Rating:
7.0
Porcupine Tree - On The Sunday Of Life...
July 1991


01. Music For The Head
02. Jupiter Island
03. Third Eye Surfer
04. On The Sunday Of Life
05. The Nostalgia Factory
06. Space Transmission
07. Message From A Self Destructing Turnip
08. Radioactive Toy
09. Nine Cats
10. Hymn
11. Footprints
12. Linton Samuel Dawson
13. And The Swallows Dance Above The Sun
14. Queen Quotes Crowley
15. No Luck With Rabbits
16. Begonia Seduction Scene
17. This Long Silence
18. It Will Rain For A Million Years


I like to think of this album as a playground, where the childhood of Porcupine Tree, who would become a prominent player in modern progressive music, was spent enjoying the freedom and luxuries of youth. There are no expectations, this is simply a free form expression of some the elements which Steven, who is taking full control in this solo effort, would capitalize on and form the basis of the band's music for years to come.

This album is a collation of some interesting musical ideas more than anything; as a studio release it is obviously incomparable to the cohesiveness of those which were to follow. It represents a menagerie of psychedelic elements and strong Pink Floydian tendencies which lacks a really substantial structure. Evidence of which direction the band's sound would follow are tracks such as the gradually expanding and plodding "Radioactive Toy", which shifts between a methodical drum driven song to one of spacey ambiance layered over with Steven's vocals. The next track is "Nine Cats", a very different one in that it is significantly shorter and has almost pop-like sensibilities about it. Consideration of these two tracks offers a pretty good comparison and concise exhibition of the key sound which was to become fully fluent on later releases.

Of course Porcupine Tree aren't a band to follow a strict and unchanging pattern throughout their discography but it is possible to pick up elements from Steve's work here which would shape their career. From the prominence of psychedelic elements and quaint oddities, like the bizarre and amusing "Linton Samuel Dawson", to unusual rhythmic forms, as can be heard on "Jupiter Island" and "And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun", this is an album far too diverse to be considered a cohesive expression of music. All things considered it is also very long, and not something which provides any real benefit from a listen in a single sitting. This aspect is something which marks this particular release from those to follow; it is a collection of musical meanderings more than an album and lacks an underlying flow.

Simply put this is an album which, in its entirety, offers little more than a look at the origins of Porcupine Tree's sound. Yet there are some very enjoyable songs (a personal favourite of mine is "Footprints" for example) which can be found from the origins of the band's unique character and the album exhibits Steven's ambitious first step in the development of one of the most widely regarded progressive outfits.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Band profile: Porcupine Tree
Album: On The Sunday Of Life...


 


written by R'Vannith | 09.06.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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IronAngel - 09.06.2012 at 15:02  
You seem to rate it very highly in contrast to your review. I mean, 7 is well above average (which would be 5.5) and thus pretty damn good. I guess you have to be forgiven because MS users (and the rating descriptions, no less) favor the high end of the scale and make everything below 5 very redundant. There are basically 4 scores for stuff you like, and 6 for stuff you don't like; which is stupid, because there's very little reason to differentiate between two bad albums you don't enjoy, whereas the difference between good stuff is much more relevant.

I found the performance and production to be pretty amateurish on this one. I still like it better than FOAPB and what followed, but it's pretty incohesive and inconsistent like you said.

Nine Cats is an amazing song, but I liked it better on the Signify rework. Jupiter Island is also wonderful, but that production is not worth a 7. But yeah, I mostly agree with what you wrote in your review. Good job.
R'Vannith - 09.06.2012 at 15:58  
Written by IronAngel on 09.06.2012 at 15:02

You seem to rate it very highly in contrast to your review. I mean, 7 is well above average (which would be 5.5) and thus pretty damn good. I guess you have to be forgiven because MS users (and the rating descriptions, no less) favor the high end of the scale and make everything below 5 very redundant. There are basically 4 scores for stuff you like, and 6 for stuff you don't like; which is stupid, because there's very little reason to differentiate between two bad albums you don't enjoy, whereas the difference between good stuff is much more relevant.

I found the performance and production to be pretty amateurish on this one. I still like it better than FOAPB and what followed, but it's pretty incohesive and inconsistent like you said.

Nine Cats is an amazing song, but I liked it better on the Signify rework. Jupiter Island is also wonderful, but that production is not worth a 7. But yeah, I mostly agree with what you wrote in your review. Good job.


Thanks, I won't deny the rating is high in comparison to what I might have given it if I were familiar and a part of other rating systems. But the number placed at the side is really only a brief indication of how good something is in the context of MS. As for whether in reality the ratings on this website are critical enough, to be honest I don't care at all, as long as someone who reads my thoughts can understand what I'm trying to say that's really all I hope for. After all the ratings are a system of communicating how good something is among a group of people, if that group of people can be at some relative level when discussing ratings, regardless of how critical/uncritical they are, then it provides for a way to suggest to others what is worth listening to and what isn't. Its probably true though, as you said, that the higher ratings here give a minimal scope for such discussion as everything rarely falls below the 5 mark.

Heh, you probably won't agree with my next review then, UtD is much better.
IronAngel - 09.06.2012 at 19:06  
I don't actually have much of an opinion on UtD. I haven't listened to it nearly as much and not in years anyhow. Looking forward to it. My top three are probably In Absentia, The Sky Moves Sideways and Lightbulb Sun. I like them best when they're writing good, catchy songs rather than psychedelic noodling or polished wankery like Metanoia or FOABP, respectively.
JohnDoe - 09.06.2012 at 19:17  
I admire Steven Wilson for creating such an album, at that time (1991); the ideas for this album started being laid down late 80s so to create such music (progressive psychedelia) proves a lot of courage if you ask me.
tea[m]ster - 09.06.2012 at 19:52  
Nice review, as usual. Although, for me, I don't like anything before Stupid Dream. Dunno, just not into what he was doing then.
Mr. Doctor - 09.06.2012 at 20:12  
Written by IronAngel on 09.06.2012 at 15:02

You seem to rate it very highly in contrast to your review. I mean, 7 is well above average (which would be 5.5) and thus pretty damn good. I guess you have to be forgiven because MS users (and the rating descriptions, no less) favor the high end of the scale and make everything below 5 very redundant. There are basically 4 scores for stuff you like, and 6 for stuff you don't like; which is stupid


Even if we throw out of the window the "MS system" of ratings I still wouldn't call 7/10 as "pretty damn good"... I would use it for "it's good"
BloodTears - 09.06.2012 at 20:33  
Most people don't like this album. I'm not one of them. I LOVE most of the songs in here, despite the overall weirdness. I remember I thought "WTF" the first time I listened to this, but by then I was already familiar with the singularities of a band like Porcupine Tree.

I do agree that it was amateurish and that is very natural and part of it.

The follow-ups Up The Downstair and The Sky Moves Sideways were a huge improvement, but I still liked that nakedness and naiveness of that first release.
IronAngel - 09.06.2012 at 20:45  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 09.06.2012 at 20:12

Even if we throw out of the window the "MS system" of ratings I still wouldn't call 7/10 as "pretty damn good"... I would use it for "it's good"


Mm... well 6 is numerically above average, so something around "quite OK", 6.5 something like "pretty nice", and 7 would be firmly in the "good" ground. So yeah, maybe "pretty damn good" would be like 8, whereas 9 would be reserved for like 5 albums a year, if that.

But an album with some nice (or even great) moments that lacks cohesion wouldn't rank as 7 if we used some kind of normal distribution pattern. According to the review, this clearly isn't a good album throughout, despite having some good music on it.

This is making way too big a deal about a number, though. Just figured I'd point out the narrow scale with which "good" albums operate. If an album was kinda decent but not consistent in quality, I wouldn't rate it above 6 (might go 5 for "meh, it's OK"), if only to leave room to differentiate between the really enjoyable albums more closely.

I'm speaking from personal experience with the frustrating RYM scale: almost all the enjoyable albums I review fall between 3 and 3.5, with some 4s and 2.5s. I wish I had from the start followed a more nuanced rating system consistently, because I now have no use for ratings 0.5-2.0.

I mean, whoever disliked an album and still saw the need to fairly and critically differentiate between 2 and 3 points (on a scale of 1-10)?
Mr. Doctor - 09.06.2012 at 20:48  
Written by IronAngel on 09.06.2012 at 20:45

This is making way too big a deal about a number, though.


Shit dude, that's like... Half the point about being on the internet. Making a big fuzz. I personally would like that we could have .5 for our own ratings. I know I'm not the only one in the staff/elite.
R'Vannith - 10.06.2012 at 12:01  
Written by IronAngel on 09.06.2012 at 19:06

I don't actually have much of an opinion on UtD. I haven't listened to it nearly as much and not in years anyhow. Looking forward to it. My top three are probably In Absentia, The Sky Moves Sideways and Lightbulb Sun. I like them best when they're writing good, catchy songs rather than psychedelic noodling or polished wankery like Metanoia or FOABP, respectively.


UtD is the most well structured album from their psychedelic era I think, also from my view the tracks are the most catchy from that early period. I'd say Metanoia is the one I'm least familiar with and I can't really remember if I like it or not. As for my top three they would be Signify, Lightbulb Sun and either Deadwing or the 'polished wankery'.
R'Vannith - 10.06.2012 at 12:05  
Written by JohnDoe on 09.06.2012 at 19:17

I admire Steven Wilson for creating such an album, at that time (1991); the ideas for this album started being laid down late 80s so to create such music (progressive psychedelia) proves a lot of courage if you ask me.


Written by BloodTears on 09.06.2012 at 20:33

The follow-ups Up The Downstair and The Sky Moves Sideways were a huge improvement, but I still liked that nakedness and naiveness of that first release.


I agree, Steven was pretty ambitious I think and without this album I daresay we would have no Porcupine Tree. So its vital in that way.
R'Vannith - 10.06.2012 at 12:09  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 09.06.2012 at 20:48

Written by IronAngel on 09.06.2012 at 20:45

This is making way too big a deal about a number, though.


Shit dude, that's like... Half the point about being on the internet. Making a big fuzz. I personally would like that we could have .5 for our own ratings. I know I'm not the only one in the staff/elite.


If I were to make a big fuzz, or try to, I would like to think I could do it with words rather than a number which has no meaning beyond allocating the piece of music to a scale. Saying "this music here - that's 7" .. that doesn't mean anything, how you describe the music itself is ultimately what's far more important.
Azarath - 13.06.2012 at 02:18  
It's a bit messy since it's a collection of songs from earlier cassette releases, but I find it very enjoyable. There are some drifting mood pieces here, but also beautiful soundscapes and a rare display of humour. Overall quite underrated, though the following 2 albums are clear improvements.

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