Lightbulb Sun' would have been an immeasurably better album with the addition of three or four of these tracks and the culling of five or so of those included. Of the two records, I prefer this.

'Buying New Soul' is quite possibly the best thing PORCUPINE TREE have ever done. The gentle keyboard intro/outro brackets a spectacular ballad, featuring typical PT vocal harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and a stellar instrumental section. This is slow and spacey, a true hybrid of the band's first and second incarnations. The music has room to develop, to breathe. It may not sell as many units, but it's ultimately very satisfying. The evidence suggests that in this period WILSON writes better music outside his self-imposed album restrictions.

'Access Denied' starts off like a chirpy British pop tune but develops into something stronger and more wistful. It's another of the tracks that would have done well on 'Lightbulb Sun'. 'Cure For Optimism' returns to the space rock sound, pleasant enough without being outstanding. 'Untitled' furthers the sound, with it's 'No Quarter'-like beginning gradually morphing into an extended instrumental guitar/synth workout of almost the quality of 'Up The Downstair' or 'The Sky Moves Sideways'. It is followed by the poignant 'Disappear', a simple ballad with beautiful, pathos-soaked lyrics, another worthy inclusion on 'Lightbulb Sun'. 'Ambulance Chasing' thunders in with two minutes of heavy percussion a precursor to a spangly guitar and another instrumental build. Yet another splendid track. 'In Formaldehyde' is on a par with some of the 'Lightbulb Sun' tracks that could stand to be replaced, but is excellent for all that.

Then there's the extended version of 'Even Less', a hold-over from 'Stupid Dream'. This is an improvement on an already specacular track, though at 14 minutes there will be some who feel it overdone. I love the shape of it: the first six minutes as previously recorded, then a quieter middle section building to a reprise. 'Oceans Have No Memory' is a dispensable 'Albatross' clone.

There are a number of five-star tracks here, but it's not quite a five-star album. These tracks would have been even more enjoyable in their proper context: as part of an 'official' album release. Now that would have garnered five stars, no doubt. Just as well we can put our own playlists together.

russellk | 4/5 |

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