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Porcupine Tree - Voyage 34  CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree

Heavy Prog

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4 stars "Voyage" 34 is one of the greatest space trips ever put on vinyl. This is PORCUPINE TREE at their most creative moment yet. "Voyage 34" is really a story of a psychedelic trip told through a mind experiencing the finer points of LSD. The narration (which occurs throughout the trip) borders on total hilarity as the drug induced trip is detailed. The song writing here is actually incredible and flows nicely with the trance like hypnotic stages of the music. The guitar is superb and Steve WILSON borrows riffs from David GILMOUR's book of guitar sounds.
Report this review (#9437)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Voyage 34" was the first composition which consisted in a set of extense (nearly 20 minutes) nearly instrumental pieces. Although, speaking of this kind of album, I prefer "The Sky Moves Sideways", here we also find an exquisite taste of spacy music. We find a kind of space trip, LSD influenced, which explores different possibilities in the creation of sound. Out of the four tracks (although the original only had two), in the first two, Wilson works with a recurrent guitar riff mixed with atmospheric and spacy melodies, creating a relaxing and estimulating atmosphere almost a decade prior to the rise of chillout music. In the third track, the emphasys is put on synthesizers, this done in an excellent manner. And in the final track, we find again narrative off-voices which introduce a more calm and classical instrumented piece, with less synthesizers.

So, this album is one of the first proofs of why Porcupine Tree are categorized in the Space/Psychedelic Rock genre. With this album, along with "The Sky Moves Sideways", you can go through a sweet psychedelic experience.

Report this review (#56247)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This was the first porcupine tree album I bought and it nearly put me off them entirely. To begin with, as a fan of pink floyd 'phase 1' was annoying with a riff identical to on the wall, the major problem though was lack of substance beyond that, thre wasn't much else but this repeating riff.

As an album there are some nice moments and nice sounds, but there just wasn't enough, many of the songs sounded to me like a 'lemon jelly' song stretched over 10 minutes . I found nothing really gripped me or did anything particularily interesting. As an album with no lryrics beyond samples it really needs to bring more interest into the music. At points it sounds very floydian but not in a way that sounded to me original.

This album to me should be stuck on in the backgound if your chatting, theres nice sounds and moments but nothing that will really grip you and suck you into the song.

Its probably worth me mentioning I generally like music thats trippy but i didn't find this was, it was sort of blurry with references to LSD but the music didn't give me any major highs, lows, painful or elated feelings or generally 'take you away' as I would have liked.

Report this review (#77027)
Posted Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can you say about this?

The Pink Floyd riff is obvious. It's deliberate. I just wish Pink Floyd had managed to make something this good around that riff.

To me, this is what prog's about. OK, it doesn't fit into any convenient pigeonhole, and there are no lyrics, just samples. But it's out there. It's PT's Topographic Oceans you love it or hate it. I love Topographic Oceans and I love this.

If you like a concept. If you are prepared to chuck all that song stuff out the window for a short while then this is an essential album. If not, well this album is to be avoided.

Report this review (#124023)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the often-neglected missing part of PORCUPINE TREE's 'Up The Downstair' sessions. My understanding is that this two-part track was to be the centrepiece of a double CD, including the material in 'Up the Downstair' and 'Staircase Infinities'. However, the record company intervened and the releases were separated. I, for one, am glad.

Publishers don't always get it right, but in this case they did. 'Up the Downstair' is a masterpiece of psych/space-rock, and 'Staircase Infinities' is well worth a listen. 'Voyage 34', however, isn't quite in the same league. In fact, it doesn't sit easily with the rest of their 1992/3 material, despite the obvious drug references they have in common.

'Voyage 34' documents an LSD trip gone wrong. It is very nearly a documentary set to music. It's difficult to work out the editorial slant here: does WILSON approve of LSD, does he disapprove, or is he being suitably enigmatic? It matters to me: I spent much of my teenage years drug-free but a spotter for my experimenting friends, and have my own opinion on the matter. Normally this would not be an issue: how often do you reject an album because of the lyrics? In this case, however, with the music serving as a soundtrack to the story, the story matters.

The music isn't really up to much. More than anything else he's written, this is WILSON's closest brush with pure trance. Trance, when done well, is invigorating, and is a close cousin to space rock. Done poorly, however (as it mostly is), it's simply boring. This is somewhere between the two. Making it less palatable is his fingering the PINK FLOYD riff from 'Run Like Hell' as his main theme for Part 1. This doesn't sit well with me: I adored the sample-theft of the late 80s and early 90s (KLF were geniuses), but only when the 'liberated' samples were used creatively. This is not.

Half an hour, then, of background music. Not what you want PORCUPINE TREE for.

Report this review (#151662)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Is your trip really necessary?

Originally intended to be included on the "Up the downstair" album, this 30 minute piece was omitted from that collection and released instead as a 12" single. The track was split in half due to the limitations of vinyl, this becoming "parts 1 and 2".

While primarily a lengthy instrumental work firmly rooted in the psychedelic sounds of Pink Floyd, the various motifs which make up the piece are interrupted by dispassionate narration. This tells the unfolding tale of an LSD trip by someone called Brian, his experiences being increasingly disturbing.

Musically, this is essentially a vehicle for Steve Wilson to put together some fine lead guitar work in a succession of riffs and occasional solos. Part 2 is less dynamic and thus less effective than side one, the emphasis being more towards the after effects. The narrative becomes increasingly troubled, and the music more ambient with trance overtones.

While "Voyage 34" is now considered to be of its time, I still find it to be a highly enjoyable listen, especially Part 1. Admittedly, it lacks the tightness of modern day Porcupine Tree, but the persistent rhythms and overall ambience are, in their own way, rather alluring.

Incidentally, the title of the "Up the downstairs" album is taken from the narrative of part 1, where "Brian" is devastated to meet himself coming down an up staircase.

Report this review (#154597)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Voyage 34 is a brave step into the unknown. Steven Wilson's unique blend of Psychedelic Prog, Trance and Spoken Word is a swirling love/hate affair that plays out as a pathetic fallacy for a personal LSD trip, either beautifully relaxing and easy or frustrating, annoying and scary. Although the main theme of Pink Floyd's The Wall does lend itself well to this context, its overemphasised repetition a haunting background to the spoken testimonies of acid users in Phase II, its a shame Wilson couldn't come up with a riff of his own for such a mindbendingly experimental product. Even not viewed as a blotter paper induced nightmare Voyage 34 is a lush epic instrumental with some fantastically emotional lead guitar work. Hardly an everyday casual listen yet most fans of early Porcupine Tree should be able to appreciate this once in a while.
Report this review (#170143)
Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Apart from Steve Hillage, what was big in the sixties and seventies, less so in the 1980s, but then fully embraced by the emerging underground squat-rave movement of the 1990's...? Have you guessed it yet? Yes, of course, I am talking about LSD. An incredibly-potent chemical that has essentially influenced virtually all the good music ever(maybe over-egging the pudding a little here, apologies), this once-legal drug changed everything back in the 1960s, paving the way for the counter-culture movement that bore such influential groups as Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd whilst also helping to ferment revolution, progression and new ideals that revolutionised society. Not bad for a tasteless, odourless liquid often served in either sugar cubes or on blotting paper. Discovered, quite accidentally, by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman during World War 2, LSD has gradually become less-and-less popular over the years, matching the declining quality of popular culture with scary authenticity. However, those who still like to tune in, turn on and drop out still exist, and Steven Wilson, founder of top British prog outfit Porcupine Tree, was obviously one of them. This album, which is split into four parts, recounts an LSD trip from exciting beginning to awe-inspiring end, a brilliantly-conceived, 1960's-style narrator helping us along our journey. Part-ambient, part-progressive, at times almost dancey yet always utterly engrossing, 'Voyage 34' may not be for everyone yet that, it seems, is exactly the point. Few people truely love LSD - many are terrified of it - but there is no denying what an incredible, conscious-altering substance it actually is. This album is the perfect foil for understanding this strange little drug, and those with an interest in all things psychedelic are urged to investigate. But remember folks, drugs are bad! STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014
Report this review (#1157397)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2014 | Review Permalink

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