During the past year I began listening to Porcupine Tree. There are two albums that have striked mea lot and that I listen to regularly. One is Fear of a Blank Planet and the other one is The Sky Moves Sideways. I have already talked a bit about the first one in the post about PT (and surely I will make a post entirely devoted to it in the future) so now I would like to expand on the The Sky.
If you like Pink Floyd and you wonder how they could have sounded like have they begun playing in the ´90s instead of the ´60s, then this is an accurate proxy. Furthermore, the structure of the album is very similar to the one of Wish You Were Here (and for what I understand this has been made on purpose): it has 5 songs and the first and last are two parts of the same one, lasting +18 and +16 minutes each.
This is the case for the Extended Version. Then you have the UK and US versions. The extended one is better because it has both Stars Die and Prepare Yourself. In the UK version you only find Prepare Yourself and in the US version you will listen just to Stars Die. Plus, in the extended version you get this Wish You Were Here structure.
Another pro of the Extended Version is that, since it has 2 CDs, you get more music. Basically this is another version of The Sky Moves Sideways (the two parts together) with some variations in the instrumentation. But there is also a second part of Moonloop which sounds very much like Led Zeppelin. The first part of Moonloop is a jam session by the whole band and it is the only track not composed entirely by Steven Wilson, the leader and main composer of the band. This is GREAT music. You can entertain yourself a lot listening just to this song over and over again because it is so much going on… It begins just with the drums and the rest of the band starts to build up something that wraps you completely.
Another change is that the Extended Version was edited in 2003. I´m not sure and I couldn´t find the info to confirm it. This 2003 edition is remastered and it features Gavin Harrison on the drums (Gavin joined the band in 2002).
The main attraction of the record, however, is the The Sky Moves Sideways. The first part is divided into 4 and it is pretty easy to notice this. Nevertheless, the connection between the parts does not sound artificial and everything is very smooth. The second part is divided into 2 pieces. I can´t describe the entire song so go and listen to it, you wont regret it. It is a great experience.
Then we have Dislocated Day, a song with a very powerful and catchy guitar reef. It is not a complex song but that reef does the trick, at least for me.
The Moon Touches Your Shoulder is a very soft song. You can distinguish an almost magic atmosphere and you can tell that the song is basically a great effort of production put over a rather simple but beautiful base. There is no way a sensitive person will not enjoy this song.
Prepare Yourself is basically an excuse for Wilson to show his craftmanship in the guitar and to introduce the second part of The Sky. It isn´t a regular song but Wilson puts a lot of feeling in it.
Finally we find Stars Die. I have read somewhere that this is the first song Wilson wrote to make it to the radio. Fortunately, this didn´t end up in some fucked up song but in a very nice one. True, it is the most popish of the album but you won´t be disapointed by it.
All in all, for me it is a great record. Some people that have listened to it have told me that is a copy of Pink Floyd. As I said at the beginning you can tell the similarity and even more, Wilson look for it to be like this. However, as a teacher of mine at University told me once “if you are going to copy, copy from the best ones”. In addition, imitating the best is not peace of cake, as I can tell from my college experience. PT did not plagiarize Pink Floyd. They imitated the floydean atmosphere but the songs are completely original. Those who say that it´s the same thing say so because they are not really listening to the music, they are listening to the surface of it.