Porcupine Tree – The Sky Moves Sideways

1995 (reissue 2004 Snapper Music)

1: The Sky Moves Sideways Phase 1 (18:39)
– The Colour Of Air
– I Find That I’m Not There
– Wire The Drum
– Spiral Circus
2: Dislocated Day (5:24)
3: The Moon Touches Your Shoulder (5:40)
4: Prepare Yourself (1:58)
5: The Sky Moves Sideways Phase 2 (16:48)
– Is…Not
– Off The Map

Bonus CD:
1: The Sky Moves Sideways [alternate version] (34:37)
2: Stars Die (5:01)
3: Moonloop [improvisation] (16:18)
4: Moonloop [coda] (4:52)

Actually it is right. “The Sky Moves Sideways” from 1995 is the third album by Porcupine Tree. Just a little side-note. The first years of Porcupine Tree’s existence it is not more than a pseudonym for Steven Wilson. With “The Sky Moves Sideways” Porcupine Tree presents themselves as a band and given the fact that this album is also released in the USA, this record has everything to be a break-thru album. At least the music has that appearance, it is creative, inventive, virtuoso and extremely attractive. Constantly you are drawn in by the genius charms of the sounds.

Porcupine Tree makes plain psychedelic music, in which the Pink Floyd influences are numerous. The question then becomes whether this is bad. Eh no, I am convinced that if Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree has switched places, Wilson and his band had also been very successful in the seventies.

The album has the same construction as “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd from 1975. We hear one long epic that has been cut in two parts, one part at the beginning and one part at the end. Personally I like the music that is build up like this. Despite “The Sky Moves Sideways” is released in different versions, this construction remains the same. The version reviewed here is the remaster from 2004, this of course because there is a very interesting bonus cd included. Enough said, let’s get to the content.

Phase 1 of the title track starts floaty, When, after a few minutes, the dynamics increase with vocals and guitar, we hear a relaxed Porcupine Tree. It is the harbinger on a thunderous piece of psychedelics, complete with a hypnotizing swinging rhythm en maddening guitar and keyboards supported by excellent bass guitar. This eighteen minute tour-de-force ends calmly with, among other things, plucked acoustic guitar. In the following songs Dislocated Day and The Moon Touches Your Shoulders the computer drums are replaced by real drums played by Gavin Harrison. It greatly benefits the mid-eastern atmosphere of the riffs in Dislocated Day, also the beautiful The Moon Touches Your Shoulder, that starts calmly and has a rousing end, benefits from it. Prepare Yourself is a short instrumental interlude that clears the path for Phase 2 of the title track. The world really turns upside down here, especially in the second sub-title Off The Map in which Wilson hurls the most awesome sounds into the room during his solo. This is absolutely world class, if not more.

On the bonus cd we have first of all a 34 minute alternative mix of the title track, here both phases are put together. That the ingenuity is great may be clear. Stars This is one of the most beautiful songs Wilson has ever written. It has a lovely Blackfield-vibe. Moonloop is typical Porcupine Tree with its improvised character. Its is quite sad that this song had to move from the regular album  to the bonus-cd. Apart from this I don’t want to criticize Steven Wilson.

If “The Sky Moves Sideways” can be called a break-thru album I dare not say. The album has assured that many music lovers have embraced Porcupine Tree.

Richard Barbieri: synthesizers, electronics
Colin Edwin: bass, double bass
Chris Maitland: drums, percussion
Steven Wilson: vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass
Suzanne Barbieri: vocals
Rick Edwards: percussion
Theo Travis: flute
Gavin Harrison: drums

© Dick van der Heijde 2022