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Porcupine Tree - Signify CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.85 | 1364 ratings

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2 stars I was rather disappointed in this album. I loved the much more cohesive and -- as James noted -- song-oriented LIGHTBULB SUN (see review), and had hoped for something of a similar caliber from SIGNIFY. Its place of prominence as an Archives "Suggestion," and the earlier glowing responses of (non-official) reviewers, seemed to promise great things. But no.

What I find on SIGNIFY instead is an album that is light on memorable, fully-fleshed songs, and heavy on disposable atmospheric "padding." The intro/first track, "Bornlivedie" is merely a pastiche of radio voices, and pretty much a waste of disc space. I enjoy the title track, which is a faster-paced, harder-edged instrumental that is somewhat in the vein of Crimson's terrific "Red," but a trifle simplistic. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is a depressing number that contains the (hopefully intentionally) funny line "married the first girl who wasn't a man," and seems to be about longing for the oblivion of death. "Pagan" is another throwaway piece of paranoia-inducing atmospherics -- perhaps a good background for a horror film, or a documentary on schizophrenia.... "Waiting (Phase One)," for my tastes, is by far the strongest piece here. This softer, more sedate number, with its soothingly strumming acoustic, and fine Floyd-like lead, is an essential PT track, but one great song does not a great disc make. "Waiting (Phase Two)" is more shapeless filler, this time with percussion. Whoop-dee-do. Perhaps an altered state of mind is required?

"Sever," with its siren opening, evil laughter, and lyrics of being "trapped under stone.... only way I know to have fun -- fill up my blood, my veins, my lungs" is more plodding, wallowing in self pity and despair, but otherwise not bad, if you need bringing down. "Idiot Prayer" starts out slow, then builds in power, but really goes nowhere. The tired device of the recorded spoken voice as "vocal" track, revolutionary when Crimson used it on LARKS' TONGUES, is overdone now, and seems like a cop out to me -- too easy and predictable by half. If I hear one more right-wing demagogue, or megalomaniacal preacher set to a driving jungle beat, I might just scream -- or simply listen to some "real" songs!

"Every Home is Wired" is heavy on the distant, "down the phone line" echo-treated voice, but not memorable, and -- surprise! -- depressing again. There is some nice Floydian slide, but again, this is lightweight stuff that fails to resonate with me. A heavy instrumental end section seems almost tacked on. "Intermediate Jesus" presents us with the voice (scream!) of a right-wing, born-again-type televangelist, going on about how "young people" need Christ to protect them from "Satan and his devils." Wow -- real deep and disturbing, I'm sure, and highly original. Hey -- here's a new idea: write some lyrics, and sing them. Howling guitar and heavy percussion accompany this joyless, bleak exercise in disc filling. "Light Mass Prayer" is yet another dark instrumental non-song that goes nowhere, and does nothing for me, while the closer "Dark Matter," as the title succinctly suggests, is dark in its subject matter. This track is not really a bad one, but by now, lines like "gun down a school, or blow up a car -- the media circus will make you a star" just leave me just wanting respite from the relentless darkness.

Perhaps recording SIGNIFY was cathartic for the navel-gazing Steve Wilson, but overall, it leaves me cold. Better stuff was to come, and I still plan to check out the popular IN ABSENTIA (as I think that Porcupine Tree are a very talented band), but this one is for "collectors/fans only.

Peter | 2/5 |


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