PORCUPINE TREE — Signify

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PORCUPINE TREE - Signify cover
3.30 | 15 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1996

Filed under Non-Metal
By PORCUPINE TREE

Tracklist

1. Bornlivedie (1:41)
2. Signify (3:26)
3. The Sleep Of No Dreaming (5:24)
4. Pagan (1:34)
5. Waiting Phase One (4:24)
6. Waiting Phase Two (6:15)
7. Sever (5:30)
8. Idiot Prayer (7:37)
9. Every Home Is Wired (5:08)
10. Intermediate Jesus (7:29)
11. Light Mass Prayers (4:28)
12. Dark Matter (8:57)

Total Time 61:53

Line-up/Musicians

- Steven Wilson / Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Samples, Programming
- Richard Barbieri / Keyboards
- Colin Edwin / Bass
- Chris Maitland / Drums

About this release

September 1996
Delerium Records

Reissued with the cassette Insignificance as bonus disc with the following tracklist:

Disc 1: Signify (1996)

1. Bornlivedie (1:41)
2. Signify (3:26)
3. The Sleep Of No Dreaming (5:24)
4. Pagan (1:34)
5. Waiting Phase One (4:24)
6. Waiting Phase Two (6:15)
7. Sever (5:30)
8. Idiot Prayer (7:37)
9. Every Home Is Wired (5:08)
10. Intermediate Jesus (7:29)
11. Light Mass Prayers (4:28)
12. Dark Matter (8:57)

Total Time 61:53

Disc 2: Insignificance (1997)

1. Wake As Gun 1 (3:29)
2. Hallogallo (3:37)
3. Signify (3:28)
4. Waiting (6:56)
5. Smiling Not Smiling (3:49)
6. Wake As Gun 2 (2:06)
7. Neural Rust (5:53)
8. Dark Origins (6:54)
9. Sever Tomorrow (6:04)
10. Nine Cats (acoustic version) (4:08)

Total Time 46:24

LP Edition released by Headspin has the following tracklist:

Disc 1

1. Bornlivedie (1:46)
2. Signify (3:26)
3. The Sleep Of No Dreaming (5:24)
4. Pagan (1:38)
5. Waiting Phase One (4:24)
6. Waiting Phase Two (6:16)
7. Sever (5:30)
8. Idiot Prayer (7:37)
9. Every Home is Wired (5:08)

Disc 2

1. Intermediate Jesus (7:29)
2. Light Mass Prayers (4:28)
3. Dark Matter (8:52)
4. The Sound Of No-one Listening (8:12)
5. Colourflow In Mind (3:51)
6. Signify II (6:05)

Total Time 76:10

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman for the addition and Lynx33 for the updates

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PORCUPINE TREE SIGNIFY reviews

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Necrotica
I've always been fascinated with music artists who frequently reinvent their sound and yet maintain quality and freshness in their work regardless. While so many artists fail to make waves in the commercial or critical department when slowly transitioning into new territory, others make a complete 180° turn and succeed greatly whether by knowing the musical landscape or by just pure luck. Then you have Porcupine Tree, who have had three radical reinventions and been very well-received for all of them. You have the psychedelic era (when they weren't even a full group yet), the alternative era, and the progressive metal era; as of now, none of the band's albums (even debut On the Sunday of Life) have been terribly received and most of them receive high marks. However, one album that never seems to fit into the grand scheme of things is the band's sole transitional album Signify; while considered by many to be part of the psychedelic era, the album seems to combine the past and future sounds of the group almost perfectly. True to this statement, the album also remains one of their best and most balanced works; it not only depicts how far Steven Wilson had come with his musical project, but also depicts a promising and vast future for a now-complete group.

As suggested by that last sentence, this is indeed the first Porcupine Tree album with a full band to perform with Steven Wilson. Right from the opening of the surprisingly heavy title track, there's a strengthened sense of unity and focus in the material; while the trippy arrangements and vast soundscapes of previous records return here as well, they aren't always the main focus this time around. As suggested by the shorter running times of the songs, a lot of musical fat is trimmed and the psychedelic aspects are a bit toned down, but instrumental tracks like "Idiot Prayer" and "Intermediate Jesus" play with the group's spacey side with extended atmospheric jams. One of the best things about this album (one thing that plagued previous records by the band) is that there's a great stylistic balance; the album combines multiple genres and sounds, but distributes them all very well. You've got the first real song "Signify" (the first track is just an intro) which kicks things off with a hard-hitting riff and gets the listener pumped, only to be followed by a beautiful ballad in "Sleep of No Dreaming" as well as multiple improvisational jams and other ballads. "Sever" is the track in which the harder-rocking sound comes back into play, and it's brilliantly placed in the middle as a good way to kick up the volume at just the right time. This is some of the best song placement I've ever seen/heard on a record, and it's great to hear so many well-done switches in the band's sound.

Beyond that though, the real treasure of this album is its appreciation of atmosphere. This is one of Porcupine Tree's darkest records, but the moments of hope (despite there not being many) come at the right moments. For instance, closer "Dark Matter" is pretty damn depressing in terms of lyricism, but the guitar solo that follows the verses and choruses is absolutely beautiful and even inspiring as the dynamics increase and the instrumentation becomes less isolated. "Sever" and "Idiot Prayer" are perhaps even more important dynamically, as the more aggressive moments are placed among softer moments to give the listener moments of reflection in between the heavier portions. Of course, the band still shine most when those trademark melancholic Porcupine Tree ballads rear their heads; "Every Home is Wired" is still the song that impresses me the most, making the most out of guitar and keyboard layering to bring out some gorgeous textures. The psychedelic jam that concludes the song never hurts either. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is also notable, featuring an organ-sounding keyboard performance from Richard Barbieri to illustrate the song's musical backdrop as Steven Wilson gives one of his most emotional vocal performances.

The only gripe I can think of is that, despite great song placement, there's not quite as much musical consistency as the band's best records. Interludes like "Light Mass Prayers" or "Pagan" aren't really needed and can kill the pace of some of the album. If that's the worst thing about the record, though, then there isn't much to complain about. This is a superb way to end Porcupine Tree's psychedelic era and usher in the alternative era of their sound. All in all, it's a wonderful transitional album.
siLLy puPPy
PORCUPINE TREE’s fourth album SIGNIFY displayed the perfect title upon its release for it really did declare that the project that had begun as a joke and had developed into a bona fide solo project of Steven Wilson that continued to gain steam and popularity and to his surprise an amazingly successful career. With a three album run of twisting and teasing Pink Floyd inspired psychedelic space rock and electronic experiments that culminated with the extraordinary “The Sky Moves Sideways,” it became apparent that the next step was to incorporate the session musicians who performed on these albums and turn the project into a bona fide band that delivers a distinct band sound that would be supported by touring and audience interaction.

With the official band member status of Richard Barbieri (piano, synth, tapes, sequencers), Colin Edwin (bass) and Chris Mailand (drums, percussion), main man STEVEN WILSON found a new wellspring of creativity which allowed the band to expand beyond the simply tagged psychedelic space rock that dictated the feel of the first trilogy of albums. SIGNIFY is the transition album that didn’t jettison what came before but rather married it with a larger palette of musical ideas. The compositions first and foremost became more cohesive with more traditional song structures that were obviously designed to sound more commercial than the free for all psychedelic meandering of the past although certain tracks on SIGNIFY do allow for the same experimentation as those albums.

Perhaps the most startling contrast are the more rock oriented guitar hooks which comes into full prominence on the introductory title track which is a more heavy rock rendition of the Neu! track “Hallgallo” from their 1972 Krautrock classic debut. While the title track rocks out and points to the future, the second track “Sleep Of No Dreaming” seems to get cold feet and point back to the past with a more sedated chilled out feel however it simultaneously shows another direction in conjunct with the heavy rockers. It finds Wilson creating a more lyric centric form of songwriting which displays his tender carefully uttered vocals with the fullest implementation of production value allowed by law. The addition of softer passages that utilize acoustic guitar and dream atmospheric background sweeps would be another major deviation from the psychedelic space rock years.

Many of the tracks on SIGNIFY were actually demos for previous albums but were sitting idle in the backroom and dusted off and rebranded for the new PORCUPINE TREE. Wilson explained that the bass and percussion parts were re-recorded by the now permanent members and they were given liberties to add their personal touches which allowed the full band effect to come to fruition. Colin Edwin contributed many interesting bass lines as well as a stellar double bass run on “Sleep Of No Dreaming.” While the albums would continue to get more into the rock scheme of things on SIGNIFY, there are still experimental electronic ambient sections such as “Waiting Phase One” which display the nebulous sound squigglies as heard on the earliest of albums but “Waiting Phase Two” clearly demonstrates the new PORCUPINE TREE with gently strummed acoustic guitars, a soulful Steven Wilson singing his heart out with softened percussion and interesting verse / chorus changes.

Much of the psychedelic holdover was due to the fact that the band recorded this album during the tour of “The Sky Moves Sideways” and the process of switching gears sounds like it was happening organically rather than a forced escapade into the harder rocking world. One could say that these are cleverly crafted pop songs in prog clothing as the basic song structures are actually quite simple but Wilson has always had a gift for milking the potential out of any three chord strum along with outstanding production ingenuity and his unique stamps such as his guitar solos and counterpoints. Tribal rhythms are implemented at times which offer an interesting contrast to traditional rock drumming norms.

Despite not being a solo album, SIGNIFY was recorded as such. Wilson recorded much of the album as a solo project the way he envisioned it and then let the other band members re-record their respective parts separately which basically saw a finished product shift gears one instrumental part at a time until the final product emerged. Even after the album had been released Wilson was never happy and remastered all the original albums to create an even crisper and clearer listening experience. While SIGNIFY is dominated by many sing along type songs, there are plenty of simple zone out moments when the pop rock cedes into space rock and the vocals take a breather and let the instrumental and electronic sections cast their mesmerizing spells.

SIGNIFY is in effect project #1 of the Phase Two era of PORCUPINE TREE which would include the following “Stupid Dream” and “Lightbulb Sun,” a trilogy of albums that equally merged the hard rock potential of the future with the earliest psychedelic space rock sensibilities. PORCUPINE TREE has been nothing but consistent in their output over their career and SIGNIFY is no exception. An excellent slice of Mr. Wilson’s unique progressive rock outlook with strong catchy hooks that evolve into solid compositions that implemented lyrics concerned about late 90s issues and the addition of those atmospheric emotional tugs and interesting sound effects that allowed the perfect chilled out progressive rock experience. While i find this style would peak on “Lightbulb Sun,” SIGNIFY is quite the solid release with tracks like “Sever” providing catchy ear worms and a throw back to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” to boot.
Warthur
On Signify Porcupine Tree had solidified as a fully-fledged band project, the metamorphosis having occurred during the Sky Moves Sideways period. In terms of its atmosphere and approach it's something of a return to the model set by Up the Downstair - moving away from the agonisingly long compositions of The Sky Moves Sideways, the band hone down their musical approach into more bite-size samples of thoroughly modernised space rock, with plenty of found audio samples to embellish the sound. With its tranquil space rock moods occasionally collapsing into intricate King Crimson-ish workouts, Signify isn't quite a masterpiece but it's more than strong enough to prove that the band were in it for the long haul, and once the album closer Dark Matter has finished most prog fans will be eager for more.
Unitron
Porcupine Tree-Signify

With 'The Sky Moves Sideways', Porcupine Tree was able to combine space rock and some metal influences really well. 'Signify' keeps some space rock atmospheres, but more styles come in to their sound. Metal is still heard, but this album to me is all about atmosphere.

Even though the album kind of goes anywhere with heavy driving tracks like the title track or 'Idiot Prayer' or relaxing ambient songs like 'Pagan' and 'Light Mass Prayers', the same menacing ambient atmosphere is kept. The way the songs are balanced out keeps an eerie feeling throughout the album.

The mood of the album is already set by the odd intro 'Bornlivedie', which soon transitions into the heavy title track. Speaking of the title track, the melody was highly influenced by the song 'Hallogallo' by the Krautrock band 'Neu!'. The next song 'The Sleep of No Dreaming' is my personal favorite from this album, I love the slow ambient beginning's transition to heavy blasting guitar riffs and Wilson's cold vocals.

Unlike their three previous albums, on 'Signify' a lot of the songs are shorter. None of the song go over ten minutes, the longest song being the nearly nine-minute closer 'Dark Matter'.

The alternative rock sounds that would dominate their next two albums are already being heard on this album. Songs like 'Sever' and 'Every Home is Wired' all have a sound leaning towards alt rock.

The lyrics on this album are less strange and space-like. Most of the lyrics have to with social and political issues. 'Every Home is Wired' is a song about technology taking over lives of the people, and songs like 'Idiot Prayer' and 'Intermediate Jesus' are about using religion as an excuse for violence and the like.

Overall, this was a great album to usher in a new style for PT and I highly recommend this album to any fan of their earlier work.

Hope you found this review helpful.

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