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Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother CD (album) cover

ATOM HEART MOTHER

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.85 | 1566 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I keep coming back to this album for the same reasons I keep listening to "Meddle" and "Ummagumma"- its always so intriguing for me to hear these glimpses of the band in between their psychedelic rock beginnings and the later, more focused works. I feel bad that everyone doesn't love it, so I'll try to be your study guide..I'm only taking a stab at which sections are which- much harder to read the grooves on a cd than an lp haha- but I'm sure I'm pretty close... 'a) Father's Shout': the band plus a horn section establishes the main theme, weighty and grand and just slightly grim. Once the fanfare is complete, we hear a simple but memorable bass line which pulls us into a quieter section; 'b) Breast Milky',a lovely and mournful melody on violin that is repeated and expanded upon by the whole band, and finally the strings, horns and choir. Once this section reaches its climax, it gives way to movement 'c) mother fore', a pretty but increasingly eerie choir section (newcomers may initially be reminded of the original "Star Trek" theme, but let's get past that), also eventually joined by the band to conclude this movement. The organ comes in with an odd key change and suddenly we are in a piece, 'd) Funky Dung', that sounds remarkably similar to the two-chord jams on "Dark Side" and "Wish You Were Here" (it's even a similar chord change, from minor root to 4th/7th). This gets stranger as the choir returns with some unintelligible scatting and if you're anything like me, you wonder at this point whether it is more scary or silly. Luckily, the climax is a reassuring return to the original theme, a tiny bit faster this time. You think we've come full circle, but PF still has another curve ball to throw at us: 'e) Mind Your Throats Please', the incredibly strange next section, filled with odd synths (the mellotron, official keyboard of progressive rock, makes a rare PF appearance), disembodied voices, leslie-soaked noises a la 'Echoes", and general mounting chaotic menace. Just when it gets unbearable, strains of the previous movements begin to filter through and you realize that the piece is building towards the final climax, 'f) remergence', a reiteration of the main theme which allows the embellishment of that lovely violin movement we heard in section 'b'. This build up nicely and the suite ends very large, with all hands on deck (band, orchestra, and choir) for the finale. A fine way to spend 24 minutes. The 2nd half of the disc is individual songs focusing on individual members. "If" is a pretty little tune, very honest and simple for Waters, with some very well-written lines. "Summer '68" sounds very cool but Wright's refusal to rhyme still bugs me as much as it did on his solo album. "Fat old sun" has some great guitar (well of course, it's Gilmour!) but is somewhat limp as a song- I'm sure they could have recorded it with more impact. Finally, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is classic PF jamming, unremarkable but very nice to have on in the background. The album as a whole is probably less essential than 'Meddle' but in a similar vein and well worth repeated listening. We won't be able to hear anything quite this improvisational for much longer in PF's career; the 'concept' albums with their tighter focus are right around the corner.
James Lee | 3/5 |

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