Porcupine Tree – Up The Downstair (1993)

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Up The Downstair came out in 1993, in between the albums On The Sunday Of Life and The Sky Moves Sideways. While On The Sunday Of Life is a collection of Steven Wilson’s earlier work, Up The Downstair was the first album that was meant to be an album (at least, I think so, please correct me if I’m wrong).

An album not many Porcupine Tree fans actually see as ‘one of Steven Wilson’s best works’, and I wonder why. Of course, it’s not my personal number one Porcupine Tree album, my favourite is actually Signify, but this album has some beautiful gems of tracks.

Is it ‘prog’? Well, more space-rock combined with 90s ambient in my opinion. For me, it’s a mixture of the ambience the albums Signify and The Sky Move Sideways both carry. Signify is a lot darker, but Up The Downstair has some haunting moments as well. Fadeaway is my favourite track on the album which gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it.

This album bit of a ‘try out phase’, before Porcupine Tree turned from a solo project into a real band. All instruments are played by Steven himself, but bassist Colin Edwin is playing on Always Never, and keyboard/soundscape wizard Richard Barbieri contributes on the title track Up The Downstair. Colin and Richard later became permanent members of the band.

I actually prefer the original version with programmed drums. The 2005 remaster version has Gavin Harrison on drums (who obviously replaced the programmed drums), but I have the feeling this wasn’t ‘supposed to be’.

What do you think about this album? Do you prefer the original album, or the remaster version with Gavin on drums? Is Up The Downstair something you would recommend to people who haven’t heard Porcupine Tree’s music?

  1. What You Are Listening To (0:58)
  2. Synesthesia (5:11)
  3. Monuments Burn Into Moments (0:20)
  4. Always Never (6:58)
  5. Up The Downstair (10:03)
  6. Not Beautiful Anymore (3:26)
  7. Siren (0:52)
  8. Small Fish (2:43)
  9. Burning Sky (11:06)
  10. Fadeaway (6:19)

http://www.porcupinetree.com/

https://www.burningshed.com/

PS: I’m thinking about writing more short reviews like this. My usual reviews are a bit longer and go deeper into the music, but sometimes I like to write small and ‘open’ reviews. Please let me know if you would like to read more reviews like this about well-known albums. Feel free to check out one of my related reviews: Barbieri & Bowness – Flame (1994)

You can listen to the track Fadeaway here:

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7 thoughts on “Porcupine Tree – Up The Downstair (1993)

  1. Well, if you are a reader of my reviews at All About Jazz (http://www.allaboutjazz.com), then you’ll know I favour longer, in-depth and extensive articles…just as long as there’s no fat to be trimmed. So my vote is no to short pieces; yes to longer ones….though I really don’t think it’s a question of long or short. Truly, since this is the web – so you are not constrained on length – you should write as much as you feel needs to be said: not a word less, or a word more.

    Just like records, which should not be long because you can squeeze 80 mins onto a CD or be criticized when they’re short (calling Steven Wilson’s 4 1/2 an EP is a bit of a joke to me because, at 37 minutes, it absolutely fits what was once an album-length record. So, writing should be just like music: say what you need to say, no more, no less…and make sure you trim the fat before you unleash it on the world at large.

    Keep it up Iris!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi John! Thank you very much for your reply and the link to your website. I just checked it out, going to check your website more often!

      My usual reviews are longer and go deeper into the music, but sometimes I just like to keep it plain and short.

      I have to admit that I sometimes ‘stop’ reading a review when it’s too long in my opinion, but it also depends on the writing style of course. Short reviews are fun to read, but sometimes miss important information you would like to know.

      Like

  2. ProggyDan

    I enjoy this album like you wouldn’t believe, it wasn’t my first though (I started off with In Absentia then worked my way downwards) and as soon as I got to this, I truly enjoyed the “pop” elements; so simple yet complex at the same time; The album flows so seamlessly (unlike Signify, which is my biggest issue with that album, though one of my favorites too!) and it feels like this grand psychedelic ride; the production, for it not to be a “big label album” is top notch, cause even by this time, Steven Wilson did a fine job texturing and mixing the tracks.

    CD 2 is a great experimental album, the melancholic atmosphere and the jazzy/tribal elements make up for a truly trancey experience. This album is my favorite from his 90’s electronic/psychedelic phase.

    Keep up the nice reviews! =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your reply, Dan! Glad you like my reviews! Yes, even the poppy elements in the music are wonderful! I secretly hope Steven Wilson make something like Up The Downstair or Signify again, but I think that would be wishful thinking, haha.

      Like

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