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Porcupine Tree

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Porcupine Tree Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997 album cover
4.22 | 261 ratings | 12 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc A - 1991-93: 73:24
1. Radioactive Toy (10:10)
2. Nine Cats (3:51)
3. And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun (4:02)
4. Nostalgia Factory (7:33)
5. Voyage 34 - Phase One (12:54)
6. Synesthesia - extended version (7:54)
7. Phantoms (3:14)
8. Up the Downstair (10:09)
9. Fadeaway (6:16)
10. Rainy Taxi (6:52)

Disc B - 1994-97: 72:55
1. Stars Die (5:06)
2. The Sky Moves Sideways - Phase One (18:37)
3. Men of Wood (3:34)
4. Waiting (4:28)
5. The Sound of No-one Listening (8:12)
6. Colourflow in Mind (3:49)
7. Fuse the Sky (4:33)
8. Signify II (6:04)
9. Every Home is Wired (5:13)
10. Sever (5:31)
11. Dark Matter (8:12)

Total Time: 146:19

Delerium/K-Scope #SMADD851

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven Wilson / vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Colin Edwin / bass
- Chris Maitland / drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Richard Barbieri / keyboards
- Suzanne J. Barbieri / voices on "Up The Downstair"

Releases information

Re-issue by Snapper Music in 2005 as SMACD 914

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to progkidjoel for the last updates
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PORCUPINE TREE Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997 ratings distribution

(261 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PORCUPINE TREE Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997 reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Muzikman
5 stars I had heard so much about this group PORCUPINE TREE that the urge to listen became overwhelming. Well, I finally had my chance to hear for myself what all the fuss was. I can understand why people that love progressive-rock would really enjoy listening to this band. They are the entire package. These four talented gents manage to create music that is an amalgamation of rock, jazz, progressive, and just a sprinkling of pop to smooth the edges a bit, but the amount is miniscule mind you. Progressive is unquestionably the key term when describing their music.

The influence of PINK FLOYD (70s) is strong, how could it not be if you are playing music that is in any form progressive? Some folks may scoff at me for saying this . I was reminded of OZRIC TENTACLES more than once while absorbing some of their more elongated musically journeys. They happen to be one of my favorite bands so it was very gratifying to hear that association in their music.

This beautifully packaged set served as a fine introduction for me to this superb band. What you will get is two CDs of previously unreleased tracks, new mixes, and assorted rarities with a 40-page booklet in a box, and the icing on the cake is the wild cover depicting the falling star. Music filled with otherworldly soundscapses is what highlights this pleasure ride upon the wings of music. Their musical statement does not seem to lack in any area whatsoever; in fact, I do not think it could be any more poignant. Most of what you will hear is long instrumental runs including some strange sexual connotations stuck in here and there to catch you off guard, which prompts you to ask yourself "What was that all about?" Then that is what they want to do, make you wonder and think about the meaning of their songs. They lure you in without mercy with acquiescent and prolific keyboards layered for maximum effectiveness, and then suddenly bring you to a climatic zenith with cascading sheets of powerful guitar chords and billowing keyboards accented with a rhythm section that is hitting on all its cylinders. After that, you get a jolting push back down to an earthly plane to force you to feel the emotional tides the music puts you on. That should suffice in bringing you to where you would like to go while listening to music, it sure worked well for me.

There is a lot of music on these two CD's, it took me a few days to take it all then finally sit down and convey my thoughts. I will most definitely seek out more recordings by this group. I agree with the press I have read thus far, they are one of the very best in their genre.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I'm not big on compilations either, but there are two reasons you should buy this one. First there are 8 songs on here that either haven't been on an album prior to this release or were previosly unreleased. And secondly the liner notes are fantastic, each song is commented on by the band with some interesting revelations. As mentioned above the two discs are very different from each other, the first more electronica, the second more of a rock / spacy flavour. The second is my favourite. "Waiting" is my favourite track followed by "Stars Die" and "The Sky Moves Sideways". I love the album cover with the piano looking like it's just gone through earth's atmosphere, it's on fire about to crash.

Instead of reviewing the songs, most of which I have already done in my reviews of the albums they come from, i'd like to relay to you some of the comments in the liner notes. The first four songs are from the "On The Sunday Of Life..." album. "Radioactive Toy" was written by Steven and was inspired by the movie "Threads" which is about the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Britain. I like the raw sounding guitar on this one. "Nine Cats" was originally performed by Steven at 14 years of age. A psychedelic ballad. "And The Swallows Dance Above the Sun" is Steven's favourite track from the "On The Sunday Of Life..." album. It's "about the contradictions of being trapped in boredom while still being surrounded by wonder." "The Nostalgia factory" title "was a sly dig both at the "tribute band" mentallity on the psychedelic scene, and at the short, passive memories of music reviewers and consumers".

"Voyage 34-Phase One" is an almost 13 minute sample of the original. I love the guitar 9 minutes in. "Synesthesia" is the 8 minute extended version.This was the first track on the "Up The Downstair" record. "Phantoms" was left off the "Up The Downstair" album because Steven didn't like the way his voice sounded on it at the time. He's since changed his mind about that. This is a melancholic song. "Up The Downstair" was the first song that Richard Barbieri worked on for PORCUPINE TREE. A trance epic. "Fadeaway" is still a favourite with Steven and Richard. This is the version with Gavin on drums. "Rainy Taxi" is an instrumental Steven wrote when he was listening to a lot of Krautrock. He says "I can clearly hear the influence of the organ driven "Kosmische" sound of ASH RA TEMPEL and Klause Schulze. I still love this kind of music..."

Disc two starts with "Starsdie" a song Steven left off of the "Sky Moves Sideways" album, which he says is the worst mistake he's ever made. That mistake was corrected for the American version. "Men Of Wood" was originally recorded for "Up The Downstair". It mixes psychedelic pop with heavy Krautrock. "The Sky Moves Sideways" is "Probably the most single-mindedly beautiful composition in the PORCUPINE TREE catalogue". "Waiting" was their third single they released. "The Sound Of No-One Listening" was cut from the "Signify" record and became a b-side to the "Waiting" single. "Colourflow In Mind" was a song Steven wanted on the record but the rest of the band didn't. "Fuse The Sky" was another b-side from the vinyl version for "Waiting". "Signify II" was also left off the "Signify" record. This one for lack of space, and with some regret. "Sever" "is perhaps the most dramatic track on "Signify" "it's certainly the densest-and features one of Steven's most distressed lyrics." "Every Home Is Wired" is about "Steven's early concerns about the depersonalising effects of life in cyberspace." "Dark Matter" is "the last song on "Signify" and therefore a good place to close the "Delerium" chapter of PORCUPINE TREE's career".

A must-have for PT fans.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What's the value of having a compilation box set if you have al individual album CD in your collection? The sleeve notes! Oh yeah . Out of the music presented in this double CD set, I really enjoy reading the liner notes in full color mini booklet. I like the way Steve Wilson managed his music career from no one to some one. I love to enjoy how he was so crazy about the sounds produced from any kind of source. I remember vividly that he did mention recording natural sounds coming out from the street and brought back the recording material to his own studio for further processing. And everyone knows that he is really a sound genius! I always imagined if by the time Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon were made in the seventies and was adult already, He might did a great job as Alan Parsons did for DSoTM.

My first experience with Porcupine Tree started with fabulous live album Comma Divine where a song "Waiting Phase One and Phase Two" was performed with elegant soundscape - despite it's a live album. Since then I explored almost all releases Porcupine Tree has ever produced - especially official studio album. I even purchased the IEM (The Incredible Expanding Mindf.). Listening the music of Porcupine Tree requires patient and relax mode. Musically, there is nothing like complex chords or composition. The music of Porcupine Tree boils down into great soundscape and incredible sonic quality of the CD.

As the title implies this compilation comprises all tracks produced and recorded during the band's engagement with Delerium label in 1991-1997. I do enjoy the music presented here. "Radio Active Toy" starts the box set wonderfully with great soundscape and guitar effects. Almost all songs are in the similar vein like this one. "Up The Downstair" is very enjoyable.

This collection is , I can consider, reasonably representative of the band's career. It started off with Steve Wilson's experimental beginnings with "On The Sunday Of Life" through to the confident performances on "Signify". All the band' key developments are here. For those of you who just known the band from its later albums like "Stupid Dream", "Lightbulb Sun", "In Absentia" or "Deadwing", you might be surprised due to wide variety of music Porcupine Tree has ever made.

For a beginner, this box set is suitable as it depicts the kind of music Porcupine has ever played and some represent also what it came out in later albums as well. At least one thing for sure: the sonic quality of this CD is excellent. Otherwise, why do you call Steven Wilson?

Progressively yours, GW

i-Rock! presents: ANGRA Live in Jakarta - October 16, 2006. Be there! Or die!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
3 stars The Early Years - a curio, but not essential.

After having heard the brilliant 'Deadwing' and the excellent 'In Absentia' and 'Scenes From a Blank Planet' I had come to the conclusion that Porcupine Tree could do no wrong. I love their blend of Progressive Metal and Symphonic Rock. The lyrics are inspired and Wilson's soft crystal clear vocal style is awesome on all these three CDs that I can highly recommend. However these early years as represented on this compilation are not quite as absorbing or well-produced as their latter work. While these tracks do not live up to the high expectation or excellence as the aforementioned CDs, there is still much to recommend on this compilation.

CD1 begins with the catchy riff heavy 'Radioactive Toy' - a 10 minute rocker with incredible instrumental breaks that features in their live performances. 'Voyage 34 - Phase One' is a blissful combination of rock and experimentation with prog elements. There is a very eerie track that relies heavily on keyboards and is overall an instrumental with a creepy spoken voice that explains how the recipient was high on hallucinogens and was able to come down every time except for the one time when he met himself on the downstairs. It sounds cheesy perhaps, but it genuinely is very ethereal. (Many tracks are based on LSD experiences and seems to be a major theme on the album.)

CD2 begins with the excellent 'Stars Die' and the epic 18 minute 'The Sky Moves Sideways - Phase One' which is phenomenal music and worth getting hold of if you love symphonic prog.

'Signify II' is also a highlight and the distorted weirdness of 'Sever' and 'Dark Matter' are worthy additions.

In conclusion, this is a good addition to your collection if you are after early Porcupine Tree and don't want to fork out for the first few albums. There seems to be a good mix of what the band were doing in those days. However, this is not their best work. Far from it. Many of the tracks are very dull and forgettable. But this was an experimental phase of their evolution as progenitors of neo progressive heavy prog, and as such are well worth a listen. The best of course was yet to come.

Review by Bonnek
4 stars If you are only mildly interested in Porcupine Tree's space rock beginnings, then this is one fine document with the essential songs from that period. It's a beautifully package with excellent liner notes and an interesting list of non-album tracks that will also charm the fans of the band that already own all or most studio albums.

The first 4 songs are compiled from the debut, PT's most psychedelic album and an acquired taste even for most fans. The selected tracks will give you a good idea of what that album was about and will probably suffice for people not enthused by it. The Voyage 34 album is one of the very few PT releases that I would rate below excellent, the fine excerpt here makes it even more unnecessary.

PT's second full length album Up The Downstairs is represented by the remainder of the first CD. For me that's an entirely essential album. The extended version of Synesthesia and the beautiful acoustic Phantoms (only to be found on this compilation) still makes this section interesting for fans.

The second CD concentrates on the 1995 and 1996 albums. If you should not own the reissue of The Sky Moves Sideways for one or other obscure reason then Stars Die might be another reason to win you over to the spaced-out trip rock period of PT. For fans, there is the little psychedelic tune Men of Wood which belongs more to the early PT years but which wasn't recorded till 1995.

PT's most amazing album for me is Signify, which is documented with 7 tracks of which one comes in an extended version and 3 are unique to this compilation. Especially the instrumental trip The Sound of No-one Listening appeals to me, but also Colourflow In Mind will be a nice addition to your collection. Fuse The Sky is ok but probably the least interesting rare track of this excellent compilation.

Because this compilation is equally worthwhile for fans, newcomers and people that are only mildly interested in PT's earlier trips, 4 stars are deserved.

Review by Matti
5 stars It's been a long time since I've rated anything with five stars, but now I can truly do it. I have listened to PORCUPINE TREE for only less than a year (albums Lightbulb Sun & Fear Of A Blank Planet, and their Anesthesia concert DVD). I guess I had some prejudices of them, too heavy and depressive for me or something like that. Well, I may not like them at their heaviest, but this 2-CD compilation covering PT's early years was a fantastic enjoyment, and I'm guaranteed now that Steven Wilson is a multi-talented musical genius. I didn't know that at first he played ALL the instruments himself. Who could ever guess, listening to this set? Very few musicians in the whole history of rock have the similar broadness of talent.

I won't go into track-by-track analysis. The music can be described as trippy, dreamy, spacey, psychedelic, exciting, dark-toned and emotionally captivating. Their (or his) originality is in no doubt right from the start, even if the influences can be rather easily spotted. Especially PINK FLOYD, Syd Barrett, ambient and Krautrock such as ASH RA TEMPEL or KLAUS SCHULZE. These names are also mentioned in Wilson's comments on each track. Thanks for them, this set serves perfectly also as a companion into the band history and Wilson's creativity.

For a newcomer this is a perfect place to start, but as there are a lot of material that is not on the main albums, at least not in the same format, this is very useful package to the long-time fans too. The best tracks take you to heavenly trips, so to speak.

Latest members reviews

4 stars After hearing 'Deadwing', and one or two other highlights from their career, I decided to get an instant PT record collection by getting 'Stars Die'. And, even though I say so myself, I played a blinder! From the mesmeric and ambient sounds from 'Up the Downstair' and 'Voyage 34', to the mu ... (read more)

Report this review (#114572) | Posted by Dobbin | Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars the only thing that keeps me from giving a 5 star review is that i don't like compilations.. apart from that all PT releases until Coma Divine are excellent.. it's my favourite PT period.. and it is actually a very good introduction for new fans to the magical world of Pink.. oops Porcupine T ... (read more)

Report this review (#85885) | Posted by toolis | Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am quite new with pT music, but after listening the free mp3's of progarchives many times, i decided it was time to buy some of their stuff. As it is suggested by few reviewers, Stars die is supposed to be a great start for a beginner. I 've got this album for 18$ and i have to say that thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#58906) | Posted by | Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The review by Sigod is very good, this is just another opinion to add if you are wondering. This is a great collection of 'older' PT stuff. Here in the US it's pretty easy to find for about $20. If you got into PT via 'IN ABSENTIA' and are wondering if you want to collect the older works of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#9670) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hemel Hempstead's very own rock giants Porcupine Tree spent six very happy years with Delirium investigating the boundaries of space rock and downtempo prog. This box set contains some of the highs from that period along with a selection of b-sides and remixed material that serve as an excelle ... (read more)

Report this review (#9668) | Posted by sigod | Thursday, September 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For those new with these band, these is the perfect start point, great melodies with a flavor of psychodelia, ambient and allure sounds. This collection reflect the very first ideas of the band and the sequence in the evolution, a masterpiece by itself, with a great box and a great booklet. For all ... (read more)

Report this review (#9666) | Posted by | Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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