Rating:
8.5
Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair
May 1993


Disc I
01. What Are You Listening To...
02. Synesthesia
03. Monuments Burn Into Moments
04. Always Never
05. Up the Downstair
06. Not Beautiful Anymore
07. Siren
08. Small Fish
09. Burning Sky
10. Fadeaway

Disc II [Remaster bonus: Staircase Infinities]
01. Cloud Zero
02. The Joke's on You
03. Navigator
04. Rainy Taxi
05. Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape


Synesthesia is said to be a potential consequence of taking psychedelics which results in a variety of sensory reactions in those who experience it. Rather than bore you with a definition of what this condition means, mostly because I have no idea what it is, I will say this: Up The Downstair is the musical equivalent of a psychedelic drug. It's addictive and certainly stimulates the senses, or the aural sense at least. As a whole this album is arguably Porcupine Tree at their most psychedelic, and their first successful attempt in creating a tangible and structured piece of music.

There is a marked difference between this album and the debut which lies in the accumulation of the psychedelic tendencies in an organised way which, as the album progresses, provides a centrally continuous atmospheric experience. It is, despite still being largely the sole work of Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree's first album which successfully achieves this. For a first attempt at building an atmosphere around Porcupine Tree's music, Steven really triumphs here; this is an album laid thick with a trippy and attention holding structure. Noticeably the combination of pop and Pink Floyd extractions are at times steered by the inclusion of electronic elements in some tracks, like in the catchy opener "Synesthesia". The title track is one which merges spacey progressive rock with these elements which serves as the core of the album, running for ten minutes of gradual electronic unraveling being driven by a constant beat. The title is apt in that this instrumental track conveys a feeling of ascending or descending (I'm not sure which) a staircase, eventually getting to a point in the song which shifts to a catchy rhythm then following this for another flight of stairs before again morphing into another, and so on.

The short interludes are placed purposefully throughout the album, aiding in the album's structure. Despite the heavily psychedelic sound not an ounce of catchiness is sacrificed, and each track leaves a clear individuality rewarding repeated listens.

With the oddities and unstructured approach of On The Sunday Of Life left behind this album offers the listener more as an album. The emphasis on an atmosphere built around an addictive and connected set of tracks, while still possessive of a somewhat immature sound, was certainly a step in the right direction.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 7


Band profile: Porcupine Tree
Album: Up The Downstair


 



Written on 27.07.2012 by
R'Vannith
R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.
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Introspekrieg - 27.07.2012 at 08:07  
I love this album, truly a unique sound for them at the time. I would even go so far as to say it is my favorite. Your interpretation of the climbing of stairs is spot on, a good visual to keep in mind. Great review!
R'Vannith - 27.07.2012 at 19:06  
Written by Introspekrieg on 27.07.2012 at 08:07

I love this album, truly a unique sound for them at the time. I would even go so far as to say it is my favorite. Your interpretation of the climbing of stairs is spot on, a good visual to keep in mind. Great review!


Thanks! That's an intriguing preference, I couldn't say its my favourite from the band but it's my preferred one from the earlier releases (all the stuff before "Signify") at least.
tea[m]ster - 27.07.2012 at 20:28  
Again, anything prior to Stupid Dream I just can't get into. This was a pleasant read however. Nice as usual R'Vannith.
BloodTears - 27.07.2012 at 20:39  
Are you going through their discography? Either way, this is cool.

Well, this has one of my fav PT songs, "Fadeaway", which I think is beautiful. And I also like the naiveness of "Always Never". Overall, really good album and you described well.

I have the remastered one with the bonus tracks and they are trippy too!
R'Vannith - 28.07.2012 at 06:01  
Thanks guys

Written by BloodTears on 27.07.2012 at 20:39

Are you going through their discography? Either way, this is cool.

Well, this has one of my fav PT songs, "Fadeaway", which I think is beautiful. And I also like the naiveness of "Always Never". Overall, really good album and you described well.

I have the remastered one with the bonus tracks and they are trippy too!


I'll give it a shot yep, probably just the ones that don't already have a review though. "Fadeaway" is a favourite of mine also, and it works very nicely as an album closer I think. I haven't heard that 2nd Remaster disc, need to check it out.

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