Voyage 34: The Complete Trip review by Porcupine Tree

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  • Released: Jun 6, 2000
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 8.5 (22 votes)
Porcupine Tree: Voyage 34: The Complete Trip
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Sound — 6
Voyage 34 is an instrumental concept album, narrating the LSD trip of 'Brian'. The Voyage is seperated into 4 tracks, or 'Phases', the first of which dives into the mind of Brian, and lets the listener engage aurally with the trip, with occasional narratation setting the scene. Slowly, the track shifts from a slow, pulsing rhythm, becoming fleshed out with synthesisers and vocal-style keyboards, changing the tone of the piece, and building up to an exulting, though quite minimalist, guitar solo. The rest of the Phases sink distinctly below par, due to the sheer boredom they inflict. Perhaps 'Phase I' should've been included on another album as a standalone track, rather than serialising it here, and subjecting the listener to endure this monotony. I prefer the music provided by albums such as 'In Absentia' and 'Lightbulb Sun' to this. Not to say that the music here is not enjoyable, but it gets very tedious, quite quickly. If you ignore the fact that 'Phases II - IV' exist, the album gets so much shorter, but so much better.

Lyrics — 6
There aren't any lyrics, unless you count some narration and soundbites. Which are interesting, but it's impossible to really give an impression on lyrics and/or singing: therefore I can't really score this, ignore it if you want to get a true average score!

Overall Impression — 7
The problem here is that none of the remaining phases are particularly gratifying, compared with Phase I. They also all have a duration of 10+ minutes; a casual listener is likely not to wish to sit through an hours worth of ambient rock, which all follows a very similar vein. Even fans of Porcupine Tree's other albums may find themselves alienated somewhat by this very niche album. The album does, however, provide a very relaxing, calming sensation, good for drifting off to sleep, perhaps. Overall, the album isn't disappointing, in the sense that I'm disappointed with the band for making a brave, and yes, enjoyable concept album. But it's extremely difficult to listen through the whole hour, and not fall asleep or turn off. If I'm forcing myself to listen to this album (especially Phases II - IV), then why am I listening to it?

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    volvo-b10m
    how can you say that phase II is hard to listen?!?!? the ending solo is just beautiful, and the voice that says "Is this trip really necesary?" is a perfect ending to the phase. The phase III is a bit harder to listen, because is the weirdest phase of the voyage, but phases II and IV are the best passages of the album, remember that is talking about LSD trips, which always are a bit (quite) weird.
    Deepkanwal
    Good review. Personally, I feel that the album is really good at creating mood, atmosphere... Really haunting stuff. Though, like you said, kinda tedious. Phase III and IV felt like filler.
    ConstantMotion
    I don't agree with this review really. Sure, phases 3 and 4 were only very slighty tedious, but they're electro remixes by Astralasia and then Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri. Phases 1 and 2, however, were just brilliant. The solos on both tracks weren't exactly shredding but still technically awesome! Another thing... this isn't a concept album.. it's a compilation. Phases 1 and 2 were originally meant to go on 'Up The Downstair' to make it a double album, but were felt to be too long. Phases 3 and 4 are remixes and it was felt by Steven Wilson that they were decent enough for Voyage 34 to be an official release. So i have two suggestions: 1) Do your research when you're doing a review next time and get your facts right. 2) Any Porcupine Tree release deserves a better score than 6.3... You muppet...
    Deepkanwal
    I'd argue that it is a concept album..or at least that it can be considered one. The concept could be Brian's LSD trip, I mean the album does almost tell it as a story. Just my opinion though.
    Mazzakazza
    ConstantMotion wrote: 1) Do your research when you're doing a review next time and get your facts right. 2) Any Porcupine Tree release deserves a better score than 6.3... You muppet...
    Look, I'm a PT fan, I love their work, but this album was disappointing. It can still be considered a concept album, even if Phases 3 and 4 are remixes (I was aware of this). They are remixes, and in my opinion, pretty much just filler material, which is why I'm disappointed - like I said in my review, it's tedious. The solos on both tracks are not technically impressive, from a completely detached analytical view. They are, however, well structured and fit well with the feel and style of the tracks. Please realise that fanboy-esque comments sound foolish. Many good bands release disappointing or bad albums. Ever hear of St. Anger? Have a nice day.
    volvo-b10m
    1) as a concept album works perfectly because the concept is Brian's trip. 2) a dreadfully hard technical solo is not needed to enjoy the song, it can be simple, but if it´s original is doesn´t needs to be hard and technical like John Petrucci's solos. 3) an album is not disappointing because the band used remixes, the remixes are a new and creative way of using something that was already used you idiot!
    ConstantMotion
    OK, i agree with you about phases 3 and 4; they were tedious
    Mazzakazza wrote: Please realise that fanboy-esque comments sound foolish. Many good bands release disappointing or bad albums. Ever hear of St. Anger?
    ..and that i really DO agree with you there and i was a little idiotic with what i put... but i still love those solos
    Mazzakazza
    OK, i agree with you about phases 3 and 4; they were tedious ..and that i really DO agree with you there and i was a little idiotic with what i put... but i still love those solos
    Cool, that's your opinion, and it's good that you form your own. Peace dude.
    upthedownstair
    i think phase one and two are some of pt's best stuff. phase three reminds me of the orb, but not as invigorating or interesting. phase four bores the hell out of me.
    The concept could be Brian's LSD trip, I mean the album does almost tell it as a story.
    i don't really hear that beyond phase one, which to me is a depiction of the bad side to acid. phase two glorifies the positive side, according to users. phase three and four don't really have any lyrics/vocal samples, as far as i can remember. just my take on things...
    ryandevison
    Mazzakazza wrote: ConstantMotion wrote: 1) Do your research when you're doing a review next time and get your facts right. 2) Any Porcupine Tree release deserves a better score than 6.3... You muppet... Look, I'm a PT fan, I love their work, but this album was disappointing. It can still be considered a concept album, even if Phases 3 and 4 are remixes (I was aware of this). They are remixes, and in my opinion, pretty much just filler material, which is why I'm disappointed - like I said in my review, it's tedious. The solos on both tracks are not technically impressive, from a completely detached analytical view. They are, however, well structured and fit well with the feel and style of the tracks. Please realise that fanboy-esque comments sound foolish. Many good bands release disappointing or bad albums. Ever hear of St. Anger? Have a nice day.
    Ever hear of every metallica song? shiity right? thats what i thought
    formeitsthetree
    Mazzakazza, you must have been on some drug far worse than Brian's bad acid when you reviewed the amazing Voyage 34! Not only is it a work to stand on its own, it does stand on its own, as one of the salient and absobrilliant masterpieces in the annals of music,by ubergenius Steven Wilson! "Some narration"?! How can you attenuate narration by the incredible Timothy Leary by calling it "some narration" ? You have serious soul-searching, brain-fine-tuning, and ear-cleaning to do , my man. Leary was one of the 10 smartest humans ever, one of the coolest as well, with one of the most magical voices and vocalizing artistry ever! He enhanced the magic of Voyage 34 enormously. No surprise that one genius would sample another. Ditto for Wilson's use of Lisa Gerrard, who is probably the best vocalist ever to grace the race. In the sub-genre of trance, V 34 is as good as it gets! No wonder at all that its early incarnation was so popular at raves and in acid-house clubs in the 90s. Yes, phases III and IV are tedious at times, but the repetition does not decrease the coolestgrooves ever created in phases I and II , which also feature the two very best guitarsolos of all time. Yes, few acknowledge it, but Wilson is the pinnacle of electric guitar wizards, although he doesn't seem to realise this and would surely be too humble to proclaim himself as such. The mind-blowing sound effects, including the flashbulbs, the utterly chilling spookiness, and other elements make V 34 the maxiumum magnum opus, and a supreme opus noir (a phrase I recently invented, a completely unique work of aural art which stands on its own more resplendently than any other recording ever has. Voyage 34 is just more exemplary brilliance proving the mighty Tree's as the ultimate and best band (so far). Can/will they ever be surpassed? This is quite unlikely. Mazzakazza, if you want tedious, boring, and repetitive, try Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell" (the album, although I believe they did a song with same title), "Learning To Fly", and "Comfortably Numb", which is uncomfortably boring as ****. Even the great PF, one of Wilson's very favourite bands and an enormous influence and inspiration to his musical development, is liable to produce boring shit at times. Even Steven Wilsobn : the supreme musical genius of this planet, can at times create boringness and lame monotony (the title track of "The Incident", for instance), but the astonishing brilliance, vibrancy, uniqueness, synthesis of music/voice/ambience of "Voyage 34: The Complete Trip" surpass its tedious times, by parsecs.