On the Sunday of Life…

In the early 1980s Porcupine Tree began as a joke between Steven Wilson and friend Malcolm Stocks, who Steven had met by placing an ad in a weekly music paper. Malcolm was one year older than Steven and lived one town over in Berkhamsted.

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Steven Wilson in the first Porcupine Tree photoshoot
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Steven Wilson’s friend Malcolm Stocks

SW: “Malcolm wasn’t trying to be a career musician… but what he did have was a fabulous record collection. He got me into things like Van der Graaf Generator and Gong, because I didn’t about bands like that until I met him. He was a very good friend and someone who encouraged me.”

The two shared a sensibility for absurdist humour, and were taken with a fictitious band The Dukes of Stratosphear, a pseudonymous side project for the band XTC, and an affectionate homage to 1960s psychedelic music. Inspired, the pair dreamt up their own fake psychedelic groups; Malcolm created The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck and Steven? The Porcupine Tree. They even went as far as to create elaborate backstories for each “musician” in the groups, including several trips in and out of prison. Sadly, the antics of Sir Tarquin Underspoon, Mr. Jelly, The Expanding Flan, Timothy Tadpole-Jones, Master Timothy Masters and their loyal crew members Sebastian Tweetle-Blampton III and Linton Samuel Dawson have largely been lost to the annals of rock history.

SW: “We were basically creating an amalgam of many of our favourite musicians… We would take inspiration, for example, from Daevid Allen’s life. He was an Australian hippy who had started Soft Machine and Gong and spent time as a life coach. We would take stuff from The Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and the Acid Tests. Syd Barrett and Peter Green would’ve been in there too. We would borrow elements from the lives of many of the musicians we listened to in order to create our own imaginary band’s mythology.”

It should be noted that none of these rock legends were accidentally shipped off to Africa inside a gorilla suit, which was the unfortunate fate of one of the musicians in the Incredible Expanding Mindfuck.

By the mid 1980s Steven had been forced to put some of his musical projects on hold as he entered adulthood and was hired to work for the computer company McDonnell Douglas. However, he still spent “every spare minute” he had to play, write and record as much of his own material as he could. Around this time Steven had just met and began writing with northern singer Tim Bowness, who Steven also met through the paper classified section. The two bonded by a shared love of pop music, art rock, British folk music, and Scott Walker, and began recording music as No Man is an Island (Except for the Isle of Man), which would later be shortened No-Man.

With No-Man as his new serious project, Steven needed an outlet for messing around! Steven began to create music to fit the mythology that he and Malcolm had created a few years earlier. Although Stocks provided a few passages of treated vocals and experimental instrumentation, his role in the project was mostly offering occasional ideas, with the bulk of the material being written, recorded, played, and sung by Steven Wilson.

SW: “I would ring him and up and say, ‘Hey Malcolm, I’ve recorded the first Porcupine Tree album’ and I’d bring it over and play it for him. Out of that came early songs like Space Transmission and some of the other things which are on the first record. Malcolm was really the person I was making that music for, just to amuse us both.”

Porcupine Tree’s music utilized lyrics written by Alan Duffy, who had posted an ad in a weekly music paper in the early 1980s. At first his lyrics were used for Steven’s high-school band Karma, when Steven was just 14 and Duffy was 26. Duffy’s lyrics touched on the following topics: a magical island where people can fly, a fish that pops its head above water and witnesses Armageddon, Merlin the magician casting spells for Marilyn Monroe, and that time when a toad gave sixteen kangaroos a lesson in water ballet. His words would be brought back by Steven to be used in material featured on On The Sunday of Life…, Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape, Up The Downstair and Staircase Infinities.

SW: “Alan was very much into the whimsical, surrealist children’s literature of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear… It’s one of the bedrocks of psychedelic music. If you listen to ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ or any of Syd Barrett’s stuff, those influences are in there. Alan wrote lyrics in that style… I started writing songs with those lyrics because I wasn’t really interested in being a lyric writer or a singer. I haven’t seen him since the mid-80’s, but I assume he still gets the publishing royalties!”

The first time Steven had incorporated Duffy’s music into his own music was during the summer of 1983, when Steven worked with fellow Tangerine Dream fan Simon Vockings, who lived down the road and owned a modular synthesizer, to make electronic music. Their project became known as Altamont.

SW: “When you’re at that age and have a passion for music, you just get together with anyone else in your vicinity that has a musical instrument… I was always the one editing things into ‘albums’. He just came over for the fun of making some music, but then a week later I’d present him with a cassette with artwork and track titles. ‘Hey, here’s the album we made last week.’ I’d edited and overdubbed various sections to create 20-minute pieces. I was the one who was always interested in the architecture of music.”

Aided and egged on by Malcolm Stocks, Steven Wilson had recorded many more Porcupine Tree songs, frequently borrowing the psychedelic tropes of other groups like Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and the Dukes of Stratosphear. Malcolm also had a go at creating music for The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck, but shortly afterwards he relocated to Devon in 1988 and The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck consequently dissipated from lore to legend and from legend to myth (that is, until Steven later resurrected the fake band’s name for a side project of krautrock-inspired albums in the mid-1990s).

Porcupine Tree, too, might have been relegated to the dustbin of history if not for a burgeoning underground scene of neo-psychedelic music. Steven noticed a potential audience for his playful recordings.

SW: “There was an artist called The Bevis Frond, who was pretty visible in the late ’80s–and actually still going strong to this day–making psychedelic music, quite lo-fi and all made at home. He was getting a fair deal of attention for it. I remember sending a tape to him. Nick Saloman is his real name, and he very kindly called me up and gave me a list of people he thought I should send my tape to. One of the people was Richard Allen, editor of Freakbeat magazine.”

When Richard Allen wasn’t co-editing the psychedelic music publication, he could typically be found at underground festivals, watching bands play in a field until the sun came up. The free festival scene, frequented by New Age travelers, gypsies, and hippies, merged with the dance-music rave scene in the late 1980s. One band, in particular, epitomised the blend of the various factions. With its blend of space rock, techno and ambient music, Ozric Tentacles became, in Richard’s words, “the house band of free festivals.” Their cassette tapes sold thousands of copies. Other groups tried to emulate their success. Freakbeat not only reviewed cassettes by upcoming bands, but also included flexidiscs with the magazine. Richard and Freakbeat co-founder Ivon Trueman decided to capitalise on the nascent scene by starting a record label named Delerium.

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Ivon Trueman and Richard Allen at Delerium HQ, 1994

Richard: “At the time, I was getting lots of tapes… A tape turned up with a really boring insert. It just had two balloons on it and it said ‘Play Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm by Porcupine Tree.’ It had a really neatly handwritten letter. At the time, I was only in my early 20s and I was still living at home with my parents and so the tape kicked around my bedroom for months, along with many other demos and promo cassettes. Fate highlighted Steven’s tape when Tim Preece, a dear friend of mine–who appears as a fake member of Porcupine Tree in the very first promo photoshoot–was heading to a free festival and wanted a tape to play in his car. I grabbed a tape from the pile and gave it to him and it just happened to be Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm. When I arrived at the festival in another vehicle, Tim came up to me and said ‘That tape you gave to me is amazing! I though, ‘I’d better listen to that then!’ I remember listening to it for the first time on my Walkman when I was cycling to work and I specifically recall listening to ‘Radioactive Toy’ and then rewinding it and playing it again. I could see some commercial potential in it, particularly in America.”

When Richard got home that evening, he called Steven to see if anyone had shown any interest in the tape and offered him a slot on a planned Freakbeat compilation album. “I had been holding onto the tape for a while and, at the time, I thought it was amazing that nobody had already offered him a record deal but, in retrospect, I can’t imagine there were many labels queuing to sign a band that played that kind of music.”

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Dan Abbot’s artwork for the Delerium Psychedelic Psauna compilation
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A press review for Psychedelic Psauna

The first Delerium release, a compilation titled Psychedelic Psauna, featured underground stalwarts such as Ozric Tentacles, The Bevis Frond, Magic Mushroom Band and also lesser-known groups such as The Coloured Plank, Cosmic Kangaroos, The Jasmine Love Bomb and Marshmallow Overcoat. Needless to say, Porcupine Tree’s music didn’t seem out of place in such hallucinogenic company.

Richard’s mail order company, Freak Emporium, produced a limited re-print of 1989’s Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm and 1991’s followup The Nostalgia Factory (…and other tips for amateur golfers).

Richard: “I hit on the idea that if we put out the tapes with a weird-looking sleeve, people who were buying Ozric Tentacles tapes would buy it… It was a bit of a con, because I packaged Steven’s music to look like a festival band. But they weren’t. I think in the minds of people who bought it, Porcupine Tree were a bunch of way-out hippies living in a farm somewhere and making this amazing music. In some ways, it was manufactured, but that fits in with the spirit with what Steven had done. We managed to make his joke into a reality.”

The tapes each sold several hundred copies. Richard then proposed releasing the material as two separate double LPs.

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The Nostalgia Factory and the re-issue of Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm on cassette

SW: “He said, ‘We’ve had a really good response to the compilation and the cassettes, so we would like to put out your cassettes as an album’… I said, ‘To be honest, I don’t think a lot of the stuff is good enough. Let’s instead collect the best music from both cassettes and make one double album.’ And that album became On The Sunday of Life…”

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Steven Wilson’s On the Sunday of Life cassette tracklist, as sent to Richard Allen

Steven set about compiling and re-sequencing the best of the cassette music. Richard Allen came up with a list of potential album titles on an A4 piece of paper for Steven to choose from, while Steven’s friend Mike Bennion created the album art of a woman diving through an orange landscape, seemingly suspended high up in the sky.

On the Sunday of Life… includes a number of off-kilter interludes such as a daft science-fiction soliloquy (“Space Transmission”), a tape machine unspooling into chaos (“Message from a Self-Destructing Turnip”), and what sounds like backward Russian voices over a Frank Zappa-like guitar jam (“Queen Quotes Crowley”).

As Richard Allen had predicted, “Radioactive Toy” had crossover appeal. BBC Radio DJ Mark Radcliffe regularly played it on his show.

SW: “I remember the first time my mum heard my music on BBC radio she was really excited. Much more than I was in fact! I think that she was beginning to understand that maybe I did have something that could develop into a career.”

The same year that On The Sunday of Life… was released, Steven’s band with Tim Bowness, No-Man, were signed to One Little Indian Records and also received a publishing deal. Steven even made a crossroads decision. To the astonishment of McDonnel Douglas, their promising young employee resigned.

SW:” I ended up working for them for five years. I thought it would only be five months! I could finally go to my mum and my dad and say, ‘I’ve got a record contract and I’m giving this up.’ I didn’t hesitate for a second. I think a lot of people might have said to themselves, ‘OK, I’ve got a good career here. I’m earning a good wage. I’ve been doing this five years now and I’ve got a lot invested in this. Wouldn’t it be wiser to stick with it?” But I still knew that my destiny was to be a professional musician.”

Both Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm and The Nostalgia Factory were reissued on cassette the year before in a limited edition of 300 copies. In 1994, Delerium released Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape, a limited-edition compilation of material that hadn’t made it onto On The Sunday of Life…

Tracklist

  1. “Music For The Head” – 2:42
  2. “Jupiter Island” – 6:12
  3. “Third Eye Surfer” – 2:50
  4. “On The Sunday of Life” – 2:07
  5. “The Nostalgia Factory” – 7:28
  6. “Space Transmission” – 2:59
  7. “Message From a Self-Destructing Turnip” – 0:27
  8. “Radioactive Toy” – 10:00
  9. “Nine Cats” – 3:53
  10. “Hymn” – 1:14
  11. “Footprints” – 5:56
  12. “Linton Samuel Dawson” – 3:04
  13. “And The Swallows Dance Above the Sun” – 4:05
  14. “Queen Quotes Crowley” – 3:48
  15. “No Luck With Rabbits” – 0:46
  16. “Begonia Seduction Scene” – 2:14
  17. “This Long Silence” – 5:05
  18. “It Will Rain For a Million Years” – 10:51

Total length: 1:16:18

Cassettes

Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm (Words From a Hessian Sack) – 1989

Side One: “Studio LP”

  1. “Music for the Head (Here)” – 2:44
  2. “Jupiter Island” – 6:09
  3. “Nun’s Cleavage (Left)” – 2:45
  4. “Clarinet Vignette” – 1:18
  5. “Nun’s Cleavage (Right)” – 1:09
  6. “Space Transmission” – 2:56
  7. “Message from a Self-Destructing Turnip” – 0:28
  8. “Radioactive Toy” – 5:49
  9. “Towel” – 3:33
  10. “Wastecoat” – 1:10
  11. “Mute (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)” – 8:06
  12. “Music for the Head (There)” – 1:24

Side Two: “Live LP”

  1. “No Reason to Live, No Reason to Die” – 11:09
  2. “Daughters in Excess” – 6:46
  3. “The Cross” – 8:17
  4. “Hole” – 1:34
  5. “Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape” – 10:48

Total length: 76:52

The first Porcupine Tree release. Although Porcupine Tree was officially active since 1987, some of these songs can be dated back to 1986 according to the liner notes of the 2000 vinyl reissue of Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape and the Delerium Years 1991–1993 box set.

Tracks 1 through 7 and a re-recorded version of “Radioactive Toy” would be released on On the Sunday of Life…. “Nun’s Cleavage (Left)”, however, was renamed “Third Eye Surfer”, with tracks “Clarinet Vignette” and “Nun’s Cleavage (Right)” being indexed as one track called “On the Sunday of Life”. The rest of the tracks, including the original version of “Radioactive Toy”, would be released on CD for the first time on Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape in 1994. In 2000, this was re-released on vinyl, with “The Cross” and “Hole” being replaced by “Out”, track 8 from Love, Death & Mussolini.

The studio side was recorded in 1988/89 at Periscope Station, Devon.
The live side was recorded at the following venues on tour in October/November 1988:
“No Reason To Live, No Reason to Die” – Elysee Monmatre, Paris (Recorded direct to cassette tape)
“Daughters in Excess” – Dingwalls, London (Recorded on 4 track tape and remixed in Devon)
“The Cross / Hole / Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscpe” – Greenpeace Fayre (Recorded on 8 track using the No Man’s Land Mobile. Overdubbed and remixed in Devon)

The liner notes also includes:

Tales From Jupiter Island

It was about 9:30PM… and I had just finished spraying myself silver and brown with a bicycle pump fitted to a tin of mushy peas. I was feeling a little dejected and needed some solitude, so (naturally) I decided to hire a dolphin and go solo in my bedroom. As I lay on my bed clutching a selection of testicles to my breast I began to feel as though I was being watched… paranoia set in. “GET OUT !!!” I thought and ran for the door. I pulled on the door handle and it came away in my hand and turned into a stomach pump which tried to force its way down my throat. The faint sound of “The Professionals” theme tune was echoing in my head – Lewis Collins whispered into my ear “The Aspidistra’s need a drop more potassium dear”.

What Was Going Down?? Ha! You Would Not Understand!

I SLOWLY LOOKED AROUND ME… to my amazement pictures and photographs on the walls had begun to move – one of these, a lithograph entitled “Donkey’s Tool Kit” began giggling hysterically. Soon all the pictures were laughing… AT ME! I grasped a nearby giraffe and flung it towards the hysterical items of visual stimulation. It missed and plummeted through a pot hole that opened in the wall. Out of this hole a large fridge-freezer flew and began to hover above my bedroom window – the door of the freezer blew open and out walked two creatures that I will describe thus… They stood three feet high with human legs but piano keys for feet… a stomach but no chest or head and their arms grew from their pelvis! Each was equipped with a copy of Marjorie Peep’s “5,000,001 Uses for a Hessian Sack”, a work with which I was not familiar but which held a curious fascination for me (you will understand this).

Snow White and Bambi Had Never Prepared Me For This!

The creatures moved with the speed of a thousand gazelles and their prey stood no chance. Their giant hands scooped the helpless pictures and photographs into giant hessian sacks. “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” I screamed. One of the creatures referred me to page 2,523 in “5,000,001 Uses for a Hessian Sack”. It read:

No. 4,299,325: Scooping Hysterical Pictures (also wall mounted photographs) into a Hessian Sack

At this point it took out a ballpoint pen and placed a tick at the bottom of the page… then it and its companion were gone.

I WAS FLABBERGASTED! The whole thing was over in the time it takes for something that doesn’t take very long to happen to happen.

Then… I noticed that the fridge-freezer was still hovering by my window. The door opened again and this time a banana walked out and peeled itself to reveal a lemon sewing box which exploded into millions of bluebottles who flew out of the window to the sound of Wagner’s unpublished “Ode to a Half Eaten Yoghurt – Opus 68989”.

Doctor, Do You Think I’m Going Mad???

What you have just read is an episode from the life and times of the people of Jupiter Island as seen through the eyes of an earthling called Nigel. These curious creatures have but one aim in life: to tick off every page in the gigantic volume “5,000,001 Things To Do With a Hessian Sack” by Marjorie Peeps. They journey the universe with a copy of the book and a large supply of hessian sacks hoping to chance upon situations of which the likelihood of occurrence is somewhere in the region of a trillion-billion to one.

For example:

No 1,892,674: Using a Hessian Sack to quell 258 billion rioting swahili quantity surveyors intent upon moulding a statue of an ant’s foot from a thirty seven tonne lump of guario

COME ON LET’S FLY TO JUPITER ISLAND……………………

Personnel (fiction) / “Tripping Musicians Extraordinaire”:

  • The Porcupine Tree – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, flute, koto and vocals
  • Sir Tarquin Underspoon – organ, electric piano, synthesisers and vocals
  • Mr Jelly – bass guitar
  • The Expanding Flan – drums, percussion, drum computer and spoken word
  • Timothy Tadpole-Jones – acoustic Guitar, percussion
  • Sebastian Tweetle-Blampton III operates the delay circuits and mixing desk
  • Solomon St. Jemain – guitar on ‘Wastecoat’, drum computer on ‘Towel’ and spoken word
  • Master Timothy Masters – oboe, cor anglais
  • Linton Samuel Dawson operates the light show
  • Alan Duffy unwittingly provided lyrics and tales from Jupiter Island
  • JC Camillioni kindly lent us the No Man’s Land mobile
  • Also featured – about 30 years of musical history and some illicit substances

Love, Death & Mussolini EP – 1990

Side One: “The Extended Player”

  1. “Hymn” – 1:22
  2. “Footprints” – 5:56
  3. “Linton Samuel Dawson” – 3:04
  4. “And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun” – 4:12
  5. “Queen Quotes Crowley” – 4:40

Side Two: “The Long Player”

  1. “No Luck With Rabbits” – 0:47
  2. “Begonia Seduction Scene” – 2:34
  3. “Out” – 8:59
  4. “It Will Rain for a Million Years” – 4:05

Total length: 35:39

The song “Out” was later included on the vinyl edition of the compilation album Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape and the 2013 CD reissue of the album.

Love, Death and Mussolini is an E.P.

E.P. stands for ‘extended player.’

An ‘extended player’ is longer than a single but not long enough to be called an L.P. (a long player).

Here then are 3 songs and 2 instrumentals, new material from the band Porcupine Tree.

These 5 tracks last for about 20 minutes in total. 20 minutes is a good duration for an ‘extended player’.

However, Love, Death and Mussolini takes advantage of the cassette medium by including an additional 17 minutes of music taking it to L.P. (long player) length.

This is known as ‘value for money’.

In the music industry it is known as ‘marketing’.

Do your accounting to the sound of Porcupine Tree.

The release also includes a page with purchasing information of the (at the time 2) Porcupine Tree releases.

Porcupine Tree – Objects of Whimsy

Porcupine Tree are a 5 piece band dedicated to preserving the spirit of sixties psychedelia and the progressive music of bands like Pink Floyd and Soft Machine in a more contemporary setting. They work from their Periscope Station studio in Devon and lace their music with a distinctive personality and sense of humour.

Porcupine Tree – Tarquin’s Seaweed Farm – £3.50

A double LP on a chrome cassette, this is one of the most exquisitely crafted psychedelic/progressive crossover LPs ever recorded. One LP features a variety of short pieces ranging from psychedelic pop to swirling atmospheres and voiceovers, the other features longer compositions including the apocalyptic 21 minute ‘Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape’. The quality and execution are superb throughout. Comes with a 15 page booklet.

‘One of the most beautiful pieces of modern psychedelia I have ever heard.’ – ISMO magazine

‘The best thing I’ve heard in ages.’ – RAT distribution

Porcupine Tree – Love, Death and Mussolini – £3.00

A cassette E.P. of Porcupine Tree’s exquisite experimental pop music recorded at No Man’s Land and Periscope Station during the Autumn of 1989. ‘Footprints’ is a majestic fusion of acoustic guitars, power pomp, and dreamlike vocal. ‘Linton Samuel Dawson’ is psychedelic whimsy and ‘And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun’ is a chaotic electric backdrop to a hypnotic and extremely beautiful song. In addition there are two instrumentals, the tape collage of ‘Hymn’ and the classic ‘Queen Quotes Crowley’ featuring a variety of studio processing to create reverse guitars, speed guitars and varispeed voices set against a pulsing rhythm.

As if this wasn’t enough the cassette features an additional 17 minutes of out-takes, demos and live material to take the tape up to LP length.

A classic.

Porcupine Tree Cassettes Are Available From:

No Man’s Land
82 Cowper Road
Boxmoor
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
HP1 1PF

Personnel (fiction):

  • The Porcupine Tree – vocal, electric and acoustic guitars, bass
  • Sir Tarquin Underspoon – organ, mellotron, keyboards
  • The Expanding Flan – drums, percussion
  • Solomon St. Jemain – glissando guitars and vocals on “Queen Quotes Crowley”
  • JC Camillioni – programming, soundscapes

The Nostalgia Factory (…and other tips for amateur golfers) – 1991

  1. “Hymn” – 1:22
  2. “Footprints” – 5:56
  3. “Linton Samuel Dawson” – 3:04
  4. “And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun” – 4:12
  5. “Queen Quotes Crowley” – 4:40
  6. “No Luck with Rabbits” – 0:47
  7. “Begonia Seduction Scene” – 2:34
  8. “Colours Dance Angels Kiss” – 3:00
  9. “Prayer” – 1:50
  10. “The Nostalgia Factory” – 8:15
  11. “This Long Silence” – 6:51
  12. “Sinatra Rape Scene” – 0:39
  13. “Hokey Cokey” – 5:05
  14. “Landscare” – 3:16
  15. “Delightful Suicide” – 1:12
  16. “Nine Cats” – 3:51
  17. “Split Image” – 1:58
  18. “It Will Rain for a Million Years” – 10:50

Total length: 69:29

Tracks 1 through 7, an edited version of track 10 and tracks 11, 16 and 18 were released on the official debut album, On the Sunday of Life…, in 1992. The rest of the songs, besides “Sinatra Rape Scene”, were later released in 1994 on Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape (although “Colours Dance Angels Kiss” was retitled as “Track Eleven”, and “Hokey Cokey” was retitled as “Execution of the Will of the Marquis de Sade”). An edited version of “Sinatra Rape Scene” was released on Up the Downstair, the second album, in 1993 under the title “Monuments Burn into Moments”.

Production

Richard: “Steven came up with the idea for the album art… He and Mike Bennion the designer ‘borrowed’ the concept, funnily enough, from a 1930s railway poster of a woman diving in a swimming pool. They then transposed the pose of the swimmer onto a skyline above a town. From the outset Steven wanted Hipgnosis quality album cover artwork, which was a bit of a headache for a small label with no budget, but his vision was the right one.”

 

 

 

 

On the Sunday of Life is named after a 1965 French movie. Dir. Jean Herman

 

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according to the wiki for Tarquin, “Hole” starts at 8:17 of The Cross/YHD

 

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nostlagia factory – Writing Credits: All tracks written by Steven Wilson except “Footprints”, “Linton Samuel Dawson”, “And The Swallows Dance Above The Sun”, “Colours Dance Angels Kiss”, “The Nostalgia Factory”, “This Long Silence” and “Nine Cats” written by Steven Wilson / Alan Duffy, “Queen Quotes Crowley” written by Malcolm Stocks, “Begonia Seduction Scene” and “Landscare” written by Steven Wilson / Malcolm Stocks and “Split Image” written by Steven Wilson / Michael France

seaweed farm – Writing Credits: All tracks written by Steven Wilson except “Jupiter Island” written by Steven Wilson / Alan Duffy, “Clarinet Vignette” and “The Cross” written by Prince

mussolini – Writing Credits: All tracks written by Steven Wilson except “Footprints”, “Linton Samuel Dawson” and “And The Swallows Dance Above The Sun” written by Steven Wilson / Alan Duffy, “Queen Quotes Crowley” written by Malcolm Stocks and “Begonia Seduction Scene” written by Steven Wilson / Malcolm Stocks

 

2016 CD: When I purchased my first digital tape machine in 1989, I copied the Porcupine Tree analogue mixes onto DAT and used these digital copies as the source for all releases from then on. None of this really mattered when I was just duplicating the music onto cassettes, but when it was later released on CD and vinyl I carried on using the 16 bit DAT copies in the belief that they faithfully represented the original analogue tapes. I also felt I needed to do something about the tape noise / hiss on many of the tracks, so the music was subjected to various denoising processes, EQ and filtering to minimise it.  Consequently previous editions of the album were never exactly satisfactory to me, but I always assumed that this was down to the sonic limitations of the recordings. That was until I listened to the original analogue tapes for this edition, and was surprised to find that the tone of the music was much richer and the stereo image wider, and I now realise how poor the analogue to digital convertor must have been on that first generation DAT recorder. 

Anyway, the upshot of this is that while I’m certainly not going to claim that this album is some kind of sonic masterpiece, this is at least the best On the Sunday of Life… has ever sounded, with a wider stereo image, greater dynamic range, and much more vibrant and natural sonics.  

 

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talk about Tape Experiments 85

delerium box set

“How much of a band is Porcupine Tree and, how much of it is your singular vision and can you tell us bit about some of the other musicians that have passed through or contributed to Porcupine Tree’s music?”

SW: “For the first two albums and the ‘Voyage 34′ single, Porcupine Tree was Steven Wilson and Steven Wilson was Porcupine Tree. My friend Malcolm Stocks appeared on certain tracks on the first album, and on the ‘Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape’ collec­tion. He can’t really play that well – he won’t mind me say­ing so! – but he adds a certain bizarre flavour to whatever he con­tributes to. Malcolm has been important to Porcupine Tree in other ways, particularly early on, because a lot of the early tracks were recorded for his amusement only – he also helped me invent the fictional history printed with the cas­sette releases. In fact at one stage we were going to make the Incredible Expanding Mindfuck his project and record some albums under that name with him on vocals and guitar.”

Due to the sheer number of instruments I’m sure Steven used, and the incredibly varied and psychedelic sounds on the album (making it hard to discern what is what), I will simply say “all instruments”. Additionally, I do not include the fictional personnel below. You can find this information in the “Cassettes” section above instead.

Song Details: Album Tracks

01. “Music For The Head (Here)” / “Music For The Head” – 2:42

“Some journeys never end……” tarquin

02. “Jupiter Island” – 6:12

You’d never suspect that On The Sunday of Life… wasn’t made under the influence of anything stronger than a cup of PG Tips. Not after hearing “Jupiter Island” and “Linton Samuel Dawson”, psychedelic ditties with helium vocals that sound like the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz.

SW: “‘Linton Samuel Dawson’ and ‘Jupiter Island’ were trying to tap into the vibe of tracks like ‘See Emily Play’, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and ‘Bike Ride to the Moon’–psychedelic pop tunes with weird sonic stuff going on… Maybe I’m proud of them because they’re not things I’ve subsequently refined. I never really did anything like them again and I’m actually still very happy with them.”

“The tales of the strange creatures from Jupiter Island and their quest will be serialized on future Tree records. This is just a brief taster to set the scene and is a delightful invitation by one of the Hessian Sack Bearers to join it on a flight to its planet.” tarquin

03. “Third Eye Surfer” / “Nun’s Cleavage (Left)” – 2:50

original cassette kept old name

SW: “I took a fabulous John Marshall drum solo from the Soft Machine album Six and played over the top of it… Later on, when I became better known, I had to clear all that with John. But at the time, of course, I didn’t think it was going to be an issue. I just used to steal stuff from records. I stole flute motifs and drum rhythms. But, in my defence, this was the golden era of sampling. The Beastie Boys, DJ Shadow, and Del la Soul were constructing entire records from samples. So it wasn’t like I was doing anything particularly unfashionable. Quite the opposite, I was doing something that was quite hip. I was just sampling from records to give my records a broader musical palette and a wider vocabulary of sound. It was only later that I had to go back and replace all that stuff.”

04. “On The Sunday of Life” / “Nun’s Cleavage (Right)” / “Clarinet Vignette” – 2:07 / 1:09 / 1:18

“The clarinet on this piece is actually an oboe but it didn’t rhyme. That’s poetic justice for you.”

05. “The Nostalgia Factory” – 7:28

06. “Space Transmission” – 2:59

“Re-writes the bible a little.” tarquin

07. “Message From a Self-Destructing Turnip” – 0:27

“One day in our garden a turnip spoke to me. It said that it had tired of its futile existence and it was going to destroy itself. Naturally I tried to make it aware of the joys of life, read a little poetry and sang a few songs. It felt better for it, thanked me for my time and looked forward to a long and fruitful life. I dedicate it to all vegetarians.” tarquin

08. “Radioactive Toy” – 10:00

“Politics has always bored me. This piece could be about peace, love and harmony. Or it could be about nuclear genocide. You decide.” – tarquin

09. “Nine Cats” – 3:53

10. “Hymn” – 1:14

11. “Footprints” – 5:56

12. “Linton Samuel Dawson” – 3:04

13. “And The Swallows Dance Above the Sun” – 4:05

“And The Swallows Dance Above the Sun” is a groovy rocker that bears the influence of the “baggy” funky drum sounds of Madchester bands such as The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays, begins with an ominous voice that intones, “Did you know that bad girls go to hell?” It concludes with the rather alarming non-sequitur of a voice that says, “I want you to put Felix’s penis on me.”

The source? Old sexploitation B-movies directed by Doris Wishman, the so-called “female Ed Wood”, whose filmography includes Nude on the Moon, Keyholes are for Peeping, A Night to Dismember and Dildo Heaven.

SW: “There was a TV programme on Channel 4 in the late ’80s called something like The Incredibly Strange Film Show. For me it was essential viewing because I discovered Luis Bunuel, Russ Meyer, John Waters and Sam Raimi. At the time you couldn’t even rent Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies because they’d been branded ‘video nasties’. It was the equivalent of discovering underground music. Because I wasn’t really confident as a singer, I was always looking for other narrative elements that I could hang instrumental music on. A lot of that was using found voices and snatches of dialogue. ‘And the Swallows Dance Above the Sun’ is a great example. Compared to a lot of other pieces on that record, the lyrics are a little more serious, so I punctured the atmosphere with a moment of absurdity.”

14. “Queen Quotes Crowley” – 3:48

“Was there any significance in the words “cream cakes”, “pate” and “cream cheese” as heard backwards on Queen Quotes Crowley or was it just your shopping list?”

SW: “Ah – is that what the words are ? I suspect that Malcolm Stocks [who did the voice] was just coming up with the most ludicrous words he could think of so that people couldn’t read any significance in to them! Perhaps he failed on that count.”

15. “No Luck With Rabbits” – 0:46

“Recorded at Periscope Station Spring 1989. The entire sound content of the piece is a recording of a musical box. This recording is then speeded up, slowed down, reversed, and overdubbed several times to create the final musical experience.” mussolini

16. “Begonia Seduction Scene” – 2:14

“A fragment lifted from a 4 track demo recorded at Periscope Station in October 1987. Tree plays the guitars while Underspoon cranks his mellotron up.” mussolini

17. “This Long Silence” – 5:05

18. “It Will Rain For a Million Years” – 10:51

“It Will Rain for a Million Years” shares its name with a track in On the Sunday of Life… but is a totally different song and is not available anywhere else.

Song Details: Outtakes and Non-Album Tracks

“Music For The Head (There)” 1:24

“One tree and his flute; absorb and assimilate.” the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

Towel 3:33

“So named because of the band’s obsession with pieces of paper with the word towel written on them. So far we have a collection of 14 and Solomon used one of them to write the words he speaks in this song” – tarquin

Wastecoat 1:10

“A new version of Solomon’s guitar vignette which employs a variety of guitar tunings, effects and methods of playings.” tarquin

‘Wastecoat” was intended as Malcolm’s pastiche of the guitar style of Henry Cow’s Fred Frith and consisted of prepared guitar sounds created by placing batteries and nails under the guitar strings.

Mute 8:06

“It’s in three parts and features a poem.” the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

The main melody of “Mute” was also used in No-Man’s 1991 single “Days in the Trees”.

SW: “I was always playing stuff to Tim. Porcupine Tree was all going to be my retro, psychedelic band. No-Man was all about modern break beats and dance rhythms and arty pop. I think ‘Days in the Trees’ was an exception. There hasn’t been a great deal of crossover over the years.”

No Reason To Live, No Reason To Die 11:09

“At the Paris concert they wouldn’t let us on stage unless we played some short ‘commercial’ numbers. So we agreed to this and then proceeded to play a 40 minute long psychedelic improvisation. This was captured on cassette tape by Tweetle-Blampton and 11 minutes of it are released here in all its glorious folly. You can hear the audience booing if you listen carefully.” the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

Daughters in Excess 6:46

“During all previous tours the band always included at least one Pink Floyd classic from the Ummagumma period in the live show. During the Autumn 1988 tour we played an original piece evoking the same sense of random wonder and energy. It differed greatly from night to night. This version was captured live on stage at Dingwalls, London.” The Porcupine Tree with the aidi of the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

The Cross 8:17

“Let it be said that Prince is God. When that is said all else follows. ‘The Cross’ is his song and is bared around a two chord thrash which reaches a frenzied climax during which it is common for the audience to see celestial beings accompany us on stage.” – the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

Hole 1:34

“‘Hole’ is merely suggestive, an extract from a longer work of exquisite beauty and space.” the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape 10:48

“‘Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape’ begins with the realisation of a dream that Solomon had in which the whole world joins hands and becomes an enclosure into which no evil can penetrate (or something like that). It ends with him introducing the band and a musical vision of the future – whatever that may be.” the Ghost of Henry Ducanbowel from Tarquin

Hymn 1:22

Out 8:59

“Recorded live in Paris July 14 1989 and overdubbed and remixed at No Man’s Land October 1989.” mussolini

SW: “That Hawkwind pastiche might even be the first Porcupine Tree song that I ever recorded. It was half the riff of ‘Magnu’ and half the riff of ‘Masters of the Universe’. It literally combines the two. That would’ve been purely for Malcolm’s entertainment; we both loved Hawkwind.”

It Will Rain For a Million Years 4:05

Colours Dance Angels Kiss / Track 11 3:00

Steven sampled fellow classmate Alex Slater’s laugh for this track in highschool.

Prayer 1:50

Sinatra Rape Scene 0:39

Hokey Cokey / Execution of the Will of the Marquis de Sade 5:05

Landscare 3:16

Simon Vockings from Altamont and malcolm Stocks helped Steven record “Landscare”, an instrumental that sounds like a would-be soundtrack to a poltergeist movie.

Delightful Suicide 1:12

Split Image 1:58

An Empty Box 3:12