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Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.15 | 875 ratings

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3 stars More of the good stuff can be found on other albums...

Ambient birdsong, panned manically around the stereo "picture" creates an odd environment, and a perfect one from which to kick off a prog album. Combined with the cuckoo, and acoustic guitar/mellotron entry, we have flavours from "Saucerful..." and what would become "Ummagumma" - particularly "Grantchester Meadows", and Waters' vocals evoke a similar English pastoral theme with a dose of melancholy.

"Cirrus Minor" builds gently and texturally with a retrospective air, and is a beautiful start to an inconsistent and somewhat patchy, but hugely enjoyable proto-prog album. The jarring counter-melodies and insistent birdsong give the absorbing other-worldly ambience that the Floyd are famous for.

This is kind of spoilt by "The Nile Song", which robs the album of consistency in a single stroke. It's an enjoyable rockout - a kind of simplified "Careful With That Axe Eugene", but the stereo mix (on the original vinyl) prevents it from being as heavy as it deserves, and it's positioning is a little intrusive. In itself, however, it rocks, and Gilmour takes the opportunity for some real Spinal Tap style noodling in a rare moment of exuberance.

"Crying Song" begins with some beautiful ambience - please excuse my overuse of the word here, but it is, after all, what Floyd do best. As a song it seems remarkably unremarkable - but if you listen to the lyrics, this is a song of hope which considers more the postive outcomes rather than dwelling on the sad aspects.

"Up The Khyber" kicks off with a "Saucerful" style drum pattern, but builds nicely into a freeform jazz like medley, with fabulous, scrunchy dischords and mad panning, overlaid with some dark effects. Mysteriously, this avoids sounding completely random, and sadly, Floyd end it before it develops.

"Green Is The Colour" is a pleasant enough song - very mellow, with enjoyable guitar and piano, but the recorder is somewhat intrusive and not well played.

Likewise, "Cymbelline" is musically unremarkable, but has a nice ethnic feel thanks to the bongos, and it's worth hanging in there for the pads and keyboard lines in the closing minute or so, which are nicely engaging.

The bongos in "Party Sequence" provide a great ethnic party feel, slightly reminiscent of Comus - but it's over much too quickly, and seems irrelevant.

"Main Theme" is more like it. Enthusiastic panning on the opening Gong gives way to dischordant and haunting keyboards anticipating "Ummagumma", and the gong provides a background wash to a psychedelic bass/drum entry. Top that lot off with electronic effects and a Jarre-like melody, with flavours of Hillage (more than half a decade later!) and you're onto a psychedelic/prog winner with a mysteriously timeless feel. A wonderful piece of exploration.

"Ibiza Bar" appears to be an attempt to mirror side 1 of the original vinyl, as it is in a similar vein to "The Nile Song" - indeed, there are many similarities in the music. The mixing is better, though, and I prefer this to the latter. Fans of Kula Shaker will hear much that is familiar in the treatment of the structure here.

Continuing the mirroring of side 1, "More Blues" is a wonderfully "dubby" approach to a blues standard that I absolutely love. The only thing wrong with it is that it is MUCH too short!

"Quicksilver" is a journey into electronica par excellence, developing the "gong wash" motif in "Main Theme" and hinting at "Dark Side Of The Moon" in the atmospherics - which are haunting and even spine-chilling in places, with more nods to the studio sessions on "Ummagumma".

"Spanish Piece" is very enjoyable - check out the manic voices, and Gilmour's great Flamenco interpretation.

"Dramatic Theme" ends the album well enough, although it gives the impression of a Floyd on tickover and not at their creative height, as, for Floyd, it is remarkably uninventive and simply seems to re-use old material, without providing a sense of coherence or even ending to this album.

Possibly that's the way it's meant to be - this album providing a collage of ideas that would be worked or rejected on "Ummagumma" to the more sophisticated prog rock band that would go on to create "Animals".

In summary, some utterly superb - even masterful - moments, and far better than simply a collection filler - but by no means essential, unless you're a Floyd fan who really appreciates their early work.

Certif1ed | 3/5 |

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