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

THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.09 | 958 ratings

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progkidjoel
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Porcupine Tree ? The Sky Moves Sideways (2CD Remaster, released 2007)

Porcupine Tree's "The Sky Moves Sideways" is truly a special album; here we see Porcupine Tree fully coming into their own as a prog band. More complete than the two albums which preceded it, here we see Steven Wilson developing as a guitarist and a vocalist. The album is spearheaded by "The Sky Moves Sideways", both phase one and phase two. Although the main attraction, the space between is filled with lovingly crafted tracks. My favourite album from Porcupine Tree so far (I'm still missing a few), The Sky Moves Sideways is a true masterpiece of prog.

--- DISC ONE ---

1. The Sky Moves Sideways [PHASE ONE]

Beginning with Tangerine Dream-esque ambient psychedelic keyboards and drums, many complain that this into lasted far too long. Clocking in at around four minutes before the track proper starts, they aren't wrong. Don't get me wrong; what leads in is a lovely space-rock odyssey, and really does build up excellently for the track. Once the proper track begins, you'll be greeted by the unmistakable vocals of Steven Wilson. Strongly followed by melted guitar chords and the same drum pattern, the track is beautifully overlayed by Richard Barbieri's first truly excellent use of synthesizer ambience. Eventuating into a short guitar solo, this is but a glimpse of the technical prowess Steven Wilson developed years later. Its important to mention that during the chorus of this track, Steven Wilson's vocals are stronger than they've ever sounded, and by stronger, I mean heavier and deeper.

This is a nice change from Steven's usual soft vocals, which I am also a fan of. At around the 8:30 mark, this track completely changes pace. What could be described as techno follows, and is incredibly different to most of what Porcupine Tree produce as a band. The bass lines here are great, and once again, it's the synth work that makes this track. Indian drums also supply this track a beat for a short amount of time. Soon after, the track is filled with complicated synth and guitar work, which works in tandem with the continuing bass line to create something truly special. Another guitar solo follows, although in a much less controlled, and much more distorted manner.

Continuing and leading into a synth-produced flute riff, this track continues to build in volume and intensity, reaching a climax at around the 14:40 mark. After this, ambient noises flow for another minute, leading into a repeated acoustic guitar chord riff, which is also amazing, and somewhat reminiscent of the middle section of Pink Floyd's "Dogs". The stereophonics here also create a wavy, confusing effect as the guitar chords flow from side to side in a quick, yet slow manner.

Truly an unmissable Porcupine Tree track, this is nothing less than amazing and should be heard by every PT fan, and indeed, every prog/space rock/psychedelic fan.

5 out of 5.

2. Dislocated Day

A massive change of pace from the track which came before, "Dislocated Day" opens in a stereotypical phone ring, and is followed by Steven Wilson's voice as if through a telephone. Far heavier than the opener, this track has insane guitar chords and heavy drums. Somewhat tedious in its repetitiveness, this is by no means a bad track, although a little hampered by its continuity. Another disorienting guitar solo fills in this track, fleshing it out and giving it a very chaotic feeling. Featuring great lyrics like most of Steven Wilson's work, this is another quite good track if listened to in moderation.

4.5 out of 5.

3. The Moon Touches Your Shoulders

An excellent track, this is a small glimpse of the sound Porcupine Tree fully adopt for their future albums such as "Stupid Dream". Dynamically perfect, Steven's echoing vocals are perfect in contrast to the softness of the acoustic guitar work. Eventuating into a louder track, followed up with background electric guitar chords, this continues in a similiarly excellent fashion all track. Picking up around 2/3 of the way through, this proves itself to be another excellent odyssey into the world of Porcupine Tree. Another guitar solo fattens this track up, making it a full-fledged masterpiece. Closing in a heavy guitar riff, this track feels as if it was building up momentum for this moment over the past five minutes, and it was sure as hell worth the wait.

5 out of 5.

4. Prepare Yourself

The shortest track on this album also gives hints to the power Porcupine Tree will develop in years to come. Slowly acoustic and electrically brutal at the same time, this contains a signature guitar SW guitar solo, and is quite a good lead into Phase Two. Nothing special though.

3.5 out of 5.

5. The Sky Moves Sideways [PHASE TWO]

The second part of this prog epic is every bit as good as the second. Beginning in an even more slow and ambient, this eventually leads into another Barbieri keyboard overture, and these overtures really are what made this album. Part two is much slower to reveal itself than part one is, although just as good in every way. Also coming into shape at around four minutes, this track becomes much more direct than part one with its heavy rock riff. Also featuring some vocal work from Richard Barbieri's wife and a truly magnificent guitar solo, this Phase stands very well on its own. The bass adds a hypnotic feel to the softness of this track, although it is loud at the same time in an odd way. At around 12 minutes, this track picks up into the album's best moment in my opinion; the truly majestic guitar solo Steven Wilson lays down with complete ease above the crashing drums which began the album and similar keyboards. A truly epic ending to a truly epic album, this is where Porcupine Tree fully came into their own. An unmissable track, and the closer to the album, you simply have to hear THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS in full.

5 out of 5.

Closing comments: This is a rare find; a mathematically perfect album. Fully measured out, the two phases are perfectly spaced by the three central tracks, which provide an interesting mid-section amongst the two phases of the epic. Perhaps Porcupine Tree's "Close To The Edge", this album is as lovingly played and produced as it is experimental, and that is saying a lot.

--- DISC TWO ---

Feel free to stop reading here if you are only buying the one CD version. Although unnecessary to enjoyment of this album, CD2 features some great extras for a PT fan. This includes the original version of The Sky Moves Sideways, Stars Die (A track previously only available in Porcupine Tree's compilation "Stars Die: The Delirium years"), a 16 minute improvisation and another great track, this is a great extra and will give listening value to the album, but don't break your back (or the bank) trying to get a copy of this extra disc.

1. The Sky Moves Sideways [ALTERNATE VERSION]

The first recording of The Sky Moves Sideways is interesting none the less, although unessential unless you are a completionist. Featuring the original lyrics, the vocal tempo is also different during the first phase, and the only other real difference is the ending, but this is nothing to write home about. Perhaps more interesting to a PT veteran, I personally didn't find this to be necessary, although still an interesting listen.

4 out of 5.

2. Stars Die

A great track, it's a shame this was never released as a regular album track and only available either here or on the compilation I mentioned earlier. Truly fantastic, you really should here this track if you haven't already. Opening in a typical Porcupine Tree acoustic guitar fashion, this track continues lovingly with an undertone of independent bass harmonies and signature PT vocals overlays. Continuing in the same fashion, this track was composed for the fans and it's easy to see that careful consideration was taken into its writing. Bridging with a small silence and then re-opening in a fully-fledged version of the opening complete with synths, bass and great drum work, this track closes with a soft bang. Its there ? you just have to be listening. A short guitar solo helps conclude a truly excellent track. Make sure you hear this one!

5 out of 5.

3. Moonloop [IMPROVISATION]

A 16 minute improvisation, this has its moments, although they are buried in the (obviously) unrehearsed mass of music. Semi-enjoyable, not a really good track though. Also only for completionists/massive PT fans.

3 out of 5.

4. Moonloop [CODA]

An instrumental, this is a good track. Repeating the same riff the entire way through, this was the product of the improvisation which preceded it. Building up quite slowly like most Porcupine Tree songs, it eventually picks up into a metal-ish riff and continues to gain volume and tenacity over its five minute lifetime. Once again, nothing to write home over, good none the less.

4 out of 5.

A very solid package, as a 1CD, this deserves a 5 out of 5. as a 2CD package, this also deserves to, if only for the DIGIPAK presentation and inclusion of "Stars Die".

Whatever format you buy it in, just make sure you do.

-Joel.

progkidjoel | 5/5 |

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