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

THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

4.09 | 921 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
4 stars I can't believe I haven't reviewed this yet, as it was for a long time, the only Porcupine Tree album I had listened to consistently. I have since become something of a fan, finally connecting to most of their other material.

However, this was my first encounter with this band, back at the beginning of the current decade. I had never heard of them, but the heavy Floyd and Tangerine Dream elements found on this album appealed to me greatly at the time as I was in a big space rock listening phase. The album I heard then was the one shown first at the top of this page, released in 1995. The one I own now, is the two CD version, released in 2004. Since the latter is the one the reader is most likely to be able to purchase, I'll focus on that one.

The album was the first one to actually feature the band, Porcupine Tree, as opposed to the solo project of Stephen Wilson called Porcupine Tree (though both Barbieri and Edwin had guest appearances on the previous album. Still, only the lengthy tracks feature the new band members, with the shorter tracks still being solely the work of Wilson (with the single exception of Stars Die). The title track is a monster of a song, originally intended to be 50 minutes long and take up the whole album by itself (it seems Wilson decided to follow through on that idea more recently with The Incident). As it is, I think it's more than long enough in it's current form. Actually, Phase one from the original album is a very satisfying listen to space rock leaning prog lover, despite its reliance on middle period Floyd. Particularly the atmospheric beginning, and entrance of the full band sections brings the beginning to Dark Side Of The Moon very clearly to mind. But this small quibble aside, the song does feature some very modern sounds (for the time), such as the rave-like dance section halfway through. There are Gilmore-esque guitar solos throughout as well, and Rick Wright type keyboard sound washes as well. But on the whole, this is a very satisfying piece.

Dislocated day hints at the heavier and more lively material coming in the future for the band, with a heavier, guitar driven song. It doesn't change much throughout, with louder dynamics being the main driving force, but still a decent and interesting track.

The Moon Touches Your Shoulder is a typical melancholy PT song, with a simple and compelling vocal melody contrasted by a heaver instrumental bridge section with frantic soloing from Wilson. A favorite of mine, mostly for the mellow vocal sections, but a good track all around.

Prepare yourself is a short psychedelic interlude that leads us into Phase 2 of The Sky Moves Sideways. This repeats themes from the first phase (such as the vocal sections, without vocals) and introduces a few new themes. It works slowly towards a driving conclusion, which peters out with psychedelic swaths of sounds to fade out. On the whole it's a bit heavier than the first phase, and has some enjoyable parts, but for me tends to drag a bit, especially in the second half. Perhaps just too much of the same sort of music. In any case, I think it was wise not to try to pad this out to 50 minutes long.

The second CD begins with a complete version of the title track, clocking in at 36 minutes, basically the same length (a bit shorter actually) than the released version. This is really not all that different, with only some lyrics and the mix being noticeably different. I originally thought that this would be preferable as it's the whole song in one go, but I think it actually worked better splitting it into two phases. Still, just as good as the originally released version.

Stars Die is a lovely mellow song in typical PT style with a beautiful, if understated, chorus and melancholy verses. A favorite of mine.

This brings us to the Moonloop improvisation. This was culled from a much longer session of improvs featured later on the Metanoia release. This is pure PT; spacey, driving guitar, dexterous drumming, nimble bass playing, and satisfying washes of keyboard sounds. Being a improv, melody is not exactly key, but it is present. Again, if you enjoy a heavy dose of space rock in your prog, this is for you. The Coda is a more toned down outro and extension of the main Moonloop track. On the original release, only a minute or so of this coda was featured.

All in all, a solid and satisfying album for the space rock lover in me. Some of the Floydisms are a bit blatant, but mostly it is a fairly original and interesting work. I have come to actually prefer some of them more recent PT releases to this one, but in fairness they are really quite different and can't be compared really. This was my favorite for a long time, and is still ranked highly by me. Not quite a masterpiece (especially in the re-release version), but 4 stars at an absolute minimum. I'll go with 4.5 rounded down. A good place to start with this band, especially if you are a fan of mid period Floyd. A must own for every PTree fan.

infandous | 4/5 |

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