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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.31 | 2065 ratings

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A Masterpiece, to me, is an album that goes above and beyond - that provides something more than its component parts - a complete work of art that is as near perfection for what it is as it can be.

And here, in Meddle, we have near-perfection.

I don't believe that a historical understanding is necessary - and if you've never heard Pink Floyd before, then this is not a bad place to start at all. In fact, the icy winds will draw you in and encourage you to crank up the volume until that opening bass hits you. Simple. Powerful. Effective.

One Of These Days continues to build, and there is something besides the music here - something almost tangible, as the double-tracked bass rings out in each speaker, and the synth hits punctuate the ever more wildly whistling wind. Subtle percussion by means of reverse cymbals imitates and intensifies the windy feel, and then the guitar! Oh yes! The guitar! Snarling, winding, turning upside down, intensifying - the whole texture building to that famous delayed bass riff, until the song proper kicks in around 3:40 into the piece. And yet the intro never feels too long, as Pink Floyd are masters of using space. The rest of the body of music pulses along, with Gilmour's trademark multitracked dive-bombing - and seems to end all too quickly.

A Pillow of Winds is the perfect light to the shade of the former, and we get sung vocals for the first time, in a very organic and pastoral mode, with acoustic and electric guitars and bottle neck decorations. There is an underlying dark tone that pre-empts the tone of The Wall, which suddenly moves to a major key, as if the sun has come out on the rainy meadow. This is also pre-emptive, of Brain Damage on DSOTM, but Floyd maintain the major key feel for this latter part of the song, to provide a kind of Yin- Yang balance.

From the opening chord of Fearless, we know we are in for something more powerful - Floyd showing here their mastery of form for the album as a whole. But the music is pulled back, to develop a kind of ebb and flow - with wafts of chanting that we can't quite make out. The attention to detail here as everywhere else on the album is utterly masterful - the more you listen, the more you hear, as tiny details in the music make themselves apparent. Gilmour pulls some really neat tricks, and Wright puts in some superb understaded piano details to make this one of the most incredibly textured pieces on the album. The chanting is brought back - but to the fore this time, and we hear that it is the anthem of the Liverpool Football Club - "You'll Never Walk Alone", whose lyrics tie in nicely with the Floyds and create a slightly surreal texture.

As with a classical suite, Floyd choose a piece with a completely different feel to follow Fearless; San Tropez is a lazy Sunday Afternoon encapsulated - a dream of the life of the idle rich. Beautiful lounge-jazz elements - especially from Wright on the piano - and bluesy bottle neck guitar create a unique, laid-back feel which is a real treat.

This side (I'm reviewing from a vinyl LP - the best way to hear the Floyd, IMO!) closes with the quirky Seamus. Almost unprecendented and never repeated in the Floyd catalogue, this is a tempting one to skip - but, as usual, PF give plenty to enjoy in the detail and texture with careful and laid back blues piano, bottleneck guitar and plucked guitar, with just a shade of bass. This maintains consistency with "A Pllow...", and the dog howling just reflects Floyd's humour.

Echoes is what this album is all about, however, and is worth buying Meddle for alone. From the opening ping to the closing ping, this is a 23-minute organic unfolding of events almost unprecedented in rock history, and a flawless journey of expermimentation that hints at later Floyd music; e.g. the sublime little guitar runs hint at "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". As with One Of These Days, Floyd grow the texture organically, the scene-painting lyrics entering around 3:00, and a newer, darker texture is hinted at around 3:40.

The song-writing abilities of Floyd are showcased to the max here, as the instruments show incredible restraint around the vocal passages, and only unleash a little at a time - feeding the listener little bit by little bit, and leading gently on through a nautical atmosphere that can be lived simply by closing the eyes. But there's more than just song-writing abilities showcased in Echoes - how does one keep a piece interesting for over 20 minutes?

Around 7:00, Floyd drop us into the darker chasms that have been hinted at earlier. Waters, Gilmour and Wright maintain a groove that is utterly grin-inducing, while Gilmour sends seagulls soaring, demonic denizens of the deep diving, and creates pictures of all manner of sea-related stuff, from sunlight glinting on the waves to waving forests of seaweed, to schools of whales. These can all be heard - if you listen for them! I particularly like the icy cavernous depths of around 11:15, where the accompaniment is dropped away, and only texture remains. This whole section is reminiscent of the experimentation on Ummagumma - but this time with a greater purpose. We float for a while in this new world, marvelling at the scenery, but the seascape changes beneath us all too soon, and we continue on our journey, once the familiar ping is heard again.

The heavy guitar and crystalline cymbals announce the imminence of another growing and intensifying passage, through dark caverns, but gradually approaching the surface - as light appears, breaking through the waters in columns - and when the vocals re-emerge, it's like we don't even know where the time has gone - it feels like seconds since the last verse.

Utterly magnificent - no collection is complete without it! There's not a single note to change on this album, no filler, nothing out of order - an album to revisit as often as you like and never get tired of hearing.

Certif1ed | 5/5 |

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