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Porcupine Tree - Signify CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars I started with this one and thought it was great but got soon tired of it and discovered that as most space-rock if you take away the ambiance , there is not much music left. This is more Hawkwind-like than Sky andstill well worth discovering
Report this review (#9518)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This band amazes me every time i listen to a record of them, and this record in particular is no exception, trading ambient, space and prog into one big blended musical fest. From the beginning, the record shows a "story" told by music, you feel the music flows through it until it ends, like a big one composition, that actually, very few bands can do that nowadays. This record marks the departure from the Delerium label, and closes a very fine circle that was brewed since 1989, so, a piece like "Darkmatter" is the perfect closure to that period. This record is one of the most significant "underground" prog record ever have attention and called attention from many listeners.
Report this review (#9506)
Posted Sunday, May 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Significant

Here's a pure prog album for you if ever there was one. Released in 1996, most people will come across this album retrospectively as Porcupine Tree's light(bulb) burns ever brighter. Their earlier works are in fact their most progressive, with the later, major label releases finding the band moving towards a slightly more mainstream sound.

The music here is quite soft and slow, almost ambient at times, but there is a depth and power too, which may not be apparent on first listen. The most accessible tracks are "Sleep of no dreaming" with it's nightmare sounding chorus, and "Waiting", which has an almost trance like rhythm.

Steve Wilson is as ever the main man in terms of performance, song writing, production, and mixing. The rest of the band do however provide a solid foundation for him to create his many beautiful soundscapes.

The album is best heard as a complete piece, although some of the tracks such as those mentioned do stand up well in isolation. This is almost a crossover album between a fusion/Canterbury sound, Pink Floyd type psychedelia, and mainstream rock.

Well worth seeking out and exploring, but as with a lot of fine music, it may take a few listens to really appreciate.

Report this review (#9507)
Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree is one of the most innovative bands of the atuality, producing a hybrid sound, no comparations with nothing else. The arrangements, the climatic moods, the instrumentation, are really brilliant. Listen to Waiting Phase, and understand what i´m talking about.Every song is like a paiting, turning into new every time you hear. Sometimes smooth, sometimes hard, in every song , the vocals stay in the same style: a mix of folk , in beautyiful arrangements.Beautiful work of guitars.Here in my country (Brazil) the records of this band are very hard to find; if you have the chance, buy it today!Obrigatory on every collection.
Report this review (#9508)
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
2 stars I simply don't get it - what's all the hugger-mugger about? Not only are PT a fairly late entry into prog, but this album is incredibly "late in the game" to be anything other than a fairly good amalgam of Floydian and other influences. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that soundscapes, heavy rhythms and special effects do not always equal "prog," much less "good" prog. / The album starts off with a shamelessly Floydian track, complete with opening "narration" and echo-y effects. The title track is little more than a heavy, straight- ahead quasi-metal jam. As for "Sleep of No Dreaming," I find it hard to classify, except to say that it is a relatively nice song. "Pagan" is a collection of sonic textures, "Waiting Phase One" is a pretty song (but not "prog"), and "Waiting Phase Two" is another Floydian space-jam. Happily, the album gets a bit better from here. "Sever" is a stand-out track, a powerful, compelling composition with more "oomph" and originality than anything before it. "Idiot Prayer" is a "driving" Crimzo-Floydian jam, much more successful than the prior ones. "Every Home is Wired" is an interesting idea well-executed. "Intermediate Jesus" is another largely Floydian instrumental. "Light Mass Prayers" is an Eno-ish ambient composition. Then there is "Dark Matter" - a Parsons/Floyd-type composition, it is without question the best track on the album: if everything had been this solid and compelling, this album would have rated at least one more star, if not two. / If you like "soundscape"-type prog with heavy Floydian influences, you will truly appreciate this album. If not, you, like me, will wonder: "What's all the fuss?"
Report this review (#9524)
Posted Thursday, June 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars To a certain extent, I would call myself a PORCUPINE TREE fan- but not on the basis of "Signify". Quite honestly, I prefer the more song-oriented 'alternative' influences of "Lightbulb Sun"; this album has a more bland 'wall-of-sound' approach that I tend to associate with the lackluster 80s progressive scene. The title track is a good example; it tries to be heavy but the plastic guitar tone and simplistic riff reminds me of an amateur's attempt at metal, and the synth pads and effects seem almost like an afterthought.

"Sleep of No Dreaming" is a bit better, with a lush desperation in the chorus and a quiet eerieness in the verses. The guitar tone is still uninspiring, though- the musicians out there will understand when I say that it sounds like he ran it through a cheap distortion pedal directly into the mixer (I've heard MARILLION's Steve Rothery sound much like this from time to time). "Waiting (Phase One)" is much better, well-written and performed, sounding like a mix of Gilmour-heavy FLOYD and some of THE CHURCH's more guitar-based work.

"Waiting (Phase Two)" is more formless and ambient, with some interesting sounds; unfortunately, the band's strength is not in improvisation- neither the guitar nor the drums inspire much involvement in the crescendos of the piece. "Sever" has similar drum problems- whether human or programmed, these drums have no feel. The best thing I can say about the song is that it reminds me of the cold heaviness that RUSH explored in "Signals" and "Grace Under Pressure". The next track, "Idiot Prayer", continues and even deepens the trend of programmed sounds padded with ambient soundbytes, but the guitar is occasionally effective. Perhaps he's trying to work with industrial influences, but it ends up sounding more like Jan Hammer's "Miami Vice" theme than (for instance) THRILL KILL KULT. "Every Home is Wired" makes some interesting (but flawed) observations about technology, and has a nice acoustic least until the drums get going. "Intermediate Jesus" is seven minutes of aimless and uninspired jamming, without anything but a religious soundbyte to distinguish it- let's face it, by the end of the 80s songs like FRONT 242's "Welcome to Paradise" and THRILL KILL KULT's "Kooler than Jesus" had the same idea, with more interesting results. "Light Mass Prayer" is over already? I was still waiting for something to segues nicely into "Dark Matter", but this song concludes the album with another flaccid wall of sound.

As other reviewes have noted, PORCUPINE TREE gets progressive in reverse- each previous album shows more progressive influence. In that way, they seem more like one of the bands that started promisingly adventurous and ended up, for better or worse, more broadly accessible (classic rock fans can find parallels in bands like Chicago and Journey). Unfortunately, "Signify" only resembles progressive rock due to the immense padding; decent ideas are rendered impotent with clumsy lyrics and needless extended soundscapes, both of which lack much originality or depth. Post-punk pioneer Richard Barbieri must have been saving his experience and creativity for other venues. This is the sound of a little talent, a personal vision, and the convenience of modern personal recording technology; long beforehand, Frank Zappa indulged similarly misguided whims with his Synclavier-based home studio, and his talent and creativity was of a much higher league. Mr. Wilson might have been better off working within a band- even David Gilmour needed the rest of FLOYD to bring out his best.

Report this review (#9525)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Some morbid fascination keeps me coming back to this cd. I put it into my player, one evening, and let the music drift while I was playing some silly computer card game. By the end of the cd, I was bleary eyed, feeling slightly disoriented, almost feverish. It was as if I'd just come off some bad trip and was gasping for air (and, no, it had nothing to do with the silly card game).

Admittedly, there's nothing even remotely original about this album: it is floydian to the core, right down to the vocals. The distorted guitar solos, the spacey synths, the simple drumming, the perennial bluesy choruses and the overall sullen quality of the compositions: everything here smacks of Roger Waters big time. Yet, it's amazing how easily it draws you in, how convincingly it conveys that eerie atmosphere - something almost resembling hallucinatory delerium. Through out the album, you feel the despair, the claustrophobia, the pathos of artificial paradise (be it drugs or religion), the desperation of only finding pleasure in pain. In short, the hopelessness of it all (" fast, look beautiful, die young..." thunders a preacher over some demented, trance-like drums pounding at a furious pace).

Despite all the floydian clichés and the heavy downer I get every time I hear it (who knows, perhaps even because of it), I still think this album pulls it weight alongwith the best of them. It is a mighty powerful cd to be heard in its entirety. My initial reaction was to give it 4 stars. However, as is often the case with the FLOYD's material, no matter how genial it sounds at first, you can only hear it so many times before your interest starts to dwindle. I grant it 3 stars for the band's ability to paint so vividly the picture of decadence with relatively few new elements.

A fine album, very effective and loaded with climactic musical moments, but stay away from it if you're in the least bit depressed. If you thought Roger Waters' genius for gloom & doom couldn't be topped, wait till you hear PORCUPINE TREE on "Signify". Come to think of it, this is probably the best album Waters never made.

Report this review (#9526)
Posted Monday, August 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A copple of weeks ago I bought the CD Signify with the bonus CD Insignificance. What a great strange music. What is it, great melodies, melting sounds together. It's great to hear and to enjoy it. Everytime you listen to it you hear new sounds and you discover new melodies. The music of Porcupine Tree is with nothing to compair, but it has sounds and melodies that is like several famous bands. But first of al it's Porcupine Tree or Steven Wilson. That makes him unic.
Report this review (#9527)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#9528)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hmm...weird. The difference between this album and "Lightbulb Sun" is amazing. This one is based on ambient backgrounds and rhythms more than anything else. It creates a dark, hopeless air about it with every song. "Bornlivedie" is an ambient, short song which compares life to the minute of odd background textures that this song creates, and "Signify" is a fairly simple metal riff embellished throughout the song (not unlike YES' "Wurm" movement of "Starship Troope"r from "The Yes Album"). Next is "Sleep of no dreaming, which creates a hopeless air and actually retains a song structure instead of being ambient like the other songs.

"Pagan" is a short ambient piece with a repeated sound. "Waiting (Phase One)" is a very nice song, built around some nice melodies and hints of dark ambience. Phase Two is essentially a more ambient Phase One, but without the vocals and with rhythmic drumming added. "Sever" is another slow, depressing song (with structure this time), followed by "Idiot Prayer," another ambient musical section, this time with an interesting synth beat and vocal loop. "Every Home is Wired" is another song, this time about the internet, and is (suriprise!) depressing and unnoticeable. Then we go to "Intermediate Jesus," an ambient piece in the vein of "Idiot Prayer," and "Light Mass Prayer," a very boring repeated ambient sound. Then it's "Dark Matter," which really isn't that much more exemplary.

There are some good points and concepts, like the ambient "Bornlivedie" intro, pieces of "Signify", "Waiting," and the better parts of the ambient instrumentals "Idiot Prayer" and "Intermediate Jesus," but mostly the album falls flat. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, I just don't think it stands out. It's okay stuff, but I wouldn't recommend it and I think your listening time is better spent with something else.

Report this review (#9529)
Posted Thursday, December 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Signify, while not Porcupine Tree's best album, is somehow strangely enchanting. It's definitely their darkest effort, and the whole album has this strange, inexplicable, twisted aura surrounding it. You only need to listen to the lyrics of "Sleep Of No Dreaming" once, to understand what Wilson was feeling when he wrote this album; "At the age of 16, I grew out of hope", and "I married the first girl who wasn't a man" etc... Not the most uplifting lyrics you've ever heard, now are they? Unlike in Lightbulb Sun though, Wilson does not dwell in self-pity, but rather concentrates in creating uncompromising, dark psych-prog that'll blow your mind if you're feeling sinister. ;) Having said that, Wilson's songwriting was on a different level here, so if you want to hear some ultra-catchy and easy music to sing along to, you better look elsewhere. I'm glad that the Pink Floyd influences are less evident here - frankly, I found The Sky Moves Sideways to be a rather tedious listen. While I find In Absentia a much better album in principle, this is PT's most unique effort, and the one I find myself returning to the most. 3,5 stars

Report this review (#9531)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I went through a phase of purchasing Porcupine Tree's output about half way through last year. I got 'The Sky Moves Sideways', having already had this on tape for a few years. This is the remastered version with the bonus disc. See my review for that album separately. I gave it five stars then, yet find it very hard to compare with this album, as the two are totally different. Sometimes you would think they were two separate bands! This one I will give four stars to, although, when the mood takes me, it could easily touch five. Again, I have the remastered version, complete with the bonus disc. The opener, 'Bornivedie', sets the disparate tone of the album, being a concoction of different sounds, with a female voice interspersed amongst it all. It is a very short piece, and serves mainly to lead into track two, 'Signify', an excellent, fast paced instrumental, keyboards and guitar dominated, with pulsing bass work and excellent percussion. I admire Chris Maitland tremendously. He seems to have the most input on the album, next to Stephen Wilson himself, of course. the third song, 'The Sleep Of No Dreaming' has interesting, typically Wilsonian lyrics, and is instrumentally superb. The quality of the production on this cd is wonderful. 'Pagan' is track 4, probably the least effective on the album, a short instrumental which serves as an appetiser to Tracks 5 & 6, 'Waiting Phase One' followed, funnily enough, by 'Waiting Phase Two!' The first part has lyrics, the second doesn't, but both halves are excellent, musically beautiful, with nice guitar work, (as one expects from Mr Wilson), and beautiful soundscapes provided by the keyboards. I also like Richard Barbieri's ability to create mood swings, song by song, and, indeed, within songs themselves. Next track, 'Sever', is another moody, melodic piece, with fractured lyrics. 'Idiot Prayer' is another wonderful instrumental, followed by track 9, 'Every Home Is Wired', a superb ballad with , what I would call, rainy day lyrics. 'Intermediate Jesus' is a long and sinuous instrumental, with excellently placed guitar parts, full of echos and memories. 'Light, Mass, Prayers' is a Maitland composition, evocative of monks at prayer, and very effective. Finally, 'Dark Matter' is an excellent way to end the album, starting with more melancholy lyrics, and then flowing into a superb guitar led instrumental. This ends the album, which, in itself, stands as a fine musical work. The bonus disc has differnt versions of 'Signify', 'Waiting' and 'Sever', plus other interesting bits, the best being 'Neural Rust', 'Dark Origins' and 'Smiling Not Smiling' Oh, and the excellent 'Nine Cats'. This second disk is just the icing on the cake, yet if it was the official album, instead of disc one, it would be just as effective and strong. There are still some Floydian influences here, but the Tree are going more their own way now. This is quite a bit better than 'In Absentia' which has a far more commercial, but not necessarily better sound. Highly recommended!
Report this review (#9534)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I was at a used CD store earlier today and saw this, which reviewers here seem to rate as one of PT's best. I didn't have time to listen to any track in its entirety, so I probably shouldn't try to review the album. However, here's what I gleaned: The musicians are all very good, and the production values are quite good. My problems? Lacking in personality and originality. Wilson is a competent vocalist, but the nicest thing I can say about his vocal style is that it doesn't annoy me. His lyrics (and guitar style, for that matter) are unmemorable, and his compositions contain chord progressions that I've heard countless times. Like most (all?) modern-day bands with prog tendencies, these guys go to great lengths to fit in, rather than stand apart. After awhile, I started to play "who are they imitating now?" each time I skipped to the next track. I'm going to listen to some other PT albums before I dismiss them entirely, of course. After all, this one's from 1996. They're bound to be doing some other things by now.
Report this review (#9536)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars All PT albums are marvellous. They have their downs, but their ups are so good to make up for it. Signify is a perfect Example. A friend once sent me "Trains" and "Dark Matter" to get me into Porcupine Tree. I loved Trains instantaneously, but Dark Matter was the song that got me into Porcupine Tree. Its marvellous. So is the rest of this Album. Sure it might be a bit too spacey and slow, but hey, keep an open mind, it'll grow on you, trust me.
Report this review (#9537)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing record by Porcupine tree boys. It`s a relaxed music that suddenly becomes in rage, power and sometimes apassionate sounds. The mixture of musical tendences from progressive to tecno walking above avant-garde pure black metal and loop dancing music make this PT album essential to anyone who loves the high hierarchy music.
Report this review (#35509)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars What is it? The first fully fledged album as a proper band and also having its own identify, much more character, and less obvious influences. Signify is a turning point for the band, beginning the transition from its earlier expansive style in order to focus on making songs. There is a good balance between both approaches.

Voice (3.5 stars) ? While 'Sleep of no Dreaming' continues the unremarkable timid singing from earlier albums, remaining songs have a more confident singer, a better ear for melody, and more impactful lyrics. Just listen to how tuneful and radio-friendly 'Waiting Phase 1' can be, or the overdubbed harmonies around 'Every Home is Wired' or the internalized angst from 'Dark Matter'. While 'Signify' is not the prime example of Porcupine Tree vocals, it is the first album where Steven Wilson's vocals become an important component to the overall product.

Sound (4 stars) ? Not only do we hear a proper band here, but we also get consistently superior sound production. The first great example is 'Waiting Phase 1 and 2' with acoustic guitars, hand percussion, and fluid bass lines creating a remarkable soundscape that never gets old. Hard rock works well with examples such as 'Sever', the King Crimson-inspired title track. Meanwhile, the electronic-tinged 'Idiot Prayer' revisits and improves upon the sound of earlier album "Up The Downstair", sprawling mid-tempo 'Dark Matter' shows the great potential that is yet to come, and the outstanding jam that is 'Intermediate Jesus' shows band chemistry as if they knew each other for decades.

Song (4.5 stars) ? Signify is about making songs and greatly success at it. The songwriting is more compact, confident, and yet does not fully abandon the expansive sound from preceding albums. While the vocal execution of 'Sleep of No Dreaming' is imperfect, you can tell the increased emphasis on having hooks. 'Sever' expands on the hard rock and hook-driven songwriting. A better example is the pair of 'Waiting' songs, instantly memorable melodies and some sense of trance-like ambience shaped by an increasingly foreboding bass line until it reaches a climax. Another example of improved songwriting is 'Idiot Prayer', which revisits the atmosphere from 'Up The Downstair' and improves upon it (it is maybe 2 minutes too long). On the ballad side of the spectrum, 'Every Home is Wired' is the band's best acoustic tune as of this point with great layering of vocal melodies and a tonal shift later on that somehow just works. Then you have 'Intermediate Jesus' ? another jam that is shaped by carefully constructed dynamics. Of course, you can't forget about the lengthy restrained angst that is 'Dark Matter', ultimately boiling over and ending with hard rock riffs.

Key tracks: Waiting Phase 1 & 2, Every Home is Wired, Intermediate Jesus, Dark Matter

Report this review (#42882)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This pertculer porcupine tree album was my favorite for awhile, but now I can even make up my mind. It's truly a masterpeice in a very dark and spacie why. If you like experimental rock you are just the person to buy this album, It's the last of they're instermentle based albums.The single off the album ''Waiting'' is one of my favorite songs the verse is so hauting and it stays with you. If you like this album you should experence it live and buy coma divine, porcupine tree live in Rome.
Report this review (#45105)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Considered the best Porcupine Tree album by many Porcupine Tree fans, Signify marks a change in the band's music. More rock oriented, Signify approaches pop, not beeing an exclusively ambiental/space/psychadelic improvisation like it's predecessor Sky Moves Sydeways. It's like Porcupine Tree's Dark Side of the Moon.

All the band members shows very talent in their instruments like Steven Wilson's superb guitar solo in Waiting phase I a la DAVID GILMOUR (or should i say a la Steven Wilson ?), Chris Maitland varied and pleasant repertory at the drumms (like in the Intermediate Jesus jam or in the superb jazz-rock Waiting Phase II), the talent of keyboardist Barbieri in creating delusional landscapes and the bass-lines improvisations of Colin Edwin.

It is a vary varied album, from the explosive rock instrumental "Signify" (a la RUSH techno- rock); the catchy melodies of Sever (stays in your head from the first listen), Sleep of no Dreaming and Waiting phase I (with its jazz derivations); the superb innovative space/ambiental/pshyco jams of Intermediate Jesus and Waiting Phase II; the danceable pshyco Idiot Prayer and the ambiental catchy Dark Matter, which resembles Peter Gabriel era GENESIS.

Steven Wilson and his fellows reached to make a very pleasant and cohesive album. One of the best progressive ROCK albuns of the 90's for sure, shows all the talent and originality of Steven Wilson.

Report this review (#48147)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Signify" is quite similar to their album, "Up the Downstair". This album fails to impress me amazingly. I see some good elements in their music and i can recognise the talent in Steve Wilson, but every Porcupine Tree album I listen to manages to bore the pants off me after a few tracks and this is no exception.

I think Signify is a step down from the last album which displayed more proggy and epic works. This one has a few good moments but otherwise falls flat. There is definitely some good stuff here, although it doesn't really manage to captivate me to a point where I would want to relisten to this album on many occassions. Good but not for everyone.

Report this review (#52843)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Signify" was a transition album and, like I said in other review, that is not always something easy. And if we are talking about Porcupine Tree, it is even more dificult, because this album sets the line between two radically different musical eras, and what it is even more troublesome, both eras seem to interleave and mix in this album, I mean, in most of the ocassions like in the case of Marillion, for example, we have a set of albums of a musical style and then, usually after one of the important members of the band leaves (going along with the example, Fish, in this case), the band starts with a different musical view clearly expressed in the first album of this new era. That doesn't happen here. Like I said, we have a mix of the two eras gathered together here. We have pieces of Wilson's spacy and instrumental work and we also have more rock- oriented and band performed songs that would define Porcupine Tree tendencies from now on. So, I think this is the main reason why this record has so many negative impressions among some people.

But I think that in overall terms, the result is quite good and I would dare to say that excellent in some moments. Probably this record is not as magnificent as it was "The Sky moves Sideways" or doesn't have the energy of records like "In Absentia", but at the very least it has notable pieces of both musical eras. We have good pieces of work from Wilson, like "Pagan", "Idiot Prayer" or "Intermediate Jesus" (the first one remind us clearly of "TSMS") and we have good (although a bit soft) pop-rock songs (although performed in a more concerned (prog?) way) like "Every House is Wired" or specially "Waiting (phase one)", a simply beautiful and delicious ballad, along as one of my favourite songs from the band

So, maybe this is not the best PT effort, probably due to the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of my review, but it is an excellent album and worthy to listen.

Report this review (#59406)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one beautiful album, with songs that really hit you time and time again. It contains a great deal of samples and sounds more electronic than the later albums like In Absentia. For people that only have the newer PT albums I strongly suggest that you pick up this album, because of these two reasons: 1: Disc one has the tracks that were featured on the 1996 issue and is great to get in the more earlier word of PT. 2: Disc two is worth the money!

I'll review some of the tracks on this album that I really like.

The Sleep of No Dreaming: This song starts of with a calm verse until it hits the chorus. The chorus offers you great guitarwork work along with great vocals from Steven Wilson.

Waithing Phase 1 & 2: Phase 1 starts of with great acoustic guitars. The two guitarsolo's on this one are amazing. Phase 2 is instrumental and starts of with percussion. Around 3:30 drums kick in along with guitar. Maitland plays a great rhythm on this one while Wilson solo's on top of it.

Sever: This song has an electronic feel to it, with an amazing vocal harmony in the choruses. Wilson's vocals on the verses are great too. You know what I'm talking about when you hear it.

So far for disc one. Disc two features some demo versions of songs found on the first disc along with some unreleased material, which I'll go through now.

Wake as gun I: This is one of the most amazing acoustic songs I've ever heard. It has some synths and samples.

Hallogallo: This is sort of an intro to the demo version of Signify (the song).

Smiling not Smiling: This track, at some points, makes me think of tracks like A Perfect Circle's Vanishing. This track flows perfectly into...

Wake as Gun II: It's almost the same as the first only has a different feel to it. It ends with some noise and drums.

Nine Cats (acoustic version): This is the acoustic version of the track found on On the Sunday of Life...

So, this album is really worth the money. If you have the first issue of it you might wanna get this one too because of the great bonus disc. If you're new to PT and have some of their latest records this is a must-have.

Report this review (#62639)
Posted Sunday, January 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kind of suprinsing album. I'was suprised, because I didn't know this is so "fresh" even it has made at 1996. Unbelievable sounds is brand of Porcupine Tree. Wilson is genious with gripping melodies and memorable choruses.

Signify: Wonderful intsrumental with genious guitar-riff. I can't understand why this band sounds always so sad, but hopeful. 8.5/10

Sleep Of No Dreaming: Slowstarting song with absolutely incredible chorus. Keys are simple, but brilliant. 9/10

Waiting Phase One: "driving-a-car"-music. Kicking bassline and nice and mellow vocals. Drum and bass plays SO well together that I'm speechless. 9.5/10

Sever: Odd song, but once again with glorious chorus. Sounds like finnish band called Icon Crash. (Maybe Icon Crash sounds like PT!) 8/10

Idiot Prayer: Driving at night by car. That's it! 8/10

Every Home Is Wired: I sometimes wonder lyrics of PT's songs, but still this song is beautiful. Nice slideguitar in chorus. 8/10

Night-time music! Get it!

Report this review (#75559)
Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Being somewhat on the fence tettering between prog and alternative rock, Porcupine Tree for me excels at being both at the same time. Unfortunately, this album is neither. Now, I'm not against a bit of moodiness, but "Signify" is saturated with it at the expense of any kind of memorable melody. You can jam all you want, (being tagged a space/psych band) but if its unexciting, its unexciting. Being more prog previous to this album in a Pink Floydish vain and having catchy hooks and monster-like metal jams after this album, this album falls way down to the bottom rung of all their recordings. I really can't pick one song that I could recommend. So for me, this 'signifies' a boring outing. 2.5 stars rounded to 3. It's not bad, it just lays there like a lump.
Report this review (#76207)
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Signify (1996 Release)

An overall very nice and moody piece of music. There are a lot of ambient-orientated pieces of music on this one.

You have the spacey ambient interludes alike Bornlivedie, Pagan and Light Mass Prayers. These are very nice in a specific way, because they let you relax until the next 'real' tune picks you up.

Than there are the ambient orientated songs; Waiting P2, Idiot Prayer and Intermediate Jesus are the songs that come to mind. Two of these are songs I instantly loved, Intermediate Jesus isn't a song I like most, but it's surely a wonderful piece of music.

No Porcupine Tree release without their trademark 'ballads'. On this release we can see the songs Waiting P1, Sleep of no Dreaming and Every Home is wired. These are two songs that fall in the same category as songs like Stars die and The Moon touches your Shoulder from 1995's Sky moves sideways. They're really lovely and could easily get some airplay I think, but they're still very progressive.

Then there are of course the more rocking songs. In this case those are the titletrack, Sever and Dark Matter. Signify and Sever are really more straight-ahead rocksongs, while Dark Matter is really a typical porcupine tree rocker, something alike Russia on Ice.

I can't of course forget that most of the album is instrumental (!); Signify, Waiting P2, Idiot Prayer, Intermediate Jesus. they're all fully instrumental. And the spacey interlude that I mentioned somewhere at the beginning of this review, those are also instrumental, with the occasional talking by some guy who acts as the host for a radioshow??? If I'm not mistaking.

Overall it's a very good addition to your record collection! Try to find the 2-cd re-issue edition it features a second disc called 'Insignificance', which sounds like signify but with some other tracks. Yes, it has some demos of Signify songs on it, but also some non-album tracks, making it sound like an alternative version of Signify.

Worthy to check out, I recommend it to you.


Porcupne Tree - Signify (2004 Re-Issue)

1996 was the year in which the first real band release by Porcupine Tree was released. "Signify" saw the incorporation of a more hard rock approach in their music, while still remaining very atmospheric and moody.

In 2004, record label Lava decided to release a re-issue of this CD, which by many is seen as one of Porcupine Tree's best up to date. Just as all the other re-issues, this CD now comes with an additional second disc.

The first disc comprises the whole of the Signify album, which is a collection of ambient songs featuring only synthesizer waves and samples, up tempo rockers and instrumental improvisations. Disc 2 is something different. Originally released only as a gift to the subscribers of the Porcupine Tree information service Transmission in 1997, this is a remastered and revised collection of songs from the recording period 1995-1996. Besides several demo's of album tracks there are also a few songs included which did not make it to the final album. A nice extra is the cover version of NEU's Hallogallo track.

Although the second disc is a 'demo' disc, it is in perfect shape, audio wise. The sound quality is brilliant for a demo. The disc is an album on its own, which I sometimes listen to without even touching the Signify disc.

Two albums for the price of one!

Report this review (#78358)
Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are many kinds of albums. However, "Signify" by PT, is an out-sider. In front of us we see a unique psychedelic piece of art. Steven Wilson, with his band, has created a mysterious atmosphere on this album, which is great to listen to in a dark room. The Comparison to Pink Floyd's work is almost demanded when you hear "Signify", and i can only put out the vocal harmony, which i never heard it that good since PF's days.

If i could select two favorite tracks, one of them will be definitely "Wating (phase 1)", an excellent song, a radiophonic song but keeps the quality of PT's prog music. Maybe a Blackfield prophecy :). The second one will be the finale of the album, "Dark Matter" - which i define as one of the best prog songs of the 90's, I can only say that if someone asks me why i think Steven Wilson is a genius, il'l let him hear this song and understand for himself...

To conclude, i can only define "Signify" as the best PT album ever, a psychedelic masterpiece, and one of the 5 cd's il'l take with me to a lonley island - 5 Stars in the Open-Mind chart :)

Report this review (#82642)
Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars After starting off almost as an ambient space project, Steven Wilson pushed PT towards the mainstream with this album, which to me isn't particulary proggy in a technical sense. It's very much in the same vein as what Radiohead were aiming for around the same time with The Bends and OK Computer (more a case of similar inspiration than anyone copying anyone else, I guess)- sort of a neo-Floyd thing with contemporary alternative influences and a touch of space rock. The Church does all this much better, by the way, but I'm one of a few lone voices in the wilderness on that point, I think, so I won't belabour it. Anyway, this is very much a moody, mid-tempo affair with dense production, some pretty keyboard textures and lots of guitar pedal effects in use. The difference between this and PT's classics Lightbulb Sun, Stupid Dream and In Absentia is that Wilson's songwriting hadn't quite developed yet. He strives for melody here, but songs like "Trains" and "Darkest Eyes" were still a few years away, and he sometimes gets lost in the ambiance of the tune, losing the thread a bit. He gets it right on "Waiting Phase One" and a couple of other tracks, but much of this stuff passes by me in the background, almost like ambient music, which isn't a bad thing, but I don't find many of the tunes sticking. As a first step towards the excellent song-based music that PT would later perfect, it's quite good- they just weren't quite there yet.

Report this review (#92116)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree has been one of those bands where I thought they were one of these weird prog bands that were highly overratted. That all changed when I got In Absentia and really enjoyed and made me realize that hey maybe they are worth something. Finally i've been able to get The Sky Moves Sideways, Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun, and Deadwing and been loving every bit of those. Howeve I wasn't too sure about Signify as i've put this on hold for a long time cause i wasn't sure if it would move like the other albums have. It took me some time as i've read reviews where it was boring ambiet stuff to other reviews saying it was one of their finest. So of course i just ignored the reviews and got it anyway and to be honest it didn't really hit me off at first cause there is alot of ambiet stuff going on in this album....probably even more ambiet than Pink Floyd. But I kept giving it another try and about the third listen it did sink in as i wouldn't say its there best but its not bad. Apparantly people say this is PT first proper album since the is the first time Steven Wilson isn't playing most of the songs by himself as each member displays his talent in each song. The music was a bit different for me as i've been used to their more heavier side from albums like Lightbulb Sun and In Absentia. However The Sky Moves Sideways did have some ambience in there sound but it still had some very rockin moments in alot of the songs. Signify is a bit different as it has the ambience of the last album but its more an album on its own as it has alot of sound effects combining that with some soft jazz and some softer rock. However though there are some tracks like Dark Matter and the title track that still show that rocky edge that PT has always had since the band was made. But in other words like i said its not there best but i kinda like it the way the songs work it has this very nice relaxing tone to it which is something you need to have in music from time to time. But the band does a great job with Steven Wilson's relaxing vocals and amazing guitar skills, Richard Barberi's aggressive keyboards, Colin Edwin's smooth bass licks, and Chris Maitland's tight and creative drumming. It makes me really glad that on this album PT has been albe to bring out the vocal harmonies once again as that has been a high point for me in all there albums but anyway if you wanna stretch your PT collection then go ahead give this thing a shot.
Report this review (#92950)
Posted Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I must admit that i was a little bit surprised when i listened to this good stuff.PT can mix up in every album all human feelings. All songs are ingredients of a massive cake and then at the end about 61 minutes wait,when the cake is cooked,it can be tasted all human life.In this album it is so dark and it is seen in pessimistic view.Not a masterpiece but nor a simple stuff, I want to rate this album 4 stars because Lightbulb Sun and In Absentia are one step ahead comparing this one.
Report this review (#94843)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. There is no secret that I love this band. One of my top three bands of all time. I agree that this is a transitional record of sorts, leading us to the next one "Stupid Dream". This one does feature some song oriented tunes ala "Stupid Dream", but mostly we get spacey, psychedelic songs like past records.The cover art is very cool as well. I have the double disc with the second disc consisting of demos from this album as well as some earlier ones.

"Bornlivedie" is the intro track that opens with a sample of a guy telling us to sit back, get a coffee and enjoy the music. The rest of this tune is very atmospheric and spacey. I really like the sound. "Signify" is a real rocking instrumental that goes over well when played live. It's the synths though that make this song a favourite of mine. "The Sleep Of No Dreaming" is a gorgeous song, with a mellow opening that kicks in at the chorus. The contrasts continue. Mellotron flows through this one. Great track ! "Pagan" is a short spacey instrumental of synths, samples and drums. "Waiting Phase One" is one of my all time favourite PORCUPINE TREE songs. It's so dreamy and Mr.Wilson adds some excellent guitar playing. A nice beat as Steven sings calmly "Nothing is what I feel, waiting for the drugs to make it real". Check out the guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. "Waiting Phase Two" is spacey as percussion comes in. Piano comes and goes. Hammond organ in this one as well. A fuller sound 4 minutes in and guitar comes in. Nice. This is very psychedelic. It settles 5 1/2 minutes in as the beat stops. "Sever" is another highlight for me, especially the pastoral sections, and again it's so spacey and dreamy. Love the line "No sense of time, sever tomorrow". "Idiot Prayer" features lush keyboards and almost industrial like drums. The guitar makes some noise after a minute. Heavy drums 2 1/2 minutes in. Some vocal samples join in. The guitar is great 3 1/2 minutes in and it settles a minute later with some spacey synths. Nice. It kicks back in after 6 minutes. "Every Home is Wired" is again a spacey tune that I love. I feel like i'm a broken record in describing many of these songs as "dreamy and spacey", but they are. This one becomes very psychedelic and experimental 3 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Intermediate Jesus" opens with a sample of a preacer preaching. A psychedelic soundscape comes in with drums, piano, bass, guitars and synths leading the way. "Light Mass Prayers" features lots of atmosphere as slow moving waves of sound wash in throughout. "Dark Matter" is another favourite of mine, it's quite spacey with a beat. Dreamy one minute heavy the next, and check out the guitar around 6 minutes. It ends with the line "You've just had a heavy session of electro-shock therapy, and your more relaxed than you've been in weeks. All those childhood traumas wiped away, along with most of your personality." Haha.

My top four tracks would be "Waiting Phase One", Sever", "Dark Matter" and "Every Home Is Wired". So yeah, if you like spacey and dreamy psychedelic music with a little variety thrown in, know the deal, you should check it out. Hey ! It's PORCUPINE TREE !

Report this review (#96304)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Now it seems I chose today as my "let's review all my 5-star albums" day....

There's unjustice in this earth... there's unfairness in music... there's Signify by Porcupine Tree not getting the recognition it deserves as this band's best album.

After the Pink Floyd-spacey-dance era from Up the Downstair up till The Sky moves Sideways (On the sunday of life just defies comparison to's great but too weird), and before the more song-oriented, more british-poppy albums like Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun (both GREAT by the way), and LOOONG before today's dark- rocking, heavy-metal-meets-tool-meets-pinkfloyd of In Absentia and Deadwing, there was a transitional album that got it ALL... yes, for some this is a problem, for some it means the album doesn't quite belong neither here nor there, for some it feels incomplete, or too much of a mixture... for me, it's the perfect mix, it's the result of the evolution from one of the world's best bands (better said, one-man-bands....Steven Wilson is just a genius).... In this album Porcupine Tree sound like.....Porcupine Tree. (there are references to King Crimson...whoever has heard In the Court of the Crimson king can confirm that that PIECE OF ART influenced Steven Wilson's works). Yes, there may be a couple of fillers here, but when you listen to the whole album from beginning to end, IT WORKS. Even those fillers: they work.

Another thing that helps matters it's the level of musicianship here: starting with main creator Steven Wilson who's a great guitar player, highly original above all, and a good, at times outstanding singer (his voice fits the music SO well).... Barbieri on Keyboards: he does his job, he doesn't shine, he's just there to provide the music with some of prog's best atmospheric sounds; and the rhythmic section: for me, this side of Reingold and Lillequist from the Flower Kings, Maitland and Edwin were THE best rhythmic section of the 90's and 00's. too bad Maitland is gone but Gavin Harrison is AMAZING, too! What a groove you get from this guys! What a feeling of looseness...pure narcotics...

Bornlivedie (?/10= not applicable) This noise, this electronic thing is PART of PT's's only LOGICAL that the album starts like this..

Signify (8/10), an amazing, paranoia-inducing track, a hard riff in straight-forward tempo, pure electronic wonder....a simple, distorted solo by Wilson gives atmosphere and groove....Very good. It forecasts the future of this band in In Absentia...

The Sleep of no dreaming (9/10) quiet chords in keyboards set the dreamy mood for this track....Wilson opium-evoking voice is so soft here...this song makes you want to fly...low. If you know what I'm saying.

Pagan (?/10 = N/A), another transitional bit...again, IT''S ATMOSPHERIC's an album...this track is neccessary for the nex one to have greater impact (and man it does!)

Waiting - Phase 1 (10/10) superb, marvelous...after that industrial, empty-noman's- land noise, some great acoustic chords and a relentless bass drum beat make for an absolutely peaceful moment, if a troubled peace at that; for this is not happy's despair's apathy's's narcotic's suicidal peace....when the spectacular, simple, driving bass line appears, you just feel you have to get on your feet and... wait. Yes, you can't dance to this, you can tap your feet, but only....waiting. The chorus is great, SUPERB. FLAWLESS (only flaw: it should last 10 minutes).

Waiting - Phase 2 (9/10) pure atmospheric, ambience noise and rhythm...yes, musical substance maybe there's not that much...but It's perfect for the album...IT's WHAT THIS MUSIC IS ABOUT.... Why has everything to be so serious, so "deep"? I don't get why many people love OZric Tentacles yet say this is "too ambience"...???? this is aport of an album, an album with contrasts, with moments of rock, moments of peace, and, yes, moments of pure relaxation.... a whole album made of this kind of tracks, now that I would object...but an album with rock songs along with tracks like this....BRING it to me baby. Phase One's bass line reappears here, if altered.

Sever (10/10), another hard-rock-prog-meets-electronica track, Wilson echoed, distorted vocals cry in desperation again a nerve-breaking rhythm... man do Matiland and Edwin know their stuff! A great, great chorus makes this song the other highlight of the album.

Idiot Prayer (9/10) pure electronic ambience up to the middle section, when dance- techno-club Porcupine Tree's makes his appearance! Over the dance rhythm, the guitar and keyboards dance (pun intended) gracefully....Now this is what I said in this album we get it all! We get hard- rock-PT, we get narcotic-PT, we get Floyd-PT, we get Crimson-PT...and here club-PT....WE GET PT.

Every Home is wired (9/10), this one sounds like Stupid Dream or Lightbulb Sun...dreamy brit-rock-pop-meets-prog-meets-narcotics.... just dreamy keyboards under echoing voices..... again, and I may sound repetitive: THIS ALBUM HAS IT ALL.

10. Intermediate Jesus (7/10), the lesser track in the album, the most "no-substance" music in the disc, it actually sounds like it was a jam by PT that got included in the album (too close to the tracks in Metanoia this one is).... good playing anyway, but mostly improvisational, jam-quality stuff... ONLY near-filler here... but even this one serves its purpose in this amazing album. It sounds like the equivalent to elevator music, but the elevator in a opium-den, not an office building.

"Light Mass Prayers" (8/10), this one is also just atmospheric, ambiance noise, mostly (exclusively) in keyboards.... but again, maybe I'm wrong but when you listen to the album as a whole, IT WORKS.

Dark Matter (10/10), what a gorgeous song, so dreamy, so waking-sleep-inducing.... Wilson's voice is like musical drugs....a great, floydian-chorus....this tracks closes the album in such a grand manner....

After you listen to this album, you just want to dream.... not to sleep, but to dream...awake if possible.

Another thing you want to do after listening to this album is.... pressing REPEAT WHOLE DISC.... now that's the sign of good music.

All Porcupine Tree's faces in one marvelous opus...get it....GET IT....unless you don;t like dark, moody, narcotic music...then this is not for you...but for most everybody else, I'll suggest you, go buy it,


Report this review (#96917)
Posted Thursday, November 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Based on my experience with progressive music, there are three categories of prog albums based on my listening experience. Category A is the album that blew my mind at first listen and it became my all-time favorite and I kept on playing the CD at my player on and on. Examples of this Cat A includes: Marillion (Fish era), Arena, IQ, Dream Theater, post Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, Yes "Fragile", Yes "Going For The One", Yes "Drama" etc. Category B is the album that was hard for me to accept at first listen but it grew with number of spins and by (typically) 8th (eighth) spin it became my favorite. Examples include: Gentle Giant (except "Civilian"), Yes "Tales from Topographic Ocean", Yes "Relayer", Pain of Salvation "Perfect Element Part 1" and "Remedy Lane", Fates Warning "Disconnected", "FWX", etc.. Category C is the album that did not attract me to have other spin due to weak composition (lack of structure or melody) or lack of originality of its music (too much influence of other bands). I don't want to give examples of this, actually, as it would create further controversy with other prog listeners.Albums under this category might move to Category B. Disagreement with my view is welcome as we are talking about prog, aren't we?. It's not prog at all if I do not welcome any disagreement or differing views.---

Porcupine Tree "Signify" is to me under Category A. Well, actually I purchased the CD (with bonus disc, remastered) because of my wonderful experience with the band's "Comma Divine" album - a live set which blew me away at first spin of the CD. I fell in love with "Waiting" Phase One and Two.

"We invite you wherever you are - whether you are at home or whatever to have the kick your shoes are ..lean back get a cup of coffee, join us and relax. We'll have relax music for a couple of hours .!

That's basically the opening narration of "Bornlivedie" (1:41) which sets the overall tone of the whole album, nicely. "Signify" [tut!] and then the guitar fills enter the opening part of "Signify" (3:26) - a track with hard driving rhythm section in ambient symphonic space nuance (through the sounds of keyboard) and metal elements (through hard edge guitar riffs). It flows beautifully without vocal line. Wow! ""The Sleep of No Dreaming" (5:24) continues the music with a kind of bluesy style and attractive slow beats especially through the work of drums and bass lines. The vocal quality of Steve Wilson is great. This song is best played with full powered stereo set in LOUD volume. By doing so you can get the subtleties of sound effects and soundscapes produced throughout this track. Even the voice of Steve Wilson has excellent soundscape! It's not recommended to enjoy this track with laptop speaker (even though it's equipped with Harman Kardon). You might get the subtleties as well through headphone.

"Pagan" (1:34) is a short bridge which brings to a great track of my favorite "Waiting Phase one" (4:24). It's a simple composition with good combination of percussion, acoustic guitar and vocal at opening part. Simple? I don't really think so. Give the chords and melody of this song to other people and let them play. I don't think it's work as fine as the original version like this one. The most difficult part is probably the soundscape produced. This is especially true with the continuing track "Waiting Phase two" (6:15). This track has repetitive rhythm section but the textures slowly change from one segment to another with the use of keyboard, guitar and sound effects. The combination of percussion, drums, bass and effects are really stunning!

"Sever" (5:30) and "Idiot prayer" (7:37) are excellent tracks as well. On "Intermediate Jesus" (7:29) the band brings their explorative style pushed forward with much more obvious effects and long sustained sounds in ambient space psychedelic mode. "Light mass prayers" (4:28) is another Steve Wilson exploration and experimentation with sound scape. This must be listened to with decent stereo set. "Dark matter" (8:57) concludes the track in bluesy and spacey style, powerful vocal harmonies.

I would not review Disc Two as it contains demo material and I don't want to include into final rating. I consider this as bonus disc, no need to review.

Overall, it's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. As with other Porcupine Tree albums, those who like Pink Floyd have a great chance to like this album. The songwriting and composition are excellent - the same thing with performance and musicianship. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#97105)
Posted Saturday, November 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This LP was the begining of progresife music of XXI century. If you are interested in prog music you have to know this materil. The beautiful melodies, soft moments mixed with hard and fast energy and unforgetable Dark Matter... This is the best LP of the 90's. Adam
Report this review (#97986)
Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The ratings on this fine PT album vary incredibly what I fail to understand. SIGNIFY is one fine album. If you'd liked THE SKY MOVES SIDEAYS and also like their later work (STUPID DREAM and LIGHTBULB SUN) then you should also like SIGNIFY as it is showing the transition between TSMS and their latter albums.

Up tempo prog tracks are present in the title track of the album and in THE SLEEP OF NO DREAMING. Highlight of this album would probably be the delicate tracks WAITING PHASE ONE and WAITING PHASE TWO, but all tracks are worth listening to!

I also really like the BONUS disc of the 2004 digipack re-issue for its DEMO and ACOUSTIC versions.

Report this review (#100022)
Posted Thursday, November 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would give even 10 stars if I could. This is IT. This THE ALBUM ! It is my NUMBER ONE. From the start to the end.

Bornlivedie - perfect intro. Saing 'Helo! Get Ready!' to the listeners. Signify - The Crimson-like rock explosion with excellent riff. The sleep of no dreaming - Whilst 'Signify' Woke us up - thhis one is taking us to the dreamland where no dream occur - pleasantly terrifying Pagan - nice ambient bridge to the divine waiting... Waiting Phase one and Waiting Phase two - If You listen to it once You will be never the same person - NEVER! Sever - something I never understood but i like it :) Idiot prayer - this one is really on time. no other comment. Every home is wired, Intermediate Jesus - perfect couple. Alternative rockwith prog roots. "Light mass prayers" - the only track not composed by Steven Wilson :)

Dark matter - Perfect! When i heard it live - I cryied... The best song ever...

What else can I say? Perfect album.

Report this review (#101893)
Posted Wednesday, December 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only surpassed by The Sky Moves Sideways in my opinion. I was debating between 4 and 5 stars, but the closer Dark Matter was the tiebreaker. Signify manages to catch the spaceyness of Porcupine Tree's earlier albums in the kinds of songs that can only be expected in their newer ones. Do yourself a favor and get this one, it's a masterpiece!
Report this review (#108913)
Posted Friday, January 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The wings of change.

Perhaps the most significant change in the band's career, even more so than the sound change found on In Absentia, was the release of Signify after the incredible output The Sky Moves Sideways. Here, the band took a more structured approach and compacted the music. The songwriting does not diminish at all though, and the overall quality is still great, even though some of the spontaneity is lost.

Much of the band's material after this would be formed in a much similar manner, with the long, drawn-out tracks mostly abandoned and the band opting for a more people-friendly approach in regards to length and etc. This is really entry level stuff in my opinion. More rock oriented, with much of the ambiance gone, which is something I always enjoyed and considered essential to the band's style (although In Absentia completely shattered that viewpoint). This is more intelligent and sophisticated rock music, with progressive tendencies.

I'd certainly get this album if you are looking to explored the surface of prog and need something to sink your teeth into, especially if you are a fan of the likes of other modern eclectic bands like Radiohead. A new direction for the band, one that would arguably help them reach their peak.

Report this review (#118722)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars For me there are two eras of Porcupine Tree music (in broad, general parameters, of course). The first is their 20th century phase featuring experimental and somewhat impressionistic tunes that reflect leader Steven Wilson's youthful indulgences and his passion for creating long, personal pieces of aural art without regard to widespread appeal. Their 21st century stage of development finds him and his gang assembling more unique, dynamic and crisply arranged works of music that consistently push the envelope of what is currently accepted by the mainstream general public. In other words, they've evolved up from spacey instrumentals to a place where they've acquired the ability to create important, meaningful songs containing relevant, expressive lyrics and they now stand at the very forefront of modern progressive rock. When I consider and analyze the history of this group as a whole, I find that "Signify" straddles those two periods of their career more than any other album.

After the CD begins with a tongue-in-cheek, reassuring (and very 50s, Arthur Godfrey- like) commentary the band launches into "Bornlivedie," a drifting, cosmic number that is very representative of where their music had been residing before 1996. "Signify" is an extension of that spirit to some extent but it's really just a riff-based rocker more than anything else. Their very talented drummer Chris Maitland adds a supercharged, compressed intensity to the tune that gives it a brooding malevolency. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is a change of pace song that offers hints of where the group is headed (that being toward the brilliant Stupid Dream album) as it is more of a cohesive, self- contained tune. I admire Wilson's cool vocal delivery, the atmospheric organ sound and Maitland's jazz inflections toward the end as well as the overall Nine Inch Nails aroma that permeates the verse structure. It's an excellent song about finding oneself stuck in a dead-end life. "Pagan" is a simple, short intermission piece followed by "Waiting Phase One," a hypnotic acoustic guitar-based tune that highlights Steven's delicate slide work. Lyrically it describes "waiting for the day when I will crawl away" from whatever dominating force it is that holds the subject of the song down be it drugs or debilitating, destructive obsessions/addictions. "Waiting Phase Two" is a drawn out rhythmic, astral journey that glides along uneventfully until Maitland enters to take everything up a notch or two.

"Sever" is next and it's another step forward for the group with its disjointed, subliminal words layered over stark music and sampled voice effects that cause an enthusiastic radio evangelist to sound like Lucifer would on a late-night infomercial shilling salvation. That irony makes for an effective, disturbing song but the highly monotonous drum pattern grates on the nerves after only a few minutes and it spoils my enjoyment of the number. (Hey, you can't win 'em all, Wilson.) "Idiot Prayer," co-written by Steven and the silky smooth and unobtrusive bassist Colin Edwin, is a bit of a throwback to "Up the Downstair" inasmuch as it gives off a neat Disco-in-Hell vibe that is incredibly intriguing. It goes through various musical sections that keep it from getting tired and the altered voice that repeats "please don't" adds a macabre aura. Next up is "Every Home is Wired" where Wilson utilizes his maturing voice effectively as he intertwines counter-melodies around the acoustic guitar and Richard Barbieri's dense keyboards. The words are truly prophetic in light of the subject matter that infuses 2007's pertinent and innovative "Fear of a Blank Planet" as he sings "Power on the highway/data in my head/surfing on the network/part of me is dead." Chris fades in with some deft sticks and skins work as the song escalates into an ethereal ending. The group-penned "Intermediate Jesus" brings back the disembodied, trippy fundamentalist preacher man in short snippets as he carps over what is essentially a psychedelic jam. Maitland's "'Light Mass Prayers'" is a soothing, dreamy instrumental that's refreshingly calm and serene. It sets you up perfectly for the best song on the album, the excellent "Dark Matter" in 7/8 time. For some reason there's no acknowledgement of this tune inside the accompanying pamphlet but it literally lifts the project from the throes of mediocrity. Yes, it's reminiscent of Pink Floyd in some ways but it has exciting dynamics that differentiate it and it's yet another precursor of the more involved and intricate compositions that this band would go on to produce in the years ahead. And don't miss the humorous tag about electroshock therapy that pops up a few seconds after the song ends.

Unfortunately this album probably didn't and won't satisfy fans who are partial to either the older Porcupine Tree sound or the newer. Like I said before in so many words, it's a bridge between the two styles and definitely reveals them as a band in transition. But the remastered version is extremely high fidelity and with over an hour of music to absorb (not to mention the bonus CD of "Insignificance" which I will review separately) you most certainly get your money's worth. Plus you must keep in mind that I'm comparing it to all their other magnificent albums so, while it's honest for me to give it an average score, it pains me to judge one of my favorite bands so strictly. But it is what it is. 3.2 stars.

Report this review (#123386)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Signify was the last purely psychedelic release by Porcupine Tree - sort of. There are still loads of psychedelic moments, and ambient-influence in their newer music, but this type of stuff is the end of the truly drugged-out years. Most people will discover these earlier Porc Tree albums after enjoying their newer outputs. We can clearly see how much the band has evolved since the early days, and though we all have our preferences, both eras are important in the band's development, and both are extremely influential.

From the crushingly simple riffs of the more aggressive songs, to the spaced out cosmic choruses of the slower numbers, to the sinister synthesizer voices of the ambient tracks, every moment on this brilliant album is a powerful atmospheric ride. And these riffs aren't meager space-rock riffs: they're destroyingly brutal metal riffs, complemented by countless methods of atmospheric immersion. There's even a large amount of recorded voices of pastors/preachers speaking about their respective religion (normally Christianity, it would seem), which adds another psychedelic layer of atmosphere. I'm assuming this is illustrating Steven Wilson's detest for organized religion? Or perhaps his aim is to convince us to have our own personal beliefs? Or perhaps Wilson is just simply throwing it in there for textural purposes? I can never be sure, no matter how many times I hear the songs and read the lyrics, I can never be certain what the message (so to speak) is. Musically, the album is great and varied (as always). All the musicianship and melodies are above average. The Waiting series is a good example of Steven Wilson's ability to write extraordinary melodies, and develop an entire song around them, and a perfect demonstration of his excellent voice. The percussion throughout the album is extremely hypnotic, and drumming ain't too shabby. Being used to the latter Pork Tree days with Harrison, I tend to listen to Maitland with a bit of prejudice, but if truth be told, he's an excellent drummer as well.

Compared to previous Tofu Bush albums, this one has a bit more structured songs. Before, they had the occasional pop-music-structured song, but here they have more rock songs, with very strong metal influence (which will become an important part of their sound, later on). But there are still plenty of genuine psychedelic moments, which I, for one, am extremely grateful for. Consider this a very high 3 star.

Report this review (#128816)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hail to the best psychedelic album ever! I am really surprised by low ratings that this album gets, and this album is where Wilson's guitar sounds the best, this is where modern techics creates excellent textures, samples and effects, and cover of album is so mystical (dark sa well). This is first PT album I loved, ambience meets psychodelic music meats dance meets magic... Waiting Songs are brilliant, the way that Steven uses wah effect is fantastic, his distortion is also great, and Maitland is better than any rock drummer of nineties. He is fluid, his drumkit sounds excellent, and he connects well to some drum loops. There is also some of flute, and what more to say. This is where progressive rock of nineties truly begun. A masterpiece of rock music!
Report this review (#131344)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Signify is the sound of a band in transition. Porcupine Tree's previous album, The Sky Moves Sideways, was a masterpiece of pure space psychedelia the likes of which only first-era Porcupine Tree can provide. That album was very chilled and relaxed, and boasted more a Tangerine Dream likeness rather than much of a tendency toward metal the band would later develop. The album following Signify, Stupid Dream, still maintained the signature Porcupine Tree mellow rock sound that would stay with the band until In Absentia. The songs on Stupid Dream were less psychedelic and more normal, in a Brit-pop sense, but still retained the spacey flavor of past Porcupine Tree albums. So, in the middle of these two very different albums, we have Signify, which straddles both sides rather well, but in the end leans more toward the past. The album begins with a spoken-word introduction, echoing Porcupine Tree's most psychedelic outing, Voyage 34. It's clear the band wasn't yet ready to launch forward into a new beginning, and it's fortunate that that is the case.

We're treated to the best that Porcupine Tree has to offer with "The Sleep of No Dreaming, "Waiting (Phases One and Two)," "Sever," and "Dark Matter," all of which flow with the utmost relaxation save a few high-energy sections. "Waiting" is a particular favorite of mine, especially the second phase which feature a smooth groove and a piano theme that I just love. "Signify" is a heavier, faster tune than anything else on the album, and seems like a good fit for fans of Deadwing or Fear of a Blank Planet. "Pagan" is a simple interlude that serves no other purpose than creating atmosphere. "Every Home is Wired" is more of what we would come to hear from the band on Stupid Dream. Memorable, but perhaps a bit out of place. "Idiot Prayer" builds to intensity while "Light Mass Prayers" plays like a short Klaus Schulze piece, segueing into "Dark Matter." "Intermediate Jesus" is an interesting song, as it features the voice-over of a fervent preacher talking about souls being saved. Clearly, this is a sarcastic take on religion--or at least this preacher's view of it--by Steve Wilson. With this song and several other track titles from the album, we get the feeling there may be some sort of theme about religion permeating the fabric of the album, but there's no defined concept. "Dark Matter" closes the album with an esoteric, dream-like feel that is, for lack of a better verb, Porcupine Tree-esque. Signify is essential for the Porcupine Tree initiate, and honestly a good recommendation for anyone interested in the band.

Report this review (#133426)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars We'll get the usual atmospheric and sci-fi (and useless, IMO) track featuring some outer space voices to start with this album. Fortunately, two good songs will move on. More on a harder PT edge, but still catchy and melodic. "Signify" and "Sleep of no Dreaming" belong to the good songs from this album.

The listener will remain in the useless territories with the short "Pagan" song. But his patience will be rewarded with the great "Waiting" (both phases). A truely space-rock theme for most of it; but at time the beat will catches up and will offer some great ambient parts. This is mostly the case during "Phase II" while "Phase I" is more on the traditional and early side of their work. One of my fave on this album. A great and relaxing moment.

I would have hoped more from this album. Some spacey songs, yes there are. Some brilliant songs ? Not really. Even if "Idiot Prayer" tries to combine these elements.

I just feel that "Porcupine Tree" is just short of inspiration, very average songwriting to say the least. Of course, none of the songs are bad, but frankly there are very few ones that will blow me from this album. A band as "Eloy" really provides me more emotion than "Porcupine Tree". Some pleasant psychedelia but nothing from the other world (although you could expect something like this, no ?).

After several releases, these same type of "voices" used to open a song really start to irritate me. Boring and useless, while a more sandard (but can PT be "standard" ?) type of approach might have brought a more interesting musical angle.

The closing number is truely atmospheric. Fully "Land's End" oriented. One of the best moments IMO.

Three stars for this effort. By far, not the best PT one, but not completely uninteresting.

Report this review (#139637)
Posted Friday, September 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Another deeply enchanting early PT album featuring a more mature-- less indulgent-- approach and a much stronger blend of styles and sounds than on "Sky Moves Sideways". As a whole these songs a much shorter, focusing on neither the band's classic psychedelic soundscapes nor their more "song-oriented" style of later albums-- "Signify" is very liminal, and might upset many fans because of it.

Those coming from the more recent, metal-ish releases will probably not like "Signify" (which is too bad): it is laid-back, generally slow tempo, and doesn't have a lot to grab on to in regards to hooks. Moreover, the psychedelic sound is more ambient than ever, and doesn't have as much depth as on the praised "Sky Moves Sideways".

However, after being consumed many times, I can say that this album is exceptionally beautiful in its simplicity, making the contrasts between the "songs" the and "air" much more interesting. Songs like "Waiting" rate amongst the band's all-time greats, and are much, much classier than their newest releases. Not to be missed.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#149282)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this album when it was released so I have it over 10 years now. I played it a lot in the beginning but not for over 5 years at this moment. I wanted to review it so I played it once again. In my memory it wasn't too great because of the "spacy" tracks that weren't my cup of tea back then. But in my memory there were a lot more of those than it appeared in reality. The tracks I'm referring to are the first, fourth and eleventh. They spoiled the fun for me at the time because I think these tracks are useless. This is producing sound, not making music. There will probably fans of that kind of music but I'm not one of them.

On the other hand there is a Porcupine Tree that is very much of my liking and then we are talking about Waiting phase one and Dark Matter. These are my favourite tracks of the album and are almost mainstream neo prog. And then there are quite some tracks that are somewhere in the middle of the two types, partly spacy and partly more accessable. Like the tracks 7/10. Not bad at all but neither the best PT has ever produced to say the least.

So all in all not a bad album but at best a mediocre one in their history. 3 stars (3.25)

Report this review (#150552)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars My head tells me this is excellent music, but I've never been able to connect to it. Listening to 'Signify' is like riding in a tethered balloon after having been for a flight into the upper atmosphere. I bounce up and down, yelling 'c'mon, c'mon', but nothing happens.

I think this is because the album sits uncomfortably between genres, a transitional album, a conservative album, one in which the band struggles to find their voice. Probably because STEVEN WILSON, Mr. PORCUPINE TREE, is coming to terms with being a member of a band.

'The Sky Moves Sideways' gave every indication that WILSON had finally conceded he had a singing voice - but this album is dominated by truncated instrumentals. The title track follows a somewhat spooky introductory number. It is dominated by one riff, underwhelming the listener while further delaying the vocals. Which is a pity, as 'Sleep of No Dreaming' is excellent, with sleepy verses and powerful chorus. But, like every good moment on this album, the idea is underdeveloped, and the songs seem to be separate from each other in a way not encountered since 'On the Sunday of Life...' 'Pagan' is another such moment, a vignette serving as an unconvincing introduction to the excellent 'Waiting'. This track, a ballad with a progressive extension (Phase Two), reminds us of what WILSON is capable of. Finally some big rhythms, a vocal hook and some harmony. The album begins to open out, but never quite reaches the vast vision of the previous two albums: even 'Waiting' remains tethered to the ground. Phase Two feels like an add-on, and is a track like a wrestler wearing a collar and tie: polite and suitably restrained, never breaking out.

The last half of the album is darker and a little more expansive. 'Sever' has another of those lovely choruses PT have become known for, but for all its effort, the track lacks drama. Of the last five tracks, we have two prayers and a Jesus, as well as Dark Matter. All very ominous and claustrophobic, a complete contrast to the galaxy-encompassing space rock of the previous two releases. I can see why the change has been made, and I approve, but I don't think it has been executed well. Too much standing still.

'Idiot Prayer' is five minutes of atmospheric beats following two minutes of pointless intro. This is closer to familiar PT territory, but sounds more like an up-tempo 'Voyage 34' than a space rock classic. Listening to this helps me realise that on this album mechanics dominate over organics. 'Every Home is Wired' is a gentle ballad with an odd, drum-heavy coda, followed by another studious instrumental that seems to be neither one thing nor another, called 'Show Them How Good the Rhythm Section is'. No, it's called 'Intermediate Jesus.' It's ponderous and goes nowhere. The ambient 'Light Mass Prayers' creeps up on us, but again lacks that epic quality such pieces had on their 1993 and 1995 releases. It's almost as if this album has been deliberately depowered. 'See? I told you we don't do prog rock!' This track and 'Dark Matter' allow us to glimpse PT's psych/space rock origins through a telescope. I suppose I should be grateful for a glimpse. In the last three minutes of 'Dark Matter' we come as close to leaving the ground as this album allows, courtesy of WILSON's guitar: the album's one truly outstanding moment. The album finishes with a whimsical (but dark) sample I first heard in THE ORB's 1994 release 'Pomme Fritz.'

This is a good record, without the aroma of greatness I'm accustomed to detecting from PORCUPINE TREE. To me this has the same feel and status as many of the band's lesser 'B-side' or 'outtake' records: solid but unspectacular. Songwriting is coming to dominate over atmospherics, and this transitional album has a bit of both, but not enough of either. Everything is restrained. In the end, despite some good moments, 'Signify' frustrates and disappoints. To listen to these songs with the handbrake off, go pick up a copy of 'Coma Divine', a live album featuring many of these tracks with room to breathe.

Report this review (#151975)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars Signify marked a change in musical direction for Porcupine Tree. Instead of long ambient and psychedelic musical adventures, the band streamlined their sound into shorter, more digestible bites. Yes, the psychedelic feel is still there and the Floydian vibe is still present (though much weaker). It's just that now Porcupine Tree has been molded into a more palatable listening experience for the radio. Indeed, their first single released in the UK (Waiting) comes off this album, and much to my surprise, actually fared quite well. Signify was also the first Porcupine Tree album to feature an entire band from beginning to end unlike earlier releases which were almost entirely performed by Steven Wilson and featured programmed drums.

So, is this new sound an improvement? Yes and no. Yes in that Porcupine Tree sounds more like an actual prog rock band since it is now made up of the contributions of four members instead one. The more song-oriented approach attracts radio, which attracts listeners who aren't aware of the prog rock genre, which leads them to look for more similar music and, if we're lucky, ultimately to this site.

The downside to the change in Porcupine Tree's musical direction, is that this short song-oriented approach doesn't leave as much room for musical development or experimentation. However, I have to credit Steven Wilson for still experimenting within this limited format. I also feel that not one album since this transition has come close to the musicianship and compositions on The Sky Moves Sideways.

Leaving my negative thoughts aside, this is still a great album. Some of the songs I find boring, but most of them are very nicely crafted works of art. And I must credit Wilson for at least maintaining the integrity of the Porcupine Tree sound during this transition. Many 1970s prog bands could never receive such credit (for example Genesis, Yes, and ELP).

A nicely done, excellent work with elements of psychedelic and ambient rock. A bit of a downer compared to their previous two albums, but still good enough to receive four stars.

Report this review (#158344)
Posted Friday, January 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is lush from start to finish. Lots of grace and goose-pimples, but also you can detect the beginnings of heavier more metal riffs that they were going to bring in this decade. At the same time, it has very Floydian sounds especially 'Waiting' and 'Dark Matter' with their Glimour-esque solos. On the other hand, if you liked 'On The Sunday of Life' there are developments and reminisces of those sounds from that era. There are also tracks to really lose yourself in - the best of which being Idiot Prayer. Sever is a very powerful track, which I'm pleased to say they opted to play live in last year's tour.

The best - like quite often with PT albums - was saved til last - Dark Matter - a totally moving piece with a mesmerising repeating bass-line from which the rest of the track develops in true great progressive style.

A true masterpiece and highly recommended.

I'm not sure how that woman on the front cover coped - it must have been painful tied up in those ropes!

Report this review (#160537)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Porcupine Tree - Signify 3.5 stars

Another good album from Wilson and co. In my opinion this album has some of their best material, but filled with loads of uninspiring half-ass material as well. Although the previous effort 'The Sky Moves Sideways' proved to be a huge transitional album in their career, 'Signify' proves to be even more significant. The structure of the album goes back to a collection of songs, but the music itself is much more accessible then the formers. It seemed with this release; Steven Wilson was unsure of which direction to head into, making this release not as strong and to the point as some of the previous works.

This contains the same line-up as the previous album with Steven Wilson (composer, guitarist, tapes, production etc.), Richard Barbieri (keyboards, synthesizers), Colin Edwin (bass) and Chris Maitland (drums and percussion). The songs on this album start to maintain structure, which is something I prefer, but also has several pieces of ambience that doesn't sound as great as some of the previous ambient works. Again, I feel like they were just searching around at this point, but were still able to put out something pretty nice. Here are some of the better tracks.

'The Sleep of No Dreaming' - This song contains an excellent chorus which serves as the focal point in the song. The verses are very slow and minimalistic with some melancholic vocals. As the music gradually gets louder the chorus comes in with Wilson shouting the title of the track with some beautiful melodies after. The melodies are extremely eerie and haunting on this one.

'Waiting Phase One + Two' - These two pieces were also very nice. Phase one is an acoustic guitar driven piece. It is nice and slow with some catchy hooks thrown in. Phase two is an ambient rendition of it, complementing the former track.

'Sever' - This is my second favorite on the album. 'Sever' is the most mainstream track by Porcupine Tree in this point and time. The verses are shouted like in the song 'The Sleep of No Dreaming' and sung in some strange spaced out rhythm. The chorus is driven largely by the keyboards and some effects. The song was great.

'Dark Matter' - This is a fan favorite in Porcupine Tree's catalogue. This song had a huge impact on their career, especially on the two albums to follow this one. Very slow tempo with some acoustic work and pompous bass. The vocals also have their spot in this song too. A Porcupine Tree classic.

As for the rest of the songs, there is nothing really terrible to say about them. Most of the ones I didn't discuss were ambient pieces and a few uninspiring slow tracks. It just seemed to me that they were filling up some space.

A pretty good album overall, but I wouldn't call this excellent. The 'Insignificance' demo's added onto the re-master makes the CD a very worthy addition. Since there is another section to describe it, I will do it there.but it is pretty good. This is an album Porcupine Tree fans should own.

Report this review (#164245)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars On listening through this album once more, I found that it flows and moves much more powerfully than I usually remember. That's the way this album works. It doesn't stand up and demand attention like most other Porcupine Tree releases, but when you sit down and listen to it, you will not find yourself disappointed--leastways, I never do. This is not an album of standout tracks or singles or anything, except in the clear majesty of the closing track, Dark Matter. Rather, it sticks in my mind as one long piece, slightly segmented, interspersed with madness and musicality, but basically an hour of flowing sound and emotion. Very worth looking into, especially as a bridge between Porcupine Tree's earlier works and their later ones.

Of course, the aforementioned Dark Matter consistently blows my mind with its gentle power. Think structurally and sonically something akin to King Crimson's classic Starless, except with a guitar solo instead of a percussion lead in the latter half. The single Waiting exists here in its full form, although I find it to gather a good bit more attention and praise than it deserves. This is a much less vocal and certainly much less metal oriented release than all that followed it, so if you want Deadwing style heaviness, Signify won't do too much for you. If you want the extended psychedelia of The Sky Moves Sideways, you'll be somewhat titillated but certainly not fully satisfied. Signify is, very clearly, a transitional album, and should be listened to and reviewed as such. Great for fans of Porcupine Tree's variety of styles, good for most everybody else.

Report this review (#168630)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Born, live, die. You know the drill.

A very transitional album for Porcupine Tree, The fourth album was the first to see them head in a very heavy direction. Not so far and away from their psychedelic roots as some might think though, this is an album that blends their old style with what would later become their new style in a kind of Porcupine paste. The album is ripe with winding and mind melting instrumentals as we've been familiar with coming from them as well as a whole bunch of songs that use a more down to earth subject manner (in this case religion) as well as some shorter songs that fall more into ''rock'' territory. The album is a lot darker than we've seen from the band before, as evident likely with the cover art and the name of the introduction song (Bornlivedie) this one definitely sees Steve Wilson tuning his guitar down and letting his cynicism flow forth. The songs are generally shorter with only one two-part song even reaching the 10-minute mark, but on the whole this is a very excellently done piece of work from the band.

One of the things that stay familiar with the band is the instrumentals. As with all of their previous albums up to this point, a good chunk of the album is taken up by songs without vocals. While there certainly are a lot more vocals than an album like, say, Up The Downstair, this one is still full of great, hard rocking vocal-less, tunes. The opening Signify for example starts off the album with a heavy riff pressed forward by a pumping bass. This one is quick and dirty of course because of it's very short length, but that actually works with the song giving it that ''live fast die young'' kind of feel. Idiot Prayer is another excellently done instrumental track, this one dominated by the bass which picks up around the middle launching the song into a crazy, frantic example of guitar mastery with Wilson shredding away. Intermediate Jesus is a bit more ambient with the ramblings of what sounds like a televangelist in the background making for a very chilling song. Light Mass Prayers follows up much with the same. While the instrumentals may not often have the same kind of distinct melody or sharpness as in previous albums, these ones use their ambiance (where it's present) to it's highest potential and deliver something that really makes the audience think.

As for the songs with vocals, these ones are getting a lot heavier than we're used to from Porcupine Tree. Far away are the days of Jupiter Island and Synesthesia as evident by the screaming Sleep Of No Dreaming where Wilson delivers a sharp and cold, heavy track which can best be described as ''dark''. Sever is very similar in tone, the chorus being a bit less harsh but no less forgiving. And the closing Dark Matter is even darker, if more lo-key. The rhythm section introduces this track with the drums and bass meandering about until they're given direction from the keyboards which introduce Wilson's dark and brooding (yet somehow soft) vocals. Very well done. Every Home Is Wired is a bit more paranoid sounding than dark. This is one of the tracks where the parallels to their next album Stupid Dream can definitely be drawn with it's vocal parts and harmonizing chorus.

The highlight of this album, however, has to be the two-part Waiting. The first part of which is the only with vocals, and Wilson does them wonderfully. Part Two is entirely instrumental and remains showing how good the band is at pulling such a stunt.

While likely the end of an era, this one leans more towards Heavy than it does towards space and psych. Still very much in kin to both sides of the Porcupine Tree coin, this one should be greatly enjoyable by anyone who likes PT. Perhaps not the best place to start with the band due to it's inherent inaccessibility thanks to the ambiance of some tracks, this one is tough but very rewarding to get into. Worth a full 4 stars, this is an excellent album, but not their best. Recommended to heavy prog fans and fans for ambient, cynical music with a couple of quick punches.

Report this review (#172247)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Signify is the fourth album from Porcupine Tree and the first effort as a real band which I think shines through. The previous album The Sky Moves Sideways was also almost recorded as a real band effort though and did sound like that too. Signify is a step forward for Porcupine Tree IMO.

The songs are generally shorter and more structured than on previous releases from the band even though there are room for more improvised instrumental songs like Idiot prayer and Intermediate Jesus. The style is still psychadelic rock which owes a lot to seventies prog rockers like Pink Floyd. There are new directions in some of the songs though and I think the instrumental title track is the best examble of that. It borders heavy metal which is something Porcupine Tree would pursue later in their career but here we have the first examble of that in their style. Other good songs to me are The sleep of no dreaming, Waiting Phase one and Sever. I can´t say that I enjoy the more jam based instrumental songs that much and I would only call them good not excellent.

The musicianship is really good and as other´s have mentioned Chris Maitland is a really good and powerful drummer. I enjoy his playing very much on Signify.

The production is good but knowing what Steven Wilson did later on it only reaches good and not excellent.

Signify begins to show some of the elements I like about Porcupine Tree but unfortunately still has a lot of the things I don´t enjoy too much about them. I really like the more tightly structured songs while I dislike the jamming instrumental parts which seems to be going on forever and never reaching a climax. I think this is a 3 star album. Not the best album from Porcupine Tree but certainly not their worst either.

Report this review (#172604)
Posted Friday, May 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So far, this one remains my all-time Porcupine Tree favorite release: "Signify" solidly and convincingly marks a transition between the modernized space-rock oriented psychedelia from earlier albums to the trend of powerful songwriting pursued in the 98-01 era. "Signify" also sets the first PT item to be recorded integrally as a group, which clearly signals a certain kind of definitive installment. The album kicks off with a spoken intro and eerie synth layers and various effects that symbolize the passage of life - 'Bornlivedie' -, which is segued into the namesake instrumental rocker, owner of a cleverly controlled dynamics. 'Sleep of No Dreaming' is the first sung piece, which states an excellent mixture of heavy prog and jazz-rock, plus some pre-Portishead vibe. Awesome! The synth-based ambient interlude 'Pagan' provides a brief ethereal voyage before the arrival of 'Waiting', a beautiful song about emotional perversion that bears an evident poppy feel, catchy yet exquisitely arranged with sophistication. The vocal arrangements sound like a mixture of Beatles and Beach Boys, while the guitar leads provide a calculated dose of rocking aggressiveness. The second 'Waiting' states an effective refurbishment of the first one's ending jam, guised in an electronic groove and augmented with yet another guitar-driven coda. The impression left by these two phases of 'Waiting' is one of a progged up pop mini-epic: the space-rock ornaments and the heavily Gilmouresque guitar input are perfectly sustained by the robust rhythm section and efficiently wrapped by the keyboard layers that seem to be everywhere and fill every pore of sound. 'Sever' keeps up with the momentum allowing the band to explore its rockier side further: the wall of sound delivered at unison by the guitar riffs and keyboards may remind us a bit of 'Sleep of No Dreaming', but the mood is obviously different, more explicit and ballsier, even if the lyrics are not more optimistic. 'Idiot Prayer' features a heavy presence of programmed rhythms for an overall mood that mixes ambient, techno-pop and nu-jazz in an emergent Ozric Tentacles-like framework: the Far East allusions are soft enough as to provide a subtle exotic drive to the track's overall mood. 'Every Home Is Wired' pretty much reiterates the pop vibe of 'Waiting' for the sung part, while the instrumental part states a space-meets-jazz rock vibe. This sort of mood is prolonged and enhanced in 'Intermediate Jesus', albeit on a slower tempo and a more languid development: the hypnotic guitar leads, the dynamic bass lines, the soaring keyboards and the robust drumming collide in a superb exercise on spacey jazz-rock. It's obvious that the arrangement is not focused on the preparation of a climax, but the persistence of a specific ambience. Although penned by the drummer, 'Light Mass Prayer' is not a drum solo but a grayish synth soundscape that somehow brings Tangerine Dream to mind. It serves as a prelude to 'Dark Matter', a powerful closer built on a slow 7/8: things sort of come full circle here, since the lyrics and mood of this song bring back the cynicism and bitterness so exquisitely portrayed in 'Sleep of No Dreaming'. After the song is over, we must wait for some more seconds to get to hear the broadcaster's farewell (more irony, indeed). A great album in my book, and like I said, it is PT's magnum opus so far.
Report this review (#179355)
Posted Sunday, August 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is an interesting PT album. For some this is the album that falls between two stools: the floydian soundscapes give way to a distinctly PT song format (waiting phase 1) which you can listen to for yourselves on the stream here.

Sever is one of the proggier tracks, but for me the rhythm is too slow and severe: I find it overwhelms the rest and makes the song drag and ... drag and ... drag and ... drag (you get the message). Every Home is wired is a stereotypical PT number: understated vocals, with passages of overlaid vocals, a mellow and engaging track. Intermediate Jesus drags and repeats but the soundscape of Light Mass Prayers soothes and eases the mood.

The album ends with Dark Matter: my favourite. There is a an emotional charge below the surface: which presents a measured calmness (the overlaid vocal enhances this effect). Occasionally the undercurrent surfaces.

This remains one of my favourite PT albums, maybe because I think it bridges the gap between the more prog elements and the more popular song format rather than falling between the stools.

Good but not essential.

Report this review (#191164)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another solid offering from Steven Wilson and the gang. this time BEFORE the metal influences!

1. Bornlivedie- Hard to rate. Prologue to the album, amusing and sets the tone quite well. Not much actual music though. 7/10

2. Signify- This actually stemmed from an experiment gone wrong from Porcupine Tree covering Neu's Hallogallo. I like the original version too, but this cut turned out to be more rock-based than the original and works better as the real opener to this album. Fantastic playing, great song to start! 9/10

3. Sleep of No Dreaming- Another wonderful song here, with some cool keyboards that almost have a jazzy feel. Great spacey vocals from Steven Wilson and the composition is a pretty solid Porcupine Tree composition. A bit on the mellow side with a wonderful but short guitar part as well. 8/10

4. Pagan- Short but pleasant interlude, continues the haunting, spacey mood. 6/10

5. Waiting Phase One- Really good vocals here and the song is extremely well-composed. This is one of my favorites on here and it's one of the first Porcupine Tree songs I ever heard. The guitar shines in this track and the atmosphere is continued with ease, this time on a more upbeat note. 9/10

6. Waiting Phase Two- Awesome opening to this song! I really like the tribal drums and how the sound effects work to create the atmosphere once again. If there's one thing that Porcupine Tree have always been good at, it's making a song sound really good and they know how to build one. Another highlight. 9/10

7. Sever- Good song, more in the vein of Sleep of No Dreaming than the last two. I like the chorus and the mood continues quite nicely as well. Everything flows greatly. 8/10

8. Idiot Prayer- Wow, this is a great ambient track! I really like the way this one is composed; the keyboards and drums combine to make an always-exciting piece. The vocal interludes all throughout make analyzing this song even more intriguing. This is my favorite track on here if I had to choose. 10/10

9. Every Home Is Wired- Moody, ballad-esque song in PT style. Not the best on here, especially after the amazing Idiot Prayer, but it is decent nonetheless. Good vocals and a good atmosphere to it. I like the ending where it takes a turn and descends into a psychedelic ending which gives way to the next song. 7/10

10. Intermediate Jesus- Great track here! It deals with religious fundamentalism but there aren't really any sung vocals here; it is mostly instrumental. I really like the mood to this one and it is in some ways similar to Idiot Prayer in the way that it builds so effectively throughout its duration. Great drums on this one! 9/10

11. Light Mass Prayers- Good looped song, but it can get monotonous. I suppose that's the desired effect, however. It is quite interesting and almost feels like a church/heavenly chant. 7/10

12. Dark Matter- An awesome closer to this album and quite fitting, and the lyrics can be quite depressing (which fits the mood). Again, the song structure is good, the song never overstays its welcome, and the instruments all are played with efficiency. Wilson's vocals are good, as always. 8/10

This is easily an excellent addition to any prog collection, a wonderful, spacey, psychedelic album by Porcupine Tree. the best part is that their best era had yet to come!

Report this review (#191169)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm pleased to see Porcupine Tree is making music again, instead of stealing it from Pink Floyd! I'm really disappointed with The Sky Moving Sideways. Signify is step forward... And return of the quality of the first two albums by the band, when it still was one man project. The result is again significant - like the name of the album, but this time the way for the achievement is different. Here we have new and innovative manner. The album is so dynamic and the most progressive for the band up to the date of its release. It lacks of psychedelic moment. As I say it's very dynamic album, instead of the previous albums - they contain clumsy moments and some repetitions. In Signify this flaws have been cleaned out. The album sounds much more modern than its predecessors. It's also full of avant-garde themes. To the sound has been added some fresh effects like lightened sound - I mean music not fast, but precise and sensitive like a Pink Floyd's masterpiece. Much closer and closer to the masterpiece for Porcupine Tree, but still not quite absolute successful attempt. I believe we have better second half than the first one in this album. The best Porcupine Tree's album up to the date of its release! 4.25 stars!!!
Report this review (#197181)
Posted Sunday, January 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the biggest surprises in all of Prog Archives would be the low rating of Porcupine Tree's Signify. For me this wonderful album realizes the full potential of Wilson's psychedelic years. The excellent song writing and clever arrangements had always been there, but were never played by a real band. It always lacked a bit of bite and punch. Not so on this album which is both written and executed to perfection. To see this album rated as lowest PT studio album (debut excepted) defies all logic.

After a bit of ambient fun the albums kicks of with the kraut trip Signify. The track grew out of an improvisation around Hallogallo but only retains the bouncy rhythm of it. The basic riff is transformed into a Rush meets Hawkwind trip. Great space rock.

Next on is Sleep of No Dreaming. Like much of the music here, it's a dark and sensitive track with a gorgeous chorus that has a very eastern flavour to it, similar to Dislocated Day.

Even though the two previous tracks are excellent, they are surpassed by the stellar Waiting phase 1 and 2. The way the guitar solo bursts out on top of the brooding music in phase 2 is one of those rare moment in rock that make me shiver from delight. There is no other album from Porcupine Tree that connects with me in such an emotive way.

Right, we're only in for a bit more then 20 minutes and this album deserved five stars already. And the party isn't over yet. Tracks like Sever and Every Home is Wired are a first forebode of things to come on the ensuing album Stupid Dream, with their acoustic guitar driven songwriters approach they would have fit perfectly on SD or LS.

They are balanced against instrumental tracks like Idiot Prayer and Intermediate Jesus. Especially this last one, which also features in its full 15 minute glory on Metanoia is the second highpoint of the album. This song is built around a very gentle bass line and amazing percussion from Maitland. Wilson spins his most out-there solo from his entire career around it. Simply superb.

Light Mass Prayers is a minimalist ambient piece that was written, strangely enough, by the drummer. It's well place on the album to let us catch a little breath after the cosmic rock that came before and the darkest matter it introduces.

Porcupine Tree is often criticized for being too much in debt of Pink Floyd. That is certainly true for the previous album Sky Moves Sideways. But I fail to see why on this album. Apart from a few touches of slide guitar that indeed come straight out of the Dark Side of the Moon this is a very personal blend of many styles, ranging from ambient to pop, kraut, prog and space-rock.

Report this review (#236615)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Signify is the first PT album where the whole band actually is featured. It's the most track and vocal oriented, although more than 50 % of the tracks are instrumentals and there is many short interludes. It is the last album of the so called psychedelic phase of PT music. It's not better than the masterpiece The Sky Moves Sideways, but still incredibly good and underrated (3.77! What the hell?!).

The music here is even darker than on previous PT albums, and a bit more versatile. Most of the songs are instant masterpieces but the album lacks the flow and concept elements of TSMS. The highlights here are the catchy Waiting Phase 1 and the ambient Phase 2, the trippy Intermediate Jesus and Idiot Prayer, and the classics Sever and Dark Matter. There are no weak tracks here, only perhaps the title track wich suffers from and unpleasant guitar tone, but is a fantastic live number, as proved on Coma Divine and Warszawa. This album also contains the only PT track that does not have a SW writing credit (the ambient "Light Mass Prayer", written by drummer Chris Mailand). I just thought that it needed to be pointed out.

It may be unnecessary to point out, but production is professional and perfect, as on all PT albums. The album fully deserves a 5 star rating, even if it's slightly less awesome than TSMS. A must have for fans of trippy, psychedelic prog, and PT fans.

Remember to get the 2 disc version if you are going to buy it. The second disc features demos and outtakes from the Signify sessions, with some really good tracks and interesting demo versions.

Report this review (#247623)
Posted Sunday, November 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signify, Porcupine Tree's fourth album, is one of my personal favorites. I really like "older" PT's leaning towards psychedelic/space rock. I will give a track by track review of this album and give my opinions on each.

Bornlivedie - This is the intro to the album and sets the mood quite nicely. 3/5

Signify - This is a really good instrumental track and it reminds me of later PT instrumentals like "Wedding Nails ( In Absentia) or perhaps "Mother and Child Divided" ( Bonus Track from Deadwing). Really good guitar and keyboard lines on this one. 4/5

The Sleep of No Dreaming - This is very dark track...but also a very nice one, I think the lyrics point to an atheistic viewpoint of death. I really like this track, even though it can be rather you have to be in the right mood to listen to it. 3.5/5

Pagan - Another ambient/noise track to introduce the next track "Waiting". 3/5

Waiting Phase One - I really love this track, great guitar playing. It features a very good solo that is played with a slide. The drumming is very, very, good as well. Steven has a very good sense of vocal melody and lyrical writing, and this is very well demonstrated on this track. Definitely check this one out. 5/5

Waiting Phase Two - The second part of Waiting Phase Two, this is a nice instrumental piece that features great ambient sections and good playing from the entire band, but especially the rhythm section. Nice track. 4/5

Sever - This one takes a while to build up, but when it does it's got an amazingly good chorus. I like how the vocals and keyboards are in unison throughout the song, it's a nice touch. The lyrics are also quite good, and definitely contribute to the overall feel of the album. 4/5

Idiot Prayer - This is sort of an electronica-influenced track, with a lot of samples being used. It's a nice jam track and it's pretty awesome. I'm a big fan of improvisation and jamming in general, so I can really appreciate this one. It's really cool....nice to hear the band's growth over the years. 4.5/5

Every Home is Wired - I've always enjoyed the way Steven mixes his albums. It's got some really good production and the effects on the acoustic guitars are nice and they really add to the track. The slide parts played on the guitar during the chorus are very fitting as well. 4/5

Intermediate Jesus - I like the spooky sounding intro to this one. It's very, very ambient and I like the piano that's played throughout the song. Definitely some good bass playing going on here from Colin too. The track does tend to drag on a little bit, so I gave it a little less for that. Still though, a decent track. 3/5

Light Mass Prayers - Another ambient track, but this one is really quite good. A nice haunting track to put before Dark Matter. Cool. 4/5

Dark Matter - This is the gem of the album. One of Porcupine Tree's best tracks, in my opinion. This features very ambient and conservative instrumentation, but the result is incredible. PT is very good at doing a lot with very little. The guitar solos are some of Steven's best, and I believe these solos to be worthy of players like David Gilmour or Alex Lifeson. Fantastic effort by the whole band and a great closing track. 5/5

And that's all, really. It's an all around good album as long as you like a good bit of ambience with your prog.

Report this review (#277248)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Significant shift

"Signify" is a solid album which bridges the longer, spacier compositions of "Downstair" and "Sky Moves Sideways" to the songs-based beginnings of "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb." It feels like a cohesive conceptual album with bits and pieces of assorted dialogue linking the songs together. The album connects easily to new listeners with accessible space-rock in shorter doses, melodic leads, and easily assimilated choruses. In contrast to the previous albums with their long and less penetrable soundscapes, "Signify" marks the spot where PT fans who enjoy their latter day accessibility should board the bus.

The album opens with a 1950s era radio announcer telling the listener to grab some coffee and kick back for a few hours of relaxing music (and at the end tells them they've just been through a heavy session of electro-shock therapy!) After some sound effects mind clutter the title track finds Wilson and Co launching straight into an intense riff. Pure guitar squall follows in a replay of what the previous album offered, and while the intensity is here, brevity is introduced. Here they serve up the psych-space appetizers in more digestible portions. Rather quickly "The Sleep of No Dreaming" shows a new side of PT, one which would become more front and center in the future. A rather predictable song structure with a repetitious and melodic chorus, allowing someone to actually sing along. After another short trippy interlude called "Pagan" comes the two part stunner "Waiting." This is a beautiful track that captures the Lightbulb Sun era magic with lovely acoustic strumming and delicate harmonies in the style of "She's Moved On." In front of gorgeous synth-strings and sweet bubbly bass, Wilson lays down the most beautiful leads here. Part two drops the sweetness and gets spacey again for 6 minutes of cosmic. After a couple harder-edged tracks "Every Home is Wired" reverts back to the softer first part of "Waiting." The words of an evangelical minister are laced throughout "Immediate Jesus" and its tinkling piano and space squalls. "Dark Matter" is another real gem closing the album with contemplative lyrics and a certain sad mood.

Some of the tracks I didn't mention are less effective and the album is not a masterpiece, but for those who want to hear the band they would become in their embryonic state, yet after the long winded earlier material, you won't regret trying Signify. Get the two disc set which features a second CD of demos from 1995-96.

Report this review (#280448)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars.

Porcupine Tree continue with their psych prog style, started with the debut "On the Sunday Of Life...", and ended with "Lightbulb Sun". "Signify" is the album that stands exactly in the middle of all this period's albums. It is possibly the most experimental album (Not counting the debut and The Sky Moves Sideways), due to all the instrumental tracks, which are around half of all the tracks.

After the very interesting intro, the title track kicks in, with a very simple guitar riff accompanied by synths, keyboards and other electronics. A great song though, very different from all the other PT songs so far.

"Sleep Of No Dreaming" is a fascinating song, interesting more than catchy, mainly because there is a great mixture of melody with spacey elements (although not like Eloy's "Ocean" at all), even though the electronic sounds prevail upon the melody.

After the brief "Pagan", we have the two "Waiting" parts, both similar, calm and mellow, although the first part is more melodic and features vocals, while part two is an instrumental piece, more spacey than the other one.

"Sever" is probably the most mysterious song here, with creepy effects and fantastic vocals by SW. Love it.

"Idiot Prayer" is easily my favorite instrumental song off this album. The heavy use of synths and keyboards don't really annoy me at all, like usually many dance songs do. I'm not saying this is a a dance song, but it is a little more enlivened in a way and in some parts.

"Every Home Is Wired" is another mellow and spacey song featuring vocals. here isn't really anything else to say about this song, as it's structure is similar to previous songs.

"Intermediate Jesus" is kind of boring in some moments, even because it's repetitive. Definitely not PT at their highest point.

After the weird and creepy "Light Mass Prayers", we have "Dark Matter", the longest track of the album. Very mellow, spacey, like all the other songs, but this one is more relaxing, a little more down-to- earth. Isn't bad at all.

A really good album to sum up, I particularly recommend to PT fans and whoever wants to hear their early works, for a change.

Report this review (#281809)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is what I was expecting... what a great album...

Porcupine Tree is a band that I don't get what is so great about, until now. This album is one of the lowest rated on PA and I do find it very interesting to listen to, besides that seems like there's a lot of emotions and intensity within the music. In comparison with In Absentia or Deadwing, this particular album is way more interesting, less catchy, maybe but it's a lot better to enjoy.

First, I feel that Wilson &Co. made a wonderful job in developing a moody atmosphere and recurring to a lot of samples to set a mood. The catchy riffs and the acoustic tunes are great as well and the music in general is a lot more interesting, maybe the vibe, maybe the emotion, but this album is a lot more interesting that all their work they do after this one. Maybe the album is a little dispersed. There are many ideas pulling in different directions, not like The Incident, which is plain boring and one dimensional. This album has its unexpected moments and seems to have different approaches.

Second, I do believe that the band was way more inspired back on those days, because I found their recent albums a little boring and unemotional at all, but this album it's a hidden jewel. It's not that different though. You will find the regular PT, but a little more oriented to sampling and space rock more than the heavy rock orientation they took later on. On in on, this is a good album to enjoy, especially in a cloudy rainy day as today is here in my Country. I don't think it's a corner stone of Prog or Space rock, but is good enough to enjoy.

I do recommend this album for any music lover, and for rock-ambience-space rock lovers. This is the album of Porcupine Tree to get. Progressive? Yes, a little more than the rest of their music, but not that significant. 4 stars. Great album. Enjoy it!

Report this review (#286045)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm having the most perfect hallucination!

This is classed as the fourth studio album by Porcupine Tree and was first released in September 1996. It is the first album that is recorded completly by the whole band rather than a solo project from Steven Wilson with help from other musicians along the way and a number of the songs (albeit in demo form) were debuted on The Sky Moves Sideways tour before being recorded.

Here i am reviewing the Expanded 2CD Edition released in July 2004:

Disc 1 - Signify (1996)

1) Bornlivedie - This is an ambient intro track written by Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri that sets the album of nicely with excellent use of sampling that will be present throughout the album. Steven Wilson plays the Banshee Guitar, Sampler & Tapes. Richard Barbieri plays Texture, System 700 Electronics & Tapes and Terumi does the voices.

2) Signify - This is the title track written by Steven Wilson which is an instrumental which also makes a reprisal play but slightly different version later in the expanded version due to the second CD being Insignificance. Steven Wilson is on Guitar & Mellotron. Richard Barbieri is on Synthesisers. Colin Edwin is on Bass and Chris Maitland on drums.

3) The Sleep Of No Dreaming - This is the first track with lyrics and is written by Wilson. I can certainly relate to the title as i am always out for the count with not even an incline of a memory of dreaming. Steven Wilson is on Vocals, Organ, Mellotron & Guitars. Richard Barbieri is on Synthesisers again. Colin Edwin is on Electric Bass & Double Bass and Chris Maitland on Drums.

4) Pagan - This track i like to class as a interlude piece however it is a short ambient track that is written by Steven Wilson who is on Samples, Richard Barbieri on Synthesisers and Chris Maitland on Drums.

5) Waiting Phase One - This is the second track with lyrics and was written by Wilson. It is one of my favourite tracks that you can chill to and has Wilson on Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars and Keyboards. Barbieri is on Synthesisers, Edwin on Bass and Chris Maitland on Drums and Vocal Harmonies.

6) Waiting Phase Two - This is the second part of the track as the title suggests but this half is an instrumental written by Wilson who plays Electric & Acoustic Guitars in this. Barbieri is on Synthesisers and Hammond Organ. Edwin is on Bass and Maitland is on Drums.

7) Sever - This is a track with unusual lyrics written by Wilson and as a track on its own i don't find it that appealing to me but as i listen to albums mostly it just tends to blend into the album. Wilson is on Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards and Tapes. Barbieri is on Synthesisers and Edwin on Bass. Maitland is on Drums and Vocal Harmonies.

8) Idiot Prayer - Is a very psychedelic track with excellent use of sampling and is one of my favourites as i can always space out this track. It was written by Wilson and Edwin and the sample in its full quote can be heard on the song Trippin' by SRM which is an ambient track. Wilson is on Sampler, Tapes, Guitar, Organ and Drum Programming. Barbieri is on Synthesisers and Sequencers. Edwin is on Bass and Maitland is on Drum Loop.

9) Every Home Is Wired - This track was written by Wilson. This track took time for it to grow on me as with some of the other tracks like Sever. This track has also been covered by Polish electronic group Cabaret and included in their single Electric Chair Song. Wilson is on Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards and Tapes. Barbieri is on Prophet V/System 700 Electronics. Edwin is on Electric Bass & Double Bass and Maitland on Drums.

10) Intermediate Jesus - Again this track has use of sampled quotes and was written by the whole band. Wilson plays Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Piano, Tapes, Chimes and Musical Boxes. Barbieri is on synthesisers, Edwin on Bass and Maitland on Drums.

11) Light Mass Prayers - This track is a ambient/soundscape track written by Maitland and has Maitland on Voices, Keyboards and Cymbal with Wilson on Sampler.

12) Dark Matter - This track is the last on the original album and is an excellent instrumental track written by Wilson and is also the longest track on the album running at 8:52. It has been played live throughout the Fear Of A Blank Planet tour and again this was a track that took me a while to acknowledge because everytime i listened to the album the tracks seemed to dissolve into each other, this is easily a track that i can listen to on its own.

Disc 2 - Insignificance (Demos 1995-96)

Insignificance is a selection of Steven Wilson's demos that includes several tracks that were not recorded for the final Signify album, as well as formative versions of some that were. This is also a revided and remastered edition of the Insignificance album made available only to subscribers of the PT information service Transmission in 1997.

13) Wake As Gun 1 - This track is the first part of a song that did not feature at all on the Signify album and is quite a somber song.

14) Hallogallo - This track was a cover of a track from the band Neu! to show the Krautrock side of Steven Wilson which blends straight into the next track.

15) Signify - This track is a slightly different version to the one on the original album as it is a work in progress mix.

16) Waiting - This again is a work in progress version that would eventually be longer and split into two parts on the original album.

17) Smiling Not Smiling - This track is completly new and does not feature on the original album however it does remind me of the sound that Porcupine Tree would use on the album Lightbulb Sun.

18) Wake As Gun 2 - Now we are back to the somber second half of the beginning track that eventually forms a mis-mash of instruments like a rough jam.

19) Neural Rust - This track i really like with its heavy drum beat and bass with synthesisers flowing behind and then adding the rhythm guitar before exploding with the lead guitar. Reminds me of Gong on occassions and the title is brilliant for which i always use when i have a headache :)

20) Dark Origins - This track is a work in progress and working title of the song Dark Matter on teh original album.

21) Sever Tomorrow - This track was a working title of the song Sever that would appear on the original album.

22) Nine Cats (Acoustic Version) - This track original was on the album The Nostalgia Factory in the early cassette era when Porcupine Tree was only a solo fake band by Steven Wilson however as the title says this is an acoustic version of that song which i feel is a great ending to this expanded album.

Overall this album took me awhile to grasp but everytime i listened to it i began to pick parts up that didnt register with me first of all and steadily this album became one of my favourites that i constantly come back to listen to. For me this album represents a significant change in the evolution of the band and you can now see how gifted and multi- instrumentaly talented this band is.

Report this review (#288952)
Posted Saturday, July 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars In Porcupine Tree's more psychedelic and more obviously Pink Floyd influenced period, they created around 4 albums. I like all of PT's eras, but the early years actually are my least favorite. Still, they feature some fantastic music. This album proceeded The Sky Moves Sideways and preceded Stupid Dream, on which PT developed some more alternative/poppy influence.

Regardless, this album has some songs and passages that are hauntingly beautiful. The song Sleep of No Dreaming remains my favorite pre-Stupid Dream PT song because of the amazing progression and beautiful chorus. Other songs, like Every Home is Wired, also are amazing in their own right, and listening to this album in full is quite fulfilling.

That said, there are some weak spots on this album. There isn't really filler, but some songs are quite obviously weaker than others, like Sever and the title track.

This album is still a great edition to anyone's prog collection because it features some of PT's most gorgeous passages.

Report this review (#298199)
Posted Thursday, September 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I really don't know why Signifys rating isn't as high as the rest of there early output. To me this is my favorite release from Porcupine Tree with Maitland as drummer. Part of it is because of the albums concept, which is about trying to grasp significance. Something we all do as humans, something we also tend to fail at. The music is brilliant as well, with great beats, and spacey soundscapes throughout. Richard Barbieris presence is very strong on this one. He manages to provide a perfect background for the vocals, and he carries the instrumental songs perfectly. Speaking of vocals, Wilson is stunning here. Sever is a good example on just how talented he is as a singer, and lyrically I believe that this is his strongest output. The best thing for me is just how well the album flows from beginning to end, if that makes sense. All the songs feel like they're in the right place, and when listened as a whole, seems very much stronger. The instrumentals, the segs, everything fits perfectly. Of course, the real highlight of the album is the perfect trance like closer, Dark Matter. A good song to think to, and look back at the album in retrospect. The culmination, of course being about the insignificant thing which is our lives as humans. To quote "This has become a full time career, to die young would take only 21 years". Brilliant. Great album from when Porcupine Tree was more of a phsycadelic band, and less of a metal band.
Report this review (#393153)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Porcupine Tree's first proper album as a legitimate group is an impressive but schizophrenic achievement: it can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a collection of atmospheric pop songs ("Sleep of No Dreaming"; "Sever") or a series of ambient instrumental mood studies ("Light Mass Prayers"; "Pagan"). Or sometimes both, as in the two-part "Waiting": one-third gorgeous pop melody, and two-thirds drifting instrumental psychedelia.

Later albums would locate a better balance. But at this early stage of development Steve Wilson and company were still looking a stable identity to call their own. Note the heavy reliance on sound samples as a compositional tool ("Idiot Prayer"; "Intermediate Jesus"; "Sever" again): a shorthand tactic rarely heard in subsequent efforts.

Wilson, as the band's chief spokesperson and primary songwriter, gets most of the press and public attention. But it's Richard Barbieri's dreamlike aura of synthesizers that more clearly defines the group's mystique, in much the same way as it did for David Sylvian's solo albums and in the art rock ensemble Japan.

Don't remove the CD before the tongue-in-cheek spoken epilogue after the long, haunting album finale ("Dark Matter"). That song's title is, by the way, a perfect summary of the band's entire aesthetic: the unseen substance holding their sound together over the course of what would soon become an increasingly high-profile career.

Report this review (#587556)
Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

Signify is a transitional album between the psychedelic years of Porcupine Tree and alternative sound that they developed in the late 90´s and the first in which the band could be categorized as a group and where there was a whole group effort, rather of previous albums where I was just a project of Steven Wilson. The album contains both a style of music and passages very experimental and accessible songs that were well on radio.

Porcupine Tree is one of the rare bands that know how to make commercial music quality, and Signify is proof of that. Waiting was the first single and is divided into two parts or "phases", which represent very well the character of the album: the first is a beautiful and sweet pop song that only PT can create and the second is an experimental instrumental .. . that only PT can do In fact most of the album is a work of genius, and except for some passages (those where there are no recordings of voices and sound) everything else wonder.

This album grabbed me from the first time I heard it and now is one of the best of the band. To complete my discography PT just missing his more commercial albums, and I have a feeling that I like them.

Report this review (#591017)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars On Signify Porcupine Tree had solidified as a fully-fledged band project, the metamorphosis having occurred during the Sky Moves Sideways period. In terms of its atmosphere and approach it's something of a return to the model set by Up the Downstair - moving away from the agonisingly long compositions of The Sky Moves Sideways, the band hone down their musical approach into more bite-size samples of thoroughly modernised space rock, with plenty of found audio samples to embellish the sound. With its tranquil space rock moods occasionally collapsing into intricate King Crimson-ish workouts, Signify isn't quite a masterpiece but it's more than strong enough to prove that the band were in it for the long haul, and once the album closer Dark Matter has finished most prog fans will be eager for more.
Report this review (#626013)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars OK, this is my 6th try to 'get into' the Porcupine Tree sound. Much is said about the band and how 'genious' Steven Wilson is, but to tell you the truth. Genious my a**!

Signify is boring, basically, begin to end. And to me, doesn't matter if it was released on 96, 85 or 73, this album have the kind of keyboards and drums sounds I simply can't stand, blame Richard Barbieri and Steven Wilson. They seems to be fake and cheap, doesn't matter the way I look at it. And it's a thing that kills many many albums since 90's.

People say that is a 'transition' album, and you have to 'listen before and after' to get. Ok, so Progressive Rock now it's not only symphony tracks and conceptual albums but conceptual discographies as well? Give me a break!

An album it is what is is. If, for instance, Ummagumma from Pink Floyd sucks because they were 'trying to find their way'? Can be, but you know? Doesn't matter, at the end of the day you get your Animals copy to hear, not Ummagumma. If you get what I mean.

I cannot say that there's no interesting moments AT ALL on the album. The intro in 'Bornlivedie' with the radio it's interesting, 'Signify' almost made me believe that good things would come, but all in all only 'Dark Matter' really matters (no pum intended).

If Steven Wilson released this one as an EP with 2 tracks ('Bornlivedie' and 'Dark Matter') it would be a great record, but...

Report this review (#660345)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Signify' is a pleasant though uneven album from the early years of Porcupine Tree. This album is not the heavy sound of 'Deadwing', nor is it concentric on the psychedelic trance of 'The Sky Moves Sideways', but it sits somewhere in between. It does feel experimental and at times sounds like more modern Porcupine Tree on 'Fear of a Blank Planet' or 'The Incident'. Steve Wilson's vocals are always excellent especially when he launches into infectious melodic prog such as on the wonderful 'Sever'.

The album tends to bog down midway through some songs with lengthy instrumental passages that are okay but wear out their welcome on subsequent listens. There are some brilliant tracks here though such as the beautiful melodic 'Waiting Phase One', 'Phase Two' is an instrumental, building with tribal rhythmic drums, spacey atmospherics and some incredible lead guitar. 'Sever' certainly stands out as mentioned, and there are some powerful riffs.

One thing that I am not into is the focus on anti-religious themes that seems to pervade the concept such as on 'Idiot Prayer', 'Intermediate Jesus', just a spacey psych instrumental and brief narrative, and ''Light Mass Prayers'' more droning music that bores me after a while. I must admit I like the flute on 'Idiot Prayer', and the killer lead break at the end, but the narrations are just intrusive and it all feels like filler material. 'Every Home is Wired' is an acoustic dreamscape with really nice vocals before these instrumentals. The album closes with a popular song 'Dark Matter' that I had heard on a live DVD prior to this.

Overall, 'Signify' is the beginning of great things for Porcupine Tree but they were yet to peak and become recognised as giants of modern prog. This album is half psych and half alt rock, but is very inconsistent. 3 stars for the great music but the masterpieces were a few years away.

Report this review (#846899)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Signify is the first album where the band is playing as a cohesive unit, as opposed to the previous few which were so dominated by Steven Wilson that they were practically solo albums. Besides this, the overall sound hasn't changed drastically; the Pink Floyd-like atmosphere is still present, but this album sees a bit more pop and alternative influence that would be explored more fully in future albums.

Song-wise, due to the pop-limitations, and overall number of songs, the tracks are for the most part short. Consequently, the structure of many of the songs isn't terribly diverse. Unfortunately, the songs that are longer usually suffer from overlong ambient parts. This was a problem with their past few albums, and still lingers in this one. The overall depressing, draggy nature of the songs certainly doesn't help either, especially for fans of up-beat and up-tempo music such as myself. However, they certainly do a great job with the Pink Floyd sound overall. Perhaps the only song I truly enjoy from beginning to end is Dark Matter.

Suffice it to say this is NOT Porcupine Tree at their best, in my opinion. It is simply too hard for this album to keep my attention with its overall incessant use of ambient sound and lack of strong melodies. I will praise the album for what its good at, but this is not the Porcupine Tree I prefer.


Report this review (#1003536)
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars This review is for the 1996 release, without Insignificance.

So finally a Porcupine Tree release which grabbed my attention more so than the three previous studio releases by the band. Why this album rates lower than its predecessor, The Sky Moves Sideways, is a mystery to me.

From the opening Bornlivedie, to the instrumental Signify and then 'The Sleep Of No Dreaming', you can tell this is going to be a good album. No lengthy tracks which just struggle to go anywhere. 'Waiting Phase One' is another good track as is Idiot Prayer. The very moody Intermediate Jesus, dwells again, on the Psycedelia the band explored on earlier releases. We end this release with Dark Matter.

Altogether, for me, an improved release, but not quite there yet. Better than anything I reviewed by the band at this stage, but some ways to go still. Again I'm struggling with awarding ½ points for the ratings and in this case would like to award 3½ stars, if that was possible....

Report this review (#1091327)
Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Colaborator
5 stars I've always been fascinated with music artists who frequently reinvent their sound and yet maintain quality and freshness in their work regardless. While so many artists fail to make waves in the commercial or critical department when slowly transitioning into new territory, others make a complete 180° turn and succeed greatly whether by knowing the musical landscape or by just pure luck. Then you have Porcupine Tree, who have had three radical reinventions and been very well-received for all of them. You have the psychedelic era (when they weren't even a full group yet), the alternative era, and the progressive metal era; as of now, none of the band's albums (even debut On the Sunday of Life) have been terribly received and most of them receive high marks. However, one album that never seems to fit into the grand scheme of things is the band's sole transitional album Signify; while considered by many to be part of the psychedelic era, the album seems to combine the past and future sounds of the group almost perfectly. True to this statement, the album also remains one of their best and most balanced works; it not only depicts how far Steven Wilson had come with his musical project, but also depicts a promising and vast future for a now-complete group.

As suggested by that last sentence, this is indeed the first Porcupine Tree album with a full band to perform with Steven Wilson. Right from the opening of the surprisingly heavy title track, there's a strengthened sense of unity and focus in the material; while the trippy arrangements and vast soundscapes of previous records return here as well, they aren't always the main focus this time around. As suggested by the shorter running times of the songs, a lot of musical fat is trimmed and the psychedelic aspects are a bit toned down, but instrumental tracks like "Idiot Prayer" and "Intermediate Jesus" play with the group's spacey side with extended atmospheric jams. One of the best things about this album (one thing that plagued previous records by the band) is that there's a great stylistic balance; the album combines multiple genres and sounds, but distributes them all very well. You've got the first real song "Signify" (the first track is just an intro) which kicks things off with a hard-hitting riff and gets the listener pumped, only to be followed by a beautiful ballad in "Sleep of No Dreaming" as well as multiple improvisational jams and other ballads. "Sever" is the track in which the harder-rocking sound comes back into play, and it's brilliantly placed in the middle as a good way to kick up the volume at just the right time. This is some of the best song placement I've ever seen/heard on a record, and it's great to hear so many well-done switches in the band's sound.

Beyond that though, the real treasure of this album is its appreciation of atmosphere. This is one of Porcupine Tree's darkest records, but the moments of hope (despite there not being many) come at the right moments. For instance, closer "Dark Matter" is pretty damn depressing in terms of lyricism, but the guitar solo that follows the verses and choruses is absolutely beautiful and even inspiring as the dynamics increase and the instrumentation becomes less isolated. "Sever" and "Idiot Prayer" are perhaps even more important dynamically, as the more aggressive moments are placed among softer moments to give the listener moments of reflection in between the heavier portions. Of course, the band still shine most when those trademark melancholic Porcupine Tree ballads rear their heads; "Every Home is Wired" is still the song that impresses me the most, making the most out of guitar and keyboard layering to bring out some gorgeous textures. The psychedelic jam that concludes the song never hurts either. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is also notable, featuring an organ-sounding keyboard performance from Richard Barbieri to illustrate the song's musical backdrop as Steven Wilson gives one of his most emotional vocal performances.

The only gripe I can think of is that, despite great song placement, there's not quite as much musical consistency as the band's best records. Interludes like "Light Mass Prayers" or "Pagan" aren't really needed and can kill the pace of some of the album. If that's the worst thing about the record, though, then there isn't much to complain about. This is a superb way to end Porcupine Tree's psychedelic era and usher in the alternative era of their sound. All in all, it's a wonderful transitional album.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Report this review (#1445838)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signify is Porcupine Tree's somewhat disregarded stepchild in that it's a transititional album between their earlier ambient work and their more popular later alternative work. But Signify is a cohessive whole that spans space rock, Kraut rock, Floydian influences and, of course, ambient moods of a darker world (or a darker mind) as suggested by the album's disturbing cover art. And this viseral darkness could only come from the imagine of Steven Wilson.

While Wilson is still the band's primary instrumentalist, even playing some fab mellotron, bassist Colin Edwin and drummer Chris Maitland lock in the twisting groves of this sometimes twisted sounding music to great effect, while deftly dailing back the drama on the album's quieter ambient bassed tracks. It's a delicate balance that both perform well.

The hard question to answer is if prog a fan is missing something by not having Signify in their collection. I would have to say yes, as it's easy to miss much of what this music offers on just a few listens. It's one of those deeper albums that sneaks up on you and that, IMO, is why it's important to experience the music, over and over again, that's on this great album. 4 stars.

Report this review (#1589799)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars PORCUPINE TREE's fourth album SIGNIFY displayed the perfect title upon its release for it really did declare that the project that had begun as a joke and had developed into a bona fide solo project of Steven Wilson that continued to gain steam and popularity and to his surprise an amazingly successful career. With a three album run of twisting and teasing Pink Floyd inspired psychedelic space rock and electronic experiments that culminated with the extraordinary "The Sky Moves Sideways," it became apparent that the next step was to incorporate the session musicians who performed on these albums and turn the project into a bona fide band that delivers a distinct band sound that would be supported by touring and audience interaction.

With the official band member status of Richard Barbieri (piano, synth, tapes, sequencers), Colin Edwin (bass) and Chris Mailand (drums, percussion), main man STEVEN WILSON found a new wellspring of creativity which allowed the band to expand beyond the simply tagged psychedelic space rock that dictated the feel of the first trilogy of albums. SIGNIFY is the transition album that didn't jettison what came before but rather married it with a larger palette of musical ideas. The compositions first and foremost became more cohesive with more traditional song structures that were obviously designed to sound more commercial than the free for all psychedelic meandering of the past although certain tracks on SIGNIFY do allow for the same experimentation as those albums.

Perhaps the most startling contrast are the more rock oriented guitar hooks which comes into full prominence on the introductory title track which is a more heavy rock rendition of the Neu! track "Hallgallo" from their 1972 Krautrock classic debut. While the title track rocks out and points to the future, the second track "Sleep Of No Dreaming" seems to get cold feet and point back to the past with a more sedated chilled out feel however it simultaneously shows another direction in conjunct with the heavy rockers. It finds Wilson creating a more lyric centric form of songwriting which displays his tender carefully uttered vocals with the fullest implementation of production value allowed by law. The addition of softer passages that utilize acoustic guitar and dream atmospheric background sweeps would be another major deviation from the psychedelic space rock years.

Many of the tracks on SIGNIFY were actually demos for previous albums but were sitting idle in the backroom and dusted off and rebranded for the new PORCUPINE TREE. Wilson explained that the bass and percussion parts were re-recorded by the now permanent members and they were given liberties to add their personal touches which allowed the full band effect to come to fruition. Colin Edwin contributed many interesting bass lines as well as a stellar double bass run on "Sleep Of No Dreaming." While the albums would continue to get more into the rock scheme of things on SIGNIFY, there are still experimental electronic ambient sections such as "Waiting Phase One" which display the nebulous sound squigglies as heard on the earliest of albums but "Waiting Phase Two" clearly demonstrates the new PORCUPINE TREE with gently strummed acoustic guitars, a soulful Steven Wilson singing his heart out with softened percussion and interesting verse / chorus changes.

Much of the psychedelic holdover was due to the fact that the band recorded this album during the tour of "The Sky Moves Sideways" and the process of switching gears sounds like it was happening organically rather than a forced escapade into the harder rocking world. One could say that these are cleverly crafted pop songs in prog clothing as the basic song structures are actually quite simple but Wilson has always had a gift for milking the potential out of any three chord strum along with outstanding production ingenuity and his unique stamps such as his guitar solos and counterpoints. Tribal rhythms are implemented at times which offer an interesting contrast to traditional rock drumming norms.

Despite not being a solo album, SIGNIFY was recorded as such. Wilson recorded much of the album as a solo project the way he envisioned it and then let the other band members re-record their respective parts separately which basically saw a finished product shift gears one instrumental part at a time until the final product emerged. Even after the album had been released Wilson was never happy and remastered all the original albums to create an even crisper and clearer listening experience. While SIGNIFY is dominated by many sing along type songs, there are plenty of simple zone out moments when the pop rock cedes into space rock and the vocals take a breather and let the instrumental and electronic sections cast their mesmerizing spells.

SIGNIFY is in effect project #1 of the Phase Two era of PORCUPINE TREE which would include the following "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun," a trilogy of albums that equally merged the hard rock potential of the future with the earliest psychedelic space rock sensibilities. PORCUPINE TREE has been nothing but consistent in their output over their career and SIGNIFY is no exception. An excellent slice of Mr. Wilson's unique progressive rock outlook with strong catchy hooks that evolve into solid compositions that implemented lyrics concerned about late 90s issues and the addition of those atmospheric emotional tugs and interesting sound effects that allowed the perfect chilled out progressive rock experience. While i find this style would peak on "Lightbulb Sun," SIGNIFY is quite the solid release with tracks like "Sever" providing catchy ear worms and a throw back to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" to boot.

Report this review (#2054694)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2018 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars Fourth album of Steve Wilson's Porcupine Tree!

And for the first time recorded entirely as a consolidated and established band, because the three previous albums were essentially solo projects with some help of other musicians. The production also ran in charge of Steven Wilson himself and is fantastic, along with the playing of all the band members.

Sadly, I find this album a bit more inconsistent than Up the Downstairs and The Sky Moves Sideways mainly because it contains too many filler tracks and too much ambient and repetitive music for my taste. Tracks like Bornlivedie and Pagan are directly forgettable, while others like Waiting Phase 2 and Intermediate Jesus lack the strength and dynamics of the best parts of the album.

Best tracks: Signify (typical Porcupine Tree's groovy riffs), Waiting Phase 1 (pop melodies and great psychedelic sounding guitars), Sever (dark and intense) and Dark Matter (my favourite of the album, very diverse and deep)

Conclusion: despite its flaws, I think that Signify was a step in the right direction for Porcupine Tree. It contains four or five classics of the band, the production is crystal clear and the chemistry between the band members is also remarkable. And most important, this album proved that this band was here to stay.

Sadly, Signify also has too many inconsistent moments to be considered excellent, but it is nevertheless a worthy addition to any prog music collection if you like Steven Wilson's style.

My rating: ***

Report this review (#2110813)
Posted Monday, December 24, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Porcupine Tree's fourth official full length album, "Signify" released in 1996, proved to be a game-changer for the band. First of all, it was the first full album in which the entire band performed throughout. Previous to this, Steven Wilson was pretty much in charge of everything with occasional help from different people. Their previous album "The Sky Moves Sideways" did present the full band, however, parts of it were still all Wilson. Now, at last, the quartet of Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland were together as a full band for the entire album.

The second thing that made this album different from the previous ones, is that the project was moving away from the psychedelic stylings that were dominating their music and shifting more towards a traditional rock sound with a lot of progressive sensibilities thrown in. The psychedelic aspect wouldn't go away completely yet, but the tracks were getting shorter on the average, and more standard. However, the tone for the music was moving into darker places, and hints of the heavier sound of a later phase of the band were already beginning to appear in the music.

By the time Wilson's project was getting ready for the 2nd full length album, he had already had some experience in his other projects ("No-man" and "Bass Communion", not to mention the EPs and demo tapes he produced), and he had pretty much perfected his psychedelic rock sound when "Lightbulb Sun" was released, and then the excellent "The Sky Moves Sideways". Now, with "Signify" defining a change in the overall sound and with playing with other musicians, there was obviously some acclimatizing that had to be done in order to get back the that perfect sound again. Even though "Signify" ended up netting itself into a decent album, it wouldn't quite make it up to the standard of excellence set by its immediate predecessors.

The album starts off with "Bornlivedie", which wouldn't really surprise many listeners as it mostly consists of atmopsherics and spoken word recordings to introduce the title track coming up next. "Signify" is a definite heavy rocker, instrumental, and there to make a sudden statement. The riff immediately catches your attention and it seems the band is there to kick some butt. However, I'm not sure what possessed them to follow that up with a more average sounding track "The Sleep of No Dreaming", which even after many, many listenings, it still has a hard time cementing itself into my memory. It's a good enough track, but doesn't really have a needed hook to follow up the rousing "Signify". After that, another short, atmospheric, intermediary track "Pagan" slips by without much notice.

Never fear, though. This is followed with the excellent one-two punch of "Waiting" Phase One and Phase Two. The first phase carries the main theme and song while the second phase works off of the band's previous strengths of improvised sound with psychedelic leanings. It also introduces the band's signature harmonization sound which fans would begin to take for granted as their sound became more familiar. Both phases are very strong and restores your faith in the band for its strong cohesive playing and songwriting skills. The album then continues with the effective "Sever" which has strong, intense verses and mellower and harmonic choruses. Field recordings are peppered throughout the track to add to the intensity when needed, yet the flow from intense to mellow is smooth and very professional sounding.

It's also obvious that there are a lot less instrumentals on this album than on previous albums. "Idiot Prayer" is only the 2nd instrumental up to this point, at least in a full song. Following in the same formula as some of their longer instrumental tracks, this one begins soft and atmospheric, soft percussive noises, warm swashes of flute, and atmospheric guitar. This builds slowly in intensity, and then really starts to roll when the drums and bass kick in, backed by synth foundations and building guitar, and looped and processed spoken words. This builds against the ramblings of what seems to be a preacher with an unholy crescendo, then backs off to an atmospheric middle section that borrows from the lovely sounds of "The Sky Moves Sideways" with the Gilmour-like guitar effects. The loud section returns again abruptly and finishes the track off.

"Every Home is Wired" goes for a more acoustic sound with Wilson's vocals on the verses and then layered vocals on the choruses with some great sonic effects. The melody is very nice and intriguing, plus the harmonics are once again spot on. The real psychedelic, meandering sound comes back with the track "Intermediate Jesus", but the track just kind of flows along without developing into anything. It's nice, but not up to par to previous material. Again, there is some rambling spoken words from what sounds like a preacher. "Light Mass Prayers" continues in this vein using more synthesizers this time, staying with a dark ambience as they fade in and out. This track is an obvious Barbieri-style track which follows the same style as his solo efforts.

The last track on the CD is "Dark Matter". This track brings back the new direction of the band with dark vocals and harmonics. Wilson was still sort of finding his feet with lyrics, and the weakness shows in this track, however, the strong instrumentals in the track make up for this and overall, it ends up giving the album a powerful ending. The vinyl edition also contained one more track "The Sound of No-one Listening". This track was actually used on the CD edition of the "Waiting" single that was released previous to the album. It is an instrumental, albeit one of the stronger ones from the sessions for this album.

Later editions of this album came with a 2nd disc that were outtakes and demo versions from the sessions. The 2nd disc was mostly material taken from the cassette "Insignificance" with a different track listing and a few other track changes. Many think that the 2nd disc is the same as the EP, but it's not quite the same as the EP had the tracks "Door to the River" and "Insignificance" where the disc that came with the reissue had the track "Dark Origins" which is actually the demo version of "Dark Matter"

One of the strengths with Porcupine Tree's sounds is their use of dynamics. Sure, they are not the loudest band out there, however, their use of a mix of mellower passages make the intense sections even more powerful than some progressive metal bands that haven't learned how to use dynamic effectively yet and only strive to make things as loud as possible, thus making their music less powerful. Thank goodness PT found a better way to make powerful music, dark and dynamic, sometimes brooding and other times intense and heavy. This album starts to show off that strength along with beautiful harmonies that were unique to the band also. But it hasn't quite perfected them yet and there are weak points in the album that tend to bring its overall score down. It would be a while, but each album would eventually bring the band back to its high standard of excellence.

Report this review (#2311958)
Posted Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permalink
3 stars Quite different compared to the first 3 albums which are strongly psychedelic, this fourth Porcupine Tree's album is lighter in compositions. The guitar sound is heavier (which I like it better) and to me it is like a transition of the sound of early PT to the later albums.

These are tracks that to me make the good part of the album:

'Signify' is an instrumental track, with a firm guitar riff as intro and nice solo in the middle to end part. This is one of the best PT sound to me.

'Waiting Phase One' is a nice song with several phrases of melodic guitar works. 'Waiting Phase Two' has more soundscapes, mainly guitar, percussion and synthesizers. Both tracks are enjoyable, but not too much progressive elements.

'Sever' is another pretty song, with a nice hook in the chorus. I enjoy the combination of psychedelic in the intro and easier part in the chorus and ending. The phrase 'Coma Divine' that is used for their 1997 live album, appears in the lyrics of this song.

'Idiot Prayer' is kind of blend of techno-pop and soundscape, with a catchy guitar solo. After hearing some of PT albums, this kind of jamming is perhaps becoming one of PT signatures.

'Dark Matter' perhaps has the best composition in this album. It flows beautifully from a calm intro, vocal section and gets a bit heavier sound and faster pace in the guitar solo section.

Each of the other tracks indeed has its own unique sound, but to me most of the soundscapes are lack of theme and progressive elements. Anyway, I like the PT sound better that the previous albums, particularly the heavier guitar sound, and also because of less techno element. Peace.

Report this review (#2419032)
Posted Sunday, July 12, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you actually want me to be honest: I'm not that much of a big fan of the first three Porcupine Tree Albums. On The Sunday Of Life is... I mean I have no idea what to say about that album, it's so bizarre that it's even hard for me to call it an album. Up The Downstair is the first good Porcupine Tree effort but it isn't that incredible and The Sky Moves Sideways is actually pretty overrated, I mean it's just a Wish You Were Here rip-off.

But Signify is different. This was the first Porcupine Tree album with a defined line-up, a very necessary and positive change. Signify is probably the first PT album that sounds like PT, and I can gladly say that it's one of their best efforts. The songs are strong with or without the album, and each of them are very dynamic, with memorable melodies and much more mature compositions from Steven Wilson.

The closer, Dark Matter, is my second favorite PT song of all time! I seriously can't describe how perfect it is, and it brings the album to an amazing end with its amazing solo section.

In this album you will hear a lot of Pink Floyd, and believe it or not, Dream Theater too!

I can easily say this is the best Porcupine Tree album before the 2000s, and the first one that deserves that sweet five star rating.

Report this review (#2538008)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Signify was the band's next release and the first true group effort. Released in late 1996, it saw the integration of significant (heh) krautrock influence?the title track was derived from what began as a cover of Neu!'s "Hallogallo". I'd never considered krautrock's influence on this album, but after learning about this, I can definitely hear it. It's got a distinctly Wilsonian twist to it, and the main riff hints at future excursions into the world of progressive metal.

"Sleep of No Dreaming" is evidence of Steven Wilson's improving songwriting. By this point, he had established a distinct sound for his band. It drew from the '70s prog giants?especially Pink Floyd?but it was not nearly as derivative as Porcupine Tree's earlier works. It sounded more confident. The complex mix of cosmic and melancholy moods showed Porcupine Tree spreading their creative wings.

Signify isn't all proto-metallic space rock. "Waiting" is largely acoustic in its first half, and the second half shows an inventive integration of jazz and electronica in both the synths and the rhythm section. Barbieri's electronic touches get some prominent placement on "Idiot Prayer", and "Every Home Is Wired" marries rather sweet-sounding acoustic balladry with Wilson's signature cynicism.

That isn't to say Signify doesn't have its weak spots, though. Like many of the band's early efforts, a lot of songs drag on for a minute or two too long, and Wilson was still weaning himself off of excessive ambient interludes, most notably on the overlong penultimate track, "Light Mass Prayers".

Review originally posted here:

Report this review (#2903277)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permalink
Hector Enrique
4 stars The trail of cosmic dust left by "The Sky Moves Sideways" also permeates the sonic universe of Porcupine Tree's next album, "Signify", the fourth in their discography. Although there is a greater number of songs, this does not detract from the overall spirit of the work, immersed in experimental landscapes and developments on which Steven Wilson and his bandmates draw sensations that move between the peaceful and the somber, with a production that does not neglect details or leave anything to chance.

Instrumental themes such as the energized "Signify" and its uninhibited guitars, or the atmospheric Phase 2 of "Waiting" with Colin Edwin's persistent bass line and Chris Maitland's tribal-like percussion supporting Wilson's guitar dalliances, or the hypnotic trance of "Idiot Prayer", intertwine with Wilson's anguished voice in the powerful "The Sleep of No Dreaming" in one of the best moments of the album, the melancholic Phase 1 of "Waiting", the industrial airs of "Sever" and the narcotic and melodious "Every Home Is Wired" with Richard Barbieri and his mysterious and intriguing touch on the keyboards, all combined to conceive a work of great sonic amplitude, and that has a great ending with the growing "Dark Matter" and the excellent guitar solo again in the hands of Wilson towards the last part of the song.

While all the tracks on "Signify" are credited to the group, it seems obvious that the major compositional weight is held by Wilson, on an album that again marks the spacey vein that by then was the band's hallmark.

Very good.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#2967054)
Posted Sunday, November 5, 2023 | Review Permalink

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