Sound: Porcupine Tree's third studio album "The Sky Moves Sideways" is a nostalgic trip back to the psychedelic rock and progressive rock of the 60s and 70s. Initially released in 1995, the 2004 2CD version has been remastered by Steven Wilson. The version also features the addition of acoustic drums from Gavin Harrison to replace the electronic drums on parts of the old album. The complex and often epic title track brings the album to life and takes the listener on a sonic journey through many ideas and mood swings. As the acoustic guitars fade out some 19 minutes later, the aggressive and eerie "Dislocated Day" begins. A brooding harmonic minor riff is the linchpin that holds the song together, whilst strange sounds effects and a clever solo are thrown about on top. "The Moon Touches Your Shoulder" and "Prepare Yourself" are much more laid back and mostly acoustic based, with a light scattering of lead parts. They combine to make a good rest before the second half of "The Sky Moves Sideways" begins. The second half has a more psychedelic feel, compared to the rockier feel of the first half. Layers of ethereal synths, beautiful guitars and gliding female vocals (from Suzanne Barbieri) carry the second half to its completion.
Disc 2 mirrors disc 1 in that it starts with the whole 35 minutes of the alternate version of "The Sky Moves Sideways". This version came about from originally planning to just have a 50 minute version as the whole album. The next song "Stars Die" follows a more traditional rock song layout and is very mellow and flowing. This is followed by the atmospheric "Moonloop (Improvisation)" and the rockier "Moonloop (Coda)". "Moonloop" is another epic on the album which also concludes the album and the musical journey perfectly. // 9
Lyrics: Not only is Steven Wilson a very talented song writer and musician, he is also a clever lyricist, in that his words never sound forced and his lyrics are very unique. The themes of his lyrics often mirror the psychedelic music, with ideas of dreams and space, whilst never giving away too many details. An example of this can be found in "The Sky Moves Sideways":
"In the dream dusk
We walked beside the lake
We watched the sky move sideways
And heard the evening break"
Steven Wilson is a very talented and natural singer. His voice is very melodic and although lyrics are sporadic across the album, when he uses his voice it always enhances the music. // 9
Overall Impression: Whilst other tracks are generally over-shadowed by "The Sky Moves Sideways", there is much more to offer than might come to fruition on the first listen. Each song is worthy of mention and the album as a whole seems like a foundation for Porcupine Tree to branch off from. Although the album may appear as a homage to eras of music gone by, there are definitely modern aspects to the band, including fantastic production, programming and even some hard rock/metal influences. Looking to the rest of their (now lengthy) discography, albums to progress to after this one are "Up The Downstair" (1993) and "Signify" (1996). Overall Porcupine Tree's "The Sky Moves Sideways" is musically superb, very rewarding and even after multiple listens it does not become tiresome. // 9