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


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.06 | 1189 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Any Colour You Like
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Sky Moves Sideways [2004 Remastered Edition]

Let's not beat around the bush here. Porcupine Tree's 1995 release, The Sky Moves Sideways is an epic. If Up the Downstair was a lucid psychedelic journey, then TSMS is an expansive spaced-out trip of the highest caliber. There is an obvious focus on creating long, heavily layered rhythms and textures that surpasses anything PT did before or indeed achieved since. With that in mind, do not expect easily accessible and recognisable "song" formats here. For this is the Wish You Were Here of the 90's - without the ballad. You'd better believe it.

The album opens with the spacey epic, The Sky Moves Sideways Phase One, which mixes lush synthesiser and keyboard tones with thumping bass lines. The beauty of TSMS is the way the song seemingly morphs and progresses, as one section just merges into another. It never strikes the listener as being very high impact, it instead builds impetus, releasing it in long, sustained instrumentals. Be patient, and TSMS will reward you. Dislocated Day features a typically dream-like soundscape, complete with nonsensical lyrics and decent, if repetitive guitar work. Gavin Harrison's drumming adds an extra spice and crispness to the audio which the original version does not have. Despite this, it not a very dynamic piece and is probably the weakest song on the album for it. The Moon Touches Your Shoulder however is a much more amiable piece. Soft, delicate tunes waft the listener away, Wilson's' vocals are atmospheric and subtle, giving the track a tangible day-dream aura. Before you realise, you segue into Prepare Yourself, a short filler that leads into the second phase of TSMS. In the original edition, you would now encounter the 17 minute ambient space-jam, Moonloop, however the remastered edition features Moonloop on the second cd- so don't worry, it's there. TSMS Phase Two takes off from where the first phase ended, in typical psychedelic fashion, it is a journey in itself, building and releasing musical tension as the musical narrative unfolds. Again, it pays to be patient with TSMS, hasty listeners will pay to take in the subtleties of the ambient soundscapes. If you let it consume you, TSMS will be one of the most enjoyable PT experiences you can have.

However, if you thought the trip had ended, think again. The 2004 re-issue features over an hour of bonus and re-worked material, including the entire Moonloop Improvisation and the charming Moonloop Coda. It also contains a 34 minute alternate version of the title track, complete with subtle musical and lyrical differences. Experienced listeners may enjoy the variations on a theme, however, new listeners should take the time to acquaint themselves with the full material first, as it is more polished and accessible in length. The bonus disk also features the track, Stars Die, a typically lucid psychedelic piece with a lovely vocal chorus. While not essential to the casual listener, any fan of early PT should seek out the bonus disk for the beauty of Stars Die and Mooloop Coda alone.

In conclusion, there are only a few words of caution to be made. Firstly, this is not an album for people who have short attention spans. With lengthy and abstract instrumentals, it is easy to see why some would not like TSMS, it is repetitive in parts, it is lengthy, it is lyrically dense. But for those moments where the music transports you somewhere else, where the sky does move sideways - that is what makes this album pure musical gold.

Any Colour You Like | 5/5 |


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