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Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream CD (album) cover

STUPID DREAM

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.98 | 1001 ratings

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ProgBagel
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Porcupine Tree - 'Stupid Dream' 4.5 stars

This dream was stupid?

As Porcupine Tree keeps progressing their traditional Floyd sound, continually making albums for the most part stronger, comes out with a near flawless release. Out of the five studio albums, 'Stupid Dream' sticks out the most in compositional structure. There are very few loose and spacey sections for freedom and improv. The only real spaced out sections were in 'Even Less' and 'Don't Hate Me'.

Yet again, the line-up is still the same. Wilson (vocals, guitar, piano and samples), Colin Edwin (bass), Richard Barbieri (synths, Hammond and mellotron) and Chris Maitland (Drums and Percussion). On this album, all the music is written by Steven Wilson except for 'Tinto Brass', which is written by Porcupine Tree. The lyrics on this album are written from Steven Wilson's personal point of view.

As I stated in the introduction, this album lacks the space and atmosphere of the other releases. There is no over indulgence in the instrumentals and there is a more 'pop' approach, though it is nowhere near radio-friendly status. The instrumental work is the tightest thus far in the band, especially in the guitar work. The sound is more 'raw' and less produced with effects and such. The focal point of the make-up to this album is in the compositional aspect. The listener gets the feeling that this album has been carefully calculated and is not as 'free' as the previous ones.

'Even Less' - Has a short atmospheric intro until the guitar comes in. A thoughtful combination of delay and slide guitar is used to make a nice lead which is also a pretty short fill. The verse quickly comes in with a harsh distorted sound, not too many effects here, the beginning of Porcupine Tree's true 'hard rock' influence is apparent here. The lyrics here are quite cryptic but fitting to the music. The song eventually makes its way to the guitar solo with the rhythm in the background hitting power chords at the beginning of every measure. One of many Porcupine Tree classics created on this album.

'Piano Lessons' - This was quite the interesting song. 'Piano Lessons' is a pretty commercial song, containing a slow typical drum beat and a major (happy) piano line going over with some acoustic in the background. The verse is also quite catchy and in the same vein. The song doesn't mark any progress like the others. It wasn't a bad track, but was clearly outdone but most of the other songs on the album. Anyone can find the video to this song, so check it out. Just don't expect to get the sound of this album out of it.

'Stupid Dream' - The title track is a 28 second sampled piece. The song sound very similar to the beginning of 'Even Less' and 'A Smart Kid'.

'Pure Narcotic' - This has similar instrumentation to 'Piano Lessons'. However, this song lacks to happy- poppish vein. The catchy chorus still remains though. 'Slave Called Shiver' - Even though I don't think this is one of Porcupine Tree's better songs, I think this was highly influential on later outputs. There was a scarce amount of Colin's signature bass sound with drum accompaniment while Wilson sings. The problem with this track is repetition of some lines hand-in-hand with a slow drone like tempo. The song does get better at the end with a sweet jam. Wilson's typical hard rock riff mixed with bombastic drums and a synth solo topping everything over.

'Don't Hate Me' - This song is an ode to old Porcupine Tree. There is a lot of space in this song especially towards the end. The intro guitar riff is repeated with a slow beat in the background until the chorus. The drum work remains consistent with some nice broken down chords by Wilson with some lyrics sung passionately. At the three minute mark the music enters free mode. There is a flute solo, sax solo and then ambience for a good 3 minutes. The drum beat comes back in leading right into the chorus again. A complementary guitar solo is put into the end, a beautiful track it was.

'This is No Rehearsal' - Another track similar to 'Piano Lessons'. The chorus is the only real highlight with some octaves played with a nice synth line going over the top. Another slightly weaker track then the rest.

'Baby Dream in Cellophane' - A really haunting intro is done on the synthesizer with some vocal work done in a very psychedelic nature. The intro and chorus is almost entirely done by the acoustic, only with some background synth work. There a lots of vocal harmonies and duets in this one.

'Stranger by the Minute' - Yet another one of those happy tracks. The vocals in this song are just about perfect and carry the music nicely. The guitar work is very similar to the early Porcupine Tree sound. The chorus is another catchy one. This track is just about in the middle for this album.

'A Smart Kid' - This is one of the best tracks on the album. The 'Stupid Dream' track opens it in the beginning. An acoustic guitar is in charge of the intro, but at the end of the measure an acoustic piano is in harmony with it. The chorus has some long delayed guitar effects with some great captivating vocal work. Another excellent guitar solo is played, complimentary to the song that was played before it. The acoustic guitar closes the track out. This is one of my favorite Porcupine Tree tracks.

'Tinto Brass' - Since this was the only track written by the band, you could assume what it would sound like. The drums are faster in this one and tons of samples are added in. The synthesizer is completely devoid of anything that sounds like a piano. Out of nowhere, a heavy guitar riff gives it the feeling that it is the chorus section. The two different sections are played again but in different forms, since this sounded like an improvised piece.

'Stop Swimming' - Not as good of a closer as the masterful 'Dark Matter'.but what can one expect? Wilson seems to develop a knack later in the career to write awesome closers. Slow drums and acoustic piano chords are thrown in at the beginning of each measure. The song doesn't stretch to far from that, but it was meant to be that way. Just capturing the emotion through words was the purpose. A great closer it was.

'Stupid Dream' was nearly a perfect album. It really has so many Porcupine Tree classics on it. The only downside was a few tracks that just weren't up to snuff, mostly the ones that just contained the poppish feel of 'Piano Lessons' that started to get a little stale.

ProgBagel | 4/5 |

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