Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Porcupine Tree, Stars Die – The Delerium Years 1991-1997

Porcupine Tree had a long and convoluted history before its first proper album as a full-fledged band, Signify, was released in 1996.  The band began when Steven Wilson and a friend made up stories about a fictional 70’s prog rock band in the Pink Floyd mold called Porcupine Tree.  From there Wilson started producing music under the Porcupine Tree name either alone or with an occasional collaborator.  Some of this music was released on various formats including cassette tapes, contributions to multiple-artist collections, E.P.s and limited release albums and CDs.  The band, which at the time had Wilson as its only member, signed with Delerium Records in 1991.  Delerium released several Porcupine Tree albums and Wilson began to put together a full band in 1993 in order to be able to perform live.

Stars Die is a twenty-one track, two-disc compilation of material from the Delerium catalog leading up to the release of Signify.  The first seven tracks on disc 1 are from the time when Wilson alone sang and played all the instruments.  The remaining tracks (with one exception that is another Wilson-only creation) include various combinations of additional musicians until the final band coalesces with Wilson on guitars, keyboards and vocals, Richard Barbieri on keyboards, Colin Edwin on bass and Chris Maitland on drums.  The collection ends with “Dark Matter” which also closed Signify (and can be heard in our Signify review).

Stars Die is a collection that was put together with obvious care.  A booklet provides a paragraph about and a list of the musicians who played on each track.  The sound quality is first-rate and the tracks chosen for inclusion provide an excellent survey of early Porcupine Tree.  Four of the 21 tracks are previously unreleased (“Synesthesia – extended version”, “Phantoms”, “Men of Wood” and “Signify II”), four are appearing on an album for the first time (“Stars Die”, “The Sound of No One Listening”, “Colourflow in Mind”, and “Fuse the Sky”) and one (“The Sound of No One Listening”) has been remixed by Wilson for this album.

There’s so much good music on Stars Die that I’m having a hard time picking out one track to include with this review.  If you are a Porcupine Tree fan, the collection is a no-brainer.  If you don’t have it, get it.  Even if you have everything except for the unreleased material, having it all together with good sound is a good buy.  If you like prog or psychedelic rock and don’t know or are only somewhat familiar with Porcupine Tree, Stars Die is an excellent place to learn about the band.

The full-length and previously unreleased version of “Synesthesia”.  Steven Wilson sings and plays all instruments.

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06/09/2010 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , ,

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