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Porcupine Tree - Transmission IV CD (album) cover

TRANSMISSION IV

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.99 | 112 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
3 stars This recording was originally a limited release sent out to PT newsletter subscribers. Since then, it has been released on other recordings like "The Sky Moves Sideways" album, but in edited versions. This was the only way to get the unedited, 40 minute improvised track, which is a spacey and psychedelic musical voyage that really works well as trippy music or background music. Since 2001, it has been reissued a few times, because PT fans demand to have access to everything they record.

The band line up had not been completely established yet and SW plays most of the instruments on this recording. By this time, however, Colin Edwin had joined him on bass and would become a long-time member of the band. Chris Maitland, the early drummer for the band was also providing most of the percussion. Another guest percussionist for the recording is Rick Edwards and the harmonica is provided by another guest Markus Butler.

This album is not going to be appealing to everyone because it is 40 minutes of mostly floating music without anything like a melody. It is actually completely instrumental, except for some field recordings that begin around 15 minutes in. It is broken up into sections which can go on for many minutes before changing. Each section develops until it reaches it's desired sound and groove and continues on with improvised keys and guitar and sometimes with other instruments. The first section gets it's groove, then with a bass and drum foundation, SW improvises atmospheric sounds on the guitar with embellishments from the keyboards. This lasts for 15 minutes, and is quite repetitive if you only pay attention to the foundation of the improvisation. At this point, things get somewhat ambient as the main sounds are conversations from what sounds like a lunar landing while the instruments provide background. This continues for a while, then the music builds another foundation over which more improvisation develops. This time, there is a nice harmonica joining the music provided by Markus Butler. That will continue until 25 minutes in and then things start to get a bit more pensive as a spacey organ takes over the spotlight and bongos are added into the percussion. All the while, the spotlight instruments don't really stand out as solo instruments as much as they are simply a layer to the entire production. Around 29 minutes, the rhythm breaks down as things get psychedelic with birds chirping and other effects and some floating synths.

The last 10 minutes is the best part of the album. It takes a bit longer to build from the bit of ambience that takes over here, but soon drums and bass start establishing a pattern. Now you will start to hear SW fade in a more riveting and intense guitar as keys push him forward. This is where things get exciting as you feel it build a very heavy and fast beat and SW starts to play a blistering solo. The heaviness continues until 35 minutes, when everything drops out except for atmospheric keys and guitar that plays a floating and minimal psychedelia until the end at 40 minutes.

At first listen, this might be too unstructured for most listeners, but the more you listen, the more you start to pick up and realize that this can be divided up into sections of continual music. As a psychedelic, Space Rock style recording, it is an excellent album and is one that you can easily get lost in. But as far as being melodic, it is not at all, at least in any kind of song structure, as it is mostly improvised. I have to be in the right mood to listen to it, but as far as background music, it never fails to satisfy. As far as comparison to the other epic early psychedelic PT works, I prefer "The Sky Move Sideways" more than this one or "Voyage 34", but this one is still quite good as far as trippy psychedelic music goes. It will probably appeal more to Space Rock lovers and PT fans more than anyone else.

TCat | 3/5 |

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