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Porcupine Tree - Recordings CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.19 | 358 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Recordings' - Porcupine Tree (8/10)

Leave it to Porcupine Tree to come out with a mere B-Sides compilation, which turns out to be a fantastic work in it's own right, and better than most official albums from lesser bands. All written and recorded during the sessions of 'Stupid Dream' and 'Lightbulb Sun,' these songs must not have been able to fit into the flow of those albums for some reason, because there is no lack of quality in these tracks. A couple of these 'forgotten' tracks even rank up there as being some of the band's brightest moments. While 'Recordings' may indeed be a B-Sides compilation, it can easily be considered a studio album all it's own, and one of the band's strongest at that.

All things considered, 'Recordings' has a pretty good sense of flow to it. Each song seems appropriately placed in the album, although theres definately no questioning the fact that this is a collection of songs, rather than an all-encompassing piece of music. For those more familiar with Porcupine Tree's heavier sound as of late, the majority of these tracks can either be identified as fitting into the band's slower, acoustic material, or the more drawn-out, ethereal instrumentation. Most often however, the tracks are a combination of those two types, to varying degrees, although there are a couple of more upbeat numbers to keep things from getting too mellow.

In terms of the actual songs here, the personal highlight for me might be the opener; 'Buying New Soul.' Beginning with an instantly memorable introduction filled with a string section and an interesting keys sound, things fade out to make way for a charming guitar strum. Before too long, the subtle vocal work of Steven Wilson comes in. All in all, it is a generally slower piece, but very dynamic in it's lifts and plummets. While there is very little going on that could be considered 'technical' in a musical sense, the musicianship heard here is stunning, better even than alot of other work the band has done. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite Porcupine Tree tracks, and I have no idea why it was left off of a mainstream album.

The rest of the album is not completely up to par with the opener, unfortunately. The second track 'Access Denied' for example, comes off as being a bit annoying, sounding like a typical late-career Beatles song. While it has musical merit as a pop song, it feels very out of place after such an emotionally involving epic. The third track 'Cure For Optimism' -as one might guess from the song's title- brings things back to a state of melancholy, where things generally stay until the second epic of the album; an extended version of the 'Stupid Dream' song 'Even Less.' Clocking in at sixteen minutes, there is obviously alot more going on here musically than the 'edited' version, and as a result, it is a much more pleasing listen.

Almost always, I would say that a compilation of apocrypha would simply be a fan's treasure; something to be disregarded by anyone that does not already view the band highly. With 'Recordings' however, I have to make an exception. Simply too good to be left as a limited item, 'Recordings' ranks up there with some of Porcupine Tree's best studio albums, and has some marvelous consistency, disregarding a few bumps which can prove to derail the cohesion in places. As it stands however, 'Recordings' is involving as any other album by this group, and should be treated as such.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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