This, the second studio-album proper for England's PORCUPINE TREE, saw the mighty Porc evolving triumphantly into the promised psychedelic beacon that the first album seemed to avow. Filled with Floydian soundscapes and heaps of infectious melody and atmosphere to spare, "Downstair" is very much like a concept album, yet without an actual storyline. All the songs just seem to belong together and naturally flow from one to the other like an unfolding blossom.
While not being the collaborative band effort that "Signify" would later become (founder Steven Wilson pretty much covers everything here, with a few guest appearances from future PORCUPINE TREE-members), "Downstair" is like a world unto itself. While every track is filled with promise and exquisite beauty, two tracks in particular really stand out: 1) "Always Never", with its infectious chorus, mystical ambiance and a guitar solo sounding as if it were being performed by David Gilmour's doppleganger; and 2) "Fadeaway", a ghostly, unearthly siren-song that comes as close to the nitrous-oxide hallucinogenic experience as I've ever heard.
While not being, in my opinion, entirely perfect through and through, "Downstair" is without a doubt a precious gem, as well as a living testament to the fact that PORCUPINE TREE are moving out from where PINK FLOYD left off, and entering into new territory. Essential...