New bands are regularly compared to established acts. Sometimes this is a blessing but more often it's a curse.
Porcupine Tree issued "The Sky Moves Sideways" in '95. Subsequently, the group was viewed as "the Pink Floyd of the '90s." That tag didn't sit well with Porcupine Tree's founder and frontman, Steven Wilson. "It's true that during the period of "The Sky Moves Sideways," I had done a little too much of it in the sense of satisfying, in a way, the fans of Pink Floyd who were listening to us because that group doesn't make albums any more," explained Wilson. "Moreover, I regret it."
Wilson started Porcupine Tree as a joke in '87. He created a "legendary band" with fake members and a totally fabricated history. To complete the ruse he recorded under the band's name. As luck would have it, these exploits actually led to a label deal with Delirium Records. Porcupine Tree stayed with the label through much of the '90s. This period was neatly capsulated on "Stars Die: The Delirium Years 1991 - 1997." Their swan song for the label was the '97 effort, "Coma Divine - Recorded Live In Rome."
During Porcupine Tree's early period Wilson was the sole member (he was also in the group No-Man). Eventually, Wilson's work became so popular that there was a demand for a tour which necessitated forming a band seeing that as being more interesting than simply working solo. "The Sky Moves Sideways" was a half band/half solo effort that Wilson didn't find very satisfying. The first full-band album, "Signify" landed a year later. Along the way, Porcupine Tree forged a reputation in Europe as an accomplished Progressive Rock band.
'98 saw the more song oriented "Stupid Dream" followed by '00's "Lightbulb Sun." Two years later, drummer Chris Maitland left and was replaced by band-friend Gavin Harrison.
Recorded in New York, "In Absentia" arrived in '02. While popular in Europe, '04's "Deadwing" also raised the group's U.S. profile especially when they came in second, behind the White Stripes' "Get Behind Me Satan," in Sound & Vision magazine's poll for the album of the year ('05).
Always a highly visual band, Porcupine Tree issued their "Arriving Somewhere" DVD in '06.
"Fear Of A Blank Planet" peaked at #59 on the Billboard chart. "My fear is that the current generation of kids who're being born into this information revolution, growing up with the Internet, cell phones, iPods, this download culture, 'American Idol,' reality TV, prescription drugs, PlayStations — all of these things kind of distract people from what's important about life, which is to develop a sense of curiosity about what's out there," stated Wilson regarding the '07 album. The set featured contributions from Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Robert Fripp (King Crimson). That same year, "We Lost The Skyline," a predominately acoustic album, came out.
Porcupine Tree began work on "The Incident" in early '09 and the album, a double-CD effort, landed eight-months later making its debut at #25 on the Billboard chart.
1992 On the Sunday of Life...
1993 Up The Downstair
1995 The Sky Moves Sideways
1999 Stupid Dream
2000 Lightbulb Sun
2002 In Absentia
2007 Fear Of A Blank Planet
2009 The Incident
Whether Wilson likes it or not, Porcupine Tree works best when they are imitating Pink Floyd. Not that the legendary Prog band is the pinnacle but at least it's a direction. Porcupine Tree specializes in hazy slow songs with occasional flourishes. But the further they move from the Floyd template the deeper they sink into the ozone. "The Incident" is a perfect example.