Review Summary: Poetic lyrics and fantastic musicianship galore.
Perhaps one of the greatest qualities of Porcupine Tree is that the band has always had a way of showing their influences with grace. Out of all of the band's albums in their vast discography, The Sky Moves Sideways is the album that presents the Pink Floyd influence the most. Granted there are a few moments on this record where one could literally confuse the two bands, there is no better band to be influenced by in the genre of progressive music. The record never fails to display staggering amounts of talent and finesse that many bands of the genre could only dream of duplicating. The record is brooding, trippy and has its fair share of moments that should have been recognized by the music industry a lot more than it did.
As for those moments where one could confuse the two bands, most of those moments actually happen in the title track which is split up into two tracks as the beginning and closing track just like Wish You Were Here. The way the guitar is played in the middle of Phase one really brings to mind Pink Floyd because of the very delicate way Steve Wilson strums away it's soothing riff. This is not a bad thing by any means, but it's worth mentioning due to the fact that this could turn some people off. Thankfully, it's not a clone of Shine on you Crazy Diamond because most of it sounds like a one of a kind song. It's the perfect combination of electronica, atmosphere, and progressive rock that evokes an incredible sensation of impending doom especially in Phase one. The last couple minutes of phase one are breathtakingly cinematic as Wilson plays an acoustic guitar riff over some somber atmosphere. Phase two features more of the same, but switches things up with soothing females vocalizing and a totally different more distorted sound to the guitar. Trust me, you will be floored by these roughly 34 minutes of music alone.
Though the title track takes up more of the album's running time, make no mistake that the tracks in the middle of the record share some stunning qualities as well. "Stars Die" is achingly beautiful and a brilliant follow to phase one of the title track. The song simply states the cold hard fact that whatever goes up has to come down eventually whether it be people, buildings or stars. There is no better way to deliver a message of living for today than incredibly somber textures and lovely vocal harmonies. All of these elements carry over into "The Moon Touches your Shoulder" and the song is the definition of poetry in motion. There is no way of telling what this song could possibly be about and it is the closest song to poetic nonsense on the whole record. It also boasts another stunning combination of psychedelic elements and and a somber vibe. The acoustic guitar solo in the middle is one of the most beautiful moments on the record
Every song on this record possesses amazing qualities that distinguishes each of them from the other, but the song that stands high above all of them is "Dislocated Day." There are not many songs in Porcupine Tree's career that sound even remotely like it and and it is a masterpiece. To a lesser extent, this is another example of a song being poetic nonsense. The song is quite cryptic and Wilson's delivery of these lyrics is incredibly well done and seductive.The band's musicianship really soars on "Dislocated Day" and Wilson's guitar riff defines funky and Chris Maitland's drumming performance is a real stunner. Colin Edwin's bass also shines through which is not very common for the instrument.
The Sky Moves Sideways may not be as impressive or affecting as its successor and even its predecessor, but it still it a testament of Porcupine Tree really developing a name for themselves in the music industry. Despite moments of not having it's own sound and one lackluster interlude before phase two of the title track, the record is another shining example of Porcupine Tree's ability to evoke moments of genuine emotion and show remarkable musicianship.