Released as a semi stopgap collection in mid-2001 during a period of general Porcupine Tree inactivity, outside of some concert appearances here and there, Recordings compiles the various B-sides and extra tracks from singles taken from Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun, adding a couple of unreleased goodies as well. It's obviously for the hardcore fans more than anyone else -- those wanting an introduction to the band will find it of interest but not the best place to start. Those hardcore fans, though, will find it a very enjoyable release, with the previously unavailable songs of definite interest. "Buying New Soul," which starts the album, is one of the band's subtler epics, an eleven-minute number with all the multitracked vocals and wistfully burnt imagery any fan of classic English prog could want. "Access Denied," originally planned for Lightbulb Sun itself, is (in part) a wonderfully jaunty little number which could have come from mid-eighties XTC, Wilson's contributions on hammered dulcimer an inspired touch. The remaining tracks reappear from the various singles, though sometimes in different form. "Oceans Have No Memory," originally surfacing as a demo, gets a full instrumental band version here, while "Even Less," the majestic opening blast from Stupid Dream, turns up in its full fourteen minute length, the second part having only appeared before on a separate single. The full "Even Less" features past guests the East of England Orchestra and Theo Travis, both of whom also turn up on "Ambulance Chasing," an unexpectedly successful fusion of everything from heavy tribal drumming to saxophone. There's an attractive range of stylistic experimentation on display with the various B-sides and extra numbers, ranging from the minimal, near-ambient exploration of "Cure For Optimism" to the building rocker "Disappear."
by Ned Raggett
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