What do you call a joke that is too good to be funny? Porcupine Tree. Yes, Porcupine Tree was a band that Steven Wilson made up, with a detailed history and the likes. Not a very funny joke, but still. Then he made the band real- with the exception that Porcupine Tree at this point wasn't a band. Steve Wilson was the sole member, playing every instrument. On the Sunday of Life..... was the debut album of Porcupine Tree, but is compiled mostly of two prior cassette releases; Tarquin's Seaweed Farm
and The Nostalgia Factory
. And what can I say, this album is a mess.
About a third of the On the Sunday of Life..... are actual songs. The rest is self-indulgent filler, for the most part. Some of the filler songs are nice transition songs, like Begonia Seduction Scene which is just a lone acoustic guitar playing, with random noises in the background. On other tracks, the random noises fully take over, like on Third Eye Surfer, which basically Wilson messing around with his synthesizers while a drum solo takes place in the background. The drum solo begins on Third Eye Surfer's precious track, On the Sunday of Life, which is essentially the same song, but with the drum solo beginning near the end. Message from a Self-Destructing Turnip, is the shortest track on the album, and is just a computerized voice talking. Space Transmission is also a voice talking, and considering On the Sunday... isn't a concept album; I wonder why it's even on here. Hymn isn't even music, it's just noise. On the Sunday of Life..... takes filler to whole new level, making a 6 song EP into a 70 minute full length album.
If you ask any big Porcupine Tree fan what genre they fit into, most will tell you Porcupine Tree deserves a genre of its own. But Porcupine Tree weren't always the unique genius band they are today. And there have always been comparisons to Pink Floyd. Well On the Sunday of Life..... reeks of Pink Floyd. Most of the filler sounds like it could've been ripped straight out of any of their spacey albums. Radioactive Toys, one of the actual songs, features Wilson's superb guitar playing, perfectly emulating Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's solos, as well as his voice. The 10 minute It Will Rain for a Million Years showcases some more original guitar playing, though it's mostly an ambient piece, with some spoken word.
Despite the heavy influence of Pink Floyd, On the Sunday of Life has some really original songs. A strange mix of psychedelic and synth pop takes over in songs like Nostalgia Factory and Linton Samuel Dawson, both featuring strangely high pitched vocals. These songs indicate Wilson still hadn't mastered psychedelic music as he did in 1995's The Sky Moves Sideways
, but was on his way, foreshadowing it in many songs. Nine Cats is a classic Porcupine Tree song, a great melody lead by an acoustic guitar and piano, and is one of the few songs here where Steven Wilson sings naturally. Beautiful enough to been have included on later Porcupine Tree works like In Absentia
, and has a feel of melancholy. It also features a wonderful guitar solo.
Even though this album has quite a lot of garbage and filler, it's actually pretty enjoyable to listen to as a whole. At the same time, it's very possible that you wouldn't enjoy such a scattered album, varied and sprawled with random bits of Steve Wilson's ambitions. I don't recommend it to anyone new to Porcupine Tree, basically anything else by them would be better. It very hard to get a hold of, and you're better off looking for Stars Die: the Delirium Years 1991-1997
which has most of the album's highlights. I'm very surprised that I'm giving this such a low rating, everything else I've heard is at least 4 star material. This proves that every band has a starting point, to evolve and change (remember Radiohead's Pablo Honey
On the Sunday of Life.....-------------------> 2 stars