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PORCUPINE TREE

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Porcupine Tree picture
Porcupine Tree biography
Formed in 1987 in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire - Suspended activity since 2010

PORCUPINE TREE are incredibly hard to describe because their music doesn't fit into any one genre. I like the description on the back of the album "Signify" (one of my all time favorites). It says "Porcupine Tree have managed to defy genres and blend together numerous ambient, rock and avant-garde styles to create a musical landscape that is both refreshing and compulsively seductive". The great post-GONG revival which gave birth to OZRIC TENTACLES now brings us PORCUPINE TREE. The hypnotic rhythms, spacy synthesizers, glissando guitar and crazy voices which made the style successful are all contained here.

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2005 ⭐

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2007 ⭐

The band started as a solo project of singer-songwriter-guitarist STEVEN WILSON who, back in the early nineties, released a series of increasingly spaced-out ambient excursions. PT is one of the most innovative bands in prog today combining intense musicianship, unconventional composition and superb studio production. They are unquestionably one of the UK's most inspired and inventive rock groups.

The bands 4th studio album from '96. "Signify" saw Porcupine Tree truly gell as a studio band producing a blend of psychedelia, heavy rock, melancholic pop, kraut rock, and wild experimentation that brought the best out of each band member. Their latest two albums ("Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun") move the band further away from their influences and into their own catagory, by which other bands eventually will be compared. But if you are a fan of progressive, thoughtful, briliantly executed and flawlessly produced music, you will do no better than PT.

PORCUPINE TREE's eighth studio album, "Deadwing", was released in March 2005 by Lava Records / Warner Music. Less rock-oriented than the previous album "In Absentia", "Deadwing" is partially based on a "surreal ghost story" screenplay written by Steven and sometime PORCUPINE TREE / NO-MAN art collaborator Mike Bennion. The 60-minute, nine-track album contains material varying from short airplay-friendly songs such as 'Shallow' to lengthier pieces lik...
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PORCUPINE TREE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PORCUPINE TREE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 878 ratings
On the Sunday of Life...
1992
3.89 | 1037 ratings
Up the Downstair
1993
4.07 | 1387 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
1995
3.84 | 1249 ratings
Signify
1996
3.99 | 1385 ratings
Stupid Dream
1999
4.02 | 1564 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
2000
4.26 | 2603 ratings
In Absentia
2002
4.11 | 2070 ratings
Deadwing
2005
4.27 | 2643 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
2007
3.67 | 1560 ratings
The Incident
2009

PORCUPINE TREE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.45 | 484 ratings
Coma Divine
1997
3.47 | 97 ratings
Spiral Circus Live (LP)
1997
3.70 | 154 ratings
XM
2003
3.48 | 21 ratings
Live in Poland
2003
3.93 | 329 ratings
Warszawa
2004
4.02 | 156 ratings
XMII
2005
4.20 | 175 ratings
Rockpalast
2005
4.42 | 233 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
3.45 | 253 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
2008
3.68 | 141 ratings
Ilosaarirock
2009
4.30 | 215 ratings
Atlanta
2010
3.60 | 226 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012
3.00 | 3 ratings
Köln 4th Dec 2007 (TV Broadcast)
2020
3.40 | 5 ratings
First Live Performance 4th Dec 1993
2020
3.50 | 4 ratings
Los Angeles (30th July 2003)
2020
3.38 | 8 ratings
Coma: Coda (Rome 1997)
2020

PORCUPINE TREE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.57 | 552 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
4.67 | 580 ratings
Anesthetize
2010
4.21 | 90 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

PORCUPINE TREE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 130 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
1994
3.31 | 406 ratings
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip
2000
4.20 | 402 ratings
Recordings
2001
4.20 | 278 ratings
Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997
2002
2.91 | 3 ratings
Porcupine Tree Sampler 2005 - Transmission 3.1
2005
3.00 | 3 ratings
Porcupine Tree Sampler 2008 - Transmission 8.1
2008
4.33 | 9 ratings
The Delerium Years 1994 - 1997
2016
4.36 | 11 ratings
The Delerium Years 1991-1993
2017
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Sound of No One Listening (2020 Remaster)
2020

PORCUPINE TREE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.22 | 70 ratings
Tarquin's Seaweed Farm
1989
3.15 | 56 ratings
Love, Death & Mussolini
1990
2.99 | 49 ratings
The Nostalgia Factory
1991
3.72 | 127 ratings
Voyage 34
1992
3.32 | 32 ratings
Radioactive E. P.
1992
2.91 | 61 ratings
Voyage 34 : Remixes
1993
3.33 | 75 ratings
Moonloop E.P.
1994
3.82 | 203 ratings
Staircase Infinities
1994
3.72 | 56 ratings
Waiting
1996
3.32 | 96 ratings
Insignificance
1997
4.06 | 35 ratings
Ambulance Chasers
1997
2.99 | 58 ratings
Pure Narcotic
1999
2.92 | 51 ratings
Stranger By The Minute
1999
2.91 | 52 ratings
Piano Lessons
1999
3.83 | 21 ratings
Coma Divine II
1999
4.05 | 38 ratings
Stars Die - Rare and Unreleased
1999
3.56 | 9 ratings
The Rest Will Flow
2000
3.10 | 68 ratings
4 Chords That Made A Million
2000
3.25 | 64 ratings
Shesmovedon
2000
4.00 | 117 ratings
Transmission IV
2001
2.98 | 235 ratings
Metanoia
2001
4.48 | 23 ratings
Blackest Eyes
2002
4.47 | 19 ratings
The Sound Of Muzak
2002
4.68 | 19 ratings
Trains
2003
3.59 | 37 ratings
Delerium EP
2003
3.75 | 4 ratings
Men of Wood
2004
3.61 | 127 ratings
Lazarus
2005
3.80 | 15 ratings
Shallow
2005
3.71 | 14 ratings
So Called Friend
2006
3.48 | 158 ratings
Futile
2006
4.08 | 12 ratings
Way Out Of Here
2007
4.00 | 13 ratings
Normal
2007
4.00 | 13 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet (Single)
2007
3.96 | 502 ratings
Nil Recurring
2007
3.06 | 8 ratings
Novak
2008
3.96 | 71 ratings
Transmission 10.1 - Ilosaarirock
2009
2.82 | 68 ratings
Time Flies
2009
3.67 | 9 ratings
Acoustic Session Jan 2010
2010
4.00 | 5 ratings
Pure Narcotic - Acoustic Session 2012
2020
3.50 | 2 ratings
BBC Session 13th April 2007
2020

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 XM  by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 2003
3.70 | 154 ratings

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XM
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars Listening diary 21st January, 2021: Porcupine Tree - XM (progressive rock, 2003)

Of all the (far too many) live albums Porcupine Tree did (and are still doing, thanks to their new bandcamp), this is probably one of the most pointless. It's not even a live album, but a live-in-studio performance, with material almost all from one album. It's almost the definition of a fan club release, but I still absolutely adore this material, so I still enjoy it. I will say that I love the version of "Gravity Eyelids" here in particular, with Steven's voice being a bit more vulnerable. But on the other end, they've never done "Slave Called Shiver" well on a live recording - it just doesn't work without the robot voice.

7.3 (2nd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 Atlanta by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 2010
4.30 | 215 ratings

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Atlanta
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 4.5 stars. Well I am a huge PORCUPINE TREE fan and have seen them in concert a few times including the North American tour that this show in Atlanta was taken from. Funny but when I got "Fear Of A Blank Planet" I really felt it was a step down from "Deadwing" and "In Absentia" the two that came before it. Even if Fripp and Lifeson guest on here I had a hard time getting into it. Then I saw the concert. Something just clicked seeing and hearing this live. Each song became more meaningful in part from the videos they were showing but the band was so passionate and Gavin Harrison was just a beast. Next time I spun it it was like it went from black and white to colour. Weird but true.

Man this live record along with "Arriving Somewhere..." and "Coma Divine" create a killer trilogy of live music touching on my some of my favourite periods of this band. Disc one is all about "Fear Of A Blank Planet" and man it gets my juices flowing. It doesn't hurt having "Sound Of Muzak" an all time fav on there either. Disc two is surprising for having older cuts like "Dark Matter" and "A Smart Kid" on it. Man the latter track has been such a long time favourite that I felt emotion hearing and seeing this live. "Way Out Of Here" just smokes and then there's the sentimental favourite "Even Less". Bumping this one up to five stars. For the memories!

 Arriving Somewhere... by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 2006
4.42 | 233 ratings

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Arriving Somewhere...
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. This is a sentimental favourite of mine, I've had the DVD for years and watched it a few times but I'm just not big on DVDs. Mike from BC sent me a cdr of this many years ago which I still have and I used to keep it in the vehicle just to have it there. I've since got a more legit recording and I have to say this is probably my favourite period by this band. I like heavy music and this packs a punch with Gavin Harrison really standing out. Of course we get some psychedelic atmospheres on this one too as contrasts and Barbieri is a master at this. I mean check out "Don't Hate Me" as a great example of this. These tracks were taken from two dates in Chicago in October of 2005. Disc two opens with the title track of this recording and ends with "Trains" and it doesn't get much better than those two. There's some nostalgia listening to this having seen them live a few times back in the day. So many highlights! Reminds me why they have been one of my favourite bands for so long.
 Lightbulb Sun by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.02 | 1564 ratings

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Lightbulb Sun
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by MaxnEmmy

4 stars Toward the end of the millennium, Steven was starting to take off with his prog/pop adventure call Porcupine Tree. His other bands, which include No-man, IEM and miscellaneous ambient music were all showing promise but never breaking out to popular appeal. With Porcupine Tree, Steven seemed like he wanted to gain a wider audience. The band was becoming popular in England and wanted to break in America. Porcupine Tree had spent a decade refining their sound. On this album they went to more accessible tracks which were fodder for radio airplay. However, the band still did not reach a large audience. It wasn't until the next album, In Absentia, that prog fans really started to take notice in the US and elsewhere. This album is Porcupine Tree mastering the shorter song idea and succeeding. It's very listenable music with interesting lyrics and a sarcastic attitude. The band likes to explore the darker moods of humanity.
 The Nostalgia Factory by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
2.99 | 49 ratings

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The Nostalgia Factory
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The Nostalgia Factory" (subtitled "...And Other Tips for Amateur Golfers") is the 3rd studio release by UK artist Steven Wilson under the pseudonym of Porcupine Tree. The album was released through Delerium Records in 1991. It was originally released in a limited number of copies on cassette tape and should probably be considered a demo album. Tracks 1 to 7, an edited version of "The Nostalgia Factory" and "This Long Silence", "Nine Cats" and "It Will Rain for a Million Years" were released on "On The Sunday Of Life... (1992)" (the official debut full-length studio album by Porcupine Tree). Tracks 1 to 7 and "It Will Rain for a Million Years" were all also featured on the 1990 "The Love, Death & Mussolini" demo EP (although the latter appear here in a much longer version). The only track from the EP which is not also featured on "The Nostalgia Factory" is "Out".

The short ambient intro "Hymn" seques into the delightfully dark and atmospheric "Footprints", and itīs interesting to hear a song from this early stage of Wilsonīs career, which could well have been written much later and included on an album like "Signify (1996)" or maybe even "Stupid Dream (1999)". But the next track "Linton Samuel Dawson" is completely different and takes the listener into psychadelic comedy rock land, with Wilsonīs vocals pitched to sound like a mouse singing. Itīs a high energy track with a great positive energy, but...itīs not exactly great art. "And The Swallows Dance Above The Sun" opens with a sample and an energetic and busy programmed drum beat, which more or less continues for the duration of the track, with ambient keyboards, soaring lead guitar themes, and Wilsonīs melancholic vocals fill the remaining part of the soundscape. Had the drums been played by a human being and had featured an organic tone, that track could have been a little more accomplished. Itīs still a pretty great track though.

"The Nostalgia Factory" continues with "Queen Quotes Crowley", which is another ambient psychadelic track featuring omnipresent guitar leads by Wilson, while all sorts of studio experiments with volume and backwards recordings run in the back. "No Luck With Rabbits" is a short ambient transition track to "Begonia Seduction Scene", which is a beautiful track comprising acoustic guitar and some atmospheric lead guitar themes. About midway through the track it gets a little darker and the atmosphere changes towards the ominous. "Colours Dance Angels Kiss" is completely different from the dark and gloomy mood of the preceding track as itīs another comedy rock track in the vein of "Linton Samuel Dawson", although not quite as helium induced. "Prayer" is short ambient track leading into the longer "The Nostalgia Factory" title track. Itīs a driving melancholic psychadelic rock song, featuring ambient looped synths, sound experiments, and Wilsonīs pitched sedated vocals. Itīs a track with a great atmosphere and loads of layers of different sounds. Definitely one of the highlights of this release. "The Long Silence" which follows is another. Had the drums not been programmed on this track it would sounded fully professional. Especially Wilsonīs vocals feature a great sound production on "The Long Silence".

"Sinatra Rape Scene" is up next and itīs a short backwards recorded sound piece segueing into "Hokey Cokey", which is an ambient psychadelic rock track which slowly builds, and which features a rather humorous sampled section in the middle. "Landscare" is a slow ominous sounding drone piece sequeing into the short "Delightful Suicide" which is another ambient track featuring a little guitar and keyboards spicing up the track. "Nine Cats" follows and itīs a singer/songwriter type track opening with mostly acoustic guitar and Wilson singing before programmed drums and bass come in and the song becomes a little louder and soft rocking. Itīs a nice melancholic pop/rock song and could have been featured on a mid-70 Pink Floyd album. "Split Image" is a sound collage type track building tension towards the closing track "It Will Rain For A Million Years", which is an ambient layered track featuring spoken words and subdued singing, soaring majestic lead guitar motifs, acoustic guitar and layers of keyboards. This version of the track is not the same as the version on "The Love, Death & Mussolini (1990)", as itīs 6 minutes longer than the original 4 minutes long track, making this version a 10 minutes long mammoth.

Upon conclusion "The Nostalgia Factory" is a good quality demo album, and it shows the many different aspects of 1980s/early 1990s Wilson. It can be argued that the demo is a bit redundant today as most of the material is featured on "On The Sunday Of Life... (1992)", but thatīs of course not fair, and a demo shouldnīt be judged like that. As it is a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Love, Death & Mussolini by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
3.15 | 56 ratings

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Love, Death & Mussolini
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The Love, Death & Mussolini" is the second studio release by UK artist Steven Wilson under the pseudonym of Porcupine Tree. "The Love, Death & Mussolini" was released through No Man's Land in early 1990. It succeeds "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm" from 1989. The catalogue status of "The Love, Death & Mussolini" is a bit unclear as it has been called an EP, an album, and a demo by various souces. Iīll go with the latter as it was released in a very limited number of copies on cassette tape. Tracks 1 to 7 would be included on "On The Sunday Of Life... (1992)" (the official debut full-length studio album by Porcupine Tree).

"The Love, Death & Mussolini" features 9 tracks and a total playing time of 35:39 minutes, so while it is generally considered an (demo) EP itīs an almost album length long release. The short ambient intro "Hymn" seques into the delightfully dark and atmospheric "Footprints", and itīs interesting to hear a song from this early stage of Wilsonīs career, which could well have been written much later and included on an album like "Signify (1996)" or maybe even "Stupid Dream (1999)". But the next track "Linton Samuel Dawson" is completely different and takes the listener into psychadelic comedy rock land, with Wilsonīs vocals pitched to sound like a mouse singing. Itīs a high energy track with a great positive energy, but...itīs not exactly great art. "And The Swallows Dance Above The Sun" opens with a sample and an energetic and busy programmed drum beat, which more or less continues for the duration of the track, with ambient keyboards, soaring lead guitar themes, and Wilsonīs melancholic vocals filling the remaining part of the soundscape. Had the drums been played by a human being and had featured an organic tone, that track could have been a little more accomplished. Itīs still a pretty great track though.

"The Love, Death & Mussolini" continues with "Queen Quotes Crowley", which is another ambient psychadelic track featuring omnipresent guitar leads by Wilson, while all sorts of studio experiments with volume and backwards recordings run in the back. "No Luck With Rabbits" is a short ambient transition track to "Begonia Seduction Scene", which is a beautiful track comprising acoustic guitar and some atmospheric lead guitar themes. About midway through the track it gets a little darker and the atmosphere changes towards the ominous. The 8:59 minutes long "Out" is up next, and itīs a hard rocking psychadelic rock song, featuring a driving rhythm and a middle eastern tinged lead theme. Itīs like listening to Wilson playing Hawkwind or something in that vein. "The Love, Death & Mussolini" closes with "It Will Rain For A Million Years" which "Out" seques into. "It Will Rain For A Million Years" is an ambient layered track featuring spoken words and subdued singing, soaring majestic lead guitar motifs, acoustic guitar and layers of keyboards.

While not all tracks on "The Love, Death & Mussolini" are equally interesting or accomplished, the big difference between the material on "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm (1989)" and the material on this release, is the level of professionalism in both the musicianship and the recording techniques. Itīs obvious Wilson was fast learning more about recording and also honed his skills as a musician. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Tarquin's Seaweed Farm by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.22 | 70 ratings

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Tarquin's Seaweed Farm
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm" is the first studio release by UK artist Steven Wilson under the pseudonym of Porcupine Tree. The album was released through No Man's Land in January 1989. Itīs a compilation of recordings from the mid-80 to 1988, and they were originally only released in a very limited number on cassette tape. Strict catalogizing would probably say this is the debut full-length studio album by Porcupine Tree, but it should probably be considered a demo album instead. Tracks 1 - 7 on the album and a re-recorded version of track number 8 "Radioactive Toy" would appear on "On The Sunday Of Life... (1992)" (the official debut full-length studio album by Porcupine Tree).

The material on the 15 track, 77:17 minutes long demo album is psychadelic rock at times strongly influenced by the early Pink Floyd releases. Itīs an adventurous sonic journey from minimalistic ambience, to odd spoken word passages, to more regular sounding psychadelic space rock flows. Tracks like "Jupiter Island", "Radioactive Toy", and "Mute" are quite entertaining, but there are several parts of the album which feel uneventful and as a listener itīs hard not to become a little impatient when Wilson opts to spend more time with psychadelic experimental noodling, than on producing memorable songs.

For a "bedroom" recording, "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm" is relatively well sounding, although the programmed drums donīt really do the music any favors. They are simplistic and a little one-dimensional. So upon conclusion "Tarquin's Seaweed Farm" is an album featuring both great promise but also featuring more amaturish tendencies. Which is of course completely understandable at this early stage of Wilsonīs career. I see this as more of a novelty recording that itīs nice to have heard to understand where Wilson came from than anything Iīll return to and listen to repeatedly. A 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Time Flies by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
2.82 | 68 ratings

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Time Flies
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by arriving

4 stars Posterity observes the recent release of a near-full-length "Time Flies" video on YouTube, and, returning to the original single edit, I find myself disagreeing markedly with the blanket picture of two-star reviews on this single. Therefore, in the interests of critical pluralism (particularly because the median RATING is, at the time of writing, four stars, far above the weighted mean):

First, I would contend that "Time Flies" is one of the greatest Porcupine Tree epics, the last great one they wrote, and the obvious highlight on sprawling near-masterpiece "The Incident". I'm willing to go further and declare it one of my favourite songs ever written by my favourite band. I would hold ANY version or edit of it in higher esteem than 90% of the work of the "Big Six", excluding Floyd.

Crucially, this edit keeps the lyrics intact, wistfully portraying the bittersweet cocktail of nostalgia and waste that age and memory brings. Not every line hits the spot, but the first verse is just perfect, and arguably Wilson at his most autobiographical ('67, a "suburb of heaven" and that comfortable ennui). The Floydian chords ("Dogs", anyone?) strike more at nostalgia than plagiarism, and Wilson, to his credit, fully acknowledged his inspirations. This song typifies Wilson's conception of prog rock; a means of telling stories, tragedies even, unbounded by the limitations of musical convention, and why comparisons to indie are misleading. As such, while this edit does dilute that extraordinary extended guitar solo that gradually erupts in the piece's middle act, the Geist of the composition is untainted; this is an idea, a feeling, sickening and joyous, not a sterile concoction.

In many ways, this is a post-FOABP reflection. Lasse Hoile's video captures this perfectly hazy, overwhelmed, trapped-in-a-free-world languor. Whereas "Fear?" dealt with the crushing teenage experience from the (ostensible) perspective of a teenager, this looks back at it with fresh and tragic perspective: more nuanced (life isn't utterly horrific, when you're comfortably off) and ultimately far sadder. I say this, indeed, as a teenager.

Secondly, as many have noted, this single offers a different mix and shorter edit, unavailable elsewhere. This categorically elevates it above the majority of Wilson's solo singles, which effectively present the song in its album form, sans additional rarity. Is it superior to the original? No, definitely not, and not just because it's "less prog". Does this make it superfluous? I'd argue less superfluous than a bonus disk of demos on a pointless reissue, far better value, and far more highly recommended. Nevertheless, while as a standalone song it is magnificent, even independent of the song cycle it anchors, I can't award it the full five stars in good faith, nor could I to any "single" of this nature.

 The Incident by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.67 | 1560 ratings

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The Incident
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by arriving

4 stars The controversy, the controversy. PT still constitute the absolute zenith of music in my eyes and, if The Incident is disappointing, it says much about the standards Wilson has imposed on us. My rating oscillates frequently between 4 and 5 [insert obligatory comment about "4.5"]. I freely concede it's the weakest Porcupine Tree album since at least Stupid Dream, but leagues better than anything PT put out before 1998. In terms of the multiplicities of criticisms it has faced: alright, "55-minute song" was misdirection, and without it, the bifurcation into two discs is unnecessary, but it has enough recurring musical and thematic motifs to qualify as at least linked, without being repetitive, answering the two (incompatible) charges levelled at it. Yes, it sold faster than any previous PT release, but that says more about anticipation and FOABP than this album, surely? More to the point, it did so despite being the least commercially-oriented record since Signify. This is so far from a collection of pop songs. It's dense, extremely dark, sprawling and challenging. It recycles old ideas? Up to a point; it still pushes the Porcupine Tree sound into new areas (the title track in particular), and it's worth considering that the album's structure and make-up turns its back on the pattern running through previous releases. Turning to the song cycle itself, we have 14 tracks, mostly in suite, with 6 main compositions and 8 auxiliary interludes. Of the former, "The Blind House" and "Octane Twisted" are probably the weakest, typifying the quintessential soft-explosive PT formula, although the former offers a few tantalising hooks and the latter an intriguing acoustic motif. Nevertheless, these tracks ultimately fall outside of what one might reasonably consider 'essential'. The title track has its moments, and the "I want to be loved" refrain attains a creepiness on this record that no other PT release would really afford it (except, thinking about it, In Absentia, on which it would have become the creepiest refrain ever?), but, most importantly, displays a NEW DIRECTION, the volatile industrial dirge that defined "Insurgentes", Wilson's solo debut of the previous year, and the logical conclusion of Porcupine Tree, some might argue. The remaining three 'longs' are all extremely strong. With considerable regret, "Drawing the Line" gets daubed as the weakest of the three, with the wickedly gothic lyrics of the verses unmatched in the repetitive chorus (that being said, the chorus' "cinematic but crude" anthemic desperation is criminally underrated by those who cry "indie rock"). The overall instrumentation and sonic palette, particularly before the first chorus, is exceptional, as good as anything else in the PT discography. "I Drive the Hearse" is heartbreaking, an acoustic lamentation, a nursery rhyme for the clinically depressed, an extraordinary closer. Most strikingly, it largely revolves around major chords, making the subject matter (in short, "when she cries, I take the blame") even more haunting. And then, the 12-minute piece-de-resistance in the middle. I've reviewed this track in more depth as a single; suffice to say, it's a masterpiece, its more-than-passing resemblance to classics heightens, rather than poisons, its appeal, and it still sets the benchmark for wistful nostalgic melancholia. The transitions are more hit-and-miss. I can't pretend to be a huge fan of riffs, so when I hear Circle of Manias dismissed as second-rate TOOL, the "TOOL" comparison is more off-putting than the second-rate business. Kneel and Disconnect and "Yellow Windows?" are both pretty but hardly world-beating (although, again, that says more about Wilson's standards). On the other hand, Great Expectations is classic youth-gone-wrong Wilsonian summery prettiness, while Degree Zero of Liberty takes the slightly underwhelming opening crashes of Occam's Razor and makes them interesting. As for the second disc, allegedly emphasising the coherency of the cycle for those whose eyebrows remain raised and doubts indelible, the songs are mixed. Flicker and Black Dahlia are pretty and oddly moving (particularly the latter), if forgettable, Bonnie the Cat seems to enjoy a mixed reception; I'm going with the "bit of an industrial mess" camp. Then, "the last Porcupine Tree song", and it's a good one. A stadiumesque, anthemic triumphalism pervades the choruses, but "We Are The Champions" this is not; an extraordinary victory lap with the most caustic bitterness of Wilson's career. I have never heard a career closer approaching this in quality (if King Crimson hadn't reformed in the '80s, then of course "Starless" would have taken that title). And then that's that. Although The Incident was written during considerable in-group tension, this isn't the sound of a band collapsing; it's the sound of a band that, perhaps, has lost confidence in its future, so pulls a final trick that's not so much experimentation, not leaping to a new place, but digging down into the depths of its dark sound (apologies for the alliteration). Four stars. 10/10 ? Time Flies 9.5/10 ? I Drive the Hearse, Remember Me Lover 9/10 ? Drawing the Line, Great Expectations 8.5/10 ? Black Dahlia, Degree Zero of Liberty, The Incident 8/10 ? The Séance, Octane Twisted 7.5/10 - Flicker, Your Unpleasant Family, Occam's Razor, The Blind House 7/10 ? Kneel and Disconnect, Bonnie the Cat, The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train 6.5/10 ? Circle of Manias
 Signify by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.84 | 1249 ratings

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Signify
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Isaac Peretz

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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