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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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2 stars THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS, a 1995 effort from English psychedelic gloom prog darlings Porcupine Tree, is not a bad album, as such, but I just can't join the virtual "love-in" for this recording that I find here. "TSMS" is my third Porcupine Tree acquisition, and I'm coming to the disappointing realization that I got into the band with an atypical album. I still really enjoy what was my first exposure to the music of band leader Steve Wilson and company: 2000's terrific LIGHTBULB SUN. Yet, where "LIGHTBULB" was diverse in its scope, with shorter, more frequently melodic songs, "SIDEWAYS" (much like its successor SIGNIFY) presents a surfeit of psychedelic "atmospherics," morose lyrics and vocals, and extended, aimless down-tempo passages that simply fail to find the pleasure center of my brain.

The disc gets off to a promising enough start: The title track opens with synth sounds that are quite reminiscent of PHAEDRA-era Tangerine Dream, before the "song" proper starts at just before the two-minute mark with some moody guitar that is VERY Floyd-like, and almost begs the unflattering appellation "rip off." Perhaps the right drugs would help, but eighteen-plus minutes of this lachrymose stuff is just too much for me. (There is a six minute up-tempo middle section which incorporates some flute and pounding percussion, but I find it to be rather formulaic and cold, and certainly nothing that makes me want to pump my fist in the air.)

"Dislocated Day" gives us a clichéd ringing telephone intro, with the accompanying treble-heavy vocal treatment that makes it sound like Wilson is singing through the phone's receiver -- as if that tired old device hasn't already been done to death! Some heavy metal-ish guitar riffs help to make this number the most interesting piece on the album, for my tastes, and at just over five minutes, it's also of an accessible length, and doesn't overstay its welcome.

"The Moon Touches Your Shoulder" has some nice, sad acoustic, and still sadder vocals that deepen the album's overall atmosphere of bleak "oh, woe is me" self pity. Why get out of bed at all?

"Prepare Yourself" is a two minute instrumental passage that presumably calls for the listener to break out the tissues and put away the sharp objects, because "The Sky Moves Sideways, Phase Two" then enters the scene, dragging its musical heels, and staring down at the floor in drugged-out despair. Some sixteen-plus minutes later, it's finally over, and, if you can somehow still summon the will to move, you may want to put on some more cheery music -- perhaps some of the Cure's slower numbers -- as you finally tackle the dirty dishes. (But be warned: they'll only get dirty again. Sigh.)

Okay, THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS is not really as bad as all that (I've heard that root canals can be more painful), but it doesn't do much for me. Still, if you're a confirmed fan of the band, and/or the colours black and grey, you may want to add this one to your collection. Party on, Porcupines! (Or not....)

Peter | 2/5 |


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