PORCUPINE TREE

Non-Metal / Metal Related / Alternative Metal • United Kingdom
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Porcupine Tree is a progressive/aternative rock band formed in England.

Porcupine Tree began as a joke between Steven Wilson and Malcolm Stocks in 1987, the joke being Porcupine Tree being a long-forgotten 70's space rock band. This joke was shown on their debut 'On the Sunday of Life'. Soon, Steven Wilson had Porcupine Tree evolved from a joke to a heavy space rock band.

After four releases, Porcupine Tree took an alternative rock/progressive rock path with the releases 'Stupid Dream' and 'Lightbulb Sun'. These albums still contain metal influences and space-rock atmospheres, but are mostly based in prog/alt rock

In 2002, Porcupine Tree released their 'In Absentia' album. This album showed Porcupine Tree including even more metal elements. This in turn led to 2005's 'Deadwing', their heaviest album up until that point. The band continued with their metal style until they went on hiatus in 2010 after the release of 'The
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Thanks to The Angry Scotsman for the addition and Lynx33, Unitron, adg211288, Bosh66 for the updates

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PORCUPINE TREE Discography

PORCUPINE TREE albums / top albums

PORCUPINE TREE On The Sunday Of Life album cover 2.80 | 21 ratings
On The Sunday Of Life
Non-Metal 1992
PORCUPINE TREE Up The Downstair album cover 3.01 | 23 ratings
Up The Downstair
Non-Metal 1993
PORCUPINE TREE The Sky Moves Sideways album cover 3.77 | 26 ratings
The Sky Moves Sideways
Non-Metal 1995
PORCUPINE TREE Signify album cover 3.60 | 22 ratings
Signify
Non-Metal 1996
PORCUPINE TREE Stupid Dream album cover 4.18 | 26 ratings
Stupid Dream
Non-Metal 1999
PORCUPINE TREE Lightbulb Sun album cover 3.99 | 34 ratings
Lightbulb Sun
Non-Metal 2000
PORCUPINE TREE In Absentia album cover 4.34 | 90 ratings
In Absentia
Metal Related 2002
PORCUPINE TREE Deadwing album cover 4.36 | 74 ratings
Deadwing
Metal Related 2005
PORCUPINE TREE Fear Of A Blank Planet album cover 4.22 | 84 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
Metal Related 2007
PORCUPINE TREE The Incident album cover 3.93 | 56 ratings
The Incident
Metal Related 2009
PORCUPINE TREE Closure/Continuation album cover 3.69 | 4 ratings
Closure/Continuation
Metal Related 2022

PORCUPINE TREE EPs & splits

PORCUPINE TREE Moonloop album cover 3.19 | 4 ratings
Moonloop
Non-Metal 1994
PORCUPINE TREE Staircase Infinities album cover 3.81 | 11 ratings
Staircase Infinities
Non-Metal 1994
PORCUPINE TREE Nil Recurring album cover 3.74 | 27 ratings
Nil Recurring
Metal Related 2007

PORCUPINE TREE live albums

PORCUPINE TREE Coma Divine: Recorded Live In Rome album cover 4.34 | 9 ratings
Coma Divine: Recorded Live In Rome
Non-Metal 1997
PORCUPINE TREE XM album cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
XM
Metal Related 2003
PORCUPINE TREE Warszawa album cover 3.75 | 8 ratings
Warszawa
Non-Metal 2004
PORCUPINE TREE XMII album cover 3.90 | 5 ratings
XMII
Non-Metal 2005
PORCUPINE TREE Rockpalast album cover 4.10 | 5 ratings
Rockpalast
Metal Related 2006
PORCUPINE TREE Atlanta album cover 4.14 | 7 ratings
Atlanta
Metal Related 2010
PORCUPINE TREE Octane Twisted album cover 3.90 | 5 ratings
Octane Twisted
Metal Related 2012

PORCUPINE TREE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

PORCUPINE TREE Tarquin's Seaweed Farm album cover 2.71 | 3 ratings
Tarquin's Seaweed Farm
Non-Metal 1989
PORCUPINE TREE Love, Death & Mussolini album cover 3.00 | 3 ratings
Love, Death & Mussolini
Non-Metal 1990
PORCUPINE TREE The Nostalgia Factory album cover 3.07 | 3 ratings
The Nostalgia Factory
Non-Metal 1991
PORCUPINE TREE Radio Active album cover 3.36 | 3 ratings
Radio Active
Non-Metal 1992
PORCUPINE TREE Spiral Circus album cover 3.36 | 3 ratings
Spiral Circus
Non-Metal 1994
PORCUPINE TREE Insignificance album cover 4.16 | 6 ratings
Insignificance
Non-Metal 1997
PORCUPINE TREE Metanoia album cover 2.84 | 11 ratings
Metanoia
Non-Metal 1998
PORCUPINE TREE Coma Divine II album cover 3.81 | 4 ratings
Coma Divine II
Non-Metal 1999
PORCUPINE TREE Stars Die: Rare And Unreleased album cover 3.17 | 3 ratings
Stars Die: Rare And Unreleased
Non-Metal 1999
PORCUPINE TREE Transmission IV album cover 4.08 | 3 ratings
Transmission IV
Non-Metal 2001
PORCUPINE TREE Futile album cover 3.71 | 9 ratings
Futile
Metal Related 2003
PORCUPINE TREE Delerium EP album cover 3.12 | 4 ratings
Delerium EP
Non-Metal 2003
PORCUPINE TREE Porcupine Tree Sampler 2005 album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Porcupine Tree Sampler 2005
Non-Metal 2005
PORCUPINE TREE Porcupine Tree Sampler 2008 album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Porcupine Tree Sampler 2008
Non-Metal 2008
PORCUPINE TREE We Lost The Skyline album cover 3.00 | 4 ratings
We Lost The Skyline
Non-Metal 2008
PORCUPINE TREE Ilosaarirock album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
Ilosaarirock
Metal Related 2009

PORCUPINE TREE re-issues & compilations

PORCUPINE TREE Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape album cover 3.96 | 3 ratings
Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape
Non-Metal 1994
PORCUPINE TREE Voyage 34: The Complete Trip album cover 3.65 | 10 ratings
Voyage 34: The Complete Trip
Non-Metal 2000
PORCUPINE TREE Recordings album cover 4.39 | 9 ratings
Recordings
Non-Metal 2001
PORCUPINE TREE Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 album cover 3.88 | 4 ratings
Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997
Non-Metal 2002

PORCUPINE TREE singles (14)

.. Album Cover
3.75 | 2 ratings
Voyage 34
Non-Metal 1992
.. Album Cover
2.75 | 2 ratings
Voyage 34: Remixes
Non-Metal 1993
.. Album Cover
4.12 | 4 ratings
Waiting
Non-Metal 1996
.. Album Cover
3.83 | 3 ratings
Piano Lessons
Non-Metal 1999
.. Album Cover
3.83 | 3 ratings
Stranger By The Minute
Non-Metal 1999
.. Album Cover
3.12 | 4 ratings
Pure Narcotic
Non-Metal 1999
.. Album Cover
3.83 | 3 ratings
Four Chords That Made A Million
Non-Metal 2000
.. Album Cover
3.31 | 4 ratings
Shesmovedon
Non-Metal 2000
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 3 ratings
Lazarus
Metal Related 2005
.. Album Cover
3.67 | 3 ratings
Shallow
Alternative Metal 2005
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Fear Of A Blank Planet
Alternative Metal 2007
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Way Out Of Here
Metal Related 2007
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Bonnie The Cat
Alternative Metal 2010
.. Album Cover
3.00 | 2 ratings
Time Flies
Non-Metal 2011

PORCUPINE TREE movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.40 | 12 ratings
Arriving Somewhere...
Metal Related 2006
.. Album Cover
4.75 | 10 ratings
Anesthetize
Metal Related 2010

PORCUPINE TREE Reviews

PORCUPINE TREE Nil Recurring

EP · 2007 · Metal Related
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Having been released five months after the album “Fear of a Blank Planet,” the 4-track EP titled NIL RECURRING was basically the leftover tracks that were written and recorded during those same sessions but for whatever reason were not deemed as viable candidates to be included on that album. This EP is just shy of 29 minutes of playing time with each track running form the 6 - 8 minute playing time. Considering these were all a part of the larger “Blank Planet” recording sessions, it’s no wonder that these four tracks sound very much in the same stylistic approach of the third phase of PORCUPINE TREE which began with the band’s critically acclaimed breakthrough album “In Absentia.”

The all instrumental title track begins the EP and has been explained by Steven Wilson that the title was sort of a joke because the subject matter of an instrumental track can only be NIL. With the help of King Crimson superstar Robert Fripp on lead guitar the album displays a fierce dedication to meaty metal guitar riffs and progressive oddball time signatures all battered and deep-fried in Wilson’s classic psychedelic secret sauce. Featuring variations on a RECURRING theme, this track exemplifies the band’s rise to fame by upping their game as key player’s in the world of 21st century prog and the band’s uncanny ability to seamlessly mix and meld all the elements that forged the band’s unique sound.

“Normal” is the most confusing because as you first listen to it you start to have a sense of deja-vous like haven’t i heard this before? It’s like one of those Dr Strange in the Multiverse moments where you swear you’ve heard it before but yet you haven’t. This track was in reality the early working of what would become “Sentimental” on “Blank Planet” only it features parts of other tracks as well ranging from “My Ashes” and “Anesthetize.” The track is as good as anything from the band’s most lauded albums but showcases a completely written mishmash of various songs that work quite well. The track features new guitar riffs and other experimental touches while cranking out the familiar lyrics heard on the “Blank Planet” version.

“Cheating The Polygraph” is the one track that i can understand why it didn’t make it onto the original album. It’s a bit too loud, a bit too eclectic and a bit outside of the parameter of the “Blank Planet” sound however this is one of my all-time favorite PORCUPINE TREE tracks with its balls to the wall alternative metal heft and diverser than normal vocal style of Wilson. Also Gavin Harrison delivers some excellent percussive duties as he showcases both his off-kilter restraint as well as pulling out all the punches for some ferocious metal attacks. Even the guitar solo is unhinged while Colin Edwin’s bass antics whizz up and down the scale more angsty than usual. The accompanying electronic ambience and space rock effects are also in fine form. This track should’ve been the next direction of the TREE instead of “The Incident” but that obviously wasn’t in the cards.

The most indulgent of the tracks, “What Happens Now” is considered the track that most wears out its welcome due to the lengthy noisy jam that comprises the latter half. The track starts off with some tasty tribal drumming and psychedelic space rock as usual in classic PORCUPINE TREE fashion complete with Wilson’s mopey vocal delivery. Once the oscillating electronic features chime in the track becomes more lively and the contrasting dynamics and build up of counterpoints becomes quite stimulating and magical. The track engages in that delectable psychedelic noodling with cool ass production gimmicks before engaging in an all out frenzy of ratcheting up the tension with subtle tempo increases, incremental shifts in agitation and a more bombastic series of explosive noisy propositions. Many consider this one too long but personally i love how it ends the EP by just going for it with NIL a f.u.c.k. to give.

It may only be an EP and probably should’ve been tacked on to “Fear of a Blank Planet” and simply called bonus tracks but personally i find this album as essential and brilliant as anything PORCUPINE TREE has unleashed onto the world. Of all the so-called EPs that the band has released (something like 15 or so) only the 1994 “Staircase Infinities” and this one, NIL RECURRING are what i would deem as essential. Originally this was self-released in limited quantities and not so easy to find but with the band’s continued popularity always increasing the entire back catalogue has seen a resurgence of reissues with the most elaborate having been released by Peaceville. What can i say? This is an excellent album in its own right and leaves me wanting more!

PORCUPINE TREE Fear Of A Blank Planet

Album · 2007 · Metal Related
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Following in the wake of the breakthrough album “In Absentia” and the following “Deadwing,” PORCUPINE TREE was riding high as the 21st century’s newest top dog prog rock band having honed their unique blend of psychedelic space rock with progressive alternative rock and metal. The band took full advantage of their new found success and engaged in massive touring as well as continuing to crank out new material with incremental leaps of sophistication. The next in line was the 2007 release FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET which parodied the well known Public Enemy album title “Fear of a Black Planet” only instead of gangstsa woes of racial problems in the USA, this concept album tackled the desensitizing nature of having our senses bombarded with stimuli in the 21st century. The album was a huge hit and critically acclaimed across the world.

PORCUPINE TREE pretty much upped its game on this release with a greater emphasis on the progressive rock aspects of their sound but the heavier metal parts were also nurtured in a similar fashion with drummer Gavin Harrison in particular displaying a much more technically infused sophistication than on his previous two albums with the band. Pretty much everything PORCUPINE TREE had achieved on “Deadwing” was ratcheted up a few more notches all the while without sacrificing the inner core of what the band was all about, namely instantly catchy and poignant melodies that transmogrify into myriad motifs and moods and highly complex composiitons. The album also added a string and orchestral backdrop as well as King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and Rush’s Alex Lifeson delivering some cameo appearances.

With only six tracks that are just shy of 51 minutes, FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET excels on variations of a themes. Strong melodic songwriting is teased out into sprawling psychedelic excursions with periodic metallic heft and electronic fueled modernity. In a way Steven Wilson delivers what i call mope prog as his middle range voice perfectly narrates the moody dark subject matter and keeps the musical procession fairly even keel and rather hypnotic with the beefy Tool-esque bass grooves and Radiohead styled detachment. The title track begins the album with an energetic guitar arpeggio but quickly showcases the layering effect of various guitar parts along with the bass and drumming variations. While it begins like a PORCUPINE TREE business as usual proposition, the track unleashes the fully power of Wilson’s fascination with metal music as well as the cool ethereal synthesizer sounds that also make the psychedelic space rock aspects stand out.

“My Ashes,” one of the few tracks not exclusively written by Wilson showcases Richard Barbeiri’s brilliant songwriting with a more melancholic tune that allows the piano and symphonic rock backing to provide some chill time before the monstrously long “Anesthetize” plays on for almost 18 minutes, making it the longest track since Wilson’s early psychedelic years on “The Sky Moves Sideways.” This track perfectly displays Harrison’s percussive overdrive with super tight drum rolls that churn out an incessant tribal rhythm while the echoed guitars and subtle sounds slowly ooze and erupt in and out of the musical procession. The track showcases an exquisite guitar presence of Robert Fripp and navigates many mood swings while it more or less nurtures a single bass groove that maintains a consistent hypnotic spell throughout the track’s run with only the moments of pure metal madness breaking the nonchalant flow.

“Sentimental” slows things down with the by then famous piano style of Richard Barbeiri that sort of takes the rhythmic swing of a polka song and adapts it to the keyboards. Accompanied by Wilson’s downer vocal style, the lyrics narrate the psychologically drama of today’s youth but the track shifts to a complementary musical motif that is somewhat contrary to the opening piano parts which is a trademark PORCUPINE TREE style of modulation shifts that this album has perfectly mastered as the band performs these musical gymnastics without missing a beat.

The album really doesn’t lose any traction as “Way Out Of Here” takes another turn to a completely different style of playing without derailing the overall mood of the album’s conceptual theme. While most albums drag down towards the end, FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET just remains engaging until the very end as the closing “Sleep Together” delivers an ominous electronic sounding gurgle as the song slowly ratchets up into a heavy symphonic rocker while maintaining the psychedelic electronica throughout its entirety with a satisfying climax of psychedelic codeine rock splendor. Yeah this album is sort of a downer but in a good way. The music sort of navigates your mood level through the bleak subject matter and walks that usual PORCUPINE TREE tightrope between monotonous psychedelic hypnotism and active progressive rock technical workouts.

FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET displayed a remarkable maturity over the slightly inferior “In Absentia” and found the band at the top of its game. It seemed though that this was the end of the road for this third phase of the band’s existence and the band was unable to match the magnitude of this album’s perfection on the following “The Incident.” This album found PORCUPINE TREE at its most calculated cleverness where the complexities were subdued in the subtleties of every cadence crafted or prosody presented. The mope rock scene had gone full fledged prog beyond anything Radiohead achieved on “OK Computer” or Grandaddy’s indie rock classic “The Sophtware Slump.” PORCUPINE TREE had slowly but surely made it to the top of the world of modern progressive rock and in its wake left three exquisite masterpieces in the first decade of the 21st century. While i prefer “Deadwing” to this one, i have to admit that this one is not far behind. Yet another triumphant achievement from Steven Wilson and friends. Although it took a few years for this to sink in completely, in the end i have succumbed to the magnanimous monstrosity that is FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET and it has easily become one of my favorite modern prog albums of all time.

PORCUPINE TREE In Absentia

Album · 2002 · Metal Related
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Slowly but surely the solo project of Steven Wilson that began as a joke and was created simply to create music inspired by the most lysergic sounds of Pink Floyd incrementally gained steam and the momentum to reach the status of international prog stardom. After Wilson turned the project into a full band experience with 1996’s “Signify,” PORCUPINE TREE had all but set its basic blueprint of mixing 90s alternative rock with 70s psychedelic space rock made all the better with elements of progressive rock mined from various sources. In many ways PORCUPINE TREE was like the more progressive counterparts to Radiohead with a very similar approach of mixing Krautrock inspired electronica, beefy guitar grooves reminiscent of the grunge era and a propensity for Pink Floyd’s space rock set to thought provoking lyrical content.

The band’s second phase culminated with “Lightbulb Sun” which found them crafting some of the catchiest crossover prog tunes of the new millenium thus showcasing the band’s propensity for delivering strong ear wormy hooks, eerily haunting harmonies and cleverly crafted space rock contrasted with a bit of alternative rock heft however the best was yet to come as the band ratcheted the aforementioned elements up a few notches and cranked out a trilogy of what many would deem three of the greatest prog rock albums of the 21st century. The first of this string of well-crafted albums came in the form of IN ABSENTIA in 2002 and with its instantly eye-catching album cover you know immediately you’re in for something a bit out of the ordinary. This was also the first album to be released on a major record label. Lava Records may not ring a bell for many but is in face in partnership with Atlantic Records and has sold over 100 million albums, so they know what they’re doing obviously!

While the next step of PORCUPINE TREE’s inevitable ascent to the top of the prog world may have been unstoppable, a couple well known factors played a pivotal role in how the band developed and upped its game. The first was the addition of drummer Gavin Harrison who played with an impressive number of artists before landing his role with Steven Wilson and friends. His seasoned approach and technical drumming prowess were exactly what PORCUPINE TREE needed to take them to the next level of technical wizardry and take them out of the dream pop-infused sorta prog camp to the whole enchilada. Add to that, Wilson acquired a taste for the world of metal music having discovered Burzum, Meshuggah and prog metal superstars Opeth. After meeting Mikael Åkerfeldt and producing Opeth’s “Blackwater Park,” the indelible mark of metal would leave its filthy little claws in Wilson’s psyche and PORCUPINE TREE would never be the same.

The differences are noticeable immediately. While IN ABSENTIA begins with some psychedelic teasers as the album starts, the opening track “Blackest Eyes” doesn’t take long to showcase the band’s newly acquired progressive metal bombast taken to the proper level of technical wizardry with Harrison’s drumming skills. The beautiful thing about PORCUPINE TREE is that Wilson never jettisoned the old to make room for the new. Like a beautiful orchestral symphony he simply added more complimentary elements to the band’s already established sound and improved what had come before as well and IN ABSENTIA presents those standards impeccably with all the attention placed on the melodic developments first and foremost and the supporting elements simply falling where they may. The result was an amazing display of prog compositional fortitude made all the better by an immaculate production job and mixing.

For the most part IN ABSENTIA is the perfect balancing act between the art of ear wormy art rock, sophisticated prog, heavy guitar oriented alternative metal and psychedelic space rock made all the more ethereal by an excellent display of electronic musical forms such as trip hop and ambient music at key moments. The tracks all stand on their own with each adding a vital element to the band’s repertoire. While the opening “Blackest Eyes” displays the band’s new love of metal, the album spends most of the time in the space rock zone with tracks like “Trains” and “The Sound of Muzak” more in the vein of material off of “Lightbulb Sun.” At this point the metal had made its debut but was used sparingly. The heavy music is let off the leash though on the all instrumental “Wedding Nails” which displayed that the band’s fascination with heavier music was not a mere fad.

While the Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Nirvana style grunge are the key ingredients on IN ABSENTIA, on the hardcore prog side of things, there is a heavy King Crimson influence at times most prominent on the proggiest track of the album “Strip The Soul” however much of the proggier elements came in the form of production with subtle contrasts between mixing the various instrumental parts. While guitar solos erupt occasionally IN ABSENTIA was still more psychedelic space rock than anything remotely metal madness. This was controlled heavy but in a good way. What the band’s biggest achievement on this album was that it featured a keen display of various musical motifs and interesting ways of crafting a series of interconnected ideas that somehow resulted in a warm organic process. Take “Gravity Eyelids” for example. It starts off as a trip hop arty space rock song and then transitions seamlessly into a a grunge-fueled Nirvana meets Radiohead sorta track.

While many have hailed IN ABSENTIA as the first prog masterpiece of the new millenium i have to disagree that there had been some fine albums already released by Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Pendragon and even avant-proggers Present but where PORCUPINE TREE succeeded where they did not was in the fact that a major label offered a much larger audience and therefore IN ABSENTIA did indeed become one of the best known and best selling prog releases in the early 2000s. Although this is a prog classic indeed, personally i don’t find it perfect but nearly so. While PORCUPINE TREE had mastered the art of fusing its influences and idiosyncrasies into a seamless whole on this release, the track “Prodigal” just seems like filler to my ears. It’s not a bad track but is the one that screams Pink Floyd the loudest and ultimately comes off as totally unneeded. Same for the following “.3” which delivers a lot of psychedelic noodling before finding some true substance. It should’ve been edited to half the length or deleted altogether. The track “Heartattack in a Layby” would’ve been a perfect followup downer track to pacify the feisty metal oriented “Wedding Nails.”

Overall IN ABSENTIA truly is one of the great works of the 21st century not only in terms of prog but in the greater rock universe as well. Everything Wilson and company had been working towards came to fruition on this album and made PORCUPINE TREE one of the biggest prog acts OF the 21st century. While i may not find this album absolutely perfect i certainly cannot deny its relevance, its professionalism and the uncanny strength of most of the material presented. Yes it is a bit too long at over 68 minutes and had the two weakest tracks been nixed it would’ve made this a perfect listening experience for my ears but even as it is i can’t complain too much. I much prefer the following “Deadwing” and “Fear Of A Blank Planet” which took the approach delivered on IN ABSENTIA in sheer perfection however there’s no reason to deny this first installation of the band’s peak years of its classic status. Given my preference for the following albums i had to psychoanalyze my reasoning for listening to this one less and my conclusion is that the metal and space rock elements hadn’t quite completely integrated quite yet in addition to my already presented nitpicking. Anyways, no matter how you slice it, IN ABSENTIA is brilliant prog release that signified prog was alive and well in the new millennium.

PORCUPINE TREE Lightbulb Sun

Album · 2000 · Non-Metal
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My gateway drug into the world of PORCUPINE TREE wasn’t the acclaimed “In Absentia” or even the earlier psychedelic freak shows in the form of “The Sky Moves Sideways” but rather an innocent thrift store find in the name of LIGHTBULB SUN. I had heard of this band but didn’t know much about them and i can’t say i was blown away upon first listen. Sounding something like a modern Pink Floyd meets 90s alternative rock band, PORCUPINE TREE took a while to sink in but in the end the band won me over with its unique mishmash of past prog teased out in the modern world of production and mixing splendor. While LIGHTBULB SUN has not become my favorite PT album of all time, this one does hold a special place in my heart as my first encounter with Steven Wilson and friends.

LIGHTBULB SUN is the sixth overall studio album from PORCUPINE TREE released in the Y2K year of 2000 and was the third and last release of their second phase between the psychedelic earlier years and the prog meets alt metal later chapter. The album is divided into two parts. The first half is called “Rest Will Flow” and the second “Hatesong.” The first half of the album continues the art of progressive pop as heard on “Stupid Dream” with super catchy melodies that are really what we music nerds call crossover prog. The instantly ear wormy “Shesmovedon” for example takes a single listen to burrow it’s way into your inner playlist and sticks around for a while. The second side of the album showcases the band’s more experimental side. This strategy was implemented by many of the classic prog bands of the latter half 70s when the genre waned in popularity and the artists were trying to straddle both sides of the fence and forced to stuff a whole career into an album or two’s experience. PORCUPINE TREE however walks the tightrope fairly damn well and nailed that aspect of the album in full modern regalia.

Overall LIGHTBULB SUN is a much mellower album than “Stupid Dream” and the preceding “Signify.” There seems to have been a slight retrograde here in the alt rock department but that would all change with the following breakthrough album “In Absentia” however even mellow chilled out style PORCUPINE TREE is inventive, creative beyond belief and yet totally accessible with influences up the ying yang without sounding like Dolly the sheep’s clone. Once again this band delivers a set of interesting material that is easy to digest even upon first listen but offers more beyond a superficial first experience. Comparisons have been made to Wilson’s space pop group No-Man on this one and it’s certainly not unfounded but the other band members contributed their own energy into the band which keeps it distinct from the various Wilson projects. Another factor that makes LIGHTBULB SUN different from its predecessors is that Wilson wrote songs about personal experiences rather than abstract concepts.

Like “Stupid Dream,” the strength of LIGHTBULB SUN beyond the infectious melodies, excellent vocal harmonies and beautiful arrangements is the attention paid to the details. By this point Wilson’s production and mixing talents had reached sheer perfection and that is clearly evident on the seamless transitions (amongst everything else) between tracks on this album. The band captures the perfect mood of dream pop meets dream rock in the vein of Radiohead only a bit more accessible on this one. This one may be too commercial for hardcore proggers but when done properly, progressive pop can be exhilarating! PORCUPINE TREE has made a career out of drifting over that line that separates true prog from barely prog. LIGHTBULB SUN is probably the best example of this band doing just that. The album is made all the richer with the help of several guest musicians including an entire string quartet therefore violins, a viola and cello sounds find their way into the mix at all the right places. The band members themselves add many ethnic sounds courtesy of not only the banjo but a dulcimer, beglama and guembri.

With the second track “How Is Your Life Today?” we are reminded of the influence of The Beatles with that classic Paul McCartney show tune piano roll and keeps it mellow until it cedes to the heavy rocker “Four Chords That Make A Million” a seeming throwback to the conceptual themes of “Stupid Dream.” The track “Shesmovedon” is perhaps PORCUPINE TREE’s best known single with an instantly catchy melody in the vein of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” only broken down into various parts that culminates into the most sizzlingly hot guitar solo on the entire album despite being the most poppy track. Honestly it’s one of those love / hate tracks where but ultimately i just can’t resist its simplistic nature coupled with the complex layers of sonic mastery of the production, mixing and instrumentation.

My favorite tracks on LIGHTBULB SUN are “Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled” and “Russia On Ice,” the former starting out like a bluegrass festival with a psychedelic space rock backing. The track tackles some deep subject matter with the concept of the Earth recycling itself in the cosmic changes complete with a spoken word sample from Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the Heaven’s Gate religious cult who organized a mass suicide in 1997 the Comet Hale-Bopp fiasco thus proving Wilson was still quite capable of thought provoking subject matter. “Russia With Ice” is probably the most badass song on the roster as well as the longest track at just over 13 minutes long, the proggiest space rock track of the album. It pretty much runs the PORCUPINE TREE gamut from this phase. Catchy melodies on slo-mo, psychedelic accoutrements, though-provoking lyrics and the ultimate balance of dynamics backed up by impeccable production and mixing, which despite some naysayers can be essential ways of expressing creativity. A big yes in this case.

Like all the albums from the phase 2 period of PORCUPINE TREE, this album is not perfect. There are several sleeper tracks that deliver a big yawn for me. In the case of LIGHTBULB SUN it is the less than thrilling track “The Rest Will Flow,” the sleepiest track on board “Where We Would Be” and the disappointing closer “Feel So Low.” Despite hinting at greatness, PORCUPINE TREE just missed a few marks on LIGHTBULB SUN compared to the maestrohood of the triumvirate perfection that would follow but overall this album is excellent and even the sleepy tracks don’t dissuade too much from the album’s overall consistency. My only problem with this album is that it went too far in the pop direction and avoided excessive progginess which is really where i want to go most of the time! Yeah, call me a sappy bitch but i like many of these crossover prog albums that deliver an insufferable multitude of production techniques backed up by rather simplistic musicianship. This album is a perfect example of how complexity does not have to come from the musicians themselves but from the ingenuity of sound manipulation and clever juxtaposition of musical motifs.

PORCUPINE TREE Stupid Dream

Album · 1999 · Non-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Ignoring the many EPs, live albums and archival releases, PORCUPINE TREE’s canon can basically be broken down into three phases. The first was essentially Steven Wilson’s solo projects that focused on modern sounding psychedelic space rock that took the sounds of Pink Floyd and German Krautrock into the modern era. He hired extra musicians but the band hadn’t quite gelled as a unit yet. From “Signify” to “Lightbulb Sun” PORCUPINE TREE became a true band that retained all the psych rock while incorporating sounds from the 90s alternative rock scene with more streamlined traditional songwriting that focused on lyrical content and accessible melodies without jettisoning the progressive rock characteristics that had gotten them that far. The final stage was when all these elements came to fruition and taken to extremes which resulted in the band’s peak performances from “In Absentia” to “Fear Of A Blank Planet” and included the less popular “The Incident.”

STUPID DREAM was the second album of the second phase and continued the style laid down on “Signify” which focused on accessible pop hooks while integrating grungy alternative rock heft into the psychedelic space rock elements primary delivered by the keyboards and guitar tones. On STUPID DREAM the emphasis was squarely placed on the lyrics which dealt with Wilson’s personal experience with the world at large telling him it’s a waste of time to pursue a musical career due to the fact it is already too crowded and that nobody would ever listen to his music no matter how hard he tried. Of course after PORCUPINE TREE’s rise in popularity manifested the album takes on a whole new meaning of “stick it up yer arse and stick to yer friggin dreams!” but at this point in time in 1999 when the album was originally released, it reflects his frustrations of choosing between his passion and a so-called more sensible avenue of what many of us would call selling out.

This album ratchets up the second phase of the PORCUPINE TREE experience. While “Signify” had debuted the alt rock vs psych, STUPID DREAM took it even further with more streamlined tracks that offered various melodic hooks either via the piano, the guitar or just Wilson’s singing style. This is a pretty cool album in the fact it’s one of the few examples i can cite as psychedelic grunge. While the rock parts are clearly from the contemporary grunge scene of the 1990s mixed with the psychedelic space rock from the first phase of PT, the album is chock full of many other influences ranging from Todd Rungren and Utopia to Jeff Buckley and even Crosby, Stills and Nash in the vocal harmonizing department. There are many aspects of folk music that come and go and several spoken word samples that add some cool intros, intermissions and song endings.

Really everything improved on this album from “Signify” although that was a strong album as well in its own right. The melodic hooks are even catchier here, the sense of dynamics is even more diverse and the production which became one of Wilson’s most sought after talents has resulted in sheer perfection by this point. The meticulous attention to detail would become PORCUPINE TREE’s strongest attribute at this point and STUPID DREAM pretty much signifies the moment when the band came of age. There was no way to go but up from here. Perhaps the strongest trait of all was how the band could alternate moods and musical styles between verses, choruses and bridges all the while adding extra motifs that somehow they manage to slip into the mix. There was also more attention paid to becoming more commercial which for better or worse worked out. The opening “Even Less” for example started out as a 17-minute track that got 10 minutes chopped off.

This is really the album where PORCUPINE TREE mastered the art of perfect transitions between stylistically disparate styles of songwriting much in the vein of Radiohead who itself found its unique mix of psychedelic space rock with catchy pop hooks that took a cue from earlier bands like This Mortal Coil, The Cocteau Twins and Slowdive. While PORCUPINE TREE developed its true style here it still needed a bit more work before it would start cranking out what many would deem masterpieces. Despite the more frequent appearances of grunge and alternative rock, this is still very much a psychedelic experience.

Although this is only the mid-phase of PORCUPINE TREE, it’s still a gratifying experience. Yeah, the metal heft hadn’t quite drifted into the scene until “In Absentia” but the nuts and bolts of the PT experience had truly gelled. What’s lacking here is consistency with a few tracks such as “Stranger By The Minute” not really standing out amongst the rest of the album and with an hour’s playing time, it would’ve behooved the band to nix a few weaker tracks. All in all an excellent album with a significant moral message being delivered but not quite perfect yet. The saxophone solos from guest musician Theo Travis for example sound woefully out of place but his flute performances are spot on. Still not a perfect album but if one lesson can come from this album, it’s that there is no STUPID DREAM to be had since despite all the naysayers, Steven Wilson had the last laugh as not only one progressive rock’s most endearing newbies to the modern prog scene but also as one of the most sought after producer’s in today’s complex digital reality. All in all, great album!

PORCUPINE TREE Movies Reviews

PORCUPINE TREE Arriving Somewhere...

Movie · 2006 · Metal Related
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Warthur
Focusing on the more metal-oriented material from Deadwing and In Absentia - though notably steering it back in a more rock-oriented direction in order to allow this material to sit a little more comfortably beside the "indie prog rock" stylings of Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun and Recordings (picks from all of which surface here). Fans of their earlier psychedelic and space rock styles might be disappointed that those aren't represented, but on the plus side there's a liberal sprinkling of rarities here such as the glorious Buying New Soul as well as Revenant, So-Called Friend and Mother and Child Divided, those three songs having only appeared on various special editions of Deadwing. Not the definitive Porcupine Tree live experience, but a pretty decent one nonetheless.

PORCUPINE TREE Shouts

Please login to post a shout
more than 2 years ago
Their heavy stuff is heavy enough for inclusion in the MMA. Note that the MMA is album-based, so, even though PT are not a metal band, they are included because of their metal-oriented albums. And I fully support their inclusion.
Metallica999 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Their later stuff is heavier, but they are not really a metal band. Definitely worth checking if you are a fan of prog music though.
more than 2 years ago
OK, which albums is more metal ?

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