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Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother CD (album) cover

ATOM HEART MOTHER

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.85 | 1500 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Pink Floyd: Atom Heart Mother [1970]

Rating: 8/10

As with many other progressive rock bands that began in the 60s, Pink Floyd's transition into the 70s was palpable. Although certain fans would strongly disagree, I see Floyd's 60s period as a largely formative era, with a lot of noodling/experimentation meant to help find a musical identity. Atom Heart Mother shows this experimentation taking on a whole new level of grandiosity though the integration of classical/symphonic elements into the music; these songs are distinctly less psychedelic and distinctly more progressive. The psychedelic/space atmosphere of the 60s albums still has a strong presence here; however, this album is for the most part a huge step forward in the band's evolution.

The heavily symphonic title suite may be a bit pretentious and overreaching, but the final product ends up sounding sublime. It begins with sweeping orchestration and moves into a simple yet effective keyboard riff. Mellotron and chanting choirs create a dark ambience, followed by absolutely fantastic guitar/keyboard interplay. Gilmour's signature guitar style begins to come to fruition here; it's clear that he was becoming more comfortable in his role within Pink Floyd during this album's recording. Abstract, circus-like musique-concrete sections enter in, and the suite ends with more orchestration. The decidedly less bombastic second side begins with "If", a quiet Waters acoustic track with fantastic lyrics (although great lyrics are pretty much a foregone conclusion with anything Waters). Gilmour's slide guitar and Wright's piano add some depth to the song. Wright's "Summer '68" keeps with the acoustic guitar, and excellent piano and orchestration bring the piece together. Gilmour's "Fat Old Sun" is quite Beatlesesque. It's mostly a quiet acoustic guitar ballad, but drums and electric guitar make an appearance at the end. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is another lengthy suite. Although I like this track, it sounds a bit disjointed and it brings the album down a bit. It consists of assorted pastoral pieces with spoken-word interludes. Wright's piano is particularly present here, as well as Gilmour's slide guitar. There are many good ideas present on this track, but it lacks cohesion.

Although Atom Heart Mother is a flawed album, I consider it to be the first Pink Floyd classic. The band hates this album, and I suppose I can understand why; artists often see overblown and ambitious works like this as immature when looking back on them. However, this also goes to show that an artist's analysis of their own work is not always sacrosanct. From the hysterical non-sequitur of the album cover to the sublime guitar work in the title suite to the quiet pastoral atmospheres of "If" and "Summer '68", this album establishes itself as a venerable, albeit imperfect, piece of progressive rock history.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |

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