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4 June, 2005

New new Pineapple Thief album

Almost a full year ago, I mentioned that the new Pineapple Thief album, at that time still untitled, was available for preorder.  A little later, the title was revealed as '12 Stories Down', and I received my limited edition copy, not realising how limited it was to be.

Frankly, it wasn't very good. The material was very 'samey' (i.e. ten seconds sampled from the middle of one song could have been from any other), which wasn't helped by a very bland mix and less than decisive editing. I didn't like it, and the only thing preventing my writing a bad review was that I'd really liked the foregoing album, 'Variations On A Dream'.

It seems I wasn't the only one to be disappointed, and another was Bruce Soord himself (in the studio, Pineapple Thief is essentially a one-man band, and Bruce is that man). He regretted having released '12SD' too quickly, under pressure from the record company and his own promises to the fans. Hence, he halted the release – a brave move. Those 1,000 pre-release copies are the only ones.

Instead, Bruce took an extra six months to properly rework, remix, resequence and even re-record that material, and more, and edit it more severely, to produce a superior album, '10 Stories Down'.

I was annoyed that those willing to trust Bruce by preordering had effectively paid to be his focus group. An argument could be made for him sending us replacement copies of the finished album, but that wasn't proposed. I was even more sceptical about the value of buying a new version containing tweaked copies of the same boring songs.

However – and this is the important part – that isn't an accurate description of the new album. I'm assured by members of the Porcupine Tree Forum who know more about Pineapple Thief than me that '10SD' is a fundamental reworking. There are ten songs (obviously), but the limited edition of '12SD' actually contained fifteen (12 plus three bonuses), not counting the '8 Days Later' bonus disc. Hence, four of the original core twelve were cut (including the dire 'Catch The Jumping Fool'), two bonuses became 'core', and all were reworked. I mentioned tighter editing, but I see from the track times that most are slightly longer than before, with one exception: 'I Will Light Up Your Eyes' was a 3:41 bonus on '12SD', but has become the closing track of '10SD', 'Light Up Your Eyes', at 15:34 long (indexed as two tracks)! I'm assured that the songs themselves are substantially revised.

'10 Stories Down' is now finished (honest). The official release date is 20 June. However, that's a fairly arbitrary date, and if you're willing to order from Bruce himself (post free in the UK), copies are available now. The Pineapple Thief webstore says they'll be despatched over the next three weeks, but I hadn't preordered this time, and my copy arrived this morning, within a week of my having placed the order.

As my mention of track times hinted, I now have '10SD'. I've only heard a few tracks up to now, but can confirm the huge improvement. The arrangements are vastly better, with a wide, clean, well-layered soundscape that only emphasises exactly how muddy '12SD' was. As promised, they're not just remixes (though they're that too); extra instruments have been added to some, and others are totally reworked. Some are barely recognisable as the same songs.
It's far too early to offer 'definitive' opinions, but this certainly seems to be the album I wanted.

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