REISSUES: Porcupine Tree
From page 90 of Classic Rock Magazine August 2005
PORCUPINE TREE Reissues Snapper A spacy prog-rock excursion for those who felt The Orb didn’t really rock, 1993’s Up The Downstair turned Porcupine Tree into a band rather than a figment of Steven Wilson’s imagination. When his trippy, fluid guitar style came up against Richard Barbieri’s brooding synthesisers on the title track, the Tree were launched.
The new edition of Up The Downstair has been overhauled as well as remastered. In particular the computerised drums which were flat and mechanical have been replaced by current Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison who adds a satisfying human touch while sticking close to the original beat. Porcupine purists might protest but at least they now have ‘collectable’ original albums to seethe into. For their principles they will have to forgo the bonus Staircase Infinities CD.
Voyage 34, recorded around the same time, was a 30- minute single that was an indie chart hit. The two-phase trip, with a fine documentary-style commentary, is now joined by two more phases originally released separately.
Wilson’s Gilmour-influenced guitar at the start should encourage any Pink Floyd fan to clamber aboard.
Voyage 34 also shows up on Warszawa, a live album from 2001 that also features five tracks from the recently released Lightbulb Sun album that are more structured with a disciplined rock edge. Interestingly the contrast between the band’s early and later styles is less evident in concert than it is on their albums.
■■■■■■■ ■■■ Up The Downstair ■■■■■■ ■■■■ Voyage 34 ■■■■■ ■■■■■ Warszawa Hugh Fielder
Q&A Steven Wilson’s ’Stair lift.
What’s with the revisionism on Up The Downstair? With PT’s growing fan base there are more people discovering our back catalogue, so I wanted to take the opportunity to “fix” a few things. I always liked the songs themselves, but they were spoiled by the cheesy sampled drums that I only used because I couldn’t afford to employ a real drummer.
What criteria did you set yourself in the studio? I didn’t want to replace anything subject to the original mood: vocals, solos et cetera. Apart from the drums the only other things that were replaced were some acoustic guitar parts because they had been so badly recorded.
Was Gavin Harrison forced to ingest hallucinogenic substances before laying down his drum parts? I’m not sure Gavin Harrison can be forced to do anything! Despite my fascination with drug culture, I’ve never been interested in using them, or working with people that do.
You haven’t changed Voyage 34, though.
Voyage 34 was an attempt to do fuse electronic and rock music, inspired by the ambient trance scene of the early 90s. Up The Downstair was more song-based, so I was trying to make samples sound like the real thing.
Which is ultimately why it didn’t work - you can’t fake it.