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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.47 | 1133 ratings

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friso
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Pink Floyd - Ummagumma (1969)

This is a strange offering by Pink Floyd. A double vinyl with a nice cover that's inspired by a process called 'feed-back loop'. The back shows an interesting photo of the bands equipment put together in a the shape of a space ship.

The first record is a live album on which Pink Floyd plays their best live-material of the sixties very well. The band plays extended versions (and partly re-interpretations) of Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun & Saucerful of Secrets. If I'm completely honest, I must admit I think the played the last three songs better on the famous Live at Pompeii concert, but that was years later! Somehow this live set of Ummagumma has a slightly different (more abstract) atmosphere and that's precisely the reason why I think this is still an excellent addition to your collection. The playfulness the band shows in how it treats it's compositions is really a great quality of the band. The slightly darker way the material is played gives the material a new layer of atmospheric quality. Had this record been released as a single live album, I bet it would have become one of the best selling and highest rated albums of the band.

The second record is.. well.. an experimental record on which all members of the band take time to explore drugs whilst making... well.. experimental music. The unpleasant listening experience many had whilst listening to the second record made them condemn the whole Ummagumma release, which is a pity. Though the second lp is not too strong, it does show how early Pink Floyd was confronted with the fact that progressive rock isn't allowed to be endlessly experimental. Of the well known progressive rock acts Pink Floyd was the first to understand this and they wouldn't go over the top on the moment the progressive movements collapsed during the mid-seventies.

Sysyphus by Wright is an avant-garde piece with piano and some bombastic symphonic arrangements. This gathering of single ideas and improvisations seems to lead no-where, but I must say it has some sort of well-made dark atmosphere. Grantchester Meadows by Waters is an acoustic 'somehwere out-there-but-not-here' slight psychedelic kind of track that reminds me a bit of the later released 'If'. Several Animals by Waters is a silly mix of animal and vocal sounds that you wouldn't want to be caught listening to by your friends. It's tremendously stupid and un-asked for. The second side of the second lp begins with Gilmour's The Narrow Way. This three-part compositions has some nice guitar-playing and some nice psychedelic vocal sounds. Luckily this song was recorded properly. The vocal section is a relaxing conclusion. Nick Mason's The Grand Vizier's Garden Party opens with a flute solo by Mason's wife, just before the strange percussions start. Mason uses loops and effects, and he creates an interesting atmosphere that would have suited a movie- soundtrack.

Conclusion. Ummagumma is a strange combination of one of the band's best live recordings and their most troubled studio-effort. The second record is mainly interesting for fans of the band. Only Gilmour's piece stands out as really interesting. As a live album (which by the way is a rare recording of '69 Pink Floyd!) I can surely give this the full four stars and I'll treat the second record as bonus material. Four stars it is then.

friso | 4/5 |

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