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Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.90 | 947 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars After the interesting debut of On the Sunday of Life, Steven Wilson followed up with the amazing Up the Downstair. Wilson's sophomore release was the perfect marriage of psychedelic and contemporary rock breathing new life into the dreadful state of affairs in the music world of 1993. Although still a solo project, future Porcupine Tree members Colin Edwin and Richard Barbieri make guest appearances on this album.

Up the Downstair was originally intended to be a double album that would have included the Voyage 34 12-inch single and the material that would later end up on the Staircase Infinities EP of 1994. In 2004, a remastered and remixed edition of this album would be released that included the Staircase Infinities material on the second disc. Voyage 34 would later be re-released with all its phases (four in total) in 2000.

Wilson clearly shows maturation on this album as the music is more elaborate, better produced, with the whole album having much better cohesion in themes and moods. Wilson again shows strong Pink Floyd influences, but I also hear some similarities with the Ozric Tentacles, Steve Hillage, and the Orb in places. The Pink Floyd influences are more or less apparent from Wilson's layout of each sound. They usually have slow, simple beginnings that build up to soaring Gilmour/Latimer-like solos, and then fade back into slow, simple segues into the next track, often with sound effects or strange psychedelic guitar noodling. Synesthesia is probably the only song that doesn't quite fit this musical form, instead being more of a driving keyboard riff over an almost danceable beat; very electronic sounding. Wilson's guitar work is amazingly skilled.

The original album had programmed drums, but being that the music is not overly complex, it's almost unnoticeable that these were programmed at all. I'm not sure if Wilson was using real samples on a sequencer or some other program, but they aren't a distraction at all. On the 2004 remastered and remixed version, Gavin Harrison adds drumming to replace the original electronic drums. Having not heard the remastered and remixed version, I can't really comment on if this was an improvement or not.

Easily a five-star masterpiece (for the original release), which later was superceded by the even better The Sky Moves Sideways. An essential acquisition for those of you interested in the psychedelic side of progressive rock, especially if you want to hear something better than Pink Floyd. Very highly recommended.

progaardvark | 5/5 |


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