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Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.89 | 905 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chris M
5 stars "The Joke's On You" for anyone that hasn't given this album a chance.

This is a review of the 2004 Expanded and Re-recorded version and was also my first introduction to this band. Up The Downstair is Porcupine Tree's second album but technically it can be called their first album because it is the first album project to be conceived and recorded for a record label rather than a compilation album of the cassette era like the album On The Sunday Of Life...

As i will talk about through this review and on the review for Voyage 34, towards the end of recording the LP was downsized to a single album due to several reasons including cost and keeping tracks as singles at the time however because of this reason several tracks were dropped from the original including The Joke's On You, Men Of Wood and Phantoms.

I think i appreciate this album so much because i have heard the re-recorded version for which the programmed "fake" drums have been replaced with real drum sections from Gavin Harrison.

Disc 1 has the tracks from the original album of Up The Downstair

1) What You Are Listening To - This track is one of my favourite intro's of all time with its excellent use of sampling.

2) Synesthesia - This is the first song of the album and i was already hooked from the first listen. I thought was is this, this is amazing and why haven't i heard of Porcupine Tree before.

3) Monuments Burn Into Moments - This is a instrumental interlude between songs and this is also an edit of the track Sinatra Rape Scene from the cassette album The Nostalgia Factory. The title of this track is also used as a lyric on the track Up The Downstair.

4) Always Never - This track like quite a few from this album became fan favourites for this era and this also showed the first signs of what the band would become with Colin Edwin on Bass Guitar for this song.

5) Up The Downstair - The title track breaks the 10 minute mark and again would be a favourite and appear on a few live albums with the psychedelic meaning of hallucinogenic drugs. The title refers to lyrics that are on Voyage 34 which again was the epic single that Porcupine Tree produced which in no doubt is about drugs. That said Voyage 34 was meant to be a part of this album but due to several reasons which im sure i'll get round to explaining on that review, it became a single. Richard Barbieri is credited for the Electronics on this track and his wife Suzanne J. Barbieri is credited with the vocals.

6) Not Beautiful Anymore - This track begins with a sampling monologue and again the words are associated with drug use. This track also has a very hard hitting drum line which can blow those cobwebs out.

7) Siren - This track is an ambient/soundscape interlude.

8) Small Fish - This track is definately one that you can just chill out to with excellent use of both acoustic and electric guitar.

9) Burning Sky - This is the instrumental track and the only other track to break the 10 minute barrier and again this track becomes a live favourite appearing on a few live perfomances from this era. The heavy breathing with the ticking clock again associates you with drug use and people will get stoned by just listening to this album.

10) Fadeaway - This track is by far one of the most relaxing tracks that Porcupine Tree have done and for that i agree with Steven Wilson that this is one of my favourite tracks. However thinking about it i realise that the majority of their tracks and albums as a whole are my favourite :)

Disc 2 has the tracks to Staircase Infinities which were the leftover pieces from Up The Downstair and together they were meant to be the double CD album that was originally conceived.

11) Cloud Zero - This track begins with a mixture of noisy instrumental sounds before building into a beat that has a song complexity to it but remains an instrumental with excellent soaring guitar.

12) The Joke's On You - This track is the 2004 remix rather than the 1994 original and has a lovely acoustic piece before exploding into the chorus and back again.

13) Navigator - This is an instrumental track that has an African style beat mixed with soaring guitar and electonic ambience.

14) Rainy Taxi - This is again another instrumental that floats along with a dark mood but yet dosen't put me down but rather makes time fly and then you realise your onto the next track.

15) Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape - This track is a new version to the one that appeared on the cassette albums and in my opinion is the better version. Steven Wilson has taken out the voiceover introducing the fake band members because lets face it this is the beginning of a true band.

Without this album i would have never discovered Porcupine Tree and most likely the band would have never got to the point that they are now. I constantly come back to listen to this album and it always puts me into a good mood. I do hope that they can come back to some of this music in later live performances and saying that, at the time of me writing this they have just brought out there latest live perfomance on DVD called Anesthetize which includes a live version of Dark Matter from their Signify album. I do hope that they bring some of this era with them to the evening with Porcupine Tree at the Royal Albert Hall in London which i will be going to see. The album for me is essential and throughout all their changes in style which i guess makes them progressive i would bring their whole collection with me if i had to stay on a deserted island.

Chris M | 5/5 |


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