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David Gilmour - On An Island CD (album) cover

ON AN ISLAND

David Gilmour

 

Prog Related

3.54 | 287 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Managed to get my hands on this on a Record Fair, two days before its official release in Europe. Of course I had to give it an immediate listen. I write the following as I hear it for the first time. The first impression is the obvious one: this is no Floyd album. Yet it resembles one more than any other Gilmour solo effort, or for that matter, any other solo album from any of the members, apart from maybe good old Syd. There is an obvious resemblance to The Division Bell, when it comes to music. A little more conventional , though. The words, however, are miles away from the last Floyd albums, and closer to Gilmours albums theirselves, but then again, that's why we have solo records in the first place. The second impression is again an obvious one: this is David Gilmour. Apart from is looks, years don't seem to catch up with him. Same capable voice, without dazzling, same exquisite guitar playing. All positive points here. Third impression on this first listen: this in not very proggy. Not that I would expect it to be, but one always has that secret wish that something will tilt. So here I am judging this album on what it is: an easy-listening, moody and pleasent Prog-Related album. It has a bit of later Floyd sound, but a far greater Gilmour presence.

Ok, a second listen, and this time a song-by-song review.

"Castellorizon" - A 4-minute instrumental opener, at first kind of reminescent of "Signs of Life" from AMLOR, but soon followed by symphonic cut-outs and subtle female chorus. Some more weird sounds, and then Dave kicks in with is Strat, accompanied "only" by orchestra, slightly giving way to the second track.

"On an Island" - On firsts listens, the highlight of the album. Gilmour singing, along with chorus by Crosby and Nash, and Richard Wright's Hammond in the back. The whole lot then pipes down to give way for Dave's first solo of the song, which is one of the best I've heard from him since Animals. Another sung section, in the same mood as the first part, coming up to the second and ending solo of the tune. The soloing in this song resembles bits of his first solo album, as well as some Division Bell ones, if Division Bell was made in the seventies. Fade out with Gilmour still doing it.

"The Blue" - Mellow harmonica-driven tune, after the fantastic work in the second song. Quite faithful to its name (Blue), but with some nice "bursts of colour", like a raise in voice and guitar. Somewhere in the middle, Dave begins one of his "dragged", slow solos, but unlike anything heard in Floyd before. High notes on this one, that makes up for almost half of the song.

"Take a breath" - A somewhat gloomy start, like a lost song from "The Wall", but that's just before David begins singing. A nice riff driven song, accompanied by string section that switches in and out with the guitar. A nice, subtle, high pitched guitar solo in the back, with a "phantasmagorical" sound to it, as is the solo, although not as high pitched. A quiet instrumental passage that reminds me of "Echoes" splits the solo, which returns in full strenght and finishes the tune. A very interesting song, and probably the least mellow one on the album.

"Red sky at night" - A small, instrumental piece, where Dave puts down is guitar (just for a while) and tries out the Sax, again with strings in the back. And does quite well, in this athmospheric sounding bit of the album, that immediaty jumps to the next song.

"This Heaven" - A bluesy entry, simmilar to "Have a Cigar" and "What do you want from me", and then an acoustic riff. Excellent singing from Gimour in this one, building the song around it. The almost compulsory Strat makes short appearences before the solo, accompanied by the acoustic riff and string section in the back. Cool bar sound.

"Then I close my eyes" - Weird, weird, weird. Water, oriental sounding guitar, grand piano, acoustic guitar and this completly unidentifiable sound (for me) in the back. Gentle and subtle instrumental which features Robert Wyatt cornet and, well, not exactly vocals, more like a humming.

"Smile" - This one should be familiar to most, if not all Gilmour fans, as it was played during is concerts in 2001, and presented in the DVD "In Concert". Its a nice acoustic love song, which sounds like some early Floyd (Green is the colour, If, Fat Old Sun, A piow of winds). I wasn't that impressed with the song in the DVD, but this studio version is a great improvement.

"A pocketful of stones" - This one starts again with a reminescense of "Signs of Life". After a minute and a half of that, Gilmour sings accompanied only by piano, interluding with small symphonic parts, that merge towards the end, returning again to voice, piano, and ver subtle backgroud guitar, that jumps to front of the stage to end the song in a quite moody solo, quite similar to Queen member Brian May's solo on "Bijou".

"Where we start" - "is where we end". So the song says, although the music is quite different from the opener. But I'm sure that's not what he meant... However, it does end in the more mellow feel that marks the second half of the album (apart from the bluesy "This Heaven"). Organ, guitar, drums is waht you'll hear here, until the orchestra accompanied solo starts. A gentle song to end an overall gentle album, full of "goodbyes".

Quite frankly, in these first listens I didn't pay much attention to the words. But one can see how personal they are. Ok, my judgement. Take this album as it is, a solo effort from one of Progs great heroes (wether he likes it or not). Not Prog-oriented, but still with the same signature that made Floyd what they were. That why I think it deserves 4 stars. Firstly because its a very strong album, by any standarts. Secondly because it will extremely pleasent for any Prog-Head, Floyd lover or not. Maybe Prog-Related, but still an excellent adition to any prog music collection. It will stay on top of mine for a long time.

Kotro | 4/5 |

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