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Porcupine Tree - Signify CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.85 | 1364 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Porcupine Tree's first proper album as a legitimate group is an impressive but schizophrenic achievement: it can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a collection of atmospheric pop songs ("Sleep of No Dreaming"; "Sever") or a series of ambient instrumental mood studies ("Light Mass Prayers"; "Pagan"). Or sometimes both, as in the two-part "Waiting": one-third gorgeous pop melody, and two-thirds drifting instrumental psychedelia.

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

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

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

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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