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


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.06 | 1269 ratings

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4 stars When it comes to reviewing this album, the first thing necessary to point out is which exact version is under inspection. In my case, that's the lavish 2003 2CD reissue.

My history with this album has taken quite a journey. It's been a 10 year trip starting with a lukewarm appreciation of the original CD, going through growing approval of the 2CD version, and then getting a real boost 2 years ago when the misses pointed out that this album contained some of the most moving music she had ever heard. The voyage has come to a provisional stop with the 5 dazzling star quote at the moment of this review.

The first part of The Sky Moves Sideways is one of Wilson's longest and most beautiful compositions ever, covering the whole range of lavish space-rock, melancholic vocals, dreamy Pink Floyd slide guitar chords coming right from the Dark Side of The Moon, and plenty of influences from ambient electronic music, dance and kraut rock. Not a moment is wasted and it's hard picking highlights, though the dance middle section that starts with the groovy bass guitar loop and ends in an orgy of sound is a fine candidate. Even after countless listens to both this track and Shine On from PT in decades past, I fail to see the resemblance that is so frequently referred to, Of course there's the general structure of the album, but Kraut rock, Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind and the Ozrics seem much more obvious comparisons. Of course all those are either directly or indirectly influenced by the Floyd. But then almost everybody is.

Dislocated Day walks around Middle-Eastern music flavours, both in rhythm and in melodies. Given that Arabian music often thrills my feelings even more then prog, metal or post-punk do, this track always sends shivers down my spine. I think there must some sort of direct connection between the power of Arabian scales and rhythms and my deepest emotions.

The Moon Touches Your Shoulder is a slow grower, as much in its structure as when it comes to recognizing the value of it. It starts as a moody ballad with blue musings from Wilson and gentle minor chords on the acoustic guitar. First keyboards and spacey guitars join in, then the bass and that lingering pace of the drums, similar to the dragging beat in the first part of the opening track. It ends in a noisy battle of sounds, led by a majestic and very proggy guitar riff.

Prepare Yourself is a nice little kraut excursion and serves as an intro for part 2 of The Sky Moves Sideways. This is the only piece on the album that goes through some ups and downs. It opens attractively enough in lush ambient fashion, but then there's the main section dominated by the electric guitar. The guitar has clearly been recorded through the sound output channel of the amplifier (instead of using mikes in front of the speaker) and it gives that typical brittle crispy sound that results grating on the ears here, even though the actual riffs and solos are fine.

The second CD offers an alternative recording of The Sky Moves Sideways that has some alternate guitar takes and arrangements. A fan bonus really. The real value comes from the addition of the beautiful space-pop song Stars Die and the two edits from the Moonloop improvisation that I will rave about some other time. Both tracks are the only ones that have the entire Porcupine Tree band of that era in place, featuring Chris Maitland on drums and percussion.

The second CD more then evens out the rare dips at the end of the original release. And as an entire 2CD package this could deserve 5 stars. 4.5 for the original album.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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