Porcupine Tree

Signify

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The first proper album by the full band, Signify was the next great step forward for Porcupine Tree, a distinct advancement in how well the foursome could completely rock out as well as find its own narcotic style of ambient exploration. The title track signals intentions clearly after the fragmentary sample-collage start of "Bornlivedie" kicks things off. Based on a storming riff from Wilson, the Edwin/Maitland team provide a crisp, driving beat, while Barbieri throws some intriguingly aggressive keyboard work, nervy and unsettling, to offset the calmer parts he also adds to fill things out. Everyone gets to show a little bit of individual flair as the album progresses. Edwin punctuates the epic surge of "Sleep of No Dreaming" with some plucked double bass as well as electric, while Maitland himself takes over on (wordless) vocals and full composition for "Light Mass Prayers," a minimal, entrancing piece. One thing that hasn't noticeably changed much is Wilson's general songwriting and ear for arrangements -- good, but there's little in the way of distinct change in style, leaving it to the performance of the band as a whole to provide the album's own unique stamp. For all that Wilson may once again be singing obliquely on the pressures and nature of end-of-century life, he still does so in an engagingly left-of-center way. Consider the portrait of an incipient Internet/cyberpunk world in "Every Home Is Wired" or the snap-or-not? dilemma of "Darkmatter," which closes the album on a subtly tense note, besides being the best song Peter Gabriel-era Genesis never wrote. The often gripping instrumental pieces which are as much a band trademark as anything else appear throughout, including the combination drift and charge of "Idiot Prayer," littered with intriguingly curious samples, and the amusingly titled, hellfire and brimstone preacher-punctuated "Intermediate Jesus."

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