Porcupine Tree
Voyage 34: The Complete Trip



by Serapheus USER (9 Reviews)
September 2nd, 2005 | 40 replies

Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

“...The time is 9.30 PM, one hour after the participants have eaten sugar cubes saturated with LSD. We hear Brian and his fellow travellers observing their gradual transformation…" – The opening words greet the listener in a chronological diary-like fashion, this album is a story, an adventure, a complete trip.

Porcupine Tree (PT) is the creation of Steve Wilson, Voyage 34 is the 8th album in the collection and performed, programmed and produced entirely by Steve (except for the synthesizers in Phase IV). Deadwing and In Absentia are PT’s latest and more mainstream works and differ greatly from Steve’s early works which are more experimental, ambient and psychedelic.

Porcupine Tree - Voyage 34

On Voyage 34 the performers are:
Steve Wilson (everything)
Richard Barbieri (Synthesizers on Phase IV)

The voyage begins with a narrator prefacing the album and then it dives slowly into an ambient soundscape followed by a pounding drumbeat and more narration which tells that this album is about an LSD trip. Crazily enough a riff that sounds almost exactly the Another Brick in the Wall medley one makes a welcome entrance amongst the ambience and leisurely paced bassline. This is the introduction to Voyage 34 and it is quite a journey. The album is principally just one long song but it is split up into four progressive parts which were originally recorded on two EPs:

Phase I – 12.57 (recorded June/July 1992)
Phase II - 17.24 (recorded June/July 1992)
Phase III - 19.24 (recorded August 1993)
Phase IV – 13.42 (recorded August 1993)
(All phases remixed and remastered 2000)

The four phases intertwine and frequently change as the musical accumulation of synthesizers, Dave Gilmour-ish guitar solos, throbbing basslines and Electronica style drum beats writhe and fester over each other in a long snakey rollercoaster, while you are riding it the narrator sets the scene, describing "Brian's 34th Trip and the consequences in a voice which reminds me of Tim Leary's "Think for youself. Question authority" (Third Eye by Tool) tone. Other vocals occur as well like the anecdotes of a female tripper and the prolonged narration.

The instrumentals work perfectly, absolutely perfectly, this is more of a chill-out album but it has tastes of electronica, dance, and prog rock and is definitely comparable to The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. I give this a 4/5 because of the richness and complex textures of the music, the songs are very slow paced and comfortable on the ears to the point where you are totally absorbed and flowing with the music but the narration is monotonous and creepy and could almost be done without, people who are anti-drugs will hate it. I suggest this strongly to LSD users and people who like progressive rock, ambient music or simply Pink Floyd.

Deadwing and In Absentia are more suitable for the mainstream listener with far shorter, catchier and rapt songs. The album should be listened to as a whole so don't download individual tracks it will ruin the experience. This is the type of material which grows on you and time is needed to let it all sink in, it's extraordinarily open-minded.

Excellent instrumentals
Long stretching soundscapes
Perfect chill-out/sleeping material
Targeted at LSD users

The narration
Not very original (The Pink Floyd riff)
Targeted at LSD users

Interesting stuff:
Opeth are REALLY big fans of this band
The back cover of the album booklet includes a list of questions asked about this album, they're not part of the review, but everyone who listens to it should have a look at them:

How should Porcupine Tree be used?
What are the 5 levels of Voyage 34?
What are the sexual visions of Porcupine Tree?
What are the set and settings of Porcupines Tree?
Should anyone be allowed to go on Voyage 34?
Does Porcupine Tree cause hallucinations?
How long does Voyage 34 last?
Is Porcupine Tree habit forming?
What effects does Voyage 34 have?
Does Porcupine Tree pose a danger?
Does Porcupine Tree cause insanity?
Are there substitudes being sold as Porcupine Tree?

If these are the sorts of questions you want an album to make you ask, then check out Voyage 34.

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user ratings (226)

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 2nd 2005


Good review. One of their albums that I haven't heard yet - I'll check it out.

September 2nd 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

Any more feedback???, one comment is just silly like a spinning eyeball mushroom...

September 2nd 2005


This deffinately sounds like my kinda album. Very nice review

Dr. Jake Destructo
September 12th 2005


while you are riding it the narrator sets the scene, describing "Brian's 34th Trip and the consequences in a voice which reminds me of Maynard James Keenan's "Think for youself. Question authority" tone. Other vocals occur as well like the anecdotes of a female tripper and the prolonged narration.

Just thought I'd correct you on this- It's not MJK saying that at the beginning of Third Eye. It's actually Tim Leary, and it was also the first thing I thought of upon hearing Voyage 34. :p

September 14th 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

Very good job on the review, I think you describe the songs and sounds within this album very well:

"richness and complex textures of the music, the songs are very slow paced and comfortable on the ears to the point where you are totally absorbed and flowing with the music but the narration is monotonous and creepy"

^^^This sums it up really well.

Anyway, I love this album because of the soundscapes it creates and the way it consumes you in it. It's a very trippy listen, and I love the atmosphere of it. I'm relatively new to it, so I need to listen to it more before I decide if it's a 4 or 4.5 out of 5 for me.

Oh, and I disagree with your assertion that people who dislike drugs will hate it..it's almost the opposite because just listening to it is like an LSD trip without doing drugs.This Message Edited On 09.14.05

February 3rd 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Voyage 34 was the first PT album I got. It's amazing.

May 3rd 2006


I just got this album. Very weird. Very pink-floyd-ish. Not at all what I was expecting. I'd only heard in-absentia and deadwing before this. Saying that, I still think this was some awesome music. This is up there with Oakenfold's voyage into trance with my all-time best zone-out trippin' balls music. I really really enjoyed it!

February 24th 2007


best review ever.

January 8th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Weird album. I'll need to listen to it a few more times before I pass judgment though.

Digging: Enduser - Even Weight

January 22nd 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

This is pretty awesome. That riff from The Wall that crops up throughout works really well and the soundscapes Wilson creates are wonderful. It's a great album, just takes a lot of getting use to.

January 27th 2011


It's a really interesting and unique idea that Porcupine Tree have composed. Very, very, very strange indeed.

February 3rd 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Steven Wilson at his very very best...

February 3rd 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

I think he had better times

Digging: Morton Feldman - String Quartet No. 2

July 14th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta stone to this once I get back to the university.

September 5th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

One of my favorite Porcupine Tree releases, hands down

Digging: No Tolerance - You Walk Alone

October 3rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's a great album when in the right mood, it's lengthy sure, but it's all about creating an atmosphere for you to completely submerge yourself in. Also the production and mix are great, you can hear all the instruments well (unlike modern PT material during the aggressive sections, where the keyboards suffer).

Digging: Myrath - Tales of the Sands

Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

yeh good one it is

October 14th 2012


is this gud

October 14th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Nice one ire, as if you haven't heard this. Its a full psychedelic blow out. Made around the the "up the downstair" time. So its early pt.

November 22nd 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

This is good, but it gets kind of boring sometimes. I is one of the best PT instrumentals though.

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