Review Summary: Only as loud as the silence it breaks
In a world where album names would be immensely important, where they would be more than just words which simply fall out from a person's mouth, and happen to be suitable for describing a whole relation of notes, lyrics, concepts and their entwined relations, Signify
would be the most accurate one. Until we can confidently say that music can embody words and their mystical, mutable load of emotions and thoughts, Signify
will stand as the most intelligent album name. And that's because it recognizes its mere communicational existence, and chooses to stay out of the game. It gives its music no qualities, no burdens to bear and only states its self-referentiality. Signify
does not say a word about its content. It's just a bold statement, and one that couldn't be more sincere.
If all these sound bewildering and confusing, there's no problem in asking why. It's because Signify
is such an album : torn between ethereal and gloomy melodies, between frustration and soothingness, aiming at the highest repletion while relentlessly struggling to find it. It's the sum of its ever-conflicting relations in both musical and lyrical level. Steven Wilson, while slowly waking from his psychedelic reality, admitted that he was always "in love with the idea of the rock band"
because "bands have a kind of glamour, and appeal, and a romance about them the solo projects just don't have."
This is the sound of a Wilson in transition - and maybe the best Wilson we'll ever get. Working on the creation of a more tight sound, while still obsessed with ambient textures and spacey tripping, the band's mainman inspired a breath of concentrated psychedelia dressed in poppier suits in Porcupine Tree's fourth studio album.
All these may sound wonderful, but what is more wonderful is the way the album feels consistent and flowing, whereas being created in a period of creative turmoil with such diverse influences dragging it to different directions. With this being apparent, the integrity of Signify
is almost inexplicable. "Bornlivedie" aggressively begins the album, stating the exact, circular way of progression that it follows - from a vicious entrance to a completely strange world (born), through a paradoxical path of unity of the opposites (live), to a dreadful, yet reverent touch of necessity (die). The last lines of the album's closer, "Dark Matter", find Wilson in a state of benign completeness: " I am, I know "
, he blithely utters. But before the end is reached, Signify still has to offer its plurality of emotions and themes. It needs to drift away with the notion of dying, and contemplate on this little thought. "The Sleep of No Dreaming" plays with death through the prism of adolescent skepticism : "At the age of sixteen I grew out of hope/ I regarded the cosmos through a circle of rope"
. "Waiting" and its two phases, with a conciliatory and smooth tone, is another affirmation on the same topic - this time like a Nietzchean "amor fati" fused with the psychedelic drug culture.
Signify reflects heavily the band's krautrock influences and their need to feel unrestrained as much as possible. Songs like "Idiot Prayer" or "Intermediate Jesus" create pensive and sometimes creepy atmospheres, using sampled voices and extensively distorted sounds. The melting guitar melodies often climax to full-orchestrated pandemoniums, or act like bridges to more rythmic tunes, like the addictive "Sever". Wilson's lyrical edge still shines through all these experimentation, surpassing the album's dark mood, managing to be critical, sarcastic and sometimes prophetic, while working on themes like death (as mentioned before) or postmodern social addictions. "Every Home is Wired" is a perfect example of the latter.
From its first note to its relaxed rather than dramatic closure, Signify
cannot be characterized as a sad or joyous album. It strangely emits hope though its' overall mood is dark. It smiles cynically while dealing with subjects as death and loss. Its mocking nature is transcendental, to the extent of self-sarcasm. Either way, Porcupine Tree know it: This has become a full time career.