Signify

Signify was the first Porcupine Tree album recorded as a full band unit, rather than primarily by frontman Steven Wilson with occasional assistance from other musicians, primarily the ones who would become full-time band members as of this album; Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin, and Chris Maitland. In 1995, the band would alternate between touring in support of The Sky Moves Sideways and writing and recording Signify, with Wilson describing the situation as “quite a piecemeal way with tracks written and recorded in batches of 2 or 3, followed by gaps of up to 3 months.” As such, a number of the songs, albeit in early forms, were debuted live before the album’s release. “Dark Matter” (then titled “Toursong”) and “Signify” were the first two compositions to be debuted, as the band played them in the first half of 1995. Both of these songs were later incorporated into the holiday setlist. “Waiting (Phase One)” was played later in the year to promote the single.

porc_l06
Porcupine Tree in 1996

“Was forming a band as simple as needing a vehicle to perform live or did you want things to go that way in terms of a more cooperative effort as well?”

SW: “I think I probably did. Obviously the practical concern of being able to play the music live was the instigating factor. But I think subconsciously I also felt that I’d taken the solo years as far as I’d wanted to because I never really enjoyed working with drum machines. That’s the first thing. In some styles of music they have their own kind of sound and they’re very important. In the kind of music I was making they were a substitute and there’s no getting around that. They were a substitute for real drums. On The Sky Moves Sideways I had a couple of tracks where I did actually bring Chris and Colin in for the first time. “Stars Die” and “Moonloop”. And they were a turning point for me because I realized that those two tracks for me were the best from the whole sessions. And I realized from that point on I never wanted to go back to having to use drum machines. But also, I think I’ve always kind of been in love with the idea of, y’know, the rock band. Because bands have a kind of glamour, and appeal, and a romance about them the solo projects just don’t have. Y’know, the way the bands can kind of just go out on the road together and spend time together and the personalities just kind of gel… or they don’t. And there’s friction, and there are good times and there are bad times, but somehow this creates a real kind of special romance about the music, and I think we’re just beginning to get that now… I think there’s a real kind of band sound, all the personalities come through in the music and we all really have a lot of respect for each other as musicians. And I’ve always wanted that. And the only reason Porcupine Tree started as a solo project was there was nobody else I knew that wanted to make that kind of music. And so it was kind of like a project that I had to start as a solo project. But I guess that I always hoped that one day it would become a band.”

Pt-30
SW in 1997
chrisswcolin97
Steven and Colin in 1997

According to an unsourced Wikipedia claim, Colin Edwin once said that SW would simply replace his demo takes with his own work for the final mix, as was the case with “Sever” and “Dark Matter”. However, after contacting Colin, this is not the case; the bass playing on both of these tracks was in fact him. Additionally, he was credited on both the album and the Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 compilation.

This confusion could have come from a quote on the old Porcupine Tree website circa 2000, when Colin said he couldn’t change the bass parts for these two songs.

Colin: “I sometimes get asked how much freedom producer SW gives me in the studio. The answer is really open, these days he even makes me tea (he’s a non tea man) and goes elsewhere out of the room. But sometimes I replace original demo parts with my own take. This is the case with “Sever” which really only works with the specific bassline Steven had already written (likewise “Dark Matter”). The end of “Every Home is Wired” on the other hand is basically a double bass solo over Chris’ drums fed through various ‘treatments’ administered by doctor Wilson…

Some of the album was recorded at Katrina & the Waves studio outside Cambridge. We were there for a few days and one evening I took a walk in the surrounding fields and found a bizarre sculpture which hadn’t been there the day before…a message perhaps?

The first disc of the Metanoia LP was recorded here too; strange atmosphere. We went back to the Doghouse to record the improvisation that ‘Intermediate Jesus’ was taken from (the whole improv is on disc 2 of Metanoia) which was a personal favourite of mine. Certainly the samples of the crazy preacher (added later and also used on ‘Idiot Prayer’) could have been made for the track. Perhaps we should find him and give him some royalties.”

Richard: “It’s probably the first time [Steven] started thinking about themes and topics and ideas… They’re observational lyrics, really. You suddenly got the sense that the songs are about something.”

I’ve always thought that the Signify concept was kind of similar to this passage from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” – 5.5.23-28

blue-kit-2000x1645
Chris Maitland in 1997

Richard: “Although it was recorded in fits and starts, Signify is the first band album as such and I remember thinking at the time how well it all came together. This album has an edgier, darker quality to it that I really like. Even the cover artwork manages to convey a sense of unease. Having a little more time to experiment this time around I worked harder on subtleties. There are a lot of abstract sounds from the synths and other instruments and samples were fed through the modular synth for processing. Porcupine Tree became much more of an interesting entity for me at this stage. Firstly because more band interplay was starting to happen and secondly because Steven was writing more song based material which presented a greater challenge to us as musicians. The most enjoyable thing for me is to try to introduce my particular approach to synthesis within the context of a song arrangement. To use what in isolation would be a weird and abstract sound or texture and to make it work in the context of a ‘pop song’ or ballad is very satisfying.”

Richard has said his favourite songs on the album are “Sever” and “Every Home is Wired”.

“There does seem to be a strong sense of waiting and alienation in your lyrics. Is this what Signify is about?”

SW: “I know everyone has his or her own hang-ups and fears and whatnots, and mine is that I’ve got this terrible fear that I will live my life having not left anything of worth or significance that will live on after I go, and that’s become a bit of an obsession. Obviously the way I’m trying to counter that is by making music, which I hope will still be listened to and still be important to people after I’m no longer on this planet. There are a lot of songs, as you pointed out, about waiting, and anticipating life coming to you rather than going out and creating opportunities for yourself. They’re songs about organized religion, dead-end careers which, through a kind of laziness, you can’t be bothered to find a way out of. I was in that position for a few years after I left school. I went into a position for four or five years only intending to be in it for six months! Three or four years down the line, it’s so easy not to break out. The whole album became a set of themes about how people — myself in particular — might waste the gift of life.”

PT Signify handbill-1
A handbill for Signify

In addition to the change in sound coming from it being the first collaborative, full band album as a whole, the album marked a transition in genre as well. While Signify still retained many of the characteristics of the previous three albums, such as psychedelic and experimental space-rock, it started to show Wilson’ move towards a more structured and commercial sound, a style the band would explore on the subsequent albums Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun. Signify has been described as a transition period for these two eras as it still contained sprawling instrumentals in addition to songs with a clear-cut structure.

gm-maitland-2-1024x723
Chris Maitland in 1997

SW: “Signify was slightly odd in the way it was recorded in the sense that although it is a band album, because we were never able to actually all be in the same room at the same time, because of physical limitations, with the exception of one track, “Intermediate Jesus”, which was done outside, I tended to demo the tracks to a fairly high level and they would just replace the parts that I’d played on synthesizers with the real thing. So there wasn’t a great deal of input from the other guys.”

Pt-23
Porcupine Tree in 1996

SW: “I was suddenly not writing with machines in mind. I was writing with people in mind. The material became much more organic, more like rock and less synthesized. Early on there were a lot of elements of techno and trance. I had very textural and keyboard-oriented music. Suddenly going out and playing live the music I was writing, [it] became more song oriented… When you go and play live suddenly your music has a whole new dynamic and energy. That kind of translated back into the studio.”

bilety 1997
A signed ticket for a Porcupine Tree show in late 1997

SW: “This was the first proper band album. We had been touring as a unit for about 18 months before we went into the studio together for the first time (Richard had not been present on the Stars Die / Moonloop sessions the previous year) and cut 2 new compositions ‘Signify’ and ‘Dark Matter’ (then called ‘Toursong’). The album was recorded in quite a piecemeal way with tracks written and recorded in batches of 2 or 3, followed by gaps of up to 3 months. As with The Sky Moves Sideways the last piece of the jigsaw to go in was a studio improvisation ‘Intermediate Jesus’. (A lot of the improvisation material recorded during the sessions for this album were later compiled onto the Metanoia double 10 inch.)

This was also the first album where we definitely became a ‘rock’ band – partly because the guitars were heavier, partly because there were more songs and also because of the now consistent presence of the live drums. Ironically Chris’ solo composition on the album was a completely drumless ambient instrumental! He had some chords which sounded spooky, so we built them up using layered voices – the title ‘Light Mass Prayers’ comes from words that were written on a wall at Borley Rectory (the most haunted place in England) by an unknown hand.

The title track of the album was supposed to sound like Neu! or something – repetitive krautrock. But the more I worked on it and the more the other guys added their presence, the more it sounded like Rush! Originally there was a second part to Signify which really did go into the realms of time signature progressive metal – this was taken off the album in the end, but a section of it was incorporated into the live version of “Signify” (found on the Coma Divine live album). ‘Signify II’ will be included in full on the forthcoming Delerium years double CD compilation.

My favourite track on the record is ‘Every Home is Wired’ – it was the first time I used overlapping vocal harmonies and so I guess it must have been around this time that I first discovered the genius of Brian Wilson.”

1303554093_58f7044954_o
Porcupine Tree in 1996
1303553267_c93e5c525b
Chris in 1996

In a 1996 interview, Steven Wilson said, “I didn’t want to make albums which could be dismissed as nostalgia trips, of which the first album could be accused, but the last album The Sky Moves Sideways really closed one chapter of Porcupine Tree and there is no reason to suppose that future Porcupine Tree music will not develop some of the other styles explored early on – in fact the forthcom­ing album Signify may include a track which is a direct descendant of the space pop on the first album, for example, “Jupiter Island” or “Linton Samuel Dawson”.” It is unclear what song this is, and considering no track matching this description made it on to the final album we can safely assume that it has remained unreleased. However, it could be referring to “Men of Wood”, which got cut from both Up The Downstair and The Sky Moves Sideways, but the track has never been mentioned as being recorded in the Signify sessions.

The band are still very pleased with Signify. Though SW wrote most of the material, the band helped develop the vibrant sound. For SW, Porcupine Tree was no longer a side-project to No-Man… It had become his primary focus.

Colin: “I was pleased with the whole album on a sonic level… Regardless of how involved I was in any particular part of it, I thought it was a really good album from start to finish.”

Chris: “Signify was the album where I really felt it was a band… It was the closest we got to all being involved, all working hard, all working in the same direction.”

06
Photography from the Signify CD booklet

Reception for the album was mostly positive. Allmusic gave the album four out of five stars, praising the album as “the next great step forward for Porcupine Tree, a distinct advancement in how well the foursome could completely rock out as well as find its own narcotic style of ambient exploration… For all that Wilson may once again be singing obliquely on the pressures and nature of end-of-century life, he still does so in an engagingly left-of-center way.” Sputnik Music gave it a four out of five as well, praising the album for being “Caught between Porcupine Tree’s psychedelic roots and their song-oriented future, Signify is a testament to Porcupine Tree’s power as a dark, brooding album with excellent production and a thoroughly progressive heart.”

“Your music gets categorized under the nebulous progressive rock genre; what do you think are the prospects for the revival of ambitious music that can have a mass audience?”

SW: “I think it’s already happening. The problem is that there is a stigma attached to it. But there are bands in UK and America that are incredibly ambitious and doing extraordinary things in the whole medium of creating albums. What they would have in common with the progressive rock genre, at least the classic era, from the early ’70s, was taking all the other styles of music and combining them into a new form. Pink Floyd came from a blues / rock background, but in the studio they added elements of jazz, spacerock, psychedelia. There are bands creating their own blueprints all the time. I do get a little annoyed that our music gets referred to as progressive rock, but I have to admit that our music has some of its roots in that style.”

“What are your fans like?”

SW: “They vary massively. In the UK they tend to come from the old school of progressive rock, the sort of people who’d be familiar with Fink Floyd, King Crimson and Marillion. The music press in the UK has almost completely ignored us. They think we’re some sort of genre band, of course, they haven’t actually listened to us. On the other hand, in places like Italy, Greece, Poland and France, the appeal seems to be pretty much across the board. The media there have basically promoted us as a rock band. And when 14- or 15-year-old kids hear a Porcupine Tree song, they’re not familiar with the progressive genre. They just hear a band that they like. That’s much more refreshing than playing for these very specific genre-related audiences in the UK.”

uk-1997.jpg
A poster for the British 1997 tour

Here are some more reviews for the album (sourced from the Delerium website):

Feedback (1996):

“Porcupine Tree have managed to break out of the underground progressive rock scene and gain critical acclaim. With their last album, The Sky Moves Sideways selling over 20,000 and heavy touring and increasing presence in the music papers the stage is set for them to become very big indeed.

Porcupine Tree were formed in [1987] when it was the work of one man, Steven Wilson (who also records with Tim Bowness under the No-Man moniker). By December 1993 it had become a live unit with the addition of Colin Edwin (bass), Chris Maitland (drums and percussion) and Richard Barbieri (ex-Japan, keys).

Signify is available as either a CD or as a double vinyl album (which contains an extra track). It manages to defy catagorisation (except that it is truly progressive in the fact that they don’t sound like anyone else) as it mixes ambient, hard rock, instrumental and spacey themes. There are some very strong songs such as “Waiting” (which was an indie hit single earlier in the year) and “Sever”. However, there are other times when the music drifts and hangs together before drifting away.

It is a wonderful album which can only build on their previous success. You will be hearing a lot about these guys in the next few months. You have been warned.”

Buzz Factory (Autumn 1996):

“The most accomplished work yet from this band. Subtly mesmerising and structurally flamboyant they continue to weave ambient almost rock-like music into shapeless feelings and fleeting glances of both the past before my existence and the future beyond it.”

Q (January 1997):

“Beneficiaries of a modest critical hoopla, The Porcupine Tree occupy a curious musical netherworld wherein prog rock crosses swords with the scum-stained rifferama of grunge and ambient dance styles. The sepia-tinted cover art and brain-scrambled lyrics almost set The Enid alarm bells ringing, but there is enough divertingly new stuff going on to circumnavigate the more obvious cliches of pomp rockers of yore. The primal dance thump of “Idiot Prayer”, the skull rattling percussive backlift and powerful space-rock of “Waiting” and the scratchy, lumpen metal of “Sever” form the hard centre of a powerful album which proves that sharing dressing rooms with the like of Marillion and Hawkwind need not be a stepping stone to self-indulgence and sterility.”

In March 1997, Insignificance, a cassette of demos and b-sides from the Signify sessions was released. The tracks were later included on the 2003 Signify 2CD re-release. In the cassette notes, SW makes reference to two outtakes (“the best ones”) that he didn’t include on Insignificance but planned on releasing on an “EP or something”. It is unclear if these songs were ever released (possibly referring to “Signify II” and “Colourflow in Mind”, or maybe Metanoia tracks?).

PT - Coma Divine
Porcupine Tree live in Rome

On Sunday 10th November 1996, Porcupine Tree’s Signify tour wound up at a grotty venue called the Richmond in Carlisle. The attendance tally: 61 people. SW was embarrassed that Richard, who had previously been in a world-class touring band, was now stuck in venues that SW compared to toilets.

Richard: “A lot of people I knew said to me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ But I’ve got quite a good intuition about people and about their talent. I kind of believed in what we were doing… It also helped having Chris there because, although he hadn’t had a high profile, he had worked quite a lot professionally before. So he was always obsessing about things–looking good, sounding good, and just the whole professional idea of putting on a show. And so the two of us were constantly fighting to try to get the production level raised, even when we were playing small pubs and clubs.”

Pt-32
Richard in 1997

Though Porcupine Tree shows remained sparsely attended, there was one tour stop that had boosted morale ever since The Sky Moves Sideways: Italy. Credit Nicola ‘Nick’ Vannini, the owner of Italian distribution company Audioglobe (which still distributes Porcupine Tree to this day). Nick made it his personal mission to get Porcupine Tree played on air.

Richard Allen: “A radio station in Rome called Radio Rock absolutely fell in love with it… It was on rotation during the day. They were playing ‘Radioactive Toy’ constantly. We had no idea this was going on. I remember seeing sales records in Italy from the statements I was getting from the UK distributor. And then we got an invite from Radio Rock to play a gig. They said, ‘We’ll fly you over and we’ll put you up.’ We had no idea what to expect.”

live-rome-2000x1571-2
Chris in 1997

Before show time in Rome, Porcupine Tree’s roadie went on stage to check the gear. To this day, Chris Maitland recalls the roar of over 1200 people inside the sold-out venue. For a band used to playing to less than 100 people on many nights, it was staggering.

“It gave us insight into what could happen if we got the same kind of exposure in England or America… It was insane. It was a little glimpse into being a rockstar. Beautiful Italian women queuing up at the door. What’s not to love?”

Pt-26
Lasse Hoile’s artwork for the 2003 re-release of Coma Divine (funnily enough, the building featured in the artwork is actually Frederick’s Church in Copenhagen, Denmark)
f1000001acop
Frederick’s Church in Denmark
Porcupine_tree_coma_divine
The original Coma Divine artwork by John Blackford

Italy was the perfect place to record a live album. It helped that Richard’s sister Rosemary (who unfortunately passed away in 2006) was able to use her fluent Italian as a translator and help out at the merch stand. The band returned to Rome in March 1997 to record its sold-out shows at the Frontiera over three nights to a total audience of over 5000 people. Steven figured they’d be able to find something usable from the three nights. Even so, he still ended up re-recording all of his vocals and some guitar parts! Coma Divine was released in October 1997 (later re-released with more content in 2003) as a goodbye to Delerium Records, which felt it could no longer offer the kind of resources the band needed in order to continue to build its profile worldwide. The album perfectly captures the band’s live vigour.

Chris: “When someone says to me, ‘I want to buy one Porcupine Tree album, which one should it be?’ I would probably say Coma Divine because it gives a breadth of material up until that time… It’s still my best advert for what I did with Porcupine Tree.”

Pt-34
Chris in 1997

Richard Allen admits that if it weren’t for Italy, the band may have called it a day. “Delerium made no money from Porcupine Tree until Coma Divine, as everything we made was re-invested in the next thing. What kept Porcupine Tree going was Freak Emporium, my mail-order business. That funded it, plus the fact that the guys in the band never took any money. It was, essentially, a self-financing, non-profit machine.”

Pt-28
Lasse Hoile photography for the 2003 re-release of Coma Divine

In December 1998, the band released Metanoia, a compilation of studio improvisations recorded during the Signify sessions, in a limited edition run of 1000 copies on 10″ vinyl to tide fans over until the release of their next album, Stupid Dream. In a critical review on expose.org, Metanoia was described as “in every way the antithesis of Stupid Dream, and simultaneously every bit as brilliant”. A special recognition was given to Chris Maitland and Colin Edwin who showed “a masterful display of finesse and energy”. To make the album available again, it was re-released on CD in 2001 and 2006.

The 2001 CD had a sticker that read “file under self-indulgent”.

R-726551-1495884472-5447.jpeg

SW: “We made it up as we went along.”

metanoia
The Metanoia cover features a painting by artist Frans Janssen

Metanoia: A term used to define a complete change in heart, mind, body and soul as a result of a wholesome spiritual conversion.

Tracklist

  1. “Bornlivedie” – 1:41
  2. “Signify” – 3:26
  3. “The Sleep of No Dreaming” – 5:24
  4. “Pagan” – 1:34
  5. “Waiting Phase One” – 4:24
  6. “Waiting Phase Two” – 6:15
  7. “Sever” – 5:30
  8. “Idiot Prayer” – 7:37
  9. “Every Home is Wired” – 5:08
  10. “Intermediate Jesus” – 7:29
  11. “”Light Mass Prayers”” – 4:28
  12. “Dark Matter” – 8:57

Total length: 61:56

Singles

“Waiting” – April 29th 1996

CD:

  1. “Waiting (Phase One)” – 4:27
  2. “Waiting (Phase Two)” – 6:19
  3. “The Sound of No-One Listening” – 8:14

Promo CD:

  1. “Waiting (Phase One)” – 4:27
  2. “Waiting (Phase Two)” – 6:19
  3. “Rainy Taxi” – 6:45

12″ Vinyl:

  1. “Waiting (Phase One)” – 4:27
  2. “Waiting (Phase Two)” – 6:19
  3. “Colourflow in Mind” – 3:50
  4. “Fuse the Sky” – 4:33
R-724539-1455915687-4144.jpeg
The wonderfully unique Waiting single artwork created by John Blackford

Here are some reviews of the Waiting single (sourced from Delerium’s website):

Deliverance (June / July 1996):

“Summertime has arrived once again and with it comes a new Porcupine Tree release. Achingly beautiful, this three track EP is twenty minutes of sheer delight. The title track is actually in two phases, the first containing a delicate vocal and thought provoking lyric, whilst the second phase is purely instrumental, played in a now familiar style. The third and final track “The Sound of No-One Listening” is again, another classic instrumental. All tunes contain fine individual contributions on guitar, bass, keyboard and drums with each member of the band allowed to really express themselves. And for the completionist, the 12″ version also contains the two phases of “Waiting” [which] has two totally different tunes on it.”

Audion (July 1996):

“Well, who could have thought of something as daft as this? Daft, what? Yes, these CD and record releases are not the same! The single itself; “Waiting (Phase One)” and “Waiting (Phase Two)” is the same on both, but on the CD we have just one other track: “The Sound of No-one Listening”, whereas on the record there’s two tracks: “Colourflow In Mind” and “Fuse The Sky” on the b-side. Told you it was daft didn’t I? And, there’s no indication as to whether any of this will remain original, or if in fact any of these tracks will appear on the future full album Signify. The completionist fan is trapped!

Really though, it’s not a problem. Why? Well, “Waiting (Phase One)” is not such a wonderful Porcupine Tree number. It’s nice and Pink Floyd-like I suppose, but the song is also much too close to the light pop of current bands like Radiohead. Not dislikeable, in fact it came across really strong when performed live in Bath, but we know Steven Wilson is capable of writing songs with much more depth and guts, whereas this is just too smooth and safe. But, I suppose that’s what singles are all about, aren’t they?

The rest of the CD comes across as much better, the soft groove Ozric style and gliss guitar of “Waiting (Phase Two)”, and the deeper trippy space-rock of “The Sound of No-one Listening”. On the record though, the b-side is less adventurous. Another light song, and an instrumental – it’s like having two singles! The instrumental “Fuse The Sky” is a theme variation on The Sky Moves Sideways, especially for those that love his Gilmour styled slide guitar playing. So, for a double single, it’s good. But I prefer my Porcupine Tree in much larger chunks.” (Alan Freeman)

Crohinga Well (July 1996):

“At last, the long-awaited winter’s harvest by Delerium Records, bringing us a large variety in new psychedelic sounds. Porcupine Tree needs little intro: Steven Wilson’s musical brainchild is gaining more and more momentum and toured extensively in Europe. A new album, Signify, will come out in the autumn of 1996. To whet the appetite we now get the three-track EP Waiting (19 minutes). It starts with phase one of the title track, a nice piece of guitar-driven psych with the well-known melodic voice of Steve. “Waiting” slowly glides into phase two (the next number on the record) an instrumental with intensive percussion and a large array of weird, spacey keyboards – fantastic! The third track, “The Sound of No-One Listening”, is a very psychedelic soundscape with Pink Floyd guitars, strange keyboards sounds and samples of AM radio broadcasts, over 8 minutes of brilliant psychedelics. The EP is available as a CD or 12″.”

Production

  • Steven Wilson – production, recording engineer [at No Man’s Land], remix and remaster [2003 and 2016 versions]
  • Chris Thorpe – master [1996 version]
  • Markus Butler – recording engineer [at The Doghouse]
  • Steve Stewart – recording engineer [at Katrina & The Waves’ Studio]
  • John Blackford – artwork, art direction, layout
  • Fumiko Koda – typography
  • Jill Douglas – band photography
  • Rob Crossland – band photography
  • Chris Kisadjekian – band photography
  • Carl Glover – design [2003 and 2016 versions]
  • Richard Allen – management

Label: Delerium Records

Release: Released on 30th September 1996

Publishing: Published by Hit and Run (Publishing) Ltd.

signify0
The 2004 Kscope 2CD Digibook version of Signify

Released on CD on September 30th 1996 and cassette (in Poland only) and 2LP later in the year. Later re-released in 2003 on Delerium (and 2004 on Snapper) with a new remaster by SW and a second disc with demos recorded in 1995 and 1996 (taken from the 1997 Insignificance cassette). In 2004, Signify was released as a 2LP on Headspin Records with the 2003 remaster and bonus tracks. In 2012, the album was re-released as a 2LP on Kscope with a special DMM (direct metal mastering) vinyl master. In 2016, Steven Wilson remastered the album again, as he was unhappy with the dynamic range and loudness of the 2003 remaster. This was included as part of the 2015 The Delerium Years 1994–1997 7LP box set and released as a standalone CD in 2016 and 2LP in 2017.

R-527576-1128083903.jpeg
The album artwork by John Blackford with the original typography by Fumiko Koda

Graphic designer John Blackford had trussed up his girlfriend for a photograph in his portfolio. When SW met John through a mutual friend, he instantly asked to use it as artwork. “I thought, ‘Fucking hell, that’s amazing, can we use that?’ … It related quite well to the song ‘Waiting’, [which] has a slightly pervy undercurrent. The song has a line in it about waiting to be tied up. There was something that resonated just enough for me to think, ‘You know what? This could be a perfect cover.'”

He would later direct the video for “Strip the Soul” and photograph the band for In Absentia.

15034512_229817580781973_6168925930279403520_n
The 2011 Kscope 2LP reissue of Signify (credit to my friend @javierjonesr on Instagram)

From the 2CD liner notes: “Insignificance is a selection of Steven Wilson’s demos that include several tracks that were not recorded for the final Signify album, as well as formative versions of some that were. This is a revised and remastered edition of an album made available only to subscribers of the PT information service Transmission in 1997.”

R-1700481-1420499491-3443.jpeg
Steven Wilson’s hand-written notes from the original Insignificance cassette

SW: “For the bonus material, unfortunately, we live in a world where it is very difficult to get things into record stores. One of the only ways to get things into the stores and reactivate catalog a lot of the time is to do what’s called “add extra value” to the records. In other words, add extra tracks or change the packaging. In a sense, I do feel embarrassed about having to do that, only five or six years from the original album being released, but it’s the only way to get them to restock it. In my own defense, when we do this, we try to give very good quality in terms of the extra value stuff. With Signify, there’s a whole extra album of songs, most of which weren’t included on the final album. They sound good. It’s not like they are four track demos. They’re not far off from finished masters. So, I’m sure people will be happy to have them.”

All tracks recorded in No Man’s Land, The Doghouse in Henley and Katrina & the Waves’ Studio in Cambridge in 1995 – 1996. Some elements retained from demos recorded at No Man’s Land in 1995 – 1996. Originally mixed at No Man’s Land in 1996 by SW. Originally mastered by Chris Thorpe at Serendipity (now Dallas Masters) in Nottingham. Remastered at No Man’s Land in 2003 and 2016 by SW. All tracks written by SW unless noted otherwise.

1a54d943b80b492db07d14c343e2452b28b6d991
The outside of the Doghouse studio

Song Details: Album Tracks

01. “Bornlivedie” – 1:41

  • Steven Wilson – guitars [Banshee], sampler, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – texture, electronics [System 700], tapes
  • Terumi [guest] – voices

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri

richard7
Richard ca. 1996

Co-written by Richard Barbieri, the strange “Bornlivedie” is the perfect album opener, inviting the listener to kick their shoes off and “enjoy some very quiet and romantic music for a couple of hours.” The track features Steven’s girlfriend, Terumi, contributing voices, as with later tracks such as “Tinto Brass” and “Even Less”.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

02. “Signify” – 3:26

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, mellotron
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Demo: “Hallogallo / Signify” from Insignificance (“Hallogallo” originally being from the 7″ Stranger By The Minute single)

Born out of Steven Wilson’s cover of Neu!‘s krautrock classic “Hallogallo”, “Signify” is Wilson’s first motorik inspired track (a side he would later explore in tracks like “Fear of a Blank Planet” and “Tinto Brass”, as well as with his side project, I.E.M.).

The track was debuted on the 1995 tour. It is interesting to note that at this early stage, “Signify” did not yet contain the fragment of its twin “Signify II”, an outtake, in the bridge; how “Signify” was usually played live (as heard on Coma Divine). The track was played only twice with Gavin Harrison, both on the 2002 In Absentia tour.

Pt-31
Chris’ kit at the Frontiera in 1997

It is important to note that in the Insignificance demo there are vocals, although the lyrics are unclear.

A large influence on the album as a whole was krautrock, German music of the 1970s, characterized by its ‘motorik’ rhythms and chilly textures drawn from classical, jazz and psychedelic music. When the band recorded Signify, krautrock was popular once again.

SW: “In my defence I loved [krautrock] long before it became trendy… I grew up listening to Can, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Popul Vuh.”

SW in the Insignificance notes: “Signify was supposed to be P.T. play krautrock, so much so that the demo actually starts off as a faithful (reasonably) cover version of the Neu! classic “Hallogallo” (one of my top 5 desert island discs) – however clearly something went horribly wrong 3 ½ minutes in and “Signify” was born.”

SW indulged in his love for his krautrock influences by creating a fake krautrock band. He resurrected the name The Incredible Expanding Mindfuck (an early contender for Porcupine Tree’s band name). At the time, Richard Allen didn’t want to release I.E.M. on Delerium, so instead created the label Chromatic (where Metanoia would first be released as well). I.E.M. was packaged as if it were an underground group with a rich heritage to sort of rekindle the mystery of Porcupine Tree that had been lost after Up The Downstair. On the self-titled and Arcadia Son albums, the personnel included a drummer of the name Jennis Clivack.

R-2255159-1272805271.jpeg
The artwork for the self-titled I.E.M. album

Chris: “The history of it is that it’s one of my silly made-up names… When it got to Steven’s IEM albums, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice, instead of always playing with the same old people–and this is different music–why don’t I go under a pseudonym?’ So I called myself Jennis Clivack on the first two IEM albums.”

SW: “The idea was that ‘Signify’ would be like Metallica playing ‘Hallogallo’, which kind of makes sense when you listen to it.”

Steven admitted in a 1997 interview that the mellotron uses on Signify was sampled (this was not the case on Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun or In Absentia).

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

Demo Lyrics:

[unclear]

03. “The Sleep of No Dreaming” – 5:24

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, mellotron, organ, samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass, double bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Propelled by a dreamy organ line, the bluesy “The Sleep of No Dreaming” sees Wilson describing the insignificance of life and existentialist dread, themes prevalent throughout Signify. The lyrics describe a man losing faith in the religion he has blindly followed. The song describes an Atheistic view of “the sleep of no dreaming”, describing death.

02 Tr 1,2,3
Photography created for Signify and the Insignificance cover

The track was played fairly often on the ’96 – 98 tours and recorded in late 2008 for the live album Anesthetize.

Lyrics:

At the age of sixteen
I grew out of hope
I regarded the cosmos
Through a circle of rope

So I threw out my plans
Ran on to the wheel
And emptied my head
Of all childish ideals

The sleep of no feeling
The sleep of no being
The sleep of no dreaming

I married the first girl
Who wasn’t a man
And smiled as the spiders
Ran all over my hands

Made a good living
By dying it’s true
As the world in my TV
Leaked onto my shoes

04. “Pagan” – 1:34

  • Steven Wilson – samples
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Chris Maitland – percussion

This dreamy instrumental acts as an interlude between “The Sleep of No Dreaming” and “Waiting (Phase One)”.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

05. “Waiting (Phase One)” – 4:24

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, keyboards, drum programming
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums, percussion, vocal harmonies

Demo: “Waiting” from Insignificance

R-1700481-1420499648-8890.jpeg
The hand-written tracklist included in the original Insignificance cassette

The third major Porcupine Tree single, “Waiting” takes the cosmic wistfulness of “Stars Die” before it and brings it down to an earthly level. “Waiting (Phase One)” marked an important transition towards more song-oriented material for the band. Although spacey synthesizers and dark subject matter still made up Porcupine Tree’s “palette”, Steven Wilson started to implement layered harmonic choruses and prevalent acoustic guitars after The Sky Moves Sideways.

Chris: “I loved singing the harmonies and I loved the song, so I didn’t care that I was doing a very simple drum part. But if someone said ‘You’re going off to a desert island and you’ve only got one channel to go with – what would you take?’ it would be the bass line, because it’s so hypnotic and subtle.”

Pt-22
Promotional work for the Waiting single

Chris: “I thought I was being Freddie Mercury [chuckles] … I’ll sing anyone’s harmonies.”

The lyrics in “Waiting” touch on some of the extreme ways in which people seek escape from themselves.

Although not credited on the album, you can hear some programmed drums from Steven, most likely left in from the demo, adding to Chris’ percussion track. This is most evident in the left channel in the beginning of the song.

Lyrics:

Waiting to be born again
Wanting the saddest kind of pain
Waiting for the day when I will crawl away

Nothing is what I feel
Waiting for the drugs to make it real
Waiting for the day when I will crawl away

Waiting to be disciplined
Aching for your nails across my skin
Waiting for the day when I will crawl away

Demo Lyrics:

Waiting to be born again
Praying for the saddest kind of pain
Waiting for the day when I will crawl away

Nothing is what we feel
Waiting for the drugs to make it real
Waiting for the day when I will crawl away

Waiting to be disciplined
Aching for your nails across my skin
Waiting for the day when I will crawl away

06. “Waiting (Phase Two)” – 6:15

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, piano, keyboards, sampler
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, hammond organ, piano, electronics [System 700 and Prophet V]
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums, percussion

Demo: “Waiting” from Insignificance

Driven by Maitland’s congas and pounding kick drum, “Waiting (Phase Two)” is a haunting instrumental that pushes Richard Barbieri’s synth magic to the forefront, creating a swirling, spacey track that recalled elements of the previous albums.

Chris relished the freedom given to him by SW on Signify to create such creative drum parts such as the complicated left-hand patterns in “Waiting (Phase Two)”.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

07. “Sever” – 5:30

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums, backing vocals

Demo: “Sever Tomorrow” from Insignificance

SW: “Sometimes I like to record ‘soupy’ tracks, where the sounds are crammed together.”

“Sever” is perhaps the most dramatic track on Signify – it’s certainly the densest – and features some of Steven’s most distressed lyrics, written using the same “cut-up” method as “Up The Downstair” and “Dislocated Day”.

04 Tr 7,8,9
Photography from the Signify CD booklet

SW in the Insignificance notes: “The demo version seems slightly mellower + more melancholic than the album version… it’s certainly slower, like most of my demos.”

Chris: “What a track! That should’ve been a single. I’d have done anything to make sure I was on those harmonies!”

SW’s renewed interest in heavy rock, which had mostly been neglected in his early teens, was reflected in the buzz-saw guitar riff of “Sever”. It’s one of Richard’s favourites off the album.

ptree0002
Richard c. 1997

Richard: “Suddenly we’re playing mellotrons and hammond organs and it all just felt more organic… It’s the first time we all went into the studio together and played as a band. We did our own overdubs as well. It’s the first time we were involved and consulted on things and we put in ideas and our own kind of arrangements. It started to feel like a band then.”

Lyrics:

Telepath carbon trapped under stone
Brother mother pale body is thrown
Only way I know to have fun
Fill up my blood, my veins, my lungs

ESP city – rainy and blue
Burn down this town, I give it to you
Arrow shallow, photograph blind
Stage fright, black light, coma divine

No sense of time
Sever tomorrow
Exitless mind – ESP Sever tomorrow

School out invective, losing my voice
Film shredding on in multiple choice
America calls, I must go
Oprah saviour, I feel that low

Demo Lyrics:

Telepath carbon trapped under stone
Brother mother pale body is thrown
Arrow shallow coma divine
Dust down my head scream of the spine

ESP city – rainy and blue
Want to go follow divo should know
Sever today exit this mind
Father sisters rhythmic and rhyme

Photograph mind sever tomorrow
Exitless mind – ESP sever tomorrow

School out invective high metal voice
Tape shredding on in visible choice
America calls I lift space
Another climb out of this place

08. “Idiot Prayer” – 7:37

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, organ, drum programming, sampler, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, electronics [sequencers]
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drum loops

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson and Colin Edwin

R-1752126-1372512827-3079.jpeg
Colin in the 2003 Coma Divine 2CD booklet

Co-written with Colin Edwin, it’s no surprise that “Idiot Prayer” features one of the catchiest basslines in a Porcupine Tree song. The track revolves around a drum loop created by Chris and electronic drums programmed by Steven.

The track features a sample of a narration from an evangelist in a hallucinatory state, likely reflecting Steven Wilson’s thoughts on religious fundamentalism, as heard in material such as “Even Less (Full-Length Version)”, “Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before it is Recycled”, “Halo” and his 2017 album To The Bone.

chris2
Chris in 1997

Colin: “We didn’t consciously sit down and say, ‘Let’s do a krautrock track’ … You pick up on an idea with a certain beat and you fall into that area. I came up with, I guess, a pretty strong riff. Once you have a strong foundation, it becomes easier to build on top.”

The title is referenced in lyrics from the outtake “Smiling Not Smiling” from Insignificance.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

09. “Every Home is Wired” – 5:08

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, keyboards, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – electronics [System 700 and Prophet V]
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass, double bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums
R-1752126-1372512822-6516.jpeg
SW in the 2003 Coma Divine 2CD booklet

The relatively sedate “Every Home Is Wired” introduces the theme of the relationship between constantly evolving technology and the decay of human communication, reflecting SW’s attitude towards the internet at the time. Featuring 37 vocal tracks during the heavenly chorus, “Every Home is Wired” was Wilson’s first foray into harmonic vocal overlaying, a technique he would master later in his career with tracks like “Mellotron Scratch”, “Heartattack In A Layby” and “Normal”. The track concludes with a drugged psychedelic jam, likely born out of a group jam.

Lyrics:

Modem load and failsafe
Electric teenage dust
Hit the solvent keypad
Start the neural rust

Power on the highway
Data in my head
Surfing on the network
Part of me is dead

Every home is wired

Swimming in the circuit
Somebody has expired
This world will be the future

Every home is wired

10. “Intermediate Jesus” – 7:29

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, piano, tapes, chimes, musical boxes
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Demo: “Metanoia I / Intermediate Jesus” from Metanoia

SW: “Signify was slightly odd in the way it was recorded in the sense that although it is a band album, because we were never able to actually all be in the same room at the same time, because of physical limitations, with the exception of one track, “Intermediate Jesus”, which was done outside, I tended to demo the tracks to a fairly high level and they would just replace the parts that I’d played on synthesizers with the real thing. So there wasn’t a great deal of input from the other guys.”

Although this quote says that “Intermediate Jesus” was recorded outside, it is not credited as so as the Metanoia and Insignificance liner notes clearly state that the backing track was recorded at the Doghouse, Henley on Thames on 4th March 1996 (like the rest of the second half of Metanoia). If some aspects were actually recorded outside, then Hemel Hempstead would be the recording location. Overdubs were likely done at No Man’s Land as with other band improvisations such as “Buying New Soul” and “Moonloop”.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

11. “”Light Mass Prayers”” – 4:28

  • Steven Wilson – sampler
  • Chris Maitland – voices, keyboards, cymbals

Writing Credits: Written by Chris Maitland

R-1752126-1372512838-2236.jpeg
Chris in the 2003 Coma Divine 2CD booklet

“”Light Mass Prayers”” was written by Chris Maitland but actually features no drumming at all. Interestingly, the track is the only song besides “Revenant” (from the Deadwing sessions) to be written by a member of the band besides (and feature no writing assistance from) Steven Wilson. “”Light Mass Prayers”” is a haunting ambient instrumental that acts as a bridge between “Intermediate Jesus” and the album closer, “Dark Matter”. On the original 1996 2LP, the track instead segued into the bonus track “The Sound of No-One Listening”, which was added as the penultimate track.

Chris has distinct memories of writing the track. The track consists of striated layers of Maitland’s vocals recorded by SW. “I felt so supported by him. Every time I said, ‘I’d like to do this,’ he’d say, ‘Alright’ … I grew up on all that Cambridge choral stuff. I still love choirs. The way that track faded out, like as if it were disappearing into the distance, that’s what I was trying to [achieve] in ‘”Light Mass Prayers”‘. Something atmospheric.”

The track was jokingly referred to by one Last.fm user as “Chris Communion”. Heh.

And no, the double quotation marks around the song title is not a mistake. The quotation marks are literally in the official song title.

1303378537_9dbfd234ca_z
Chris Maitland in 1997

After some digging and “light” reading, I’ve discovered that inspiration for the track came from a series of supernatural encounters in the Borley Rectory in Essex, UK (famous for being “the most haunted house in all of England”). Shortly after it was built in 1863, residents reported many strange happenings and claimed that it was built atop other far older buildings. One story described a young couple caught eloping. Because the young woman was from a Catholic convent, her punishment was immurement, a form of imprisonment where a victim is placed within an enclosed space with no exits. Unlike being buried alive where one dies of asphyxiation, the victim is left to die from starvation or dehydration. Her lover was hanged afterwards. Since this event, a “spectral nun” has apparently been seen walking the grounds while her lover, a “coachman”, has been seen with a group of spectral horses.

05 Tr 10,11,12
Photography from the Signify CD booklet

In 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife, Marianne moved into the building. Strange activity began to take place but only when Marianne was present. Objects would be smashed by “unseen hands”, figures were seen flitting from room to room and rocks were hurled at the building. Strangest of all was the writings that appeared on the walls that addressed Marianne by name. Scraps of parchment with the same handwriting, reading “Light”, “Mass” and “Prayers”, also began appearing throughout the building. The Reverend kept record of these occurrences for 5 years before the two had finally had enough and left. Even after, countless manifestations continued, including cryptic writings, unexplained lights and apparitions. The remains of a woman were also found in the cellar of the building and was thought to be the famous “spectral nun”. In 1939, when new people moved in, the house was burned down by a “carelessly placed oil lamp”. Although the burned ruins have long since been destroyed and the building no longer exists, unexplained phenomena are still reported at the site.

My personal interpretation is that the words “light”, “mass” and “prayers” could be a warning to tread carefully / “pray lightly”.

Sources:

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

12. “Dark Matter” – 8:57

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers, hammond organ
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Demo: “Dark Origins” from Insignificance

Originally titled “Toursong” and written by Steven while touring material from The Sky Moves Sideways, “Dark Matter” began life as a fairly drab account of life on the road and its attendant boredoms.

03 Tr 4,5,6
Photography from the Signify CD booklet

Although it’s hard to tell, it seems SW recorded the demo for “Dark Matter”, now known as “Dark Origins”, incredibly early (possibly during the December / January period of the ’94 / ’95 break), as the first performance of the song, presented in Amsterdam on July 6th, was already musically complete (with earlier lyrics and aspects of the “Dark Origins” intro). This date is also when “Signify” was first played. The lyric “Richard and Jasper play chess for awhile” is a reference to Richard Barbieri and Jasper Johns, the Porcupine Tree lighting technician (referenced by Steven in the 2002 show at Fletcher’s in Baltimore and the The Delerium Years 1994–1997 box set booklet).

Interestingly, as noted below, the band played a version of “Dark Matter” after the release of Signify but with aspects of the “Dark Origins” intro and a handful of different lyrics on November 3, 1996.

Richard Allen: “Both myself and the rest of the band all objected to the lyrics – it was a bit like ‘came off stage, had a cup of tea, went to bed’ – that’s not rock ‘n’ roll! So he changed it to a comment about the business of being a musician and a product.”

The result was one of the most haunting numbers in the Porcupine Tree catalog.

SW: “Being a musician, trying to create something something of significance with your life when actually you spend ninety-five per cent of your time pissing away your time in the backs of vans on the way to gigs, hanging around, failing to make the record you wanted to make through compromise… That sense of insignificance, of not doing what you should be doing with your life – I’m as guilty of it as anyone.”

SW: “… it was all about the mundane life of being on the road. I remember Richard Allen saying to me, ‘You can’t release that. The lyrics obviously mean something to you, but to others it will sound dreary and boring.’ So I reworked it in a more universal way to be more about the ongoing struggle most of us have to do something significant with our time on earth. That was one of the early songs I wrote for the record, and it span off into looking at religion and other things that people use to try to make sense of the gift of life. I many respects, that has been the subject matter of nearly every album I’ve made ever since!”

2VEpcwIm
The original “Dark Matter” drum beat with the hi-hat foot “splashing”

Regarding the kick drum placement change at the end of the track during live shows (the kick pattern was originally on beats 1 and 1+ but later changed to beats 1 and 2), Gavin said, “When I played the older [Porcupine Tree] songs… I developed my own version… As the tours went on parts changed and mutated and became ‘something else’, which I was more comfortable with… The play out of “Dark Matter” just happened one night and Colin followed my change of bass drum pattern. We liked it and so it kind of stuck.”

Lyrics:

Inside the vehicle the cold is extreme
Smoke in my throat kicks me out of my dream
I try to relax but its warmer outside
I fail to connect, it’s a tragic divide

This has become a full time career
To die young would take only 21 years
Gun down a school or blow up a car
The media circus will make you a star

Dark matter flowing out on to a tape
Is only as loud as the silence it breaks
Most things decay in a matter of days
The product is sold the memory fades

Crushed like a rose
In the river flow
I am I know

Early Lyrics I (July 6, 1995 – Hotel Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands):

Inside the vehicle the cold is extreme
Smoke in my throat kicks me out of my dream
Pull into a service just north of Carlisle
Richard and Jasper play chess for a while

Tick out the miles to mark out the time
I try to relax but its warmer outside
Check into a lodge, turn on the TV
Another known place I don’t want to be

Walk like a rose
In the river flow
I am I know

A moment alone in the infinite year
The sound is obscure the words are unclear
Out of the light and into the shade
The performance is over, the memory fades

Walk like a rose
In the river flow
I am I know

Early Lyrics II (October 13, 1995 – The Roadhouse, Manchester, England):

Inside the vehicle the cold is extreme
Smoke in my throat kicks me out of my dream
Pull into a service just north of Carlisle
Richard and Jasper play chess for a while

I try to relax but its warmer outside
I stare face down back here for the ride
Check into a lodge, step into a shower
And try to forget what’s ahead for an hour

Crushed like a rose
In the river flow
I am I know

Under the lie of the fearless fear
The sound is obscure, my words disappear
Out of the light and into the shade
The product is sold, the memory fades

Crushed like a rose
In the river flow
I am I know

Alternate Lyrics (November 3, 1996 – The Astoria, London, England):

Inside the vehicle the cold is extreme
Smoke in my throat kicks me out of my dream
I try to relax but its warmer outside
I’ll stare face down back here for the ride

This has become a full time career
To die old would take only 21 years
Gun down a school or blow up a car
The media circus will make you a star

Dark matter flowing out on to a tape
Is only as loud as the silence it breaks
Most things decay in a matter of days
The product is sold the memory fades

Crushed like a rose
In the river flow
I am I know

Demo Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

Song Details: Outtakes and Non-Album Tracks

“The Sound of No-One Listening” – 8:14

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, radio
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums, drum loop

Release: Originally released on the Waiting CD Single and later on Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 and the 2011 Kscope 2LP reissue of Signify

Demo: “Neural Rust” from Insignificance*

Despite the driving power of this instrumental, “The Sound of No-One Listening” was cut from Signify because the band considered it closer to the ethos of The Sky Moves Sideways. It found a home as a b-side on the Waiting CD Single and later, the Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 compilation.

107 Booklet.indd
The artwork created by Andy Gent and Mike Bennion for the Moonloop EP was later reused for the Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 compilation

*although “Neural Rust” has a completely different name it is still a demo for “The Sound of No-One Listening” so it is not included below with the rest of the Insignificance tracks

SW in the Insignificance notes: “Later reborn as “The Sound of No-One Listening”. Richard Barbieri thought this sounded like a seventies spy theme so while I was trying to work on the drums with Chris he was jumping around the studio control room performing TV stunts and Starsky + Hutch impressions. He was probably right though – I think it’s the wah-wah guitar that does it.”

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Colourflow in Mind” – 3:50

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

Release: Originally released on the 1996 Waiting LP Single and later on Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 and the 2011 Kscope 2LP reissue of Signify

Like “The Sound of No-One Listening”, “Colourflow in Mind” is a Waiting b-side – this time, on the vinyl single.

SW: “None of the band liked it! I thought it was a great track, I wanted it on the record, but when I played the demos to the band that was the one where they all went (puts on bored voice) ‘…mmm, s’alright…’. So I’m very glad to have the opportunity to stick it on [the Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 compilation], to let a few more people hear it.”

The track covers similar lyrical content with “Every Home is Wired”.

Lyrics:

I cross the city backwards
There’s a lot of soul to find
A million ways to loose control
I’ve got colourflow in mind

I find a safer haven
And get myself a line
I feel the urge to climb the walls
I’ve got colourflow in mind

Turn on, tune in, shut down
It’s a way to pass the time
I check out of my braincell again
I’ve got colourflow in mind

“Fuse The Sky” – 4:33

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – keyboards, electronics

Release: Originally released on the 1996 Waiting LP Single and later on Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997

Another b-side from the vinyl version of Waiting, “Fuse The Sky” began life as a remix of “The Colour of Air” (the first part of “The Sky Moves Sideways (Phase One)”), and was done in response to a request from Volume magazine for a Porcupine Tree track for their cover CD.

301_150
“Fuse the Sky” is a remix of the first section of the The Sky Moves Sideways title track (titled “The Colour of Air”)

SW: “They turned it down! But they’d wanted something ambient and trancey, so that’s what I did.”

Chris: “I loved the chords.”

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Signify II” – 6:04

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, mellotron, tapes
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Release: Released on Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997 and the 2011 Kscope 2LP reissue of Signify

Demo: “Hallogallo / Signify” from Insignificance (“Hallogallo” being originally from the 7″ Stranger By The Minute single)

Signify was originally supposed to end with the track “Signify II”, but was later cut to ensure a shorter run-time and in reaction against the perceived “progginess” of The Sky Moves Sideways. The song is still based off the riff from the title track and “Hallogallo”, but is less raw, has different segments, and extends to an almost doubled length. It would be released eventually on the compilation album Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991–1997, and parts of it would be played live in conjunction with the title track, as shown on the live album Coma Divine.

SW: “The Signify album includes several samples of American Christian evangelists taken from a TV. These are mainly heard on ‘Sever’ and ‘Intermediate Jesus’. ‘Signify II’ was another track that used them, but it didn’t make the final album, and wasn’t officially released until the Stars Die CD compilation in 2002. Originally I’d made two mixes: one with all the evangelist voices and one that dropped most of them. For the release on the Stars Die collection, I decided against using the one with the samples. I can’t remember exactly why, perhaps I just found the evangelist stuff too distracting and/or disturbing. Anyway, this time I decided to include both mixes, the “instrumental” version , and the version with the evangelists, as originally intended. The fun part of being able to do this vinyl box set is that we have even been able to cut each version into its own concentric groove on one side of the vinyl, so depending on which groove the stylus falls into, you get either the ‘secular’ version or the ‘religious’ version, and you won’t even know until it starts!”

[from the 2016 The Delerium Years 1994–1997 box set]

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Mesmer I” – 8:33

  • Steven Wilson – guitars
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Recording: Recorded at Katrina & the Waves’ Studio in Cambridge on 13th July 1995

Release: Released on Metanoia

This improvised piece would form the basis for the unreleased instrumental “Cryogenics”, which was played once in 1995 and a handful of times in 1997. It was recorded for the Coma Divine live album but dropped because the band believed the performance to be sub-par. It has yet to surface on any official releases but is referenced in the Insignificance cassette notes.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Mesmer II” – 6:07

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Recording: Recorded at Katrina & the Waves’ Studio in Cambridge on 13th July 1995

Release: Released on Metanoia

The second part of the band improvisation recorded at Katrina & the Waves’ Studio in Cambridge on 13th July 1995. Like the other tracks, “Mesmer II” is credited to all 4 band members.

For some reason, this track was included in Terrascope’s Succour – The Terrascope Benefit Album compilation as “Ptolemine Treescope,” nearly two years before the release of Metanoia. I have not included it as a name in the title because it is unknown if the name was given by a member of the band, and if it was, it might have been jokingly.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Mesmer III / Coma Divine” – 13:18

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, radio
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Recording: Recorded at Katrina & the Waves’ Studio in Cambridge on 13th July 1995

Release: Released on Metanoia

The third and final part of the 1995 Cambridge improvisation. The second half of the song shares the same title as the classic live album, Coma Divine. The title is a reference to a lyric from Sever; “Stage fright, black light, coma divine”.

The radio intro improvised by SW was later re-used in the b-side “The Sound of No-One Listening”.

The band discuss starting without Colin Edwin, who apparently, was running late!

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Door to the River” – 4:20

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards, piano
  • Richard Barbieri – synthesizers
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Recording: Recorded at Katrina & the Waves’ Studio in Cambridge on 13th July 1995 with overdubs recorded at No Man’s Land shortly after

Release: Originally released on the 1997 cassette version of Insignificance and later on the Pure Narcotic CD single and Metanoia CD release

SW: “Door To The River” is the last section of the improvisation recorded in Cambridge on 13th July 1995, but unlike the rest of the music it was overdubbed and reconstructed in the studio shortly afterwards.

Interestingly, “Door to the River” was later released on the Pure Narcotic CD single, which was released after the release of Stupid Dream.

SW in the Insignificance notes: “This was a track that was originally improvised in the studio + then “recomposed” later (or decomposed). The piano, lead [guitar] and major processed bass were added later. Intended as an EP track (it still could be).”

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Metanoia I / Intermediate Jesus” – 14:32

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson, Colin Edwin, and Chris Maitland

Recording: Recorded at the Doghouse, Henley on Thames on 4th March 1996

Release: Released on Metanoia

As mentioned earlier in the Album Tracks: Song Details – “Intermediate Jesus” section, SW has said that the “Intermediate Jesus” backing track was recorded outside (most likely at Hemel Hempstead). However, the Metanoia and Insignificance liner notes state that the backing track was recorded at the Doghouse, Henley on Thames on 4th March 1996 along with “Insignificance” and “Metanoia II”. If some aspects were actually recorded outside, then Hemel Hempstead would be the recording location. Overdubs were likely done at No Man’s Land as with other band improvisations such as “Buying New Soul” and “Moonloop”.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Insignificance” – 5:02

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson, Colin Edwin, and Chris Maitland

Recording: Recorded at the Doghouse, Henley on Thames on 4th March 1996

Release: Released on the 1997 cassette version of Insignificance and later on the Metanoia CD release

Like the other improvisations recorded on 4th March 1996, Richard Barbieri was not present.

R-1752126-1372512833-5708.jpeg
Richard in the 2003 Coma Divine 2CD booklet

SW: “The track “Insignificance” is the missing piece that bridged “Intermediate Jesus” and “Metanoia II” in the original March 1996 recording.”

SW in the Insignificance notes: “This is pure improvisation – just me, Colin + Chris, extracted from a 45 minute long jam recorded late one night at the Doghouse in Henley. The basic backing track for “Intermediate Jesus” comes from the same jam.”

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Metanoia II” – 11:08

  • Steven Wilson – guitars, keyboards
  • Colin Edwin – fretless bass
  • Chris Maitland – drums

Writing Credits: Written by Steven Wilson, Colin Edwin, and Chris Maitland

Recording: Recorded at the Doghouse, Henley on Thames on 4th March 1996

Release: Released on Metanoia 

The conclusion of the March 1996 improvisations.

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Milan” – 2:30

Writing Credits: Written by Porcupine Tree

Recording: Recorded direct to DAT on 3rd March 1997 in Milan, Italy during the Coma Divine tour

Release: Released on Metanoia

Chris complains about the dress code!

Lyrics:

[Instrumental]

“Wake as Gun I” – 3:25

Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, piano, hammered dulcimer (?)

Release: Released on all versions of Insignificance and later on the Piano Lessons CD single

The chord progression in “Wake as Gun” would ultimately be reused in Wilson’s other project, No-Man, for the song “Jack the Sax” (from the 1997 EP Dry Cleaning Ray). Additionally, lyrical themes (namely “hallucinates a fire” and “bloodless but inspired”) were reused for the Stupid Dream track “Pure Narcotic”.

SW in the Insignificance notes: This song was demoed in various incarnations. It always sounded like it should be a part of something bigger and longer, but I never found a happy home for it. At one stage it was part of another Signify unreleased track “Cryogenics” (never recorded but performed live once at the Roadmenders, North Hampton – anyone have a tape of that show?)

The lyrics discuss people who are too ego-centric to think about the role they play in the world and how much damage they cause (“Man wakes up as a gun / But doesn’t get the joke”).

Lyrics:

Man wakes up as animal
Hallucinates a fire
Man wakes up as a ghost
Bloodless but inspired

Man wakes up as music
And liberates the calm
Man wakes up as a child
And builds a bridge of charm

Oh the silence you keep
But I just wanna sleep

Man wakes up as a gun
And doesn’t get the joke

Still waiting…

“Wake as Gun II” – 3:43 / 2:06

Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, keyboards, samples

Release: Released on all versions of Insignificance

The second phase of “Wake as Gun”. The original cassette version has nearly 2 more minutes than the version released with the 2003 Signify 2CD… but don’t get too excited! It’s mostly filled with noise and drum solo samples (similar to “Third Eye Surfer” from On the Sunday of Life…).

Lyrics:

Man wakes up as animal
Hallucinates a fire
Man wakes up as a ghost
Bloodless but inspired

Man wakes up as a gun
And doesn’t get the joke

“Smiling Not Smiling” – 3:42

  • Steven Wilson – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, drum programming

Release: Released on all versions of Insignificance

One of the most underrated pieces in the Porcupine Tree discography, “Smiling Not Smiling” features gorgeous use of slide guitar. It’s a shame it didn’t make the final cut for Signify.

The lyrics make reference to the phrase “idiot prayer”, the title of the 8th track on Signify.

Lyrics:

Out of the city the heaven’s reflect
A stinging vista of flaming insects
Darkness engulfing islands of light
Scarring the sky and staining the night

Under this mess and idiot prayer
A ticking bomb of bone and thin air
A candle wasting and waxing to nil
Waiting to trigger and blow the big chill

Now I’m inclined only to sleep
Ask me a question the meaning runs deep
Moments are drowning in mantras of rain
Smiling unsmiling there’s no need to explain

“Nine Cats (Acoustic Version)” – 4:05

Steven Wilson – vocals, acoustic guitar

Recording: Recorded at No Man’s Land in late 1995

Release: Released on all versions of Insignificance and later on the Pure Narcotic 7″ single.

Pt-07
SW in 1995

Originally from On The Sunday Of Life…, “Nine Cats” was re-recorded as an acoustic arrangement in late 1995.

SW in the Insignificance notes: “Not strictly speaking a Signify out-take [for] once… This On The Sunday of Life… LP track gets more than a few repeats at gigs. Unfortunately, the band don’t play an arrangement of it, but bowing to audience pressure in Italy (late ’95) I played it twice as an acoustic number. It sounded ok so I recorded it like this thinking it may be suitable as an EP.”

“Cryogenics” – 5:49 / 3:09

*please note that since no studio version exists of the song these are rough estimations according to bootleg live performances

Possibly the most elusive and rare of all Porcupine Tree songs (except maybe “Surfer Music”!), “Cryogenics” is an instrumental that originated from the 13/8 and 7/8 grooves in “Mesmer I” and the keys in “Mesmer III / Coma Divine” (both from Metanoia). The track was only performed in two arrangements (although the Insignificance notes make reference to an additional unrecorded version that had “Wake as Gun” somehow included in the arrangement):

  • the “long” arrangement: Played only once (on October 11th 1995 in Northampton on the The Sky Moves Sideways tour), this version spanned almost 6 minutes in length.
  • the “short” arrangement: Played six times (all of which were in Rome), this version was around 3 and a half minutes and directly segued into the 7/8 drum beat from “Dark Matter”. This arrangement was meant to be included on the Coma Divine live album (and was mixed) but was left off at the last minute because the band was still unsatisfied.

Written and compiled by Quinn Downton