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Porcupine Tree - Signify CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.85 | 1364 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So far, this one remains my all-time Porcupine Tree favorite release: "Signify" solidly and convincingly marks a transition between the modernized space-rock oriented psychedelia from earlier albums to the trend of powerful songwriting pursued in the 98-01 era. "Signify" also sets the first PT item to be recorded integrally as a group, which clearly signals a certain kind of definitive installment. The album kicks off with a spoken intro and eerie synth layers and various effects that symbolize the passage of life - 'Bornlivedie' -, which is segued into the namesake instrumental rocker, owner of a cleverly controlled dynamics. 'Sleep of No Dreaming' is the first sung piece, which states an excellent mixture of heavy prog and jazz-rock, plus some pre-Portishead vibe. Awesome! The synth-based ambient interlude 'Pagan' provides a brief ethereal voyage before the arrival of 'Waiting', a beautiful song about emotional perversion that bears an evident poppy feel, catchy yet exquisitely arranged with sophistication. The vocal arrangements sound like a mixture of Beatles and Beach Boys, while the guitar leads provide a calculated dose of rocking aggressiveness. The second 'Waiting' states an effective refurbishment of the first one's ending jam, guised in an electronic groove and augmented with yet another guitar-driven coda. The impression left by these two phases of 'Waiting' is one of a progged up pop mini-epic: the space-rock ornaments and the heavily Gilmouresque guitar input are perfectly sustained by the robust rhythm section and efficiently wrapped by the keyboard layers that seem to be everywhere and fill every pore of sound. 'Sever' keeps up with the momentum allowing the band to explore its rockier side further: the wall of sound delivered at unison by the guitar riffs and keyboards may remind us a bit of 'Sleep of No Dreaming', but the mood is obviously different, more explicit and ballsier, even if the lyrics are not more optimistic. 'Idiot Prayer' features a heavy presence of programmed rhythms for an overall mood that mixes ambient, techno-pop and nu-jazz in an emergent Ozric Tentacles-like framework: the Far East allusions are soft enough as to provide a subtle exotic drive to the track's overall mood. 'Every Home Is Wired' pretty much reiterates the pop vibe of 'Waiting' for the sung part, while the instrumental part states a space-meets-jazz rock vibe. This sort of mood is prolonged and enhanced in 'Intermediate Jesus', albeit on a slower tempo and a more languid development: the hypnotic guitar leads, the dynamic bass lines, the soaring keyboards and the robust drumming collide in a superb exercise on spacey jazz-rock. It's obvious that the arrangement is not focused on the preparation of a climax, but the persistence of a specific ambience. Although penned by the drummer, 'Light Mass Prayer' is not a drum solo but a grayish synth soundscape that somehow brings Tangerine Dream to mind. It serves as a prelude to 'Dark Matter', a powerful closer built on a slow 7/8: things sort of come full circle here, since the lyrics and mood of this song bring back the cynicism and bitterness so exquisitely portrayed in 'Sleep of No Dreaming'. After the song is over, we must wait for some more seconds to get to hear the broadcaster's farewell (more irony, indeed). A great album in my book, and like I said, it is PT's magnum opus so far.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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