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Porcupine Tree - Staircase Infinities CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.83 | 215 ratings

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4 stars Porcupine Tree's second official album "Up the Downstair" was originally planned to be a double album. So, what happened to all of the music that was planned for this double album that never came to be? Well, one of the long tracks was an edited version of Voyage #34 I and II, which ended up being released in its full version on an earlier EP. But that still left us with 3 shorter tracks that was supposed to take up the rest of the double album. This is where the EP "Staircase Infinities", released in 1994, comes in. This five track EP contains the those three outtakes, and two other tracks that were recorded shortly after the release of "Up the Downstair".

The thing that most people don't know is that there was another EP, released only to radio stations (500 copies), that contained a few of those outtakes that were already recorded when "Up the Downstair" was still unreleased and those song were supposed to be on the album. That radio promo EP was called "Radioactive" (1992), and it contained 4 tracks: an edited version of "Synesthesia" (cut to 4:39) which would be on "Up the Downstair" album, "Radioactive Toy" (an edit that cut it to 4:06 from the version from "On the Sunday of Life"), and earlier versions of "The Joke's on You" (3:58) and "Cloud Zero" (4:18), which show up on the "Staircase Infinities" EP in finished versions. This explains why these earlier tracks sound more like the material on PT's demo tapes which make up the tracks on the first album "On the Sunday of Life" than they do from "Up the Downstair", because they were actually earlier songs.

Getting back to this EP "Staircase Infinities", the first track is "Cloud Zero", one of these earlier songs, but in a re-worked and slightly longer version. This is a nice instrumental starting out with jazzy sounding guitar work in a song that adds in intensity as it continues. This really sounds like a bridge between the bands 1st and 2nd official full-length albums. This is followed by the other earlier track "The Joke's on You", again reworked and a little bit longer than the radio EP. These tracks were reworked to be included on the "Up the Downstair" album, but then were left off when it was decided that it would be a single album. This track is a nice midtempo song with vocals that sounds somewhat similar to "Nine Cats", mostly acoustic with the band coming in later, and more of a ballad with a beautiful melody, the vocals soft and airy on the verses and much fuller on the choruses.

"Navigator" is really the rarest of the tracks on this EP as it is not available anywhere else that I am aware of. It was the 3rd track intended for the original "Up the Downstair" album, and it has all of the characteristics of earlier instrumental, very psychedelic with tribal sounding drums and organ with Wilson's signature guitar improvisations scattered throughout. "Rainy Taxi" is one of the tracks recorded after the release of "Up the Downstair" which ended up later being included on the "Stars Die: The Delirium Years 1991 ? 1997" collection of rare tracks. This will seem like a more mature track to the careful listener, mostly because it was recorded later. It has a very Pink Floyd sound to it with a slow organ meandering about and establishing a nice, plush sounding atmosphere. Later, things become more expressive as the organ continues with the lead but is underlaid by acoustic guitar strumming and slow percussion, which ends up actually making it sound more like Procol Harem than Pink Floyd. It is a beautiful and expressive instrumental.

"Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape" is the longest track at over 9 minutes. This is a different version that originally showed up on one of Wilson's demo tapes where it was included as a three part suite-of-sorts. It is also a different version than the one that would show up on "Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape" album, another compilation of songs from the early demo tapes that were not included on the first album "On the Sunday of Life". This version did, however, end up getting included (along with the previous track) on the "Stars Die: The Delirium Years: 1991 ? 1997" collection). This version is definitely much better than the demo version, much better developed and suited as a stand-alone track. Layers of synth and guitar work together with bass and drums to build what turns into an intense and satisfying instrumental, less psychedelic than most of the instrumentals of the time by PT, and more heavy rock oriented.

Another thing to be noted here is that the 2004 LP version of "Up the Downstair" included a track called "Phantoms" which was recorded at the same time, but not included on this EP. It was, however, made available on the Stars Die collection.

This EP is a very strong collection of outtakes and it is still worthwhile to find if you haven't already got it. It was made available as a bonus CD available with later remastered editions of Up the Downstair, so it should be widely available. It definitely adds to that album, but by itself is a strong 4 star release.

TCat | 4/5 |


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