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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 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 like the 10-minute-plus 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here'. Most of the music was written by Steven but the album features the largest amount of full-band com...
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Buy PORCUPINE TREE Music


In Absentia (4 Disc Deluxe Edition with 100pg book)In Absentia (4 Disc Deluxe Edition with 100pg book)
Kscope Import 2020
$90.24
Fear Of A Blank Planet (USA Only)Fear Of A Blank Planet (USA Only)
KSCOPE 2017
$13.03
$14.41 (used)
Arriving SomewhereArriving Somewhere
KSCOPE 2018
$14.80
$13.37 (used)
DeadwingDeadwing
Kscope Import 2018
$11.03
$14.23 (used)
The Sky Moves SidewaysThe Sky Moves Sideways
KSCOPE 2018
$8.95
$11.82 (used)
Stupid DreamStupid Dream
KSCOPE 2017
$10.12
$14.01 (used)
AnesthetizeAnesthetize
KSCOPE 2017
$14.89
$18.85 (used)
Stars DieStars Die
KSCOPE 2017
$10.04
$8.99 (used)
Lightbulb Sun (Sleevepac Cd)Lightbulb Sun (Sleevepac Cd)
KSCOPE 2017
$10.00
$14.08 (used)
Voyage 34Voyage 34
KSCOPE 2017
$9.26
$12.45 (used)

More places to buy PORCUPINE TREE music online Buy PORCUPINE TREE & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

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)

3.03 | 826 ratings
On The Sunday Of Life.....
1991
3.90 | 974 ratings
Up The Downstair
1993
4.07 | 1307 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
1995
3.83 | 1179 ratings
Signify
1996
3.99 | 1314 ratings
Stupid Dream
1999
4.03 | 1471 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
2000
4.25 | 2470 ratings
In Absentia
2002
4.11 | 1973 ratings
Deadwing
2005
4.25 | 2508 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
2007
3.67 | 1501 ratings
The Incident
2009

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

4.45 | 465 ratings
Coma Divine
1997
3.50 | 92 ratings
Spiral Circus Live (LP)
1997
3.69 | 147 ratings
XM
2003
3.56 | 18 ratings
Live in Poland
2003
3.93 | 316 ratings
Warszawa
2004
4.03 | 151 ratings
XMII
2005
4.22 | 171 ratings
Rockpalast
2005
4.46 | 210 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
3.45 | 242 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
2008
3.67 | 132 ratings
Ilosaarirock
2009
4.24 | 204 ratings
Atlanta
2010
3.58 | 209 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

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

4.57 | 535 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
4.67 | 560 ratings
Anesthetize
2010
4.17 | 83 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

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

2.59 | 125 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
1994
3.31 | 387 ratings
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip
2000
4.19 | 386 ratings
Recordings
2001
4.21 | 269 ratings
Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997
2002
3.00 | 2 ratings
Porcupine Tree Sampler 2005 - Transmission 3.1
2005
3.10 | 2 ratings
Porcupine Tree Sampler 2008 - Transmission 8.1
2008
4.60 | 5 ratings
The Delerium Years 1994 - 1997
2016
4.50 | 6 ratings
The Delerium Years 1991-1993
2017

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

3.40 | 67 ratings
Tarquin's Seaweed Farm (K7)
1989
3.18 | 54 ratings
Love, Death & Mussolini (K7)
1990
2.96 | 46 ratings
The Nostalgia Factory (K7)
1991
3.73 | 118 ratings
Voyage 34
1992
3.33 | 31 ratings
Radioactive E. P.
1992
2.93 | 56 ratings
Voyage 34 : Remixes
1993
3.30 | 70 ratings
Moonloop E.P.
1994
3.82 | 187 ratings
Staircase Infinities
1994
3.72 | 55 ratings
Waiting
1996
3.31 | 94 ratings
Insignificance (K7)
1997
4.04 | 34 ratings
Ambulance Chasers
1997
2.98 | 55 ratings
Pure Narcotic
1999
2.90 | 49 ratings
Stranger By The Minute
1999
2.90 | 51 ratings
Piano Lessons
1999
3.79 | 20 ratings
Coma Divine II
1999
4.00 | 36 ratings
Stars Die - Rare and Unreleased
1999
3.38 | 8 ratings
The Rest Will Flow
2000
3.09 | 67 ratings
4 Chords That Made A Million
2000
3.23 | 61 ratings
Shesmovedon
2000
4.00 | 113 ratings
Transmission IV
2001
2.97 | 220 ratings
Metanoia
2001
4.31 | 16 ratings
Blackest Eyes
2002
4.33 | 15 ratings
The Sound Of Muzak
2002
4.60 | 15 ratings
Trains
2003
3.57 | 35 ratings
Delerium EP
2003
3.67 | 3 ratings
Men of Wood
2004
3.60 | 123 ratings
Lazarus
2005
3.67 | 12 ratings
Shallow
2005
3.55 | 11 ratings
So Called Friend
2006
3.47 | 154 ratings
Futile
2006
4.00 | 10 ratings
Way Out Of Here
2007
3.91 | 11 ratings
Normal
2007
3.80 | 10 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet (Single)
2007
3.95 | 482 ratings
Nil Recurring
2007
2.94 | 7 ratings
Novak
2008
3.96 | 68 ratings
Transmission 10.1 - Ilosaarirock
2009
2.73 | 66 ratings
Time Flies
2009
3.86 | 7 ratings
Acoustic Session Jan 2010
2010

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Anesthetize by PORCUPINE TREE album cover DVD/Video, 2010
4.67 | 560 ratings

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Anesthetize
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by MaxnEmmy

5 stars One of the best live rock concerts in the last decade. This captured the band during their "Fear of a Blank Planet" tour in 2010 and was the last great PT album from the creative mind of Steven Wilson. After this album they released "The Incident" which was not well received by the public and Steven broke up the band. I think he felt the band had run its course and he wanted to work with other musicians. He has now had a 10 year career as a solo artist, and I don't think Porcupine Tree will ever reunite. He wants players that like jazz and PT was a rock outfit. His solo albums are good but there is something special in the porcupine tree catalog that he has not been a able to replicate with his current bands. PT produced an anesthetic which was melancholy yet blissful. The band had a message and it resonated with people from the 90's to the 2000's. I saw them in concert several times in NYC at the theater in Times Square and it was phenomenal music. They actually sounded better live than on record (or the studio). I never heard a band so tight and well equipped to deliver. One of the best concerts they gave was in the late 2000's which they had Kings X open for them. Mind blowing. If you remember the glory days, you are blessed.
 The Sky Moves Sideways by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.07 | 1307 ratings

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The Sky Moves Sideways
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars 'The Sky Moves Sideways' is Porcupine Tree's 3rd official full length studio album, even though Steven Wilson and (later) his band had released several EPs and such during this time. After some success with his past PT albums, Wilson decided it was time to take the band on the road, but to do this, he would have to put together a full-time band. So, he recruited Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland to be part of this band that was originally put together as a joke.

Before working on their next album, they tested the waters by releasing a single of a non-album song called 'Stars Die' with the b-side being 'Moonloop', which was taken from an over 40 minute long improvisation edited down to just over 18 minutes. (In December of 2001, the full 40-minute unedited version 'Moonloop' would be made available on CD and vinyl.) They also releasing a limited vinyl 'Spiral Circus' which was a live album of the first performances of the newly formed band. Right after this, 'The Sky Moves Sideways' was released.

Originally, TSMS was supposed to be a single track, a 50 minute epic work of the title track. This version of that track was never finished, but instead, was broken up into 2 parts that started and ended the album (in the same mode as Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here' album) with shorter tracks separating the two parts. This was to be the first full album to be released in the US. Because of issues with timing on vinyl, there are some major differences on the two original releases of this album.

The CD would have 6 tracks in this order: 'The Sky Moves Sideways (Phase One)', 'Dislocated Day', 'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder', 'Prepare Yourself', 'Moonloop' with a timing of 17:04, and 'The Sky Moves Sideways (Phase Two)'.

The vinyl on the other hand, began and ended the same way as the CD, but the track listing named out sections of both Phase One and Two of the title track. Phase One was tracked as 'The Colour of Air', 'I Find That I'm Not There', 'Wire the Drum', and 'Spiral Circus'. This first phase was followed by 'Stars Die', 'Moonloop' with an further-edited timing of 8:10, 'Dislocated Day', The Moon Touches Your Shoulder', and then Phase Two of the title track broken up into two sections named 'Is'Not' and 'Off the Map'.

It wasn't until November of 2003. after interest in PT really exploded, that this album was released in an expanded 2CD edition, which has the track listing shown here in the Archives. The track sequence on the 1st CD is the same as the original CD except for 'Moonloop' which has been moved to the 2nd CD. Both 'Dislocated Day' and 'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder' have been remixed to include overdubs done by Gavin Harrison, who replaced Maitland. The 2nd CD contains an alternative mix of 'The Sky Moves Sideways', this time in on full track, not divided into two phases. This mix is more of a 'work-in-progress' mix that was recorded when the track was meant to last over 50 minutes, but since that long version was never finished, it is only 35 minutes and has some material that was cut from the original album version. After this is the track 'Stars Die' (left off of the original CD). Moonloop is then divided up into two tracks, 'Moonloop (Improvisation)' which has a duration of over 16 minutes and 'Moonloop (Coda)' which is almost 5 minutes, and which also contains what most people consider the best part of the 'Moonloop' track.

To make things even more confusing, in 2004, a remastered 3 disc vinyl edition was released, which has a slightly different track line-up from the 2CD set. The Alternate version of the title track is divided between sides 5 and 6. There is also a bonus 7' single included which contains two versions of the non-album track 'Men of Wood', one side is a 1994 mix and the other side is a 2000 mix. This song was originally recorded during the original album sessions.

Looking at the structure of the 2 CD track listing, the album opens up, as it should, with the first phase of 'The Sky Moves Sideways', which, whether it is divided up into two phases or complete, is the absolute best long-form, space rock style track the band did in their early years. The lead parts on this track are improvised, but the sections and moods it travels through are all structured, and that keeps the entire thing much more engaging and dynamic. It is absolutely beautiful, being the most similar to the atmospheric sounds of Pink Floyd than anything else they did as a whole. It begins with the lovely layers of keys and guitars, slowly floating along with lush and full textures that will capture you right away. It's not until far into the 4th minute before the vocals begin, and this lushness continues through the verses. When the vocal section ends at nine minutes, the music switches gears and moves faster and heavier, even approaching the heaviness of later albums at times, but then later taking on the Arabic vibe as the rhythm ticks along, then explodes back into life again. This track is much more than just a meandering and aimless improvisation, it has an almost structured feel to it where the background is dynamic and often changing while the guitar, synth , flutes and other instruments are driving the changes, and all the way through there are excellent and memorable riffs that will stay with you long after it is over. At 16 minutes, the music turns more pensive and atmospheric with some lovely acoustic guitar moving along with the shimmering keys and echoing electric guitar.

It wasn't my plan to describe the tracks in so much detail for this review, but I can't help it as I listen to this masterpiece, and the first phase just engages you all the way through. Absolutely beautiful! We now move into the next three, shorter format tracks that divide the two phases of the title track. First there is 'Dislocated Day' which begins with a dial tone and the band suddenly comes in while Wilson sings with a manipulated vocal. This one is a nice heavy and dark track with an exciting extended guitar riff which hits with a solid punch. 'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder' on the other hand, is more of a pensive ballad style with nice acoustic guitar chords surrounded by lush keys and Wilson's airy vocals. Things get more intense in the 2nd half of the track as layers of sound usher in a rousing guitar pattern that suddenly quiets down and leads into 'Prepare Yourself' which is a short instrumental that features the wailing guitar and a soft background. It builds up for the next track.

The first CD ends with Phase 2 of the title track, a continuation of the masterful journey. The build up takes its sweet time this time around as atmospheric synths and effects are influenced by short dramatic drum rolls. A screeching synth brings in a soft guitar to help calm it down. After 4 minutes, the bass starts a thumping beat and then suddenly the band comes to life again with a solid progressive motif that once again will get your blood boiling as it generates excitement and a bit of dread, but things calm as female wordless vocals sing and then an amazing guitar solo brings things up to another level just when you think it couldn't get any better. I'm telling you, Wilson knows how to make a guitar emote. At 8 minutes, the motif returns, things smooth out, and then tension builds and builds as a miasma of sounds whirl around, finally breaking down and resolving after 10 minutes. Shimmering and mysterious effects continue for several minutes before a sudden move into more guitar soloing, improvising off of the original vocal melody from the first phase. At fifteen minutes, the track ends on water effects, a sinister bass against atmospheric wails and sounds. The sky has moved, yet there is the feeling that things are not quite right. This masterpiece just attests to the brilliance of Porcupine Tree, and shows them at their creative best. How could anyone not love this?

The second CD begins with the alternate version of the title track, this time in its entirety at 34 minutes. It is pretty close to the same version as the finished version, but also adds some parts that were taken out of the original. With a track this gorgeous, I don't think anyone will argue with having a different version, and there really is no need to break it down as far as the differences. Just listen. After that, is what was previously the non-album track 'Stars Die' which is one of PT's most sensitive and emotional ballads. It fits in well with the album. The b-side to that single, the edited improvisation 'Moonloop' comes next at over 16 minutes. This long track is much less structured than the title track, so don't expect it to pack the emotional wallop and dynamic that the title track does. It's more like a long space rock jam, with very subtle changes during its long play time, though it is still a great track especially of interest to PT fans that haven't heard it. The interesting thing is that the 'Coda' section of this track is listed as a separate track, and that is for a good reason. For those listeners that want to skip the long meandering improvisational section of the track can easily do so, and move right to the best part, which is the strong and powerful guitar ending. Somehow, though, I feel listening to the entire 'Moonloop' edit makes the ending even more powerful. But you can easily decide how to listen to it, the entire album is still a masterpiece.

This is one of the best ways to experience the earlier works of the band, especially as they are presenting themselves as a full band for the first time in a full album. I highly recommend this album to those that have already had an introduction to the band through either 'In Absentia' or 'Deadwing' as it shows a completely different side of the band at their best. The sound is a lot different from those albums, but when you listen closely, it really isn't that much different, just more exploratory. 'The Sky Moves Sideways' is their best epic work in their early discography and is fully deserving of 5 stars.

 Signify by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.83 | 1179 ratings

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Signify
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

4 stars Interesting to say the least.

This album is very dark in terms of atmosphere. It's definitely more of an experimental piece of Porcupine Tree's discography. With some more heavy moments, some soft melodic songs, songs with huge harmonies and songs with an experimental electronic sound. This album has it all, of course since this album is experimental it won't all work. Nonetheless, this album is still very very strong and fits in place with their better albums. If you like songs with large harmonies, dark subject matter and a tad more heavy tones... this album is for you. Well done boys.

4/5

 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.25 | 2508 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

4 stars This album has the Porcupine Tree atmosphere that fans love with a little bit more of a raw and heavy feel. It is a bit of an ear blaster but it works. This album is supposed to be heavy and supposed to be dark. Frankly I love this album, the heavy moments work for me, the dark and melodic moments work and just everything fits. Now don't get me wrong, it's not their best album, but it's not even close to their worst. I think their was some room to improve with this album. Sometimes the atmosphere just didn't work, 'My Ashes' has a moment that just doesn't sound like the rest of the album. Also some are turned off by the callback to 'Trains' on the song 'Sentimental', I think it's a great callback system and it shows their dedication to their work. This album is a little heavy, so if you are turned off by the louder side of things, this album isn't for you.

4/5

 Spiral Circus Live (LP)  by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 1997
3.50 | 92 ratings

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Spiral Circus Live (LP)
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

2 stars Porcupine Tree's live album "Spiral Circus" actually first came out in April of 1994 and was originally only available on cassette that was given away to subscribers to the information service available during 1993 ? 1996. It was later reissued (in 1997) on violet vinyl with 500 copies pressed. This is the first official live recording of Porcupine Tree as a 4 member band with Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland.

The recording is taken from 3 different sources; some tracks from a Radio One session and two live shows with those tracks made from desk recordings. Those two live shows were the first two PT live performances. The performances were all done before the album "The Sky Moves Sideways" was released and most of the tracks come from "Up the Downstair". There were 3 tracks on each side of the cassette/vinyl and the overall run-time was around 48 minutes.

Side A starts with "Burning Sky" from "Up the Downstair". This performance comes from two sources, the first half from Radio One live broadcast on December 6, 1993 and the 2nd half from the Borderline in London, England on December 7. 1993. The track is pretty much the same length as the original studio version at over 11 minutes. The sound, however, is not as good as the original studio version, but with the recording method, this shouldn't be too surprising. Next up is a very much shortened version of "Voyage 34" (originally from the EP of the same name) that only runs just over 5 minutes and only really has time to feature one of the themes and some dreamy effects of the much longer original. This one was entirely recorded at the Borderline in London. This isn't even the best part of the track, so it's kind of a let-down, and the sound quality is not so great. Finally, the last track on this side is "Always Never" from "Up the Downstair". This one comes entirely from the Radio One performance noted earlier. This is the first time you hear Wilson's voice on this album, and you can tell he isn't quite as confident in a live setting yet. And the sound continues to be sup-par. The performance are still decent however, especially for being their first performances live as a band.

All of side B was recorded live at The Nag's Head in High Wycombe on Dec. 4th, 1993. It starts off with a 9 minute version of "Radioactive Toy" which was available on their demo tape, a separate EP or two, and in a reworked and much better version on "On the Sunday of Life" album. Unfortunately, this live recording sounds more like the demo version, and even worse because of the low-fi recording. Since it is the demo version of the song, it is also missing the great guitar solo that's on the "?.Sunday?" album. Next comes the title track from "Up the Downstair", that excellent instrumental that on this live version seems to lose a lot of steam, mainly for the poor mix. The most interesting thing on the album is the last track "Not Beautiful Anymore", which still has a bad mix, but the synths are unevenly mixed, so they stand out a bit, especially at the end, almost giving the track a different sound.

As far as early live albums for Porcupine Tree, you are much better off getting "Coma Divine" which is recorded much better. The songs on "Spiral Circus" are good enough, but the sound and mixing is not so great, do either get the much better studio versions, or get the above mentioned live album. Otherwise, the only thing of value on this live album is the historical aspect, since it is their first live recording as a band, of their first shows together. That means, that only collectors or hardcore fans should seek this one out. And if you do decide you need it, get the vinyl remastered version.

 In Absentia by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.25 | 2470 ratings

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In Absentia
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

5 stars Their best, Porcupine Tree really did a great job on this album, not a single bad song, very Heavy on some songs, some soft songs, great atmosphere, dark, and technically difficult songs. With influence of 'Crosby, Stills and Nash', 'Pink Floyd' and 'Beach Boys'... mixed with some other bands with some heavier material such as 'Nine Inch Nails' etc. Its a really good album to make their new sound, this album is a pretty large improvement from the already really good 'Lightbulb Sun', the ideology of all Porcupine Tree's albums is something I'm very impressed by. Steven Wilson's song writing on this album was top notch.
 Staircase Infinities by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.82 | 187 ratings

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Staircase Infinities
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Porcupine Tree's second official album "Up the Downstair" was originally planned to be a double album. So, what happened to all of the music that was planned for this double album that never came to be? Well, one of the long tracks was an edited version of Voyage #34 I and II, which ended up being released in its full version on an earlier EP. But that still left us with 3 shorter tracks that was supposed to take up the rest of the double album. This is where the EP "Staircase Infinities", released in 1994, comes in. This five track EP contains the those three outtakes, and two other tracks that were recorded shortly after the release of "Up the Downstair".

The thing that most people don't know is that there was another EP, released only to radio stations (500 copies), that contained a few of those outtakes that were already recorded when "Up the Downstair" was still unreleased and those song were supposed to be on the album. That radio promo EP was called "Radioactive" (1992), and it contained 4 tracks: an edited version of "Synesthesia" (cut to 4:39) which would be on "Up the Downstair" album, "Radioactive Toy" (an edit that cut it to 4:06 from the version from "On the Sunday of Life"), and earlier versions of "The Joke's on You" (3:58) and "Cloud Zero" (4:18), which show up on the "Staircase Infinities" EP in finished versions. This explains why these earlier tracks sound more like the material on PT's demo tapes which make up the tracks on the first album "On the Sunday of Life" than they do from "Up the Downstair", because they were actually earlier songs.

Getting back to this EP "Staircase Infinities", the first track is "Cloud Zero", one of these earlier songs, but in a re-worked and slightly longer version. This is a nice instrumental starting out with jazzy sounding guitar work in a song that adds in intensity as it continues. This really sounds like a bridge between the bands 1st and 2nd official full-length albums. This is followed by the other earlier track "The Joke's on You", again reworked and a little bit longer than the radio EP. These tracks were reworked to be included on the "Up the Downstair" album, but then were left off when it was decided that it would be a single album. This track is a nice midtempo song with vocals that sounds somewhat similar to "Nine Cats", mostly acoustic with the band coming in later, and more of a ballad with a beautiful melody, the vocals soft and airy on the verses and much fuller on the choruses.

"Navigator" is really the rarest of the tracks on this EP as it is not available anywhere else that I am aware of. It was the 3rd track intended for the original "Up the Downstair" album, and it has all of the characteristics of earlier instrumental, very psychedelic with tribal sounding drums and organ with Wilson's signature guitar improvisations scattered throughout. "Rainy Taxi" is one of the tracks recorded after the release of "Up the Downstair" which ended up later being included on the "Stars Die: The Delirium Years 1991 ? 1997" collection of rare tracks. This will seem like a more mature track to the careful listener, mostly because it was recorded later. It has a very Pink Floyd sound to it with a slow organ meandering about and establishing a nice, plush sounding atmosphere. Later, things become more expressive as the organ continues with the lead but is underlaid by acoustic guitar strumming and slow percussion, which ends up actually making it sound more like Procol Harem than Pink Floyd. It is a beautiful and expressive instrumental.

"Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape" is the longest track at over 9 minutes. This is a different version that originally showed up on one of Wilson's demo tapes where it was included as a three part suite-of-sorts. It is also a different version than the one that would show up on "Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape" album, another compilation of songs from the early demo tapes that were not included on the first album "On the Sunday of Life". This version did, however, end up getting included (along with the previous track) on the "Stars Die: The Delirium Years: 1991 ? 1997" collection). This version is definitely much better than the demo version, much better developed and suited as a stand-alone track. Layers of synth and guitar work together with bass and drums to build what turns into an intense and satisfying instrumental, less psychedelic than most of the instrumentals of the time by PT, and more heavy rock oriented.

Another thing to be noted here is that the 2004 LP version of "Up the Downstair" included a track called "Phantoms" which was recorded at the same time, but not included on this EP. It was, however, made available on the Stars Die collection.

This EP is a very strong collection of outtakes and it is still worthwhile to find if you haven't already got it. It was made available as a bonus CD available with later remastered editions of Up the Downstair, so it should be widely available. It definitely adds to that album, but by itself is a strong 4 star release.

 Fear Of A Blank Planet by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.25 | 2508 ratings

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Fear Of A Blank Planet
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Fear of a Blank Planet is an ambitious, cohesive album. The music is expertly performed and wonderfully arranged. And the sound is every bit as good as you'd expect from the foremost mixing-desk wizard, Porcupine Tree bandleader Steven Wilson. Overall, it's a good record. What keeps it from being great, in my opinion, is the composition, both the music and in particular, the lyrics.

It may seem petty to complain about the lyrics of a prog-rock record. After all, some of the most celebrated progressive artists have some of the least impressive lyrics. Besides, the cleverer the poetry, the more likely it is to get lost in the bombast, right? Anyway, I'm certainly not the only one to have excused poor lyrics on an otherwise good album. But Porcupine Tree's ninth LP is different for an important reason.

Fear of a Blank Planet is a concept album whose ideas are explicated via the texts sung (and written) by Wilson. And it's no loose concept; said Wilson in a songfacts.com interview, "Fear of a Blank Planet was an album about how technology affects the world we live in, particularly how it affects the younger generation, how it's created a lot more dysfunction, [a] lack of communication." Wilson - - who cites Andy Partridge and Joni Mitchell among the songwriters he respects the most - - considers lyrics vital to his music. In the same interview, he said, "as you can probably tell from my music, I love the idea of using songwriting as a means to tell stories." So to me, the lyrics are fair game as I evaluate Fear of a Blank Planet.

On his home page, Wilson says that the album's protagonist is "this kind of terminally bored kid, anywhere between 10 and 15 years old, who spends all his daylight hours in his bedroom with the curtains closed." On musicplayers.com he says the kid "can barely form a sentence" and "treats his parents with complete disdain." From the opening track, we learn that this prepubescent boy's parents medicate him as a means of dealing with his problems; on "Anesthetize" he muses, "I'm not really sure if the pills I've been taking are helping" - - which seems a bit self-aware for a self-described "stoned" "zombie," much less for a 10- to 15-year-old. His fourth-wall-breaking claim that "X-Box is a god to me" similarly sounds unreasonably precipient. Then there's "Sleep Together," where he describes an existential choice, "do or drown / do or drown in torpor," before resolving to "burn my Prada trainers." Would this protagonist use the term "torpor?" Don't get me wrong; "torpor" is a great word here, but it sounds more like the diction of a prog-rock songwriter a few months short of his fortieth birthday.

So instead of a necessicarily confused, first-person narration, we have a bit of a screed (perhaps not unlike this review). In effect, the 10- to 15-year-old is a puppet mouthing the words Wilson thinks the kid would say. Ironically, the protagonist would despise Wilson for it, or maybe laugh at his attempt to understand. "I'm saying nothing," he might tell his creator, as he says on "Anesthetize." "Shut up, be happy / Stop whining please!" Wilson made his perspective clear in a series of interviews leading up to the album's release. He told Revolver magazine that "parents these days seem to deal with their kids' problems not by sitting down and talking to them but by sending them to the doctor and getting them prescription drugs." And to MTV's Chris Harris shortly before the album's release, he said that "it's almost like everything has become so easily accessible that none of it means anything anymore. These kids will grow up without any sense of curiosity or motivation, and they'll grow up without a soul, or a real sense of who they are."

To be fair, Fear of a Blank Planet has plenty going for it. Some of the lyrics are, in my opinion, actually pretty good, as far as progressive rock goes; they're just ridiculous in context. Since the entirety of Fear of a Blank Planet invites comparison to Rush (and would even without the Alex Lifeson guest turn on "Anesthetize"), I'll remark that Wilson is every bit as poetic as Rush lyricist Neal Peart. And on Fear of a Blank Planet, his singing is every bit as good as that of Rush vocalist Geddy Lee. None of my focus on Wilson is intended to detract from the other members of the group; drummer Gavin Harrison in particular is excellent throughout. The orchestral arranging, by Dave Stewart (of U.K., Bruford, and many other groups) and Wilson, is also remarkable.

In short, Fear of a Blank Planet is a solid album which is a bit lacking in the composition department.

 Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997 by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2002
4.21 | 269 ratings

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Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars 'Stars Die ' The Delerium Years 1991 - 1997' is a double CD set released by Porcupine Tree on March 25, 2002. It collects some of the most interesting aspects of PT's formative years for those who don't want to wade through the many albums, singles and EPs that were released by the band early on. There is an interesting variety of music here, and it definitely serves the purpose well if you just want to hear some of the best of the music from that period of time. A good part of this is music that is somewhat psychedelic and experimental and not necessarily the heavy prog that the band would later be famous for. Some tracks are based on long, improvisational jams, or taken from those jams and edited down to a more accessible run time. The double CD set came with a 40 page booklet that had portions of interviews from various band members.

Disc A: 1991 - 1993. Tracks 1 - 4

Most of the music on Disc A is completely performed by Steven Wilson. The first four tracks come from the band's first 'official' album 'On the Sunday of Life' which was released in 1992 and served to collect the best of the band's first two demo tapes, usually in remastered versions. All of the versions on this collection are identical to the versions on 'On the Sunday of Life'. 'Radioactive Toy' starts it off, and this track stands as the best track on the demo tapes, even though this version is much, much better than the demo version with a long and rousing guitar solo. This track could easily fit on any of PT's later albums after all of the remastering and remixing done to arrive to this version. However, this version is very different from the original demo tape version. 'Nine Cats' and 'And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun' are pretty close to the versions on the demo tapes, just cleaned up and remastered. 'Nostalgia Factory' again is the same as the 'On the Sunday of Life' version, but is quite different from the demo tape version and is slightly shorter.

Disc A: 1991 - 1993. Tracks 5 - 10

The version of 'Voyage 34 (Phase One)' is from the 30 minute single 'Voyage 34', and was somewhat hard to find at the time of the release of this collection. It was also made available on 'Voyage 34 ' The Complete Trip' which combines all four phases of the voyage 34 collection. This version is the same as the original. This is also the best phase of the 4 phases having the best guitar work of the four, and most of the narration from the story. The track is a definite psychedelic track with no singing, but it does contain a recurring sample of the Dead Can Dance track 'As the Bell Rings, the Maypole Spins' and also a sample from a Van Der Graff Generator track. After this, we get an extended version of 'Synesthesia' which was not available anywhere else upon release of this collection, though the shorter, original version appears on the 'Up the Downstair' album and on the 'Radioactive' EP. This version adds more than 3 minutes to the original.

'Phantoms' then comes next, which is also available on the 2004 LP edition of 'Up the Downstair as a bonus track and also on the EP 'Staircase Infinities' in the same version. 'Up the Downstair' is quite an amazing instrumental and this is a remix version of it which was exclusive to this release, though the differences to the original are quite minimal. This is the same case with 'Fadeaway', a remix with minimal changes and also originally from 'Up the Downstair'. The last track on this CD is the instrumental 'Rainy Taxi' which is the same version as the one on the 'Staircase Infinities' EP.

Disc B: 1994 - 1997, Tracks 1 - 3

The disc starts off with 3 tracks recorded during 'The Sky Moves Sideways' session, starting with 'Stars Die', which is a lovely and dark ballad that was releasaed previously on the 'Moonloop' EP and on the US version of 'The Sky Moves Sideways' album. It was later made available on the 'Delerium' EP and all versions are the same. Next is the epic and excellent 'The Sky Moves Sideways (Phase One)' This is the full 18 minute first part of that suite as it was heard on the original album. The original suite consists of two phases, but this is the better of the two. The third track was not previously available. 'Men of Wood' is a more upbeat vocal track and it later became available as a separate 7' vinyl which was included in with the 2003 LP version of the album, but is usually quite hard to find.

Disc B: 1994 - 1997, Tracks 4 - 11

The rest of the disc is comprised of tracks originally from the 'Signify' sessions. 'Waiting (Phase One)' is the same version that is on the Signify album. 'The Sound of No-one Listening' is a remix of the original, which was only previously available on the 'Waiting' EP (CD edition) which was released to promote the upcomeing 'Signify' album. The remix is exclusive to this collection however, but it doesn't really change much from the original. The next two tracks 'Colourflow in Mind' and 'Fuse the Sky' both come from the 'Waiting' EP, but only on the 12' vinyl version, and are the same versions as the originals.

'Siginify II' is an exclusive track that was previously unavailable, and as far as I know, not available anywhere else. It is an instrumental that is quite upbeat and exciting. The last three tracks are all as heard on the 'Signify' album; 'Every Home is Wired', 'Sever' and 'Dark Matter', in that order.

In Summary

So, some of this collection isn't necessarily rare, but there are some tracks that are hard to find, and some that are exclusive to this album. For collectors or completionists, it is up to you to decide if it is worth getting. For curious fans interested in their back catalogue, it offers some of the best material of the band from that time, and will help you decide if you want to explore each individual album or EP in more depth, so it is a good starting point to PT's older music. Those that already have most of this material on other formats will probably not find it worth their time to search for this one unless they absolutely have to own and hear every track and every version of PT songs. But, as far as a collection, and for the purposes of a collection, it is a great mix of early music from the band. The run time is quite extensive as, even with the edited versions of some tracks, it is quite long, and casual listeners might find that some of the jam tracks are still too long. However, I feel it serves its purpose well, and as for the music itself, it is top notch. The 40 page booklet is also something else to consider as there are comments from the band members about each track. It's up to you to decide whether to take the plunge or not.

 Coma Divine by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 1997
4.45 | 465 ratings

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Coma Divine
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars In 1997, between the releases of the albums "Signify" in 1996 and "Stupid Dream" in 1999, Porcupine Tree released this live album "Coma Divine". It gathered together some of the best tracks from the four studio albums that come before it and put them in a live setting, with a full band, consisting of Steven Wilson (guitars, vocals), Richard Baribieri (synths), Colin Edwins (bass) and Chris Maitland (drums, percussion, harmony). The album was recorded live in Rome over a 3 day period (March 25- 27, 1997). The first night unfortunately had some technical problems, so the live album only includes recordings from the 2nd and 3rd days.

Originally, the band had decided to only release a single disc of the best performances. The recording was successful and so 3 other tracks were made available and given away as "Coma Divine II", but these were later added to the single album and re- released as a double album in 2003. The vinyl edition also included a 7" single which had two different demo versions of the track "Disappear" which was a song recorded around the same time as the concert. These different demo versions of the song, one recorded in February of 1997 (before the concert event) and on in April of 1997 (after the concert). The finished version of it included on the single for "4 Chords That Made a Million" which was released in 2000. There were several studio overdubs throughout the live album that were done to make the album have a better and more consistent quality.

This live album is excellent, a fitting document to the band that was quickly becoming a progressive phenomenon. It is an excellent album for both fans and for those wanting to explore the early work of the band, but don't necessarily want to sit through a lot of the early material just to pick out the best songs. The tracks on this album are some of the very best of the band, and the two very long studio tracks, "The Sky Moves Sideways" and "Moonloop" have been condensed down to their best sections for this concert, so if you don't like the psychedelic meanderings of those original tracks, this is the perfect answer as they don't meander, but showcase the band at their inventive best.

This also contains an extended version of the early fan favorite "Radioactive Toy" with an extended instrumental and rousing guitar solo. There are other excellent versions of their early songs here too, and they are done perfectly with perfect sound and minimal crowd noise. You get the heavy rocker "Signify", the psychedelic and Floydian "The Sky Moves Sideways", both parts of the excellent "Waiting", the rarely performed "Is?Not", and the best version of "Moonloop" with the rousing ending that will make you feel like you are there and without all the meandering parts.

I am not one to recommend live albums typically, but this one is amazing with excellent sound. The biggest draw of this album is the new versions (and quite frankly best versions) of their best songs of their early years, perfected by the band and performed live. This makes it an essential album for fans and the curious alike. I would also definitely recommend it for an album to start exploring the band with, right up there quality-wise with "Deadwing" and "In Absentia", it's that good. This is definitely one of my all time favorite live albums ever and a must have for prog lovers and fans, plus the best collection of their early work that is out there.

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

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