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Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair CD (album) cover

UP THE DOWNSTAIR

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.92 | 715 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "the first album proper"

According to Mr. Wilson this album was the first proper PT album, the previous one being a collection of DIY material from his cassette tape days. That first album grew on me over time and I expect this one might as well. Wilson did some history revision here with the drum parts. Unsatisfied with his own forays into drum sampling, he had Mr. Harrison re-record the drum tracks, giving him instructions to be faithful to the original as much as possible, muzzling his exceptional abilities to maintain some authenticity. A good move because I think Harrison's full ride of fills would clutter the more laid back vibe of the spaciness contained herein.

The tracks are generally 5-11 minutes long with some short interludes breaking them up. They are a mix of electronica vibed, consistent rhythms, space rock atmospheres and fluid guitar leads, mostly instrumental but with some occasional vocals and spoken word sound effects. For the life of me I don't understand all of the claims of this being "like Pink Floyd." I really don't hear the similarities other than they both are enjoyed by fans of spacey prog. The heavier riff based jams sound a bit like the harder side of 90s stuff from Djam Karet or Ozric, while there are a few softer, dreamy sections (like Small Fish, my favorite track) that hint at later PT. The album's hazy, mid gear jamming provides many moments that I find pleasant, yet ultimately it fails to really pull me in or excite me. It just kinds of melts into the background and doesn't sell me as a great album. At least not yet. There are some really nice things happening on this album, but I think Wilson's gift for engaging songwriting had not quite ripened yet, thus we get good instincts here but something missing.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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