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