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

THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.10 | 970 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars One of these days. we'll change our direction

"The sky moved sideways" was the first album to be recorded by Porcupine Tree as a band, as opposed to a vehicle for the solo work of Steve Wilson. Make no mistake though, this is still very much a Wilson project, the other band members playing their parts in the way Wilson prescribes. Even then, three of the tracks (Dislocated day, The moon touches your shoulder, and Prepare yourself) are 100% solo efforts by Steve. On the 2003 expanded remaster, Gavin Harrison substitutes real drums for the programmed ones which were used on the first two of these tracks.

The title track is in two lengthy parts, in total occupying well over half of the album. It was originally conceived as a continuous 50 minute piece but never completed as such. A 34 minute alternative version can be found though on the 2003 expanded edition. Going back to the original album, "Part one" is by far the strongest, and indeed is the best track on the album. It builds from a soft start featuring Hawaiian guitar and whispered vocals to a louder chorus. Before long, the pace changes and a long section reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "One of these days" takes over. This twists and weaves through loud and quieter, but constantly hypnotic, guitar chords embellished with colourful effects and washes of sound. The piece has developed into a wonderful live track, where the dramatics of the soft and louder sections are emphasised even more. There is also some fine mellotron here, for those who yearn for the tones of that legendary machine.

The rest of the tracks on the album have little chance of measuring up to this excellent start, and in truth they do fall shorter. That said, "Dislocated day" is a powerful dirge with distorted vocals and some thrusting guitar chords. "Moonloop" moves into the ambient territory of Phases 3 and 4 of "Voyage 34", the spacey sounds and relaxed mood of the track being far removed from the Porcupine Tree of today.

The second "phase" of "The sky moved sideways" is entirely instrumental, apart from some vocalising by Suzanne Barbieri. While it has many of the dynamics of the first phase, I find it to be less satisfying and rather muddled. At times, it breaks down into a cacophony of sound which comes across as unfocused rather than appealing.

"The sky moved sideways" is an honest attempt at making a coherent album. The quality of the results is variable, but overall, it is an enjoyable listen. I must confess though, I do usually tend to move on to something else after playing track one.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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