Deadwing

Deadwing is the 8th studio album by Porcupine Tree. Across its hour-long running time, the album explores and interprets a screenplay written by Steven Wilson and Mike Bennion (the director of the “Piano Lessons” video) with a tapestry of sounds and moods accentuating often ambiguous lyrics and Lasse Hoile’s surrealist visuals. The non-linear story creates a mysterious effect.

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Porcupine Tree in 2004

Steven Wilson described Deadwing as being “… more cohesive [than In Absentia]. The metal element has now become more a part of the fabric of the music and the extremes of In Absentia will be more united on the new record. I’m very happy with the new music. I think it is again an improvement and advance on all our previous work. There are also some much longer pieces this time, as well as some very strong shorter pieces—perhaps it’s that Aviv Geffen influence rubbing off on me. This time we have way too much good music for a single record and I think it’s going to be tough to leave songs off.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2005

“What progression do you see from In Absentia to Deadwing?”

SW: “I’m not very conscious about progressing or which direction the music is going in. I’m always relying on the fact that there will be development between records, simply by virtue of the fact that between writing the last one and the new one, all of the changes that have taken place in me as a person will be reflected very naturally in the songwriting and music. I’ve always trusted that and try not to intellectualize too much about it. It surprises me when other bands don’t change from album to album. It’s like “Has nothing happened to you? Have you had no new experiences?” So, I know in my head that the new album is a progression. One thing I will say is that it’s a more cinematic record, not least by virtue of the fact that it’s based on a movie screenplay. As a result, it has a slightly more epic quality to it. Also, there are some longer pieces than on the last few records. The band has always adhered to the idea of taking listeners on some kind of musical journey and I think that’s even more prevalent on this record.”

“Prior to In Absentia, Porcupine Tree had a more amorphous sound. One didn’t necessarily know what they would get with a new record. With Deadwing, it seems like there’s a certain sound that’s beginning to solidify as the band’s core identity.”

SW: “I think that’s possibly true. One of the criticisms I have about Porcupine Tree albums of the past is that they’re almost too eclectic for their own good. I suppose in a way, that side of things has made it difficult for us to promote ourselves. How do you promote a band that can go from death metal to ambient music? But I still think of this record as being quite diverse and there are still extremes. On the last album, we really brought in the heavy aspect for the first time. It was an experiment, whereas now, I think we’re a lot more conversant with that musical language. That aggressive aspect has become part of the tapestry and texture of the Porcupine Tree sound. We’re comfortable with it and are able to more seamlessly integrate it into the band’s other aspects now.”

“Where does your interest in metal stem from?”

SW: “I grew up in the early-to-mid ‘80s and the first genre that really inspired me was the new wave of British metal like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Diamond Head. I began to think it was a bit adolescent and lost touch with that side of my musical personality for a long time. I think there was a slight snobbery about it. But a few years ago, I discovered the Swedish metal scene with bands like Opeth and Meshuggah. It got me thinking about detuned guitars, riff-based music and great, big rock licks again.”

“In some ways, Deadwing is a soundtrack for a movie that hasn’t been made yet. Describe the synergy at work between the record and the film script you and Mike Bennion put together.”

SW: “We were under no illusions that it was going to be easy to get the movie financed. To date, we still haven’t found any financing. Basing the album on the movie script was half-pragmatic in that I had a hunch if the album was successful, it would be a lot easier to get funding. I’m still hopeful the album will help get the film made. We didn’t write the screenplay as an exercise, but as something we meant to make. There was also an artistic reason to hang the album on that kind of central subject matter. I try to do that on every Porcupine Tree record. When it came time to write this record, there was nothing in particular I wanted to write about in terms of my own life, so I turned to the script and thought “Let’s kill two birds with one stone. Let’s actually take the script and not make a concept album or rock opera, but rather use various aspects of the script as inspiration for songs, lyrics and images.” So, the album isn’t trying to tell the story of the film, but it has the feeling of the film. That feeling extends beyond the music to the artwork and the visuals that go with the live show. Everything right now is centered around the film script which of course most people will not have seen. I guess it’s not going to make a lot of sense to people. [laughs]”

“What can you tell me about the storyline?”

SW: “What I can say is that you don’t know it’s a ghost story until pretty much towards the end of the movie. It’s about a guy living in London who is clearly damaged and disturbed in some way. You never really know why or how he became that way. But the bottom line is something should have happened to him when he was very young and for whatever reason, he evaded fate and his own destiny. He’s arrived somewhere he never intended to, although he doesn’t know it. Most of the movie is the gradual unraveling and rewinding of this process of going back to the point where the path of his life took a wrong turn. Various characters he”lp him to achieve that and that’s where the ghost aspect comes in.

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The cover artwork for Deadwing, created by Lasse Hoile

The first 15 pages of the script:

DEADWING

by Steven Wilson & Mike Bennion

Draft I

(c) 2006 Steven Wilson & Mike Bennion

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

A YOUNG WOMAN sits facing a dressing table and picks up a small music box, which she proceeds to slowly wind up at its base. Throughout this scene her face is either framed out or obscured, her identity withheld from us. She lifts its lid and the box begins to play a simple tune. The ballerina inside it pirouettes.

The woman HUMS along to the tune and crosses the dimly lit room to place the music box on the window sill, next to a few other children’s toys.

She moves again to the bed and perches on its edge. A SMALL BOY of about 3 years of age looks sleepily up at her from under the sheets. The young woman strokes the boy’s hair and begins to SING a lullaby in a very low, gentle voice to the tune of the music box.

YOUNG WOMAN
[singing]
If you should hear a silent cry
Speak no more, no word or why
When birds are quiet and day has fled
The hour has come to go to bed.

She picks up a glass of water from the bedside table and brings it to her lap.

[singing]
Sleep will come to weary eyes
That’s the time the blood moon cries
When night draws in and down goes day
You can wish the shadows away.

She brings her free hand in front of the boys face and unfurls her fist to reveal a small blue pill. The boy eyes it, expressionless. He places it on his tongue and the woman hands him the water to wash it down with.

[singing]
If you wake before sunrise
And hear the breath of demons lies
Close you eyes, never fear
Peace my child, for mother’s here.

The boy drinks and hands back the water. We notice a pendant hanging around the woman’s neck. Cast in silver, it depicts a symbol of a P with line through it, similar to an Egyptian ankh.

[singing]
He feels your pain, he dries your tears
He lifts the stone, he quells your fears
He waits for you to join him there
Return to him the gift once shared.

The woman stops singing and kisses the boy gently on the forehead. He closes his eyes. She blows out the candles, leaving the room bathed in moonlight.

She rises and exits the room silently, though the music box stills plays. There is a brief AMBIENT SOUND and a ray of warm light as the door opens and closes.

CLOSE UP of the small boy’s face. First his eyes open, then he opens his mouth. The blue pill is still on his tongue.

He takes it out and puts it under his pillow, turning onto his side and looking up at his bedroom window.

SMALL BOY’S POV: The window is slightly ajar, the lace curtain gently billowing. The ballerina gradually stops spinning as the MUSIC grinds to a halt. Slowly PULL FOCUS to the full moon in the distance.

TITLES BEGIN

SOUNDTRACK : A WOMAN HUMMING THE LULLABY FROM THE OPENING SCENE

EXT. WOODS – NIGHT

TIGHTER ANGLE of the same full moon. Rain beats down. PAN DOWN to settle on a pathway leading through some trees. A small dark figure is running down the path.

SEVERAL CAMERA ANGLES get progressively closer. The figure stumbles on the rough, wet terrain. We realise it is a child.

CLOSER STILL. We recognise the SMALL BOY dressed in a night-shirt.

CLOSE UP of the boy’s bare feet, muddy, bloody. He trips and falls flat on his face into the wet mud. He looks up, distressed but clearly focused on what he must do. His breath is picked out in the cold night air. He rises once more and continues his journey.

Dawn begins to brighten the edges of the sky. We see the silhouette of the little boy disappearing into the trees.

TITLES END

THE WOMAN’S SINGING STOPS.

EXT. WASTE GROUND – NIGHT

An elderly, dishevelled VAGRANT is sitting on an upturned box in a neglected urban waste ground, his back to us. It is grey and raining. There is rubbish and discarded junk is lying all around, including an old TV set. The vagrant tries to light a small fire with a soggy set of matches, sheltering the flame from the wind and rain as he does so. When he lights the match it MAKES NO SOUND.

CUT TO BLACK

The exact same scene plays again, this time with a SOUND added to go with the image of the match striking. However, the sound seems inappropriate for the image – too big for the tiny flame that ignites in the vagrant’s hand.

CUT TO BLACK

For the third time the scene is played, this time with a slightly DIFFERENT VARIATION OF THE SOUND of the match lighting. Still the sound seems inappropriate, out of place.

FREEZE FRAME ON THIS FINAL IMAGE.

INT. DUBBING STUDIO – NIGHT

SLOW PULL OUT of the frozen image on the TV monitor, to reveal the back of a YOUNG MAN’s head looking at it.

CLOSE UP of the man’s hands moving rapidly over the multi-dialled console before him. This movement ends with a decisive stab at a red illuminated button.

The TV image rewinds to the precise frame where the match is about to be struck.

The young man’s hands are seen rummaging through two sets of drawers. He pulls out scissors, a packet of cigarettes, scotch tape, and finally what he is looking for, a book of matches.

CLOSE UP of the man’s face as he looks up at the screen intently. The TV image is reflected in his striking eyes. This is DAVID, sound designer.

He rises from the mixing desk and enters a small sound booth. As the heavy door closes behind him we can see him inside through the glass wall but WE HEAR NO SOUND. He moves a microphone into position and then picks up a metal bucket and places it onto a table beneath the microphone.

David re-enters the mixing room, picks up the matches, and with a few key depressions at the console puts it into RECORD mode – a red light comes on.

He returns to the sound booth. Once again the door closes behind him with a gentle THWUMPH, but this time we can hear him inside the booth as the SOUND is relayed through two large speakers in the studio. David strikes three matches at different distances from the microphone.

CLOSE UP of the recording level meters as the last two matches are struck. They jump sharply for the duration of the SOUND.

Satisfied, David leaves the sound booth, returns to the console, and replays the three sounds. With speed and deftness he chooses the best. Using the graphic audio editor he isolates the sound and positions it accurately to the exact frame of the vagrant striking the match.

David spools back to the beginning of the scene and plays it from the start.

EXT. WASTE GROUND – NIGHT

The scene plays again, full screen this time. The vagrant tries to light the small fire with the soggy set of matches, sheltering the flame from the wind and rain as he does so. The new sound fits in well.

ONLY THIS TIME THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE DIFFERENT.

THERE IS A SMALL BOY STANDING IN THE MIDDLE DISTANCE OF THE SCENE, STARING INTO THE CAMERA LENS. THE SAME SMALL BOY WE SAW IN THE OPENING SCENES, STILL DRESSED IN HIS NIGHT SHIRT.

INT. DUBBING STUDIO – NIGHT

CLOSE UP of David. He stares astonished, bewildered at the new image before him.

EXT. WASTE GROUND – NIGHT

The scene plays on. The vagrant has lit the fire.

AND THE BOY HAS GONE.

INT. DUBBING STUDIO – NIGHT

David freezes the playback. He hits the REWIND button.

He presses PLAY.

EXT. WASTE GROUND – NIGHT

The scene plays through from start to finish.

With no sign of the boy.

INT. DUBBING STUDIO – NIGHT

MID SHOT of David. He rubs his eyes and looks back at the screen. He stops the film and checks the clock on the wall to his left.

The digital clock reads 11:45pm. It’s late. Reflected in the glass of the clock face, something flickers.

David turns his head to the right. Through the glass wall of the sound booth we see, but do not hear, fire coming out of the top of the waste basket.

David jumps up and we see him disappear into the booth to attend to it.

INT. STUDIO LIFT – NIGHT

David makes his way out of the building, descending four floors in the lift. The lift is of the cage variety so we are able to see through it, out into the other floors as David descends. As we do, we see that the rest of the building is completely deserted, but for a CLEANING LADY hoovering some stairs. As David passes in the lift the cleaning lady stops working for a moment to follow the lift down with her gaze. The SOUND OF HOOVERING FADES as David reaches the bottom and slides open the concertina door.

EXT. CITY STREET – NIGHT

The streets are poorly illuminated and empty. The remnants of a fruit market litter the pavement. David turns and walks briskly up the street, buttoning up his jacket as he does so, his breath picked out blue in the moonlight.

A small GROUP OF YOUNG PEOPLE come out of a bar ahead. They appear slightly drunk and rowdy and are wearing costumes with giant papier-mache heads. They are carrying collection boxes, and as David passes, one of the people leers and nosily shakes a bucket of coins and notes in his direction. David puts his head down, gives them a wide berth and quickens his pace.

INT. TUBE STATION – NIGHT

David stands alone at the end of the platform, waiting for the last tube. He closes his tired eyes and sways slightly.

There is a FAINT RATTLE from the tracks.

The wind gusts out of the tunnel. Moments later the train roars into the station, whistling past a now alert David.

The train comes to a halt. David opens his shoulder bag and inside we see a portable MINI DISC machine. He unravels a pair of headphones and places them on his head. He switches on the MINI DISC machine, and as the doors open, steps towards the train.

INT. TRAIN – NIGHT

David sits staring at his reflection in the black glass opposite him. The curve in it distorts his features, making him look like he has no eyes, just elongated blackened sockets.

CLOSE UP of David’s bag. Poking out is the tip of a small microphone.

FROM NOW ON WE HEAR WHAT DAVID HEARS VIA THE MICROPHONE.

DAVID’S POV: TWO MIDDLE AGED WOMEN dressed in dowdy work clothes, cleaners returning from work.

MIDDLE AGED WOMAN 1
…but he just gave me some more pain killers and told me to be patient.

MIDDLE AGED WOMAN 2
They make it sound like it’s your fault and you’ve done something wrong don’t they ?

MIDDLE AGED WOMAN 1
Well that’s exactly how he made me feel, like I was just wasting his time. I mean I expected some sympathy, and anyway I never take pills, so I just threw them away.

MIDDLE AGED WOMAN 2
These young doctors just give them away like Smarties nowadays….

CLOSE UP as David readjusts the microphone to point further down the carriage. Two seats down from David is a TEENAGER with a walkman, the HISS OF MUSIC leaking out of his headphones. He taps his foot, but nervously and out of time to the music.

The teenager stares across at a YOUNG COUPLE opposite, making out.

The girl is WHISPERING something in her boyfriend’s ear. We just about hear the sibilance in the words, but not the words themselves.

PULL FOCUS to the final occupant of the carriage, a SLEEPING VAGRANT. He is hunched forward, twitching occasionally, breathing heavily and MUMBLING to himself. A sudden lurch of the train wakes him for a moment, and he straightens up, opens his eyes, and gazes around the carriage, wondering where he is.

Then relaxing again, he yawns.

The CAMERA PANS back to the young couple.

They both yawn.

CAMERA PANS across the aisle to the teenager.

He stops tapping his foot, and yawns.

CAMERA PANS back to the two middle aged women, still in full flow.

MIDDLE AGED WOMAN 1
…would say that, stands to reason..

She pauses to yawn.

Then her friend yawns.

MID SHOT of David. He yawns.

INT. TRAIN – NIGHT, LATER.

David awakes with a start as the tube train pulls into his station. The carriage is completely empty now, except for the sleeping vagrant who is TALKING LOUDLY, if incoherently in his sleep.

The vagrant’s sleep becomes relaxed again and he snores.

The train doors open.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

David walks through suburban streets on the way home. A passing car headlight illuminates him for a moment. As it does David cuts into a park.

EXT. PARK – NIGHT

As David walks through the park he feels something and looks up at the sky – it is beginning to rain.

Further along the path he spots something on the paving stones; chalk drawings and messages. He is intrigued and stops to look at them.

They are a dense mixture of words and pictures, not unlike those of 18th century artist William Blake. One shows a baby angel perched on a man’s shoulders. Another is of a pagan-like crossed ‘P’ symbol, with snakes curling around the lines that make up the symbol. As he tries to read the words the rain gets heavier. The drawings begin to disintegrate before his eyes.

He starts for home again.

EXT. DAVID’S HOUSE – NIGHT

A large terraced house in a quiet but unremarkable street. David takes out his keys and lets himself in. Muffled RAISED VOICES come from inside.

INT. DAVID’S HOUSE HALLWAY – NIGHT

On the stairs David’s neighbours, an ITALIAN MAN and ITALIAN GIRL, are having an argument in their native tongue. At the sound of David entering they fall silent. David slowly begins to ascend the steps and as he passes they all exchange a quick nervous ‘Hello’. The girl smiles at him. David reaches the next landing and starts to ascend the flight of stairs. Midway up he pauses and cranes his ear. Silence. He finishes his ascent and reaches his own front door. He uses his keys to let himself in.

INT. DAVID’S LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

David enters the flat and double locks the door behind him. He removes his jacket and hangs it up, along with the bag containing his portable MINI DISC. He opens the top of the bag and flips out the disc from the recorder.

The flat is a small one bedroom bachelor pad; compact, a little lifeless, and lacking the female touch. The main features are a small TV and stereo set-up. Along the wall are several shelves stacked with mini discs and CDs. He walks through the living room to the kitchen.

INT. DAVID’S KITCHEN – NIGHT

David dries his hair on a tea towel and tries to fill the kettle. The water pipes groan and the water comes out slowly as strange CLANKING NOISES come from the plumbing. He eventually gets enough water and turns the kettle on. He opens a cupboard and inside is a supply of Pot Noodle instant meals. He removes one and opens the lid.

INT. DAVID’S LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Still drying his hair on the tea towel, David closes the venetian blinds and sits down to remove his shoes.

On the floor is a large jigsaw puzzle, fairly recently started. The unused pieces are in a pile next to it. There is no reference image so we do not know what the picture is going to be. David spots a piece, takes it out, and after searching for a few moments fits it into the jigsaw.

David pulls out the empty MINI DISC box from his pocket and picks up a pen from the coffee table. He writes something on the box. He puts the disc into the box and places it onto the shelf above the hi-fi, next to many other discs similarly catalogued with dates and David’s handwriting on the spine.

The SOUND OF THE BOILING KETTLE comes from the kitchen.

INT. DAVID’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

David is lying in bed, the bedside lamp still on. He stares up at the ceiling.

DAVID’S POV: A white, featureless ceiling.

He hears the sounds of the ITALIAN MAN and ITALIAN GIRL making love through the ceiling : The SQUEAK of bedsprings, a THUMPING SOUND, along with ECSTATIC EXCLAMATIONS of desire in Italian.

David takes a small box from the bedside table and removes two ear plugs, inserting them into his ears. The exterior sounds become dull and muffled and we hear David’s HEARTBEAT and breathing inside his own head. He turns the light off. He closes his eyes.

There is a pause as we focus on the beating of his heart. And then…

MAN’S VOICE
[off screen]
What is that?

INT. DUBBING STUDIO – DAY

CLOSE UP of David’s face, eyes still closed. We see reflections of pictures on his face, and the sounds of the film he has been editing, as if playing in his head.

The sound of the heartbeat slowly gives way to a CLANKING SOUND – the sound of DAVID’s pipes, but this time distant and creepy.

MAN’S VOICE
(off screen)
What’s that clanking sound ?

David’s eyes jerk open.

WIDER ANGLE: David is back in the dubbing studio watching the TV monitor with a man of about 50 sitting behind him. This is STEPHEN JAY, director of the film David is working on.

STEPHEN
David, wake up for Christ’s sake! I didn’t ask for that sound……did I?

David sits bolt upright, takes a moment and tries to gather his thoughts. He pauses the film.

DAVID
No. It’s the pipes from my flat. I thought it added…something.

The director stares incredulously at the back of David’s head for a moment.

STEPHEN
(curiously)
Again…

David replays the scene again. This time we focus on Stephen’s face, his brow furrowed in concentration.

Staying on his face, we hear a heavy door SWOOSH open and a man’s cough, as if to get attention. Stephen Jay ignores it.

INTERRUPTING MAN
(off screen, whispering)
Stephen?

Stephen continues to ignore him.

INTERRUPTING MAN
(Louder)
Stephen? Selby Sheridan is on line one for you. He says he needs two things…

Stephen, still listening hard to the film, slowly raises two fingers to the intruder without giving him the courtesy of looking at him as he does so. Eventually the man retreats and the door closes quietly behind him. Stephen continues to watch. As the CLANKING SOUND rises on the soundtrack, he begins to nod slowly.

STEPHEN
All right. It’s not shit. Pause it there.

The sound stops abruptly and Stephen and David sit silently, and stare at the frozen image on the screen for a few moments.

STEPHEN
What did you think of the location sound?

DAVID
Um…well, we will probably have to dub in most of the backgrounds and perhaps loop in some of the dialogue….

STEPHEN
Balls! I knew it. That coke-snorting moron. Is any of it useable?

David turns to face Stephen for the first time. He screws up his face, opens his mouth as if to speak, but then closes it again.

STEPHEN
Jesus! Right, I’m starting reshoots this week and I want you to do it.

DAVID
The dubbing? I’m not sure…

STEPHEN
(overlapping his words)
No, not the sodding dubbing! I want you on location.

David frowns. Thinks for a while.

DAVID
But I haven’t done anything like that for ages. I don’t think Nigel would….

Stephen is already standing, putting his jacket on and preparing to leave.

STEPHEN
(cutting David off)
I’ll square it with Nigel, never mind about that. Unless he wants to lose his best client he’s going to let you out of this cage for a few weeks. Christ, you can’t be any worse than that monkey no matter how out of practice you are.

Stephen opens the door and disappears behind it.

STEPHEN
Keep it up. It’s almost passable.

Stephen leaves. David stares at the door as it closes behind him. He sighs.

The door opens again. Stephen pops his head into the room.

STEPHEN
Do you play squash?

David opens his mouth to speak.

STEPHEN
Excellent! I’ll have my PA book us a game.

He slams the door shut.

EXT. TUBE STATION – NIGHT

On the curved surface of the tube wall is an advertisement for The National Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse. The image depicts a small, hollow-eyed boy gazing out into the middle distance, and the line ‘I can’t sleep. When I sleep, that’s when the monster comes’.

A gust of wind comes out of the tunnel. An empty bag blows across frame and we follow it until it comes to a momentary halt against a man’s body. It is David, staring at the poster. He seems to notice the bag below and shakes it off. It continues it’s trajectory down the length of the tunnel. David watches it travel the remainder of the deserted platform.

As his eyes reach the exit we hear the sound of footsteps hurrying down the steps. David watches and waits as the footsteps get louder. Finally a woman emerges – she is in her late 20’s, dressed in a long red coat and red high heels. She stands about 40 metres from David, her head bowed. When she looks over her shoulder across the length of the platform we see her face. Though full of consternation, it still has an intriguing beauty to it.

This is ELIZABETH.

Their eyes meet but David quickly averts his gaze and stares at the platform.

They stand in silence for a few moments. Then the very faint sound of more footsteps. David looks up again at ELIZABETH. She has frozen in fear. The footsteps are irregular, as if the person descending to the platform has a limp.

Elizabeth begins to walk down the platform towards David, her high heels clicking. As she comes within a few more steps of David his breathing is amplified on the soundtrack. She seems to be about to talk to David, but she walks past and stops a few feet beyond him, so that DAVID is now between her and the entrance to the platform.

David steals a sideways glance at her.

The footsteps continue, becoming louder. They are slow, heavy and the rhythm is accentuated by a tapping sound every other step. David looks towards the exit then glances to look at Elizabeth. She is still facing the train track but her body has become rigid with fear, and her eyes fixed.

There is A RATTLING SOUND and another gust of wind as the train approaches. We hear it roar and the descending footsteps are drowned out.

The train begins to emerge from the tunnel and slows. The train stops and the doors open. David looks at Elizabeth – she casts a terrified glance back at the station entrance and then jerks forward quickly into the train. David looks back towards the entrance. A man’s shadow seems to loom just beyond.

The electronic signal that the tube doors are going to close starts to sound. David quickly steps into the carriage in front of him, just as the doors close.

INT. TUBE TRAIN – NIGHT

David boards the carriage next to the one Elizabeth boarded, and stands for a moment just inside the doors listening. After a few moments the doors close and the train moves off.

David sits down in the carriage, which is otherwise completely empty. The train moves away from the station. He begins to relax.

Suddenly Elizabeth enters David’s carriage via the adjoining doors, breathing heavily. She meets his gaze and he looks away. Elizabeth sits in the seat directly opposite David. She looks at him, but he is pretending to read the adverts above her seat. Elizabeth nervously lights a cigarette. David glances up at the ‘No Smoking’ sign above her head.

Elizabeth draws on the cigarette as if her life depended on it. Then she takes the cigarette from her mouth and stretches across, holding it under David’s face. He stares at it for a moment then takes the cigarette from her, holding it as if it were semtex.

ELIZABETH
As long as I’m with you, he won’t try anything.

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Mike Bennion’s Deadwing logo

The storyboard for the trailer:

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SW: “I would call it a surreal, claustrophobic ghost story. Many scenes will play [out] in the London Underground. Very melancholic, with many dreamlike sequences and sudden outbursts of violence and aggression. The film is the visual counterpart to Porcupine Tree.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2005

Give us a rundown on your film, Deadwing.

Mike: “Well technically we are not a film at this stage, we are a wannabe-film, two guys with a script, test photographs, music and a web page. But anyway, here are the ‘fifty words or less’ version; ‘David is a loner, [immersed] in his job as a sound designer. Late one night he spots something in the film rushes that he cannot explain. This event, and a chance encounter with the mysterious Elizabeth, leads him down the winding path of his subconscious where he has to confront his past head on.’ … Let’s say 82% mystery, 18 % horror. The pitch is ‘[Nicholas Roeg’s] ‘Don’t Look Now’ meets [David Lynch’s] ‘Mulholland Drive’.”

How long did the entire process take to make?

Mike: “Well, the script developed pretty slowly. On and off it took about 3 years, depending when either of us was available to tinker with it. Understand that neither of us had written a screenplay before. Then Steven recorded a music album based on its story. That took a year. He’s the singer / songwriter / lead guitarist with a band called Porcupine Tree.  The album Deadwing was released by Atlantic Records in 2005 and has sold 200,000 copies to date. The MySpace site took just five days to put together. As the visual one with time on my hands, that was my job.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2005

In an online Q&A in 2002, SW said “I haven’t had time to experiment with film myself but I have written a film script with my director friend Mike Bennion (he directed the “Piano Lessons” video among other things) which we hope to film sometime soon.” This means that they began work on the script around the late ’90s, most likely around the Stupid Dream sessions considering Mike said the script took a couple years.

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Wes in 2005

SW: “… I was starting to work on the songs for Porcupine Tree and I figured, ‘Well I don’t have anything specific I wanted to write about lyrically, why don’t I just use the script as inspiration for songs.’

So the album isn’t trying to tell the story of the film, it’s not trying to be a companion or a concept, but certain scenes, certain themes, certain episodes from the screenplay are starting points for the songs and kind of running with the subject. So there’s a lot of stuff on the album that’s not part of the script and vice versa. But at the same time there is a strong relationship between the two and the pragmatic side of me thinks that maybe if the album does well it well help us to get funding for the movie [laughs].”

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Gavin and Colin in 2005

According to an interview in 2004, the script was at one point called “Lullabye” (not a typo).

SW: “I can tell you a little bit. I mean, the picture’s getting made eventually so I can’t tell you too much. It’s basically a very surreal ghost story, very European in flavor, as opposed to Hollywood. Its quite melancholy throughout, there’s a lot of dream sequences, a lot of playing about with past, present, and future. The story and the characters are quite dire and pretty quiet, so in that sense it has a lot more in common with American film makers like David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick. Those film makers are more in style with the European traditions. In some respects, I guess people describe our music that way, melancholic, dreamlike, cinematic. In many respects it’s the next logical step. It was great for us as a band to base one of our records on that kind of stuff.”

 

In 2016, SW said that at the time the script was written “… you needed major financing even to shoot what would be a modest production. We were looking for big money, and it was difficult at that time to get someone to give big money to two first-time script writers. We showed it around a lot, we got some interest, but we were never able to get anyone to pull the trigger. In the end, I guess we kind of gave up. I think if we’d written it now, it would be different. You’ve got people shooting films on iPhones now. We sat down and reviewed the script a few years ago, since you can make movies a lot cheaper now, we thought maybe we should revisit it. But I think we both felt that the time had passed, and we’d write a very different script now. It’s something we might still do. We might take some of the original ideas, and try and write something fresh and hopefully better.”

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Photography by Lasse Hoile for Deadwing

Steven has also said that if the movie was made, Deadwing would have been the soundtrack to the movie and his first solo album.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for Deadwing

Mike Bennion also created the 72-page booklet for the special edition of Deadwing. In 2005 SW said, “Lasse has only designed the cover. The book is by Mike Bennion. There are also a few typographies of Lasse. So, strictly speaking, it is a collaboration between the two. But it looks great.” Because of this statement, I have credited all photographs (that were found uncredited) to Mike Bennion.

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Colin in 2005

SW: “I felt like if there was an album to go with it, there would be more of a chance of the movie getting made. So, I’ve started to base the new songs on it. I don’t want to create a concept album to tell the story of the film, but I felt there were certain episodes in the movie that lent themselves to being worked into songs as well.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2005

The album was released in March 2005, nearly 3 years after In Absentia. According to SW, Deadwing cost the band around “75,000 dollars”.

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Gavin in 2005

SW: “This record is very ambitious, it might fluke and go through the roof… It’s extremely demanding, but it exists for the fans and ourselves. Twenty-five per cent of me believes that Deadwing might infiltrate the mainstream, but such things really have nothing to do with the music, so we fully expect it to fail. We’re such miserable fuckers.”

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Lasse Hoile photography

Deadwing actually garnered very positive reception. The album won the “Best Made-For-Surround Title” award for the 2005 Surround Music Awards (a category that Nine Inch Nails’s With Teeth was also nominated for) and was voted #2 album of 2005 in Sound & Vision, the most widely distributed US magazine in the field of home electronics and entertainment. In addition to this, the album won the “Album of the Year” award for the 2005 Classic Rock magazine awards. The album was also named as one of Classic Rock’s 10 essential progressive rock albums of the decade.

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Colin in 2005

Although Colin Edwin’s main bass was a 1994 Wal Mark I four-string fretless bass for 10 years of live and studio use, he was forced to give it “a break” and semi-retire it from the rigours of live touring in 2004, due to the growing heaviness of Porcupine Tree’s music. He then used a Music Man StingRay and after that a Music Man Bongo for the Deadwing tour, which can be seen on the Arriving Somewhere… DVD. However, he would later use his fretless bass again years later for The Incident and its subsequent tours.

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SW (wearing shoes!) with Wes in 2005

The band embarked on their largest tour (at the time) to support Deadwing in 2005. On 11-12 October 2005 at Park West, Chicago, Porcupine Tree recorded their first ever live concert DVD (mixed in both high-def stereo and 5.1 by SW), entitled Arriving Somewhere…, which was released on 19 November 2005. The setlist consisted mostly of tracks from In Absentia and Deadwing but also included some fan-favourites from Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun and Recordings. The soundtrack to the DVD has been available in FLAC and MP3 formats from the band’s download store since April 2007. This audio edition is in the top 10 of the “Top Albums of 2007” chart of Rate Your Music website. The DVD was later re-released under Kscope on 21 April 2008 (the same day of the DVD-A edition of Lightbulb Sun release).

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The front and back covers of Arriving Somewhere…

The reviews for the DVD and Deadwing tour were some of the best the band had gotten at this point:

  • Time Out (19/5/2005) – “Wilson has long demonstrated a knack for reconciling vintage influences with contemporary sounds, while never forgetting the strength of a solid hook… capable of soaring melodies and celestial harmonies”
  • Daily Variety (6/14/2005) – “Porcupine Tree… delivered music that was opulent, aggressive, and occasionally haunting yet consistently pristine in the execution”
  • New York Times (10/6/2006) – “Suite-like songs, complex meters, and epic ambitions”
  • Boston Herald (10/7/2006) – “In front of a sold-out, intensely devoted crowd at the Berklee Performance Center Thursday night, the… quintet demonstrated its unique gift for shifting sound dynamics with a mind-bending two-hour performance.”
  • Record Collector – “Captures the Brit quartet at the peak of their powers”
  • Sound and Vision (11/10/2006) – “When it comes to surround sound, Porcupine Tree is in a league by itself”
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Filming Arriving Somewhere…

The band also recorded their performance at the Rockpalast Festival at Live Music Hall in Cologne, Germany on 19 November 2005. This recording was released simply as Rockpalast on the band’s download store (it is not available for purchase anywhere else). Additionally, two of the performances (“Futile” and “Radioactive Toy”) were included on the second disc of the Arriving Somewhere… DVD. Most of the performance was also recorded for a Rockpalast TV special.

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The artwork created by Lasse Hoile for Rockpalast

Tracklist

  1. “Deadwing” – 9:46
  2. “Shallow” – 4:16
  3. “Lazarus” – 4:18
  4. “Halo” – 4:38
  5. “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” – 12:02
  6. “Mellotron Scratch” – 6:56
  7. “Open Car” – 3:46
  8. “Start of Something Beautiful” – 7:39
  9. “Glass Arm Shattering” – 6:13

Total length: 59:34

Singles

“Shallow” – January 2005

American CD:

  1. “Shallow (Radio Edit)” – 3:36

Cancelled European CD:

  1. “Shallow (Radio Edit)” – 3:34
  2. “So Called Friend” – 4:53
  3. “Half-Light” – 6:16

Before the Lazarus single, Shallow was intended to be released in Europe with the bonus tracks “So Called Friend” and “Half-Light” (which were later released on Lazarus). However, it was cancelled and the band and their management asked for the copies to be destroyed. Around 200 survived and some surfaced on the market in Germany and Poland, after which PT management bought all remaining copies and sold signed copies at shows for 40€.

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A signed copy of the rare European Shallow CD

“Lazarus” – March 2005

CD:

  1. “Lazarus (Radio Edit)” – 3:55
  2. “So Called Friend” – 4:48
  3. “Half-Light” – 6:20

A 12″ test pressing was completed (with the same tracklist) but a vinyl version was never actually released.

Production

  • Steven Wilson – producer, mix
  • Richard Barbieri – producer
  • Gavin Harrison – producer
  • Paul Northfield – recording engineer
  • George Schilling – recording engineer
  • Andy VanDette – master
  • Elliot Schneiner – 5.1 mix
  • Andy VanDette – master
  • Jeff Levison – 5.1 producer
  • Elliot Scheiner – 5.1 mix
  • Darcy Proper – 5.1 master
  • Andrew Karp – A&R Direction
  • Mike Bennion – artwork, photography
  • Lasse Hoile – artwork [cover], typography
  • Carl Glover – design

Label: Lava Records LLC / Atlantic (US), WEA International Inc. (rest of world) and DTS Entertainment (DVD-A release)

Release: 24 March 2005 (Japan), 28 March 2005 (UK), 26 April 2005 (US)

Publishing: Published by Warner-Tamerlane / BMI

Released on CD in March 2005. Released as a limited edition 72-page 2-disc digibook with the 5.1 mix on 26 May 2005. The album was later released as a standalone DVD-A release (with bonus tracks “Revenant”, “Mother & Child Divided” and “Half-Light”) on 10 May 2005. In April, the album was released by the label Gates of Dawn on vinyl (600 copies on black vinyl, 700 copies on blue vinyl and another 700 copies on red vinyl). This version included the bonus tracks “So Called Friend” and “Half-Light” and a bonus poster. Due to Steven Wilson’s inability to reissue Deadwing (more on this below), these vinyl releases fetch incredibly high prices on marketplaces such as Discogs or eBay, sometimes upwards of $800!

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Deadwing on red vinyl

“Special thanks to: Adrian Belew, Mikael Akerfeldt, Lasse, Mike Bennion, Paul Northfield, Andy Karp (but not his bass), and Andy Leff for helping us to realise this project”

After that, SW goes on to thank every person under the sun!

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Wes and SW in 2005

Due to the vague notes regarding the personnel on Deadwing (and subsequent releases), there is much more guess and listening work involved than previous Porcupine Tree albums. For example, it is not always clear if Richard or SW is playing what keyboards in a particular track, or what sounds were created by whom. I have credited all mellotron to SW because, according to Planet Mellotron, Richard said “It was real mellotron on Stupid DreamLightbulb Sun and In Absentia, because I played it”. The mellotron is clearly sampled on Deadwing (and subsequent releases) like on Signify, and considering SW played the mellotron on Signify, it’s safe to assume he did so on Deadwing as well. Although there are some audible organ moments on the album (ex/ “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here”, “Start of Something Beautiful”, etc.), I feel in this case the term “keyboards” covers it since many digital instruments were used on the album and it does not specify that an organ was used (like on Stupid Dream or Lightbulb Sun).

If you notice any mistakes, please contact me in the Authors page.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for Deadwing

Here’s an excerpt from a 2010 interview with Andy VanDette regarding his work mastering Deadwing:

“What was working on that record like?”

“Well, in contrast to In AbsentiaDeadwing is an example of how records are made today, where the band doesn’t go into any studio, they record and mix it at home. Steven mentioned they were working this way pretty early on, and so I sent him an email and said ‘Well, if you’re going to do work that way, the hip thing to do is to mix in subgroups. We’ll rent a nice analog summing amp and we’ll put it all together once you get here.” So he ended up sending over his Mac with his Logic [Apple’s suite of recording programs] sessions on them, and then I rented the Dangerous Music summing amp and we put it all together that way.

Of course Murphy’s law says that if you send your Mac to a foreign country a week in advance it’s going to arrive at the end of the first day of the session you booked. So it was evening before I ran through a couple songs and mastered them quick, keeping the same kind of hands-off mastering mentality that I had with the first record. Because the first record… the mixes were so great that I didn’t have to do much.

But when I heard what I had done the next morning in my car I freaked out. I thought “oh my god this is horrible… is my system broken?!” When I got to the studio I checked it out in the other mastering rooms and I found out that nothing was broken; it just plain sucked. I didn’t roll off enough bottom. Once I started listening to the individual parts [in Logic] I thought, “gee that bass is awful thick… what’s going on there?” There were like five layers of kick drums going on [laughs] — too much to get the kind of clarity we needed. Since we had the option to change the mixes in Logic, that’s what we did.

That day we pulled out In Absentia because we knew that people were going to compare the new record to it — and we could use it as a reference, even though the new stuff was recorded so differently. The new one would be its own entity — its own art — but it did have to compare on some kind of level. Once we did that things went much better and all of the changes that we made to the stereo mixes held up through the surround mixes.”

“How many stems did you output from Logic?”

“We broke it out to 8 channels, probably 4 stereo stems and stuck that through the analog summing amp.”

“And what does the summing amp do?”

“The final squish to stereo is done in the analog domain as opposed to the digital domain.”

“What’s the effect of using it?”

“It’s the depth thing. When you close your eyes how deep is the sound stage? I had done comparisons both ways [through the summing amp and not] and switching back and forth I could hear a much deeper sound field than the mixes that had come straight out of the digital domain.”

“And out of that you went into your…”

“My standard mastering rig. Because the mix issues were taken care of in Logic, that meant I didn’t have to do as much — there were no contortions anymore because anything that I would have struggled with were ironed out.”

“Do you know why they decided to record Deadwing like they did, rather than do another record like In Absentia? Was it budget?”

“I think that they were just so adept at recording themselves. Gavin had his own studio — why not do drums in his room where he has them all set up just the way he likes them? And Steven is very adept at recording himself — he had done it all those years before Atlantic. And yeah it was partially budgetary because the budget wasn’t as big for Deadwing as it was for In Absentia. The record companies had started tightening their belts by then and… although In Absentia was a great critical success I don’t think it sold numbers that turned heads at Atlantic records.”

“Deadwing was the last Porcupine Tree record you did?”

“Right, and then they did Fear of a Blank Planet which Steven mastered himself. And then I submitted for their latest record.”

“But you didn’t end up mastering it?”

“No, I didn’t. I did master Steven’s solo record Insurgentes though.”

“What was the process of mastering Insurgentes?”

“It was about wrestling with the loudest sections of the record. Which are only 5% of the record but the 5% that I hold the most dear. The quiet parts were all nicely dynamic but when those really ultra loud sections come out the mixes had a screechy distorted quality that made me want to turn my monitors down, not up. So I worked on warming those sections and treating those sections so that they sounded raucously loud, but not abrasive.”

“Is that EQ work?”

“Some EQ work, some cutting different settings together. Sometimes you can make one setting and it works for the whole record. But we can get more forensic than that and use different treatments so that when it goes to the ultra loud section you can’t really notice that I’ve changed settings — or at least you’re not supposed to!”

“And Steven was happy with it?”

“I think so.”

“But you didn’t do the next Porcupine Tree record.”

“Well, one of the guys in the band was very concerned about compression — he wanted to make sure the new record didn’t have too much compression on it. So the group felt that they needed to be there for the mastering, but they weren’t going to be able to come to the States, so that was that. But Steven let me submit, which was cool. So I listened to a lot of In Absentia because I still say it is the Porcupine Tree record by which all other Porcupine Tree records will be judged… and I made something that was just a little lower [in level].”

“And what happened?”

“And pretty quickly I got word back that it was way over-compressed. So then I did one that was hardly compressed at all, but I guess I went too far in the other direction… In the end they were right, they needed to be there at the mastering studio so they could find the exact balance they were looking for.”

“The two albums you did for Porcupine Tree are big ones as far as fans are concerned. Do you get artists that come to you because you did those records?”

“Certainly.”

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Andy VanDette

In a comment on the loudness war, Steven Wilson mentioned how he considered placing a message on record sleeves that would read: “Please note that this record may not be mastered as loudly as some of the other records in your collection. This is in order to retain the dynamic range and subtlety of the music. Please, use your volume knob.” However, Deadwing has proved to contain more clipping and dynamic range compression than any other Porcupine Tree album. As a result, SW has voiced his wish to revisit to the album for several years now to remix and remaster it. However, as mentioned in the In Absentia page, his hands are tied by legal issues regarding the album.

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Porcupine Tree in 2005

All tracks recorded at No Man’s Land, The Artillery (Richard’s studio), Bourne Place (Gavin’s studio), New Rising (Colin’s studio), RAK, Astoria and Livingstone (all in England) in March – October 2004 unless noted otherwise (it is unclear where Belew or Åkerfeldt’s parts were recorded, but most likely from their homes). Some elements retained from demos recorded at No Man’s Land in 2003 – 2004. Mixed at No Man’s Land in late 2004 – 2005 by SW. Mastered at Masterdisk, New York by Andy VanDette in late 2004 – 2005. Surround mix completed at Eyeball Studio by Elliot Scheiner in 2005. Surround master completed at Sony Studios, New York by Darcy Proper in 2005. All tracks written by SW unless noted otherwise.

Song Details: Album Tracks

01. “Deadwing” – 9:46

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, mellotron
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Gavin Harrison – drums
  • Mikael Åkerfeldt [guest] – backing vocals
  • Adrian Belew [guest] – guitar solo

Recording: Mikael Åkerfeldt and Adrian Belew’s parts recorded at their home studios in 2004

SW: “A ten-minute piece that’s very in-your-face and has no real chorus, so it’s an ambitious way to start the record. A very unconventional piece of music. It’s a statement of intent, a willfully un-commercial gesture.”

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Mike Bennion artwork for Deadwing

The intro to “Deadwing” features a synth line played over ambient noise recorded from the London Underground. At 0:35, it is possible to hear the phrase “Mind the gap” in the background before the band kicks in.

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Adrian Belew

“Adrian Belew guests on the current record. I understand that he approached you about performing with the group.”

SW: “Yes. It’s a fantastic feeling to be respected by your peers, but it’s even more amazing to be respected by your influences. Neil Peart from Rush is a big fan and wrote about us in his books. And then to have Adrian Belew call up and say ‘I really want to work with the band’ is astounding. I grew up listening to Rush and King Crimson. So, what else am I gonna say when he calls other than “Yeah, alright!” [laughs] We never actually met in person. Unfortunately, logistically, it was not possible. So, I had a couple of pieces where I reserved sections for a solo of some kind. I didn’t know if it would be a keyboard or a guitar solo. When Adrian volunteered his services, I said “Let’s give those spots to him.” Adrian contributed a wealth of incredible stuff. His playing was completely uncontrolled in that there was no conception of what key the song is in or what time signature you’re supposed to be in. He didn’t allow himself to be restricted by things like notes and rhythms. Afterwards, I sifted through and chose the bits that were most empathetic to the way I imagined the tracks.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2004

Adrian Belew: “Porcupine Tree represents an interesting combination of several things that I like… It’s a little bit like King Crimson, Tool and Trent Reznor, English-style, but not the same as any of those things. Steven has a real strong vision of what he wants to do and it has a certain kind of power that’s really great. His voice is also very fetching. It’s unique and fits in very well with what he’s doing. Musically, what I really like about the band is they do a lot of odd time things that you don’t notice so much—they’re just in there. They fit together so well that they slide right past your ears, which is something some bands never attempt and when they do, it’s very obvious. Porcupine Tree also has really good players and the songs are really cool. I like everything about it. It’s just good stuff, custom-made for me. Steven has given me free reign and just guided me here and there and said things like ‘Play something strangely beautiful in this 17/8 area.’ It’s been a lot of fun.”

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Artwork by Mike Bennion for “Deadwing” 

Lyrics:

And something warm and soft just passed through here
It took the precious things that I hold dearer
It rifled through the grey and disappeared
The creeping darkness makes the small hours clearer

Like a cancer scare
In the dentist’s chair
Sucking in the air
Wire across the stair
Kicking down the door
At your local store
With the world at war
Voices through the floor

Unexpected news
Wearing high heeled shoes
Blowing out the fuse
Paying all your dues
Deadwing lullaby
Like a fracture tied
It’s a worthless lie
To the public eye

I don’t take waifs and strays back home with me
My bleeding heart does not extend to charity

Yes I’d have to say I like my privacy
And did you know you’re on closed circuit TV? So smile at me

And a dream you had
Of your mum and dad
On a beach somewhere
And the poison air
With the cancer threat
In a cigarette
Deadwing lullaby
Find a place to hide

And from the yellow windows of the last train
A spectre from the next life breathes his fog on the pane
I look with you into the speeding black rain
Afraid to touch someone, afraid to ask her for her name

And in the morning when I find I have lost you
I throw a window open wide and step through

02. “Shallow” – 4:16

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, voices
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

SW: “The big rock moment of the record, an irresistible riff with a Zep or Soundgarden vibe to it. The equivalent of a big, dumb rock song, but in the way that people who are not dumb would do it.”

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SW in 2005

“Shallow” was featured in the movie “Four Brothers” in which Colin is credited as Colin Balch. This is also the name he is credited as in the manuscript book for Deadwing.

SW has since said “Shallow” is a “shit” song.

Lyrics:

I don’t remember
Did something in my past create a hole?
Don’t use your gender
To drive a stake right through my soul

I live to function
On my own is all I know
No friends to mention
No distraction, nowhere to go

Shallow, shallow, give it to me
Scissors cutting out your anger
Shallow, shallow, no good to me, not if you bleed
Bite your tongue, ignore the splinter

This city drains me
Well maybe it’s the smell of gasoline
The millions pain me
It’s easier to talk to my PC

03. “Lazarus” – 4:18

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, mellotron, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Gavin Harrison – drums
  • Mikael Åkerfeldt [guest] – backing vocals

Demo: “Lazarus (Demo)” from Steven Wilson’s SoundCloud account (uploaded in 2015)

Richard: “Very mellow and delicate, in the contemporary style of Coldplay or Radiohead. The beautiful side of Porcupine Tree.”

 

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Lasse Hoile photography

While introducing “Lazarus” during 2005 shows, Steven Wilson explained that the song was about a mother communicating with her young son “from the grave”. The name “Lazarus” is a reference to the biblical passage in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for the Lazarus single

SW: “This was actually the first of two demos I made of ‘Lazarus’, and it features a very different middle 8, subsequently rewritten for the second demo and final album recording.

‘Lazarus’ was one of several songs that were based on a film script that I was working on at the time with my friend Mike Bennion, and the David mentioned in the song is a central character in that script.

Lazarus (first demo) performed by SW at No Man’s Land, December 2003.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2004

After David Bowie’s death in January 2016, Steven Wilson began playing “Lazarus” as tribute.

November 17, 2016 in Atlanta: “There is a song on his last record called Blackstar… an amazing song on that record that seems to be predicting his own death and his own mortality called “Lazarus”… Many, many years ago I also wrote a song called “Lazarus”… about a character called David who was indeed confronting his own mortality. In fact, the song is written from the perspective of a mother calling from beyond the grave to her son David, so it seems somehow appropriate that I sing my song “Lazarus” in tribute to Bowie.”

Lyrics:

As the cheerless towns pass my window
I can see a washed out moon through the fog
And then a voice inside my head, breaks the analogue
And says

“Follow me down to the valley below you know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul”

I survived against the will of my twisted folk
But in the deafness of my world the silence broke
And said

“Follow me down to the valley below you know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul”

“My David don’t you worry
This cold world is not for you
So rest your head upon me
I have strength to carry you”

(Ghosts of the twenties rising, golden summers just holding you)

“Follow me down to the valley below you know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul
Come to us, Lazarus
It’s time for you to go”

Demo Lyrics:

As the cheerless towns pass my window
I can see a washed out moon through the fog
And then a voice inside my head, breaks the analogue
And says

“Follow me down to the valley below you know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul”

I survived against the will of my twisted folk
But in the deafness of my world the silence broke
And said

“Follow me down to the valley below you know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul”

Gray flats smoking in the distance and the ghosts of the twenties rising
Scratchy strings and megaphones, and they crane to hear your voice

Well, there’s nothing much left now but recordings and California in the summertime
And you’re wondering if there’s something there on the other side, but you can’t deny what you’ll find

“Follow me down to the valley below you know
Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul
Come to us, Lazarus
It’s time for you to go”

04. “Halo” – 4:38

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, mellotron, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums
  • Adrian Belew [guest] – guitar solo

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Recording: Adrian Belew’s parts recorded at his home studio in 2004

Led by Colin Edwin’s slinky bass work, “Halo” was written by all four members of the band.

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Mike Bennion artwork for “Halo”

Richard: “Gavin and I came up with this infectious groove. Has an industrial feel a la Nine Inch Nails; quirky, abrasive, and repetitive with distorted vocals, and an extraordinarily strange Adrian Belew guitar solo.”

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Colin in 2005

“So, you don’t have ultimate veto power?”

SW: “If I did, they’d all leave. [laughs] It’s as simple as that. If I simply said “No, we’re not going to do it that way. We’re going to do it my way and I don’t care what you say” I don’t think they would be in the band. You have to accept sometimes that you can’t do what you want all the time. There are other opinions and sometimes they are valid. So, I don’t have final veto, except perhaps when we’re in the studio and producing the record. If somebody comes up with an idea or sound that I don’t think works, I would ultimately reach some compromise. But if I felt it really didn’t work, I probably would have ultimate veto there. I tell you, I’ve written songs that have been voted off the records that I really felt were some of the best I’ve written. There are a couple of songs that I wrote for In Absentia which for whatever reason the band didn’t like, so they didn’t get recorded. If it was a solo project, that would never have happened. I accept those things because there are a lot of positive things about hav

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Richard in 2005

In an interview on a German website, Steven had this to say about the track (loose translation):

“You sing, “God is in my fingers and god is in my head” on a track from your new album. Delusions of grandeur?”

SW: “This is from ‘Halo’, which is one of the songs that I’ve written in the past couple years that centers around forms of organized religion. As most people know, I am not a big fan of organized religion. In this case, the song is from the perspective of a person who is self-righteous concerning his religion. This is the kind of guy who tries to tell you that his life is better because his faith supplies him with some kind of superiority you don’t have. One of my former friends converted to the Reborn Christians group. It’s impossible to keep up a friendship with these people after they think they’ve passed into ‘another world’. They start to patronize you, because they believe they have something you don’t: faith and knowledge.”

“The answer to everything?”

SW: “Yeah, exactly. I’ve always perceived it as insulting, and then it happened to me with my friend – which thus inspired ‘Halo’. Whenever I talked to him he acted as if he had a halo around his head – he made me feel as if I wasn’t on the same level as he was.”

“You appear to have a profound, outspoken dislike for Evangelists, organised religion and commercial Christians. Or religious opportunists as I like to call them.”

SW: “I wouldn’t say I have a profound dislike of organised religion, but I have a profound dislike of the exploitation of people. It’s something you have a lot in America, these religious cults, and I find that fascinating and sickening in equal measure. I’ve written a lot of songs about religious cults. These are people that prey on human weakness and insecurity. I really despise those people. I’m always fascinated when I come to America and watch these religious channels. These people are just evil. In my own little way, I suppose it’s my way of exposing them for what they are. Of course, I don’t think most people who listen to Porcupine Tree records would feel that differently. I think they’d agree with that. The others are just unreachable. You can’t argue with them, I’ve tried. They think they’re in on some information that you’re not party to. It makes me sad and frustrated. There are some Christian fans of Porcupine Tree, and they said to me, “Why do you always diss religion?” But I’m not dissing religion – if it makes you happy and you have a strong faith that’s great. In some ways, I’m a spiritual person. I believe that there is a God, but it’s something that’s within all of us. I don’t think it’s an external being. I think the Devil is something inside of us all too. We can all believe in the concepts of good and evil and the concepts of God and Devil and I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with people who turn religion into power, who turn religion into politics. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of that.”

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Mike Bennion artwork for “Halo”

Also, the bridge is in 17/16!

Lyrics:

God is in my fingers, God is in my head
God is in the trigger, God is in the lead

God is freedom, God is truth
God is power and God is proof
God is fashion, God is fame
God gives meaning, God gives pain

You can be right like me
With God in the hole, you’re a righteous soul
I got a halo round me, I got a halo round me
I’m not the same as you
Cos I’ve seen the light and I’m gaining in height now
I got a halo round me, I got a halo round me
I got a halo round my head

God is on the cell phone, God is on the net
God is in the warning, God is in the threat

05. “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” – 12:02

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass [middle section], piano, keyboards, mellotron
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums, percussion
  • Mikael Åkerfeldt [guest] – backing vocals, second guitar solo

Demo: “Nuclear Head of an Angel” from Steven Wilson’s Unreleased Electronic Music Vol. 1 2004 compilation album

While not technically a demo, the acoustic ebow guitar melody in “Nuclear Head of an Angel” from SW’s Unreleased Electronic Music Vol. 1 acts as a skeleton for pats in “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” in a similar way to what “43553E99.01” (from Bass Communion III) does for In Absentia‘s “Lips of Ashes”.

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SW in 2005

SW: “The center-point of the record. The most ambitious track in terms of its horizontal complexity, and its length, thirteen minutes. Slowly develops from an ambient keyboard intro. The band’s progressive side coming to the fore.”

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Mikael Åkerfeldt

The lyrics of “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” cleverly use imagery to describe the utter incomprehensible absurdity of the moment of death as it exists in our consciousnesses today. The line “Did you ever imagine the last thing you’d hear as you’re fading out / Was a song?” elicits the surreal image of looking up at the shattered windshield of a car, covered in blood with the interior tilted and illogical, and an inane pop music ditty still blaring away on the intact radio, completely indifferent to the death of the narrator, who, of course, feels that the world should stop now that they have… Similarly, when watching the news you realize that every second that you waste caring about some celebrity marriage or cat-stuck-in-tree story, hundreds of people around the world die. In a similar fashion, the line “Did you feel the envy for the sons of mothers tearing you apart?” provides an image of a soldier shot in some war by someone else who is equally interested primarily in self preservation.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for Deadwing

The middle piece is perhaps the band’s heaviest moment, complete with crashing guitars and drums and a driving organ line.

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Lasse Hoile photography

Lyrics:

Never stop the car on a drive in the dark
Never look for the truth in your mother’s eyes
Never trust the sound of rain upon a river
Rushing through your ears

Arriving somewhere but not here

Did you imagine the final sound as a gun?
Or the smashing windscreen of a car?
Did you ever imagine the last thing you’d hear as you’re fading out was a song?

Arriving somewhere but not here

All my designs, simplified
And all of my plans, compromised
All of my dreams, sacrificed

Ever had the feeling you’ve been here before?
Drinking down the poison the way you were taught
Every thought from here on in your life begins
And all you knew was wrong?

Arriving somewhere but not here

All my designs, simplified
And all of my plans, compromised
All of my dreams…

Did you see the red mist block your path?
Did the scissors cut a way to your heart?
Did you feel the envy for the sons of mothers tearing you apart?

Arriving somewhere but not here

06. “Mellotron Scratch” – 6:56

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, mellotron, hammered dulcimer
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

SW: “The most chilled-out track on the record. Lots of overlapping harmonies, and different three-part vocal lines simultaneously weaving in and out of each other. I really went to town with that side of my musical personality.”

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Porcupine Tree in 2005
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Photography taken by Lasse Hoile for Deadwing

It is important to note that the mellotron uses taped sound samples, with one magnetic audio tape assigned to each key. Each tape is eight seconds in length, and plays when its respective key is pressed. However, it makes a strange scratching noise when something is wrong with the tape. In “Mellotron Scratch”, the line “The scratching of a mellotron” doesn’t refer to the sound; it refers to any blatant sign that something’s not working properly. This is what’s upsetting the woman mentioned in the song. The character of David works in sound design, and would might use mellotron in his work. This means that the evidence of malfunction or dysfunction may have something to do with his job.

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The Mellotron MKII

SW has said that the line “The scratching of a mellotron / It always seemed to make her cry” was inspired by a girl he knew that would literally cry at the sound of a mellotron.

The phrase “Collecting space up in the sky” is reused from the song “Futile”, which was written early in the Deadwing sessions but released on the Futile EP. The song also seems to reference “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” with the phrase “red mist”.

Lyrics:

A tiny flame inside my hand
A compromise I never planned
Unravel out the finer strands

And I’m looking at a blank page now
Should I fill it up with words somehow?

I whispered something in her ear
I bare my soul but she don’t hear

The scratching of a mellotron
It always seemed to make her cry
Well maybe she remembers us
Collecting space up in the sky

Nothing rises from my feet of clay, but it’s OK
Red mist spreads across my fingertips, ardour slips

I lay her gently on my clothes
She will leave me yes I know

And I’m looking at a blank page now
Should I fill it up with words somehow?

The scratching of a mellotron
It always seemed to make her cry
Well maybe she remembers us
Collecting space up in the sky

Nothing rises from my feet of clay, but it’s OK
Red mist spreads across my fingertips, ardour slips
Don’t look at me with your mother’s eyes or your killer smile
Sing a lullaby

Don’t look back into black
Don’t let the memory of the sound drag you down
i. To end as friends so painful
ii. Don’t look down, shut it down

07. “Open Car” – 3:46

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, mellotron
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

Although all of the other tracks on the album are discussed by SW and Richard on the Deadwing DVD-A, “Open Car” is not (as it had not replaced “So Called Friend” on the album at this point).

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Porcupine Tree in 2005

When played live, “Open Car” is extended to feature a (kickass!) Barbieri synth solo after the second chorus.

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SW recording guitar for Deadwing

The lyric “Bury the horse shaped shell” is actually *not* a typo. I have absolutely no idea what it means!

Lyrics:

Nothing like this felt in her kiss
Cannot resist her, fell for her charm
Lost in her arms, I keep a photograph
Give me a glimpse, let me come in
Be there inside her, here it begins
Here is the sin, something to lie about

You think you’re smart, I think you’re art
We agree on this, it doesn’t work
Feeling like dirt, feeling like you don’t care
We get a room and in the gloom
She lights a cigarette, clothes on the bed
Love me she said, I lose myself to her

I’m getting feelings I’m hiding too well
(Bury the horse shaped shell)
Something broke inside my stomach
I let the pieces lie just where they fell
(Being with you is hell)

Hair blow in an open car
Summer dress slips down her arm
Hair blown in an open car

OK what’s next after the sex?
What do we now? Finding the time
Drawing the line and never crossing it
Gave her the hours, gave her the power
Cannot erase her, gave her the truth
Gave her the proof, I gave her everything

I’m getting feelings I’m hiding to well
(Bury the horse shaped shell)
Something broke inside my stomach
I let the pieces lie just where they fell
(Being with you is hell)

Hair blow in an open car
Summer dress slips down her arm
Hair blown in an open car
On a drive out to the farm
Hair blown in an open car

Hair blown in an open car
Summer dress slips down your arm
Hair blown in an open car

08. “Start of Something Beautiful” – 7:39

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, mellotron
    Richard Barbieri – keyboards, synthesizers
    Colin Edwin – bass
    Gavin Harrison – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson and Gavin Harrison

Richard: “One of my favorites; explores the band’s love of unconventional time signatures. It has a groovy bass line, a contemporary feel, and it washes into a beautiful textural finish line. Classic Porcupine Tree.”

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Richard recording his keyboard parts with the band

Co-written by drummer Gavin Harrison, it’s unsurprising that “Start of Something Beautiful” features many time signature changes and slinky rhythmic patterns that showcase his virtuosity. However, the band never give in to self-indulgence. Instead, they lend themselves perfectly to the song, resulting in an interesting blend of ambient, alternative and genuinely progressive music.

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Gavin in 2005

Lyrics:

Always in my thoughts you are
Always in my dreams you are
I got your voice on tape, I got your spirit in a photograph
Always out of reach you are

Cold inside my arms you are
Simple like a child you are
I remember when you took my hand and led me through the rain
Down inside my soul you are

The more I show the way I feel
The less I find you give a damn
The more I get to know
The less I find that I understand
Innocent, the time we spent
Forgot to mention we’re good friends
You thought it was the start of something beautiful?
Well think again

Mother lost her looks for you
Father never wanted you
I trust to love and then I find you never really felt the same
There’s something in your heart so cruel

09. “Glass Arm Shattering” – 6:13

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, mellotron, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

SW: “The final epic blow-out. Has more of the aspects that people associate with the classic early sound of the band, our spacious, dreamy, almost Floyd-ian textural side. That’s obviously a big part of the band’s personality.”

“Glass Arm Shattering” replaced “Half-Light” as the album closer during the mixing stage. SW has since voiced his regret for this decision.

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Richard recording his keyboard parts

The band return to their Pink Floyd-influenced soundscapes for “Glass Arm Shattering”, which sees Wilson’s haunting, dreamy, washed out vocals soaring over spacey keyboard settings and liquid guitar patterns. The track features the usual Wilson layered vocal melodies, recalling tracks like “Baby Dream In Cellophane” and “Heartattack In A Layby” but used in an even more dramatic and chilling context, creating an atmosphere akin to the classic “Dark Matter” from Signify.

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Porcupine Tree in 2004

It seems that the track has something to do with “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here” given the reference to a “windshield”. To me, it feels like the shattering of glass symbolizes the breaking of a bottle; one in which David’s feelings may have been “bottled away”, and now he’s accepted the state of his life. Maybe?

“Glass Arm Shattering” was played a total of 8 times before it was dropped at the start of the tour as the band were unhappy with the performances.

Lyrics:

Feeling all your touching
Feeling all your blood
Feeling all your touching
Feeling all your love

Seen it through a windscreen
Seen it through the glass
Seen it in a bad dream
Seen it in your heart

Shattered arm

Song Details: Outtakes and Non-Album Tracks

“So Called Friend” – 4:48

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, keyboards
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums, percussion

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Release: Originally released on the Lazarus single. Later included on the 2LP version of Deadwing

Richard: “A short, fairly heavy riff-based piece. I really like what’s going on in the verses and bridges.”

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Mike Bennion artwork for “So Called Friend”

Before the final mastering stage for the album, “So Called Friend” was replaced by “Open Car”. This is why Richard discusses the track among the rest of the Deadwing songs on the DVD-A (the song notes likely completed before the change, or he just forgot!). Additionally, the song is mistakenly written as “So Called A Friend” on the DVD-A.

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Porcupine Tree in 2004

On his Drummer World Q&A thread, Gavin said he played octobans on the verse (this is played as a backing track live).

It seems the lyrical phrase “cheerless town” is a reference to the line “As the cheerless towns pass my window” from “Lazarus”.

Lyrics:

Lip read, a mountain stream, fibres in the car
Shut down, a cheerless town, a head rolls in the park

Once seen my libertine undresses in the dark
She puts her love inside to break us both apart

With you I felt brand new, you opened up the sky
What need to punish me with surgery and lies?

Sleep well my so called friend, a virus in your heart
She bends my so called friend and rips my life apart

In sound escape is found from carving out the day
My gift a weight that lifts, my eyes give me away

You tell me all the things you know
I want to hear
You stain the sub terrain
With sarin gas and fear

What kind of friend are you?
What kind of friend are you?
You’re so cold
What kind of friend are you?
What kind of friend are you?
So called friend

I miss the holy bliss of sun across the bed
How sad that all my plans seem foolish now instead

“Half-Light” – 6:20

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, keyboards, mellotron, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

Release: Originally released on the Lazarus single. Later included on the 2LP and DVD-A versions of Deadwing 

Originally meant to close Deadwing, “Half-Light” was replaced by “Glass Arm Shattering” in the mixing stage. Steven has since regretted this decision and included the track on the vinyl and DVD-A editions of the album as a bonus track.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for Deadwing (“I have strength to carry you”)

Similar to “Lazarus”, it seems “Half-Light” is about a mother communicating with her young son “from the grave”. Around 20 seconds into the song one can hear a female voice whispering “David” (the name of the main character). It is unknown who provided this voice.

 

In mythology and poetry, the “half-light” referred to the state between life and death.

Lyrics:

Such a pale light
Such a long night
Pick up that key
Don’t drop your gaze in your coffee
Is it me?
Do I look beautiful in the half light?

It’s been so long
Years have gone
Since I belonged
Hold me please
Stay with me
And I will sleep

I will go now
But I will be with you
Hold my gaze
Hold me inside you

It’s been so long
Years have gone
Since I belonged
Hold me please
Stay with me
And I will sleep

“Revenant” – 3:04

  • Steven Wilson – guitars
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards, sampler
  • Gavin Harrison – drums, percussion

Writing Credits: Written by Richard Barbieri

Release: Released on the DVD-A version of Deadwing

Written by Richard, this interesting instrumental is one of two Porcupine Tree songs to not be written by Steven Wilson (the other being “”Light Mass Prayers”” from Signify).

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Richard in 2005

“Revenant” was used to open many concerts on the second leg of the Deadwing tour (as heard on the Arriving Somewhere… DVD). It can be found on the DVD-A audio disc version of Deadwing as a bonus track.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Mother & Child Divided” – 5:03

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass, double bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson and Gavin Harrison

Release: Released on the DVD-A version of Deadwing

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Gavin in 2005

Gavin: “For [“Mother & Child Divided”] I had the rhythmic ideas worked out and some suggestion about the bass and guitar lines – but I don’t like to impose on the other guys so I tell them to take my rhythmic suggestions – but choose your own notes.”

Live, the track features extensive use of Tama’s Cobra Clutch Pedal, which allows Gavin to play complicated double kick and closed hi-hat patterns. For the studio version, Gavin simply used two sets of hi-hats (one semi open and one closed), as seen in the Collecting Space making-of studio video. Here is a rather accurate drum cover of the track I found that could give insight into how Gavin approached the track.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for Deadwing

Gavin: “I came up with that 2 bar 4/4 rhythm and I got Steve to write the riffs around the drum pattern. Start Of Something Beautiful – Cheating The Polygraph – Futile and a few others were composed in pretty much the same way.”

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Some fills Gavin plays on the Arriving Somewhere… performance of “Mother & Child Divided”

“I’ve started to learn the Mother & Child Divided drum pattern down. I’ve got the framework down, just the HH w/ accents, bass, and off-beat snare hit. No ghost notes for now, but Ill work them in soon enough.”

Gavin: “Yes it’s a fun pattern to play. It’s two bars of 4/4 divided as 10/10/10/2″

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Shesmovedon (2005 Version)” – 5:02

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, mellotron
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass, double bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums
  • Mikael Åkerfeldt [guest] – backing vocals

Release: Released as a bonus track on the American CD version of Deadwing. Later included as a bonus track on the Deadwing DVD-A. Original version can be found on the 2000 album Lightbulb Sun

The classic “Shesmovedon” was re-recorded as a bonus track for the American release of Deadwing.

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Mike Bennion artwork

Gavin: “… One DJ somewhere in the states said that [“Shesmovedon”] was his favorite song of all time and told the company that if we re-recorded it on Deadwing, he’d play it non-stop. Apparently, he didn’t play it at all. We didn’t want to re-record it.”

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Mike Bennion artwork

Lyrics:

You move in waves
You never retrace
Your newest craze
Straight out of the Face by the bed unread

I’m left behind
Like all the others
Some fall for you
It doesn’t make much difference if they do

She changes every time you look
By summer it was all gone, now she’s moved on
She called you every other day
So savor it it’s all gone, now she’s moved on

So for a while
Everything seemed new
Did we connect?
Or was it all just biding time for you?

She’s moving on
(All gone away)

“Intro” – 2:45

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, samples, voices
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards

Release: Released on Rockpalast

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Richard recording his parts for Deadwing

Built around elements of the ambient break in “Mother & Child Divided”, this instrumental was used to open some concerts on the Deadwing tour, as can be heard on Rockpalast. The beginning of the track features the same voice heard in “Half-Light”. It is unknown if it was ever meant to be released as a studio track, like “Revenant”.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Arriving Somewhere… Ambient Music” – 9:21

  • Steven Wilson – keyboards, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards, electric piano

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri

Release: Included as the music for a photo gallery on the Arriving Somewhere… DVD

This neat 9-minute instrumental was composed entirely by SW and Richard for the Arriving Somewhere… DVD extras.

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Photography taken by Mike Bennion for Deadwing

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Mother & Child Divided (Alt Mix)” – 2:05

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – bass
  • Gavin Harrison – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson and Gavin Harrison

Release: Released as the credits music on the Arriving Somewhere… DVD

This shorter and alternate version of “Mother & Child Divided” can be heard as the end credits music on the Arriving Somewhere… DVD.

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Gavin listening to his drum parts for Deadwing

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Deadwing Theme” – 1:47

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, piano, keyboards, samples

Recording: Recorded in No Man’s Land in 2003 and 2007 – 2008

Release: Uploaded to SW’s MySpace account in October 2006 and later included as a bonus track on the Insurgentes documentary DVD

SW: “Another older piece that was on the ‘orphans’ short list, this time from a period when I was working on the still unrealized Deadwing film script with Mike Bennion and trying to come up with some potential music for the soundtrack…”

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Lasse Hoile’s artwork for Insurgentes

This short instrumental track was apparently meant to open Deadwing. It was later partially re-recorded in the Insurgentes sessions.

Lyrics:

Instrumental

“Christenings” – 4:35

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards
  • Richard Barbieri – electric piano, stylophone
  • Gavin Harrison – drums
  • Seffy Efrati – bass

Recording: Seffy Efrati’s parts likely recorded (alongside new SW parts) in February – June 2006 in London and Tel Aviv

Release: Released on Blackfield II in 2007

Recorded by most of the band for Deadwing, “Christenings” was left off the album but later included on the second Blackfield album.

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Lasse Hoile’s artwork for Blackfield II

Lyrics:

I met you in a record store
You had slept in the clothes you wore
But I knew I’d seen you somewhere before

What happened to your guitar?
And what happened to the prettiest star?
Can you still play the songs that got you so far?

Hey you, with your shadow in the gutter
How low have you got to go before you’re through
High times, a butler in the morning
All your memories are coming out of your shoes

Black dog, sitting in the park
Odd looks from the mothers of the devil’s own
Shoplifting, getting your essentials
Gate crashing, christenings and funerals…
And weddings too

“Collecting Space” – 5:10

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, piano, mellotron, organ, sampler
  • Gavin Harrison – drums
  • Tony Levin – bass
  • Michiyo Yagi – koto [21-string]

Recording: Recorded in No Man’s Land in 2003 and No Man’s Land, Tel Aviv and Mexico in December 2007 – August 2008. Michiyo Yagi’s parts recorded at the Sound Pot studio in Tokyo in December 2007 – August 2008. Gavin’s parts recorded at Bourne Place (his studio) in December 2007 – August 2008. Tony Levin’s parts most likely recorded in his home studio during the same time

Release: Originally released on the hardback book editions of Insurgentes (CD and 10″ vinyl) and later on the regular 2LP vinyl version of the album and later on SW’s SoundCloud account in 2011

Demo: “Collecting Space (Demo Version)” uploaded to SW’s MySpace account in August 2006 and later from the Insurgentes documentary DVD as a bonus track

“Original demo version made in 2004*. This demo was used as the basis for the new version recorded for Insurgentes, and some elements (such as the guitar solo at the end) were retained.”

*The “Collecting Space” demo was actually from 2003. SW intended to write a vocal melody and lyrics for it but could never come up with anything that would work, so he left it as is. It was never recorded by the band for Deadwing (unlike “Christenings”).

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Gavin in 2005

SW: “These 5 songs [“Port Rubicon”, “Puncture Wound”, “Collecting Space”, “Insurgentes (Mexico)” and “The 78”] were originally included as part of a special 3 disc hardback book edition of Insurgentes released on my own label Headphone Dust a few months prior to KScope issuing the standard version. I had around 25 songs in total from the recording sessions, several of which were dropped because they didn’t measure up (some of the other leftover pieces are now released on the Insurgentes film DVD), but I felt these 5 songs were as good as the album material, so it wasn’t for lack of quality that I left them off, more to do with context and not wanting the album to be too long as a listening experience. Instead they were included on a separate CD only available with the special edition (and later on vinyl releases). The whole idea of the special edition was to experiment with doing something really special with the packaging that took advantage of the multi-media aspect of the project (film, photos, music), and to sell only online. They were very expensive to make and could only be printed as a one-off edition, so I had to guess at how many to make – even then I became so convinced that I wasn’t going to be able to sell them, that I priced is such that I basically lost money with every copy sold! Later on I found myself wondering if the small minority that still complained that they had been “ripped off” in only getting a CD, a CD EP, a DVD, and a ten by ten 128 page clothbound full colour book for their £34 were the same people that later sold their copy on eBay for 10 times what they paid for it. Anyway, I digress…. Here for those that missed out on the special edition, are the bonus Insurgentes songs in full resolution WAVs, enjoy! Best, S”

It was also used as the name for the “making of” video included with some editions of Deadwing.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Godfearing” – 4:56

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass, piano, keyboards, mellotron, hammered dulcimer, drum programming

Recording: Recorded at No Man’s Land in 2001 – 2003

Release: Uploaded to Steven Wilson’s SoundCloud in June 2012

One of my favourite Porcupine Tree songs ever, “Godfearing” is an exciting rocker that was unfortunately dropped before the recording sessions for Deadwing.

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Lasse Hoile photography

SW: “I found this on an old computer – it’s a demo for either the In Absentia or Deadwing albums, something that never got used – I can’t be totally sure because while it shares lyrical themes with the songs on In Absentia, one of the melodies seems to relate to another piece from Deadwing era. I don’t remember too much about it, other than I guess it wasn’t good enough to get any further than this. Rescued from the abyss, so I only have a compressed audio file of this one, sorry about that.”

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SW in 2005

Given the ambient break is a direct reprise of “Deadwing Theme”, I would say “Godfearing” is definitely from the Deadwing sessions.

Lyrics:

Deep shelter, I sleep with the light on
A quarter bend smile breaking through
Bright future, a hook on the wall
And here on my [unclear] to bruise

Godfearing
Godfearing family

She found a faded old cloth
[unclear] a scar from the rejection round
She solved a [unclear] tin can
Eclipsed while the fists raining down

Godfearing
Godfearing family

“Happiness III” – 4:31

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars [acoustic and guitar solo], samples
  • Nick Beggs – bass, backing vocals
  • Guthrie Govan – guitars
  • Adam Holzman – hammond organ, piano
  • Marco Minnemann – drums, percussion

Recording: Recorded at Air Studio, London in September 2014

Release: Released on Steven Wilson’s solo EP in 2016 and later in the year on the Happiness III 7″ single

Driven by Marco Minnemann’s walloping beat, “Happiness III” boasts a dramatic entrance and a galloping second verse. Wilson’s elegant guitar solo stretches out like wings in a breeze. When “Happiness III” was recorded during the Hand. Cannot. Erase. sessions, it was jokingly called “Pop Tart” because of its hooky chorus.

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Lasse Hoile’s artwork for Hand. Cannot. Erase.

SW: “It was written for the Deadwing movie. The chronology of this is [that] I came up with the idea to write a movie with my friend Mike Bennion, so we wrote the script and I went into my writing mode to create some music for this movie, which I thought was going to be made. It wasn’t even for an album for Porcupine Tree at the time. It was a score for a movie. I wrote ‘Arriving Somewhere but Not Here’, ‘Lazarus’, ‘Happiness’, and an instrumental called ‘Collecting Space’, which ended up on the Insurgentes special edition much later on. I wrote other little fragments, like ‘Deadwing Theme’, which was a bonus track on the documentary DVD. I wrote six or seven pieces of music that have gradually come out over a period of years. This is the last of those pieces.

The reason it hasn’t been released until now is because I almost felt it was too ‘pop.’ Whenever I write something like this, very simple, very poppy, I’m almost suspicious of it! Can I really have written a song that is so simple that it is any good? It’s taken me 12 years to feel like I had the confidence that, ‘You know what, this song is good and I should release it.’ We recorded it for Hand. Cannot. Erase. and even then I still took it off the record. But I figured, if I don’t include it this time, I won’t put it on any record. It has a great chorus.”

“What’s interesting is that there’s a lineage between the lyrics to this and earlier
works such as Signify, Fear of a Blank Planet, and Hand. Cannot. Erase. A recurring theme for you is about how people seek happiness in ways that may not lead to true fulfillment—in this song, the character leans on pornography and cigarettes.”

SW: “It goes to show one thing, which is basically I’ve been writing the same song for 20 years now! Even though it was written for Deadwing, it works really well within the whole Hand. Cannot. Erase. vibe, as does ‘Don’t Hate Me’. It’s funny how the songs all cohered so beautifully.”

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SW recording Hand. Cannot. Erase. at AIR Studios in 2014

The version on  is the third draft (it was originally written in 2003).

“‘Happiness III” is a song that you had sitting around for more than a dozen years. Can you talk about the origins of that song and why now was the time to release it?”

SW: “That song is funny, because I’ve revisited it for almost every project I’ve done since I wrote it. And it’s always ended up on the substitute’s bench, so to speak. I think part of the reason is that it’s direct and quite pop, and also quite accessible. And because of the way I am, I’m always suspicious when I come up with things like that. It’s almost like shooting myself in the foot, but if I come up with anything that’s even remotely catchy or commercial or seem like it might have the potential to cross over to a mainstream audience, I’m immediately suspicious. I think, ‘This is not what I do. I do these weighty, conceptual things—I do not write pop songs.’ So, occasionally when I come up with one, I’m always very wary about it.

That song was written for what was going to be the soundtrack to a movie script I wrote with a friend of mine, Mike Bennion, called Deadwing. Now, Deadwing has a very strange history and of course some of my fans will be very familiar with some of it, as I made an album by that name with Porcupine Tree. But the original Deadwing would actually have been my first solo record, and it would have also been the soundtrack to this movie that we hoped to get made, but we never did.

While we were shopping the script around, trying to raise the money to make the film, I was writing these songs that I truly believed would be the soundtrack to this movie. Those songs have gradually emerged over the years. ‘Lazarus’ was written for that project, ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here’ was written for it, and then there were songs on my first solo record Insurgentes that were also written for the soundtrack. And ‘Happiness III’ is the last song I wrote in that batch. It’s a song I’ve always been very proud of, but never been able to find a place for on one of my large album statements. The new record finally gave me the opportunity, simply because it isn’t trying to be a cohesive, conceptual record. It gave me the opportunity to bring in these songs that I haven’t been able to fit into other projects. Let’s just say, if I didn’t put it on this record, then I couldn’t imagine that I would ever put it on any record.”

The lyric “Something in this town is draining me / Could be the junk food or the gasoline” seems to be a direct reference to “This city drains me / Well maybe it’s the smell of gasoline” from “Shallow”.

Lyrics:

Something in this town is draining me
Could be the junk food or the gasoline
I hide it well

Tangled up in my last cigarette for a hundred years
I’m not as much of a slave to it as I appear
I’m just bored

Sorry that was cruel, I only meant for you to lose your balance in the snow
Slip on the ice so I can catch you fall
Sorry that’s not true, I didn’t think that you would take it all to heart

I’m tired of burning up the time at my PC
I only end up downloading the same old pornography
The same old scene

Sorry that was cruel, I only meant for you to lose your balance in the snow
Slip on the ice so I can catch you fall
Sorry that’s not true, I didn’t think that you would take it all to heart
I just made it up so I could watch you crawl
Sorry if I’m rude, I’m getting at your side, a darker mood comes over me

Are there any reasons left to get out of bed?
Is there anything else I can write that I haven’t read?
It’s all been said

Sorry that was cruel, I only meant for you to lose your balance in the snow
Slip on the ice so I can catch you fall
Sorry that’s not true, I didn’t think that you would take it all to heart
I just made it up so I could watch you crawl

Sorry if I’m rude, I’m getting at your side, a darker mood comes over me
And it’s always worse in the shopping mall
Sorry that was cruel, I only meant for you to lose your balance in the snow
Slip on the ice so I can catch you fall

Sorry that’s not true I didn’t think that you would take it all to heart
I just made it up so I could watch you crawl

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Written and compiled by Quinn Downton