Porcupine Tree Reviews

Also see: ProgFest '99 ~ Vigevano Prog Festival '99 ~ NEARfest 2001

From: Burning Shed <> Date: Fri Jan 16, 2004 4:15 am
Subject: Porcupine Tree - Warszawa CD/21st Century Schizoid Band 'Live In Japan - Official Bootleg Volume Two'
** Porcupine Tree - Warszawa CD
The second CD to be issued on Porcupine Tree's Transmission label is a live in the studio recording made by Polish radio during the band's 2001 tour (the last with Chris Maitland on drums). Also in the studio during the broadcast were an invited audience of Polish fans who helped to make the atmosphere on the night and on this recording so special, and the band consider this to be one of their best performances. The CD runs over 79 minutes and features almost the entire performance remixed from 32 track master tapes into pristine sound quality that is far superior to the original on-air broadcast. The Warszawa CD comes in a beautiful digipack sleeve and is available exclusively from this website. The first Transmission release "XM" is now completely sold out.
Released on 2/2/2004 - Preorder now for ?13.00 (including VAT)
Available from http://www.burningshed.com/ptshop.asp
** 21st Century Schizoid Band 'Live In Japan - Official Bootleg Volume Two'
Available previously only on the band's recent tours of Europe and Japan, and recorded live in Tokyo on Nov 6th 2002, the 21st Century Schizoid Band's 'Live In Japan - Official Bootleg Volume Two' is available now, priced ?12.00 from http://www.burningshed.com/index.asp?page=artist&collection=25, which can also be accessed via the band's official site.
Orders outside of the UK will not be likely to reach their destination until after Christmas. Thursday 18th December is the last order date for the United Kingdom. Please bear with us if you experience any delays over the Christmas period.
Tracklisting: 1. Schizoid Intro 2. A Man, A City 3. Catfood 4. Let There Be Light 5. Progress 6. Court of the Crimson King 7. Formentera Lady 8. Ladies of the Road 9. I Talk To The Wind 10. Epitaph 11. BirdMan 12. 21st Century Schizoid Man
Burning Shed http://www.burningshed.com/

From: "Richard Stockwell" <>
I would suggest starting with "Coma Divine" which is a live album. Alot of people don't like "live" albums unless they are already a fan of an artist/band. Where Coma Divine differs is that it is possibly the best recorded live album ever released. Although it is taken from the desk you do still hear the crowd between tracks and the exceptionally high standard of the musicianship of "The Tree" should 'sell' you to want to see them in the flesh. Also the material on Coma Divine spans there four studio releases so you get a good idea of their sound. The CD goes for approx 78 minutes from memory. There are soundsamples at the Cranium site from Coma Divine and also Signify. Go to http://www.cranium.co.nz

From: "Craig Shipley" <>
...NEVER heard Porcupine Tree?!? Hie thee hence and wrap yer mitts around a copy of ...ON THE SUNDAY OF LIFE (give it a little time to grow on you) or THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS (total PF immersion) and, if you can find it, he-he, VOYAGE 34 (can you say THE WALL???). YELLOW HEDGEROW DAYDREAM is impossible to find, but it has some great tracks on it. Personally, I have never been disappointed with any PT that I have heard so far (don't care much for the alter-Steve Wilson effort No-Man, at least from the one CD that I have). UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE and its' "companion" EP STAIRCASE INFINITIES is a step away from the solo Steve Wilson efforts and more towards the band that makes its' debut on TSMS; recommended. SIGNIFY, the latest studio effort, is an earth-scorcher, with the title track being a KC/Heldon-drenched guitar assault. And if you are really thinking about a trip out West to hear these fellows, well, spin a copy of COMA DIVINE, the live PT in Roma CD to get a taste (then you will HAVE to go!) The new one is due out the end of this month and I can't wait!!!
I got turned on to the Tree in early '93. Chris at Of Sound Mind said that I'd like 'em and he was right! The first one that I heard was ...ON THE SUNDAY OF LIFE and it took me a few spins to like it. The problem was is that I never got around to listening to "Radioactive Toy" or "It Will Rain For A Million Years", as I generally rang off sometime around "Jupiter Island" (even though it had some cool Hawkwind-ish audio generator sweeps). One day, I listened all the way through and I was hooked! Had Chris send me EVERTHING that he had by 'em and snagged my copy of VOYAGE 34 then. This is a 34 minute track that has a definite PF "Wall" era sound to it. It is a "documentary" of a bad acid trip (the documentary is provided by what sounds like '60's-era audio clips from a health film). Supposed to be re-released in all of its' four-sided glory (the CD that I have is only two of the four LP sides), but who knows when??? BTW, PT uses a boatload of samples (NASA, radio preachers, Richard Nixon; some used intact, some run through the shredder I.E. radio-preacher voice saying "I want you to put Felix's penis on me" :-) ).Early Tree was all pretty much solo Steven Wilson, but THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS was created by a four-piece band, with Wilson on guitars, keys, effects and vocals, with Richard Barbieri on keys and synths, Colin Edwin on basses and Chris Maitland on drums, percussion and occasional keyboards. I think that band is the current band. Wilson has also made a guest appearance on Fish's SUNSET ON EMPIRE release, on guitars & keys and harmony vocals(?).
A quick discography with * to indicate that it out of print... ON THE SUNDAY OF LIFE (newly remastered, with picture disc and better artwork. This was a compilation of several early cassette releases, which are now long out of print); YELLOW HEDGEROW DAYDREAM * (leftovers & outtakes from the ...OtSoL sessions. Find a copy! Rumor of a re-release?); VOYAGE 34 *; UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE (newly remastered, with picture disk, blah-blah-blah); STAIRCASE INFINITIES *?; THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS (newly remastered, you know the rest...); SIGNIFY; COMA DIVINE ..."the brainwashed do not know they are brainwashed"...
A bit of info about SKY. For a brief while, it and SIGNIFY were available on a US label, C&S. The US and the UK versions were dramatically different, with the single "Stars Die" being interjected about halfway through (it does not appear at all on the UK version that I have, only on a CD-EP). I have never heard the C&S version of SKY, so I don't know how it sounds compared to the UK version. The US & UK version of SIGNIFY are the same. C&S no longer is in business/handles the Tree/whatever.
BTW, the discography that I listed was for CD only. There ARE a few vinyl releases out there, most with bonus material. I also forgot to mention Wilson's tribute to Krautrock, The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck (can I say that here?). For quite a long time, only available on LP but now out on CD with extra material. That one is coming along with the new PT, STUPID DREAM (known in a previous life as AMBULANCE CHASING).

From: "Richard Stockwell" <>                     (back to top)
I also must state my love of Porcupine Tree. I think I first heard them about 1992 or 93. I purchased "Up The Downstair" from a mail order outlet (this was before I started Cranium Music) and after taking a few spins to get into the music I was blown away. I travelled the music shops asking if there were any other releases by the band but got strange looks and questions from the shop people of Porcupine who ? .... no no no I'm the customer and I'm asking the question :)  In the end I got their other releases from Delerium Records in England and Porcupine Tree became one the reasons for my starting Cranium Music because I knew that "real", "awesome", "fantastic" music was being made again. I've had all the rare vinyl for sale at Cranium Music, which normally sells out pretty quick and if anyone is looking for copies of the double 10" LP of "Metanoia" then you better get in pretty quick as I understand this 1,000 LP pressing was sold out at Delerium one week before it's release. I still have copies at Cranium. For those who live in the USA ... go see Porcupine Tree live I don't think you will be disappointed, it's not everyday a band such as the "Tree" come to a city/town near you. Actually I was hoping the band might have flown back to the UK via NZ and Australia .... oh well one day.

From: Rob <>
>anyone got their new one "Stupid Dream"? I'm off to pick up my copy later today :-)
I've heard a couple tracks and it sounds to me like they've given up on prog.  They sound like an early-90's British alternative band, I'm thinking specifically of the one that ripped off Deep Purple's "Hush" for their big hit (I can't remember the band or the song title.)  It could be that the tracks I've heard were the lone radio-friendly ones, but I didn't hear them on the radio so I'm kind of afraid. It still sort of sounds like Porcupine Tree, only much less trippy. I really enjoyed Porcupine Tree in their heyday as well, particularly the whole Sky Moves Sideways project (B-sides and all) and am sorry to hear them taking a more conventional approach.  I like plenty of conventional music and their new songs are pleasant enough but they just don't appeal to me as much as PT's earlier stuff.  If they were one of my favorite bands I could see sticking with them, but they're not.

From:  (Ron)
okay I listened to PT's new CD...... "Stupid Dream" last night and while it was more "song" oriented it was still good... very good in fact. IMHO at least they went for an aggressive sound and didn't go the wimpy sound route as some of their forefathers did way back in the late 70's...

From: RAM
Man !! It's almost been a week already, and I'm still haunted by the "Porcupine Tree" concert I saw last Friday. I didn't know about them until somebody on this list mentioned them a couple of months ago and then I noticed that they were going to perform locally and decided to check them out. I tell you, I'm convinced I had a religious experience that night. The opening number "Even Less", which I hadn't heard till then, made me weep. Does anybody else out there know what I'm talking about ? So thanks a million, whoever you were that pointed out this band. I highly recommend them to anybody out there who enjoys Pink Floyd.

From: "Adam Perkowsky"
Hi Ram and everyone else, I was at that show too and was blown away as well. I have been into PT since "The Sky Moves Sideways" but never really put the band among my all-time favorites. Well, they really put on a show that makes me want to listen to them more and more. The day before Friday's show, PT did a short acoustic set at a Sam Goody in Greenwich Village which proved that Steve Wilson can sing just as well as he can play guitar. Afterwards, the whole band talked to and signed autographs for the 25 or so people who attended. But it was the electric show that really impressed me. All of the songs from the new CD "Stupid Dream" were as they are on the CD -- excellent. Most of the older stuff they played were instrumentals and I think those were my favorite songs played at the show. During their acoustic set, they had technical problems with the DAT/sampler machine, from which sampled bits that are heard throughout PT's catalog, were heard throughout the show. While the machine was being fixed, Steve Wilson played an impromptu solo acoustic number that he played the night before. They had to take a short break while the machine was being fixed, so the band left the stage. Wilson said, as he walked off, "We are going to take a short break. This is just like a Pink Floyd concert!" (which got a chuckle from the crowd). They came back and missed only one song from the setlist. And even though it got real late, they came back on stage after the main set and played both scheduled encores. I was very surprised at that because of the lateness of the show due to technical problems. I was talking to the road manager/merchandise guy, Kozmik Ken, before the show, and he said they had an early flight to L.A. for Progfest the next morning, so I really must commend the guys for sticking it out and playing almost all of the full set.

I just saw these folks when i went to see Magma in LA on 6/1. I can't say  that I was overly impressed, but I enjoyed about half the set. The guitarist/singer (I guess that's Steve Wilson from the posts I just read) was very good....I enjoyed the slower bits moe myself (although I think I was in the minority here). Definitely noticed the Floyd influence.

From: "Richard Stockwell" <>
That's what I like about Porcupine Tree is their ability to be able to put prog/rock and electronic/ambient together in a seamless fashion which makes it feel right and not forced. By Steven Wilson then having his various projects either solo or by working with others (Bass Communion, Incredible Expanding Mindfuck, No-man, Porcupine Tree) the listener is able to follow any or all the landscapes Steven Wilson creates. That is why I've been such a big Steven Wilson fan since discovering Porcupine Tree and subsequently Bass Communion & IEM. This is one artist who has been influenced by progressive music and is taking it forward. Robert Fripp in time will be acknowledged by the wider music world as a major influence on 20th century music and I (personally) believe time will show Steven Wilson to be important in musical evolution as well.

From: Gary Varney <>
I bought _The Sky Moves Sideways_ a few weeks ago. I selected that one based on what I've read, that I'd probably like "old" P. Tree rather than the "new" P. Tree. I really like it -- despite the fact that, IMHO, the "Pink Floyd clone" criticisms are fully warranted. I play it fairly frequently, and the kids enjoy it. Coincidentally, I'm listening to their latest offering, _Stupid Dream_, for the first time as we speak. Found it in a local used CD shop yesterday, so I figured I'd try it. So far it's boring the heck out of me, frankly. In fact, I might be hawking it on this list here pretty soon...

From: Jeff Marx <>
The only PT album I have is Coma Divine, their live one. It took me a few listens to really get into it...I find it to be instrumentally powerful, with some pretty dramatic lyrics and vocals. While keyboardist Richard Barbieri plays some great shimmering spacey synths, he *still* needs to work on his soloing...but of course Steve Wilson lights it up pretty fully on guitar and vocals.

From: RAM <>
I like Porcupine Tree a lot. Their gig in NYC blew me away. I have a hard time labeling them as a prog group in the same way I have a hard time labeling Pink Floyd as a prog group. However, their earlier stuff is way off mainstream and they evolved into more-or-less a mainstream group. The last album "Stupid Dream" has a killer first track and then the rest sound of it sounds like typical British stuff. At first I was bored with the album, but then it grew on me and now I like it a lot, but I can't explain why. As the expression goes "I've grown accustomed to her face." If any of you are planning to unload this CD, I think you may regret it further on down the road. If it's got tracks on it that you like, my advice is to hold on to it. I remember when I first heard the U.K. album, I thought it was strange. One year later, the album was one of my top ten favorite records.

From: "Gandalf ." <> Subject: Gandalf's Review of Lightbulb Sun by Porcupine Tree Hi everyone. I've been exploring some interesting music recently and bought the new Porcupine Tree album. I've reviewed it, although I'm not familiar with the band and would appreciate views from fans more knowledgeable about the band than I am. I hope you enjoy the review and find it helpful. Gandalf's Review: Lightbulb Sun by Porcupine Tree The first thing to say about Lightbulb Sun (56:17) is that it's the first album that I've heard from Porcupine Tree. I believe they have had a number of releases previously, so I've got a lot to learn about this band and their work. It has been said that they sound a bit like Pink Floyd, but to be honest, I could not detect any such comparison on this fine album. It has also been said that Porcupine Tree's music is hard to define, and that it is probably progressive rock. I'll reserve my judgment on that for the moment and stick to what I heard on this album. To the tracks..... 1. Lightbulb Sun (5:31) - A nice acoustic beginning with a breathy vocal and then at 0:48 it kicks into a Zeppelin-like groove, reminiscent of Jimmy Page's guitar in "In My Time Of Dying" and it then smoothes out into a regular rock song with a good backbeat, some great acoustic and electric guitar work, and occasionally, a nice mellow piano in the background. The track drifts from light to heavy and back again and ends with children's voices in a playground. This is a good, strong beginning to the album; it's a catchy tune and best played loud! 2. How Is Your Life Today? (2:46) - This lovely light track has an entirely different mood, with beautiful vocals, piano, hammered dulcimer and a wonderful harmony. The rhythm is a bit like "Waltz Into Black" by the Stranglers, but this for me is a much nicer, although shorter, track. 3. Four Chords That Made A Million (3:36) - Is this a piss-take? I think so! It has tabla, a britpop groove, and a cheeky lyric which basically identifies the simplicity of today's songwriting success. It's Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Kula Shaker and David Bowie all rolled into one. It's also, significantly, the weakest song on the album! 4. Shesmovedon (5:13) - Now this song is just a treasure; tight drum and guitar groove, joined by a wah wah riff, and it then moves up into something really special. There's another great vocal on this track. The song gets heavier as it progresses which works really well and holds your interest. The mid-section features that wonderful guitar sound which The Smashing Pumpkins managed to create on "Whir" and there's a superb guitar solo at 3:25 which lasts almost to the end of the track. Glorious! 5. Last Chance To Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled (4:48) - The first part, called Winding Shot (Summer 1981), has a folky beginning and, following a brief vocal, proceeds to part two (Last Chance To Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled) which is an instrumental with, I believe, a recording of that alien-looking madman who, together with his followers, committed mass suicide a number of years ago under the delusion that they had all arrived on Earth from another planet and could only return home by killing themselves so that they could float off into space. Hmm! Anyway, it's a nice track, but will not be to everyone's taste. 6. The Rest Will Flow (3:14) - Nice acoustic guitar chords, then strings, then the vocal. A bit like the Verve but a bit more delicate. Again, a light Hammond organ in the background. One would expect the keyboards to be more up front but the arrangement works - you find yourself listening closely to find the various interesting bits that are tucked away in the background, and there are a good few of these. This is the sort of track where you discover something different each time you hear it. 7. Hatesong (8:26) - Nice fretless bass at the beginning, some harmonics on electric guitar and then we're off into a Charlatans-type rock song. A piano joins this and then we're informed that this is a hatesong! At around 1:40 it goes up a notch and becomes heavier. The chorus doesn't kick in until around 3:00, but it's worth waiting for because it leads into an even heavier part of the song with some great guitar work and some interesting keyboards. Good guitar solo at 5:23 and we're back to the chorus at 6:00. We then have a fascinating jam with electric guitar, excellent drum and bass, and haunting, intermittent keyboards which lasts until the end of the track where we are joined by songbirds! A very listenable and rewarding piece of music and one of the strongest tracks on the album. 8. Where We Would Be (4:12) - This is a bit mournful, with strummed acoustic guitar. A decent electric guitar solo at 2:24, but overall, not a strong track and a bit thin compared with some of the other, more intricate pieces on the album. A bit like Frankie Goes To Hollywood meets Tears For Fears! 9. Russia On Ice (13:03) - A slow, ponderous track with a bass hook which is just superb. Good guitar solos, solid drum work and a breathy vocal lead to a chorus at around 4:00 and then we're joined by strings. Listen for the wonderful guitar solo at around 5:00 which fades away into an orchestral bass riff. The echoed vocal, the strings and the slow pace of the songs provides the listener with a sense of vast space and cold. At 6:48 the bass decides to jazz itself up a bit and is then joined by some meaty electric guitar and the whole thing takes off into a heavy-riffed, head-banging, rock song, ending with church bells and keyboards! Q Magazine called this track too long, mournful and boring - I can only suggest that the person who reviewed it did not listen to the track in full, if at all. I loved this track and hope that Porcupine Tree do more of the same. 10. Feel So Low (5:18) - a slow, poignant, track to finish the album, a bit like some of the quieter songs by U2. The lyrics are rather downbeat, but good harmonies and background keyboards accompany a nice vocal. Soft acoustic and electric guitar is joined by strings so that the whole song builds up into a gentle, layered, ballad. A really nice track with a slight Celtic feel to it, possibly because the string arrangement at the end reminded me of early Van Morrison. VERDICT: There is a wealth of interesting material on this album, with great arrangements and intelligent use of strings. Most of the songs are strong, particularly the lengthier ones, but there are a couple of weak ones (eg Where We Would Be). I love Steven Wilson's vocals and the harmonies; the guitar work is also excellent. I'd be pushing it to call this a prog album, although there are areas where the music is expanded and a bit more experimental. This album is nearer "Verve" territory than modern prog, but I stress that I haven't listened to Porcupine Tree's earlier work. If it is like "Russia On Ice" or "Hatesong" then I'd be a bit more satisfied with the prog label. But I'm not too bothered about labels - Porcupine Tree's music is good and I enjoyed Lightbulb Sun a lot. It's definitely worth a listen, although it will not be to everyone's taste. The sleeve notes are helpful and provide information about who played what, and where, and you get all the lyrics. I particularly liked the bit where we are informed that Chris Maitland uses Zildjan cymbals, Steven Wilson uses Boots nasal spray, and Richard Babrieri uses outdated keyboards! I give this album (7/10).  I'd love to see this band perform live; I hear they are to support Dream Theater when they tour Europe later this year. That should be quite a bill!

From: "Craig A. Shipley" <>  Having been a fan of the band since "...On The Sunday Of Life", I'll have to say that the PF influences are most noticeable on that album (Wilson's Dave Gilmour-ish guitar solos), "Voyage 34" (damn-near a complete lift of some of the signature riffs from "The Wall") and "The Sky Moves Sideways". After the release of the live "Coma Divine" CD, the band took a complete left turn into the more mainstream arena with "Stupid Dream", which, while being a fine album, completely disappointed me and has not grown on me with repeated listening. I will probably pick up a copy of "Lightbulb Sun", but it sounds like another stab at commercial success...

From: "Damien Costanza" <>
I like Porcupine Tree but I must admit that I like Wilson's other project, No-man, even better. Tim Bowness, the singer from No-man, is incredibly talented and I've also enjoyed his work with Flame and Samuel Smiles as well. He sounds a great deal like David Sylvian, so if you can imagine Sylvian singing with Porcupine Tree and this intrigues you, you'll dig No-man. Their single, "Days in the Trees" was even something of a hit on intelligent alternative stations circa 1992.

From: Burning Shed <> Subject: Re: Porcupine Tree
For those that aren't aware, I thought that the Porcupine Tree fans amongst you might like to know about www.burningshed.com. The site is primarily a specialist online, on demand CDR label, but we also stock CDs by related artists.
Steven Wilson, the Porcupine Tree mainman has several albums available exclusively through the site:
IEM - IEM Have Come For Your Children/Arcadia Son
A psychedelic Kraut Rock band, IEM is Steven Wilson backed by Colin Edwin and Geoff Leigh (ex Henry Cow) amongst others. Wholly instrumental, this is an extension of the more experimental aspects of early Porcupine Tree material. These albums are released through Steven Wilson's own label Headphone Dust and can be found on the Shop section of the Burning Shed site. The debut IEM release is still available from Delerium Records.
No-Man - Lost Songs Volume One/Radio Sessions 1992-96
No-Man is the duo of Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson. The Radio Sessions contain live material recorded on UK radio with Jansen, Barbieri and Karn (Rain Tree Crow/Japan) on five songs and Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland on four. Recommended to fans of Talk Talk, David Sylvian, Blue Nile, Massive Attack and Kate Bush, it's also worth checking out their strongest studio albums 'Flowermouth' (1994) and 'Returning Jesus' (2001).
Bass Communion - Bass Communion III
This is the third album from Steven Wilson's Ambient project. Very much concerned with sonic textures, this is recommended to fans of Eno, Paul Schutze and electronica.

From: "jet22p" <> Subject: Re: Porcupine Tree at NEARfest- WOW!!!!!!
> I wish someone would listen to the great NEARfest 2001 Porcupine Tree
> here's the set list. i got it from the nearfest site. its almost all from stupid dreams and lightbulb sun
The day before I was asking about ONE Porcupine Tree song I heard on the internet - then this post comes up. I just spent the last 2 hours in AWE, watching this PT Nearfest video feed!!! WOWWW!!!!!!!! FANTASTIC!!! Now I gotta work on getting these albums. Ahhh, so much great music, so little money!!!