Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19th, 2013 - Up The Downstair With Vendell's Veizen

Good afternoon/evening!  The Meista here pairing for you tonight Porcupine Tree's  partially re-recorded (real drums tracks to replace sampled and electronic/drum machine tracks of the original), fully re-mixed, remastered, and 2005 re-released version of 1993's "Up The Downstair" along with a Full Sail Brewer's Share Vendell's Veizen (Weizenbock).  (Phew!  That's a mouthful!)

The second studio album by English progressive rock mastermind, Steve Wilson and his band Porcupine Tree, the 2005 re-released version of "Up The Downstair" also includes the 1994 "Staircase Infinities EP" as a bonus disc. Far more electronic, psychedelic, and progressive than later albums, "Up The Downstair" is a journey of musical exploration and introspection in the tradition of Pink Floyd, but with a more "modern" edge and feel.  The sludgy, droning stoner rock element of later albums is there, but far more subdued.  Wilson employed Richard Barbieri (who would later join the band) of Japan fame (the band, not the country) to provide electronics.  Of the experience, Barbieri stated, “That was my first introduction to Porcupine Tree. Steven wanted me to overlay lots of analogue electronics. I hadn’t been using overtly synthetic sounds for a while, so it was a nice opportunity to work with pure electronic approaches."  Along with Barbieri's electronics, Wilson played guitars, keyboards, and sang.  And Gavin Harrison provided the powerful re-recorded drums.  Although "Synesthesia" is the highlight for me, each song is a perfect microcosm of layered soundscapes and profundity.  "Always Never," title track "Up The Downstair," "Not Beautiful Anymore," and "Burning Sky" of disc one are marvels in musicianship and composition.  Maybe not as accessible, disc two, "Staircase Infinities" is even more cerebral, more exploratory, and entirely engrossing.  I can literally listen to this album over and over and over again and continue to found new and exciting nuances.  Always very listenable, the danger of Porcupine Tree albums is the darker elements, the brutal honesty, and sometimes naked pain that is exposed.

I'm pairing "Up The Downstair" with a Brewer's Share Vendell's Veizen (Weizenbock) because I thought the album needed something robust, yet "clean..."  a brew that would enhance the depth of the compositions and pair well with the more electronic overlays.  Weizenbock's are bigger, more pronounced Dunkel Weizens.   They tend to have a maltier and sometimes fruitier flavor along with a boozier kick.  The Vendell's Veizen pours a lightly hazy caramel red with a big, 2-finger head that displays chunky lacing with fairly good sustain.  The nose is mellow with malty toast aromas and bit of smoky mesquite.  Medium-bodied, the beer is light and crisp throughout.  The flavor is malty, toasty, and well-balanced with a rather subtle hint of fruit ester and even a little chocolate and/or toffee amidst the bigger, wheatier notes.  The 7.20% ABV is also nicely hidden in the malts.  I'm getting a hint of peppery flavor on the back end too, which gives it a dry bite.  It finishes with a nice, nutty aftertaste... maybe hazelnut or almond.  Very drinkable, the danger of the Vendell's Veizen is that 7.20% ABV hidden in all that smooth flavor. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Porcupine Tree.  You can visit them online at  And learn more about the fine brews from Full Sail Brewing Company at

Cheers big ears!!

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