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PORCUPINE TREE

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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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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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 | 836 ratings
On The Sunday Of Life.....
1991
3.90 | 986 ratings
Up The Downstair
1993
4.08 | 1327 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
1995
3.84 | 1193 ratings
Signify
1996
4.00 | 1329 ratings
Stupid Dream
1999
4.03 | 1491 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
2000
4.25 | 2499 ratings
In Absentia
2002
4.11 | 1994 ratings
Deadwing
2005
4.26 | 2535 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
2007
3.67 | 1513 ratings
The Incident
2009

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

4.45 | 471 ratings
Coma Divine
1997
3.50 | 92 ratings
Spiral Circus Live (LP)
1997
3.70 | 149 ratings
XM
2003
3.56 | 18 ratings
Live in Poland
2003
3.93 | 322 ratings
Warszawa
2004
4.02 | 151 ratings
XMII
2005
4.21 | 173 ratings
Rockpalast
2005
4.46 | 214 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
3.46 | 246 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
2008
3.75 | 136 ratings
Ilosaarirock
2009
4.24 | 207 ratings
Atlanta
2010
3.58 | 214 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012
4.09 | 2 ratings
Köln 4th Dec 2007 (TV Broadcast)
2020
4.00 | 1 ratings
First Live Performance 4th Dec 1993
2020
4.00 | 1 ratings
Los Angeles (30th July 2003)
2020
4.00 | 2 ratings
Coma: Coda (Rome 1997)
2020

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

4.57 | 541 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
2006
4.67 | 566 ratings
Anesthetize
2010
4.18 | 85 ratings
Octane Twisted
2012

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

2.59 | 126 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
1994
3.30 | 394 ratings
Voyage 34 - The Complete Trip
2000
4.19 | 389 ratings
Recordings
2001
4.20 | 271 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
4.67 | 6 ratings
The Delerium Years 1994 - 1997
2016
4.57 | 7 ratings
The Delerium Years 1991-1993
2017

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

3.40 | 69 ratings
Tarquin's Seaweed Farm (K7)
1989
3.19 | 56 ratings
Love, Death & Mussolini (K7)
1990
2.98 | 48 ratings
The Nostalgia Factory (K7)
1991
3.73 | 123 ratings
Voyage 34
1992
3.32 | 32 ratings
Radioactive E. P.
1992
2.92 | 59 ratings
Voyage 34 : Remixes
1993
3.30 | 72 ratings
Moonloop E.P.
1994
3.82 | 191 ratings
Staircase Infinities
1994
3.72 | 55 ratings
Waiting
1996
3.32 | 95 ratings
Insignificance (K7)
1997
4.06 | 35 ratings
Ambulance Chasers
1997
2.99 | 57 ratings
Pure Narcotic
1999
2.92 | 50 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
3.24 | 63 ratings
Shesmovedon
2000
4.00 | 114 ratings
Transmission IV
2001
2.97 | 225 ratings
Metanoia
2001
4.39 | 18 ratings
Blackest Eyes
2002
4.41 | 17 ratings
The Sound Of Muzak
2002
4.65 | 17 ratings
Trains
2003
3.58 | 36 ratings
Delerium EP
2003
3.75 | 4 ratings
Men of Wood
2004
3.61 | 126 ratings
Lazarus
2005
3.79 | 14 ratings
Shallow
2005
3.69 | 13 ratings
So Called Friend
2006
3.48 | 156 ratings
Futile
2006
4.00 | 11 ratings
Way Out Of Here
2007
4.00 | 13 ratings
Normal
2007
3.92 | 12 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet (Single)
2007
3.95 | 487 ratings
Nil Recurring
2007
3.06 | 8 ratings
Novak
2008
3.96 | 71 ratings
Transmission 10.1 - Ilosaarirock
2009
2.73 | 67 ratings
Time Flies
2009
3.67 | 9 ratings
Acoustic Session Jan 2010
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Pure Narcotic - Acoustic Session 2012
2020
3.00 | 1 ratings
BBC Session 13th April 2007
2020

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Los Angeles (30th July 2003) by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 2020
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Los Angeles (30th July 2003)
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by NickCrimsonII

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'Los Angeles 30th July 2003'. One of the numerous Porcupine Tree albums, right? But they are all so good. This is another one of the albums that the band released this month on their Bandcamp page.

And I would usually go and complain when a band releases many live albums and the songs are, of course, going to be repeated. But not with PT. They always managed to reshape and create stunning versions of their songs on stage.

The album was recorded at the time of 'In Absentia', so it revolves mainly around songs from that album.

Also, this live recording indicates that the band was gaining popularity and recognition outside of Europe by the time which is fantastic, despite this being a joint tour of America with Opeth. (I can only imagine how amazing that was!) Blackest Eyes, Gravity Eyelids, Even Less, Slave Called Shiver: all great, hard to pick a favorite; all these make up a great first half for the show, however, they're mostly played as they are.

It's the second half that features the more experimental and darker side of the band, when we are presented with interesting renditions of Hatesong, Russia On Ice, Strip the Soul, Wedding Nails. Definitely the more curious side of the album.

Great one! Another really good live album, 4/5 stars.

 Köln 4th Dec 2007 (TV Broadcast) by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 2020
4.09 | 2 ratings

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Köln 4th Dec 2007 (TV Broadcast)
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by NickCrimsonII

4 stars Köln 4th Dec 2007 (TV broadcast). A live album? Yes, and it was recorded around the time of 'Ilosaarirock', as the two albums overlap in what they present to an extent. However, this one is also a great addition for any Porcupine Tree fan. The band plays again mostly songs from 'FOABP'. This time, though, we are presented with three songs that were not played in Finland: Waiting, Dark Matter, and a really interesting and fabulous 10-minute version of 'The Sky Moves Sideways' that is definitely worth checking out. The band has released this one and many more other live albums and compilations on their newly launched Bandcamp page. I can assure you that they are definitely worth checking out, as I will be doing in the next few weeks. As for this one, 4 stars seems like a proper rating, I really enjoyed it and the quality is there.
 Ilosaarirock by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Live, 2009
3.75 | 136 ratings

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Ilosaarirock
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by NickCrimsonII

5 stars 'Ilosaarirock' (also known as 'Transmission 10.1') is one of the lesser known live albums by Porcupine Tree (compared to 'Octane Twisted' or 'Atlanta') but it is undoubtedly one of the best. Recorded in Ilosaarirock Fest in Finland on July 14 2007, it is part of the 'Tour of a Blank Planet', and, of course, is organized around the masterpiece that came out that same year. The line-up is well-known and beloved: Steven Wilson, Colin Edwin, Richard Barbieri, Gavin Harrison, and the sublime talent of John Wesley. They perform flawless and intriguing versions of some the band's best and most important songs like Fear of a Blank Planet, Lightbulb Sun, Anesthetize, Blackest Eyes, Trains, as well as some other gems from their catalogue like Halo, Sleep Together, Open Car. This album definitely deserves to be explored, as the band evolve the songs live once again. It is a no less stunning album than their more famous ones, and I believe that it fits the 5-star treatment because simply, this album effing rocks!
 Deadwing by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.11 | 1994 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by PinkyFloydMan

3 stars this1. Deadwing : Rating 2.5/5 (Its different, really like the build up at the beginning and the end and not that fond of how the song progresses in the middle, forgettable there but likeable. great guitar work, song writing in this song is not my taste. very sinsister sounding which i really like.)

2. Shallow : Rating 2.5/5 (Worse then the previous song, not really structured which is not my taste, very heavy guitar parts that I dont like at all, the singing is subpar as of the writing but passable. really more towards people that like heavy guitar solos.)

3. Lazarus : Rating 4.5/5 (Excellent build up of instruments with the acoustic guitar and piano playing in sync, the singing is amazing and the song writing is such a beautiful thing to listen too as it has a very relateable meaning to me, very somber and catchy lyrics. the drums really transitions the song perfectly. excellent song which I think this is what porcupine tree should be like. they nail songs like this.)

4. Halo : Rating 2/5 (most disliked song of this album, the song writing of this is talking about god which isn't my taste at all, very drum heavy and lyrics aren't that good. very cringy and emo. not my particular taste at all. all over the place in structure.)

5. Arriving Somewhere But Not Here : Rating 5/5 (Now, this is probably my favourite song out of all porcupine tree songs, it's such an excellent build up with so much atmosphere around it, it gives me chills down my spine throughout the whole song, the song writing is excellent and the way they used the heavy metal guitar in there is a perfect way to build it back up right into its main parts. I love this song, something special to listen too. anyone wanting to get the best experience of PT, listen to this, strongly recommended)

6. Mellotron Scratch : Rating 4/5 (this is a excellent song, really great work with the mellotron which is right in the title, "mellotron scratch" lyrics are very somber and have decent meaning, excellent build ups and down lows that keep it going. very catchy and gives me chills. very chaotic ending to this song which resolves into a chilling tone with the guitar and the singing is in harmony.)

7. Open Car : Rating 2.5/5 (I can't really get into this song, it's very weird and not something that I like much. very heavy guitar sections and the singing isn't really good, the only reason this song isn't the worst is the harmony parts in this song, they are alright but forgetable.)

8. Start of Something Beautiful : Rating 3.5/5 (this song here is pretty good, good lyrics, good build ups and better use of instruments throughout. it is the start of something beautiful which it becomes beautiful at the end of this song with simple piano playing with the mellotron. kind of hoped for something of a punch with this song but still, good overall. I might like it more the more times I listen to it.)

9. Glass Arm Shattering : Rating 4/5 (what we have for the ending of this album is where I looked for in "Start of Something Beautiful" that punch in the lyrics which it drives that point, Excellent works with the guitar and drums playing. the singing is very good with how it centers it's focus throughout the song, giving that punch. good way to end the album.)

Overall Rating : 3.4/5 Beginning of this album for me was a alright start with some glympises of great works like lazarus and dead wing but songs like shallow, open car, halo, and some of deadwing really destroyed some of what the album was going for which I didn't like at all, as you look at the end of their album, "start of something beautiful", "glass arm shattering","mellotron scratch" and "arriving somewhere but not here" are great pieces of work towards the end which saved this album entirely from it not being medicore album at best. I would recommend listening to its best songs then listening to the album fully but then again, i'm biased towards the heavy metal parts as im really picky on how heavy metal solos are good or bad. this album might be rated higher for people that like heavy metal solos.

Highlights *Glass arm shattering *Arriving somewhere but not here *Lazarus

Not recommended *halo *shallow *open car

 Signify by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.84 | 1193 ratings

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Signify
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Porcupine Tree's fourth official full length album, "Signify" released in 1996, proved to be a game-changer for the band. First of all, it was the first full album in which the entire band performed throughout. Previous to this, Steven Wilson was pretty much in charge of everything with occasional help from different people. Their previous album "The Sky Moves Sideways" did present the full band, however, parts of it were still all Wilson. Now, at last, the quartet of Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland were together as a full band for the entire album.

The second thing that made this album different from the previous ones, is that the project was moving away from the psychedelic stylings that were dominating their music and shifting more towards a traditional rock sound with a lot of progressive sensibilities thrown in. The psychedelic aspect wouldn't go away completely yet, but the tracks were getting shorter on the average, and more standard. However, the tone for the music was moving into darker places, and hints of the heavier sound of a later phase of the band were already beginning to appear in the music.

By the time Wilson's project was getting ready for the 2nd full length album, he had already had some experience in his other projects ("No-man" and "Bass Communion", not to mention the EPs and demo tapes he produced), and he had pretty much perfected his psychedelic rock sound when "Lightbulb Sun" was released, and then the excellent "The Sky Moves Sideways". Now, with "Signify" defining a change in the overall sound and with playing with other musicians, there was obviously some acclimatizing that had to be done in order to get back the that perfect sound again. Even though "Signify" ended up netting itself into a decent album, it wouldn't quite make it up to the standard of excellence set by its immediate predecessors.

The album starts off with "Bornlivedie", which wouldn't really surprise many listeners as it mostly consists of atmopsherics and spoken word recordings to introduce the title track coming up next. "Signify" is a definite heavy rocker, instrumental, and there to make a sudden statement. The riff immediately catches your attention and it seems the band is there to kick some butt. However, I'm not sure what possessed them to follow that up with a more average sounding track "The Sleep of No Dreaming", which even after many, many listenings, it still has a hard time cementing itself into my memory. It's a good enough track, but doesn't really have a needed hook to follow up the rousing "Signify". After that, another short, atmospheric, intermediary track "Pagan" slips by without much notice.

Never fear, though. This is followed with the excellent one-two punch of "Waiting" Phase One and Phase Two. The first phase carries the main theme and song while the second phase works off of the band's previous strengths of improvised sound with psychedelic leanings. It also introduces the band's signature harmonization sound which fans would begin to take for granted as their sound became more familiar. Both phases are very strong and restores your faith in the band for its strong cohesive playing and songwriting skills. The album then continues with the effective "Sever" which has strong, intense verses and mellower and harmonic choruses. Field recordings are peppered throughout the track to add to the intensity when needed, yet the flow from intense to mellow is smooth and very professional sounding.

It's also obvious that there are a lot less instrumentals on this album than on previous albums. "Idiot Prayer" is only the 2nd instrumental up to this point, at least in a full song. Following in the same formula as some of their longer instrumental tracks, this one begins soft and atmospheric, soft percussive noises, warm swashes of flute, and atmospheric guitar. This builds slowly in intensity, and then really starts to roll when the drums and bass kick in, backed by synth foundations and building guitar, and looped and processed spoken words. This builds against the ramblings of what seems to be a preacher with an unholy crescendo, then backs off to an atmospheric middle section that borrows from the lovely sounds of "The Sky Moves Sideways" with the Gilmour-like guitar effects. The loud section returns again abruptly and finishes the track off.

"Every Home is Wired" goes for a more acoustic sound with Wilson's vocals on the verses and then layered vocals on the choruses with some great sonic effects. The melody is very nice and intriguing, plus the harmonics are once again spot on. The real psychedelic, meandering sound comes back with the track "Intermediate Jesus", but the track just kind of flows along without developing into anything. It's nice, but not up to par to previous material. Again, there is some rambling spoken words from what sounds like a preacher. "Light Mass Prayers" continues in this vein using more synthesizers this time, staying with a dark ambience as they fade in and out. This track is an obvious Barbieri-style track which follows the same style as his solo efforts.

The last track on the CD is "Dark Matter". This track brings back the new direction of the band with dark vocals and harmonics. Wilson was still sort of finding his feet with lyrics, and the weakness shows in this track, however, the strong instrumentals in the track make up for this and overall, it ends up giving the album a powerful ending. The vinyl edition also contained one more track "The Sound of No-one Listening". This track was actually used on the CD edition of the "Waiting" single that was released previous to the album. It is an instrumental, albeit one of the stronger ones from the sessions for this album.

Later editions of this album came with a 2nd disc that were outtakes and demo versions from the sessions. The 2nd disc was mostly material taken from the cassette "Insignificance" with a different track listing and a few other track changes. Many think that the 2nd disc is the same as the EP, but it's not quite the same as the EP had the tracks "Door to the River" and "Insignificance" where the disc that came with the reissue had the track "Dark Origins" which is actually the demo version of "Dark Matter"

One of the strengths with Porcupine Tree's sounds is their use of dynamics. Sure, they are not the loudest band out there, however, their use of a mix of mellower passages make the intense sections even more powerful than some progressive metal bands that haven't learned how to use dynamic effectively yet and only strive to make things as loud as possible, thus making their music less powerful. Thank goodness PT found a better way to make powerful music, dark and dynamic, sometimes brooding and other times intense and heavy. This album starts to show off that strength along with beautiful harmonies that were unique to the band also. But it hasn't quite perfected them yet and there are weak points in the album that tend to bring its overall score down. It would be a while, but each album would eventually bring the band back to its high standard of excellence.

 The Sky Moves Sideways by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.08 | 1327 ratings

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The Sky Moves Sideways
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by alainPP

5 stars one of THE major albums of PORCUPINE TREE! A concept album well narrated and dissected on previous posts, an album so where I'll just tell you some anecdotes to listen to him. 1: during the first listening, amazement (remember ingesting the time of course) to finally have conventional prog with soaring tablecloths, to also have hushed atmospheres that followed each other perfectly, to the point of making them finally a two-title 30-minute each. 2: on a night when the children were small, the pleasure of listening to this album on headphones and discovering sounds not yet recognized in theaters; strange, twirling, spatial sounds that gave the desire to listen again at the end of the album, and to prevent in fact to rest as everyone should do after a day of toil. 3: the pleasure of mixing these two sensations and seeking to create one's own audio room, in order to transcribe as faithfully as possible the sounds heard on the headphones in a suitable room; the beginning of purchases to have at home the sound PORCUPINE TREE.
 Anesthetize by PORCUPINE TREE album cover DVD/Video, 2010
4.67 | 566 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
4.08 | 1327 ratings

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The Sky Moves Sideways
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog 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.

 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
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog 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.

 Staircase Infinities by PORCUPINE TREE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.82 | 191 ratings

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Staircase Infinities
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog 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.

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

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