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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful Of Secrets CD (album) cover

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.67 | 1709 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
5 stars Even after decades, A Saucerful of Secrets remains my favorite Pink Floyd album. I'm not saying it's their best, but it resonates with me the most and the strange aura hovering over this thing is purely authentic. A band in turmoil, with its leader losing his mind and a second guitarist and longtime friend of the leader moving in while other members contribute more writing in the process while dealing with a chaotic situation. The album is like a document of this dark and stressful period of the band, atmospheric with a fog overlaying everything. I love it.

The murky production provides a strong element of eeriness to the whole album, even transmogrifying a piece of whimsy like "Corporal Clegg" into something strange with a weird undertone. The way the tune ends, after the kazoo gang finishes, confusion and chaotic noise ending with what sounds like a siren before abrupt nothingness. It's the first of Water's fixation on war, and takes a satirical approach rather than a serious tone. The kazoo's are part of this satire, but without them we're dealing with some pretty nifty acid rock to my ears.

"Let There Be More Light" is a strong opener with it's desperate kicking bass-line leading into unabashed psychedelic space rock with some cool guitars closing the song. "Set The Controls For the Heart of the Sun" is the most well-known of this batch, featuring all five members in that rarest of moments, creating what clearly sounds like a strong influence on the emerging krautrock scene. Tribal drums, repetitive motifs and a loose jam-like feel with gloomy overtones, it's quite a little adventure and remains as one of their most haunting offerings.

The two Wright penned numbers are noteworthy as well. Songs about childhood memories and the loss of innocence, the production does wonders for these two buggers, imbibing the pastoral instrumentation with the aforementioned fog, turning a song like "See-Saw" into an almost ghostly thing. I always picture some 19th century playground with a see-saw moving up and down on its own...like some pulpy gothic tale. It's lyrically interesting as well, with possible references to Syd's childhood sweetheart, as she was getting married around the time this song was penned. Speaking of Syd, his slide guitar playing during "Remember a Day" adds a sense of creepiness to what would otherwise be a pleasant enough tune (minus the production which "drears" things up a bit) with some kickin' drumwork.

The title track is in three parts, with the first part being ominous and foreboding, the second being wild and, in a way, just plain nuts, and the third being tranquil. It really is like some kind of strange flying saucer ride. Quite experimental, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood for it, but it's still hard to skip and I eventually get sucked in each time.

"Jugband Blues", in my opinion, is the most haunting of them all and one of the band's best songs as it describes a man losing touch with reality, his friends and those he loves in such a personal way that's uncanny and even heart-wrenching. There's a sense of resignment to Syd's losing battle with dementia as he sings this tune, and even the jaunty sections are disturbing. I dig the use of the Salvation Army Band as well, contributing first with a written piece, then towards the song's end, the big-band music returns like some monstrous calamity as if their instruments had been swiped and performed by escaped sanitarium dwellers. A perfect depiction of a mind before and after the breaking point. The song and the album conclude with Syd's distant voice and soft guitar strumming, a perfect, sorrowful yet enigmatic conclusion.

This album to me has a personal vibe that's completely earnest in approach, as it doesn't feel calculated. Hell, the band weren't even sure what they were doing at times or whether they should even continue to exist, giving this release an unusual sense of urgency and uncertainty while still providing lots of good ole' trippiness. It's dark though, maybe their darkest, and works in a different way than their celebrated 70's heyday stuff, as it's not about the dark side of things, but a representation of people in a dark place trying to find their way out.

Prog Sothoth | 5/5 |

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