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

THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.09 | 982 ratings

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ProgBagel
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Porcupine Tree - The Sky Moves Sideways 4 stars

Steven Wilson seemed to be hunting for an epic song, after a decent attempt at 'Voyage 34'; he took 'The Sky Moves Sideways' to another level.

This album marked new heights for the No-Man side project. Wilson started to take this as a serious band by adding some members, Colin Edwin on bass guitar and double bass, Richard Barbieri on synthesizers and electronics and finally, Chris Maitland on percussion. Edwin and Barbieri were previous session musicians for the band. Other guest artists include Theo Travis on flute and Suzanne Barbieri on vocals. Regardless of the new members, the music is written by Steven Wilson.

There is a radical change in terms of the overall composition of the album. The previous albums seemed to be collections of some short pieces, wrapped up and compiled into an album. 'The Sky Moves Sideways' has the title track, a massive epic, split up into two 'phases', and just three songs in between (on the re-mastered version, which I am basing my review off of). The effects and trance music are just right in this one. They give more leeway to other instruments like the guitar, keys and drums which give this a more 'band' sound. This is one of the big transitional albums in the Porcupine Tree career.

'The Sky Moves Sideways Phase 1' - This track starts out with a spacey that eventually brings in some bass and drums. The bass just comes in at the beginning of every measure and the drums are very minimal just to get an idea. Some spacey chords on the synthesizer forms a transition in the piece and Wilson begins to sing. The singing style is different from any of the previous works, there is no effect on them and instead of 'singing', it is more like 'talking' very soothingly. The drums come back in and play the same beat from before. When the chorus comes into play, it is mostly guitar driven, a clean sound. About 8 and a half minutes the sound changes into some trip-hop that was evident in 'Up the Downstair'. For most of the remains, the trip-hop continues and a guitar solo is almost prominent for a few minutes, sans a few breaks. The tone is very violent; a very dirty effect is put in for measure. An extended flute solo is also done here, making this a very expansive track, a true epic. When the trip- hop is over there is a little bit of silence, and then an acoustic guitar comes in and plays beautifully, going all the way to the outro. This song was indeed up there regarding epics, and it is only part one!

'Dislocated Day' - This is one of the three tracks thrown in the middle of the two phases. Unfortunately the title track just made them look amateurish, but they still weren't that bad, except for this one. This track shows Wilson's bit of hard rock tendency. The track mostly consists of the same beat over and over with the occasional guitar rhythm and solo thrown in. It is very repetitive; I did not find this song to be that great.

'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder' - This was the best of the three middle tracks. This was really Porcupine Tree's first slow acoustic track. It has that 'Dark Side of the Moon' vibe to it with the acoustic guitar strumming and some lead notes gently hit. The lyrics also make it feel like this should have been in the title track. The track moves very smoothly and crescendo's into a wonderful clean solo. The crescendo continues and the hard rock guitar rhythm comes back and repeats a small riff till the end. This song was great.

'Prepare Yourself' was an intro for 'Moonloop'. The first disc on the re-master lacked the latter track so it was certainly a strange choice to be kept on this disc without 'Moonloop'. It's just a short guitar solo. Again, it was just serving as an intro; the purpose on the re-master was very minimal.

'The Sky Moves Sideways Phase 2' - This starts in a similar fashion as the first one. The intro is again a spacey atmospheric one. The heavier intro comes in this time with no transition preceding it. After the heavier intro, a wonderful extended guitar solo runs for a near 3 minutes. By this time the song is already more than halfway over. The trip-hop comes right back into place, followed by atmosphere. Then another guitar solo comes in to close this large masterpiece.

I'll be very brief about the second disc, since this is what most people will find today anyways. The alternate version of 'The Sky Moves Sideways' doesn't differ significantly. There is a little bit more music added a scarce amount of vocals from Suzanne Barbieri and a few more lyrics. 'Stars Die' is an excellent track that would heavily influence Porcupine Tree's music from Signify to In Absentia. I was not to fond of the 'Moonloop' improvisation or coda. While I appreciate the talent and effort put into it, it just seemed directionless and way too open ended.not to mention the length either.

All in all, this was an excellent album. The reason being is for mostly the title track, which is worthy of the purchase alone. 'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder' is also another track that ranks up there with Porcupine Tree's best. The two in the middle could be dealt without; the only reason this why this album isn't 5 stars. Highly recommended. The second disk is a bonus; just don't expect it to be as great as the original album.

ProgBagel | 4/5 |

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