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Porcupine Tree - Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991 -1997 CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.20 | 272 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog 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.

TCat | 4/5 |


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