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BROKEN CHINA

Richard Wright

Crossover Prog


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The Prognaut
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Certainly, "the domino effect" caused severe damages over the big time bands of the 70's that managed to make it somehow to the early 90's, and split most of them apart. It is useless for me to go deeply into that subject and make the reminiscences of yesterday float back to the surface and look thoroughly every particular case. Instead of that, I'm just going to remain attached to what concerns me in this review, and that is undoubtedly, Mr. Rick WRIGHT.

After quitting the band commanded by Roger WATERS, the prominent keyboardist undertook an everyday battle from within in order to overcome his unsuccessful works from the past and create the ultimate production ever arranged by a musician behind the keys. I think of Rick WRIGHT as one of the most prolific keyboardist ever, all along the incomparable Pete BARDENS, multitalented Pr LINDH, skillful Mark KELLY and innovational Lalo HUBER of recently dissolved Argentinean band, NEXUS.

With "Broken China", the Londoner native of Hatch End, reveals an unbelievable musical growth he had been hiding inside and presumably, during the PINK FLOYD years. It's not surprising to think of Rick as a great instrumentalist and songwriter, he's also a devoted conductor and a committed producer. James GUTHRIE mixed this album under the assistance and direction of Anthony MOORE, and that gave Rick complete freedom to create and destroy tons of arrangements and compositions. The former Floydian member, managed somehow to have special appearances of personalities of the industry and magnificent guest musicians. Vocals by Sinead O' CONNOR on "Reaching for the Rail" and "Breakthrough"; drum performing by STING's favorite, Manu KATCHE and eloquent, astonishing guitarists from the old prog school, Tim RENWICK and Dominic MILLER; complemented modestly, this 1996 production. Need to say more?

This album is for intrepid, open-minded listeners only. It would definitely take you through unexpected mood swings, through rocky yet jazzy passages and will suck you into mystical musical depths. Adventurous, majestic and mostly written by Anthony MOORE, "Broken China" is indeed the ultimate solo work from a musician that left all behind to take serious risks.

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Send comments to The Prognaut (BETA) | Report this review (#31905)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It is so hard remaining subjective when the warning of 5 stars comes up. Looking at the majority of Floyd solo album perhaps Gilmours first album and Water's ATD will get similar accolades. Rick Wright manages it on both his solo's. 'Broken China' the last really authentic studio material from a Pink Floyd member since the Division Bell. And it was in 1996 that Rick wright released this swirling mass of emotion, madness, clarity and sadness. In fact this material relates to the thin line we all tread as far as sanity and insanity goes. His wife suffering severe depression and more over the years. What is so poignant about Broken China is the way Wright gets the message across, sometimes just in the music. he also refers to the leaving of childlike innocence and the loss of have used to live in the moment as a child and how on reaching adulthood , adults start seeing the darker side of life. It is not relevant discussing individual tracks on Broken China because the album is uninterrupted from Breaking Water to Breakthrough ( ..get it?). Another Pink Floyd classic. An interesting theme here is Wright's usage of background nose, dogs barking, people talking, TV background and it sounds strangely similar to Roger Water's concoctions on Amused to Death. He is a true composer and the simplicity of the keyboards weaving in and around his complex world is mesmerising.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#31906)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

This album was released not long after Floyd's last studio album and this shows that Wright had more material to contribute to Division Bell but probably still had a hard time imposing his stuff after the Animals-Wall period where his stuff was systematically eliminated by Waters. Although a good album, this is very personal and one can see how fragile things are still for him and his wife. Wright's songwriting is delicate and resembles the tracks he had contributed to the previous Pink Floyd album, The Division Bell.

Not an essential album, however if you are a Floyd fan, this is a must for you. BTW, notice the diving artwork of Broken China (which is anything but new, since Isotope and others have used it as well) that might recall a bit the "diver" on the postcard included in Wish You Were Here

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#31907)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
albasasis@hot
5 stars Richard Wright keyboards and mournfull vocals were essential to the more ' Syd acid trip' era Floyd and went on to define both the Meddle Album and DSOM. Largely written off due to "personal problems" the evidence on this concept is that Roger Waters was harsh to right the man off. Rick agrees Waters was correct to sack him for little artistic input in the Floyd since probably WYWH.

This album is 'Rick's Wall' but without the dated heavy rock solos so beloved of the legendary but now, sadly, seminal sounding Waters. Synth instrumentals abound and it was sampled by the Orb, (it was rumoured). If Waters has the grand concepts then Rick has the open minded Pink Floyd Sound music as heard on this CD. It is tied with Waters Amused To Death as the best solo effort, and for me gets the nod over Roger's. It explores child abuse/growing up and the problems that these can have in those effected relationships with others. Familiar Floyd concepts. Subtely recorded the production is 1967 stereo technology meets 1996 Q surround sound. Like an onion there seems to be layers and layers of sound, quality musicianship and music. Sometimes frightening, melancholic, jazz funky and ending on optimism I recommend this CD to any true Pink Floyd fan. If you know the history you'll appreciate it all.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#31909)
Posted Sunday, December 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is among the best albums that I have ever experienced in my life, and it still holds that same special place in my heart. Please don't let this slip your grasp.

The artist himself acknowledged in interviews that he knew it wouldn't be a bestseller, and seemed to have accepted it. But it seems a terrible shame that a man could pour out his heart--and in such beautiful fashion--and go unheard. Broken China is on a level with WATERS' solo work Amused to Death...and beyond. I don't say that lightly. But to compare it any further to ATD would be to do both works a disservice. Both are certainly concept albums. However, while ATD has a lyrical focus and the music takes a supporting role, Broken China has a more musical focus, with the lyrics of Anthony Moore in a supporting role.

Broken China is the harrowing, but ultimately inspiring story of two individuals alone: the narrator, WRIGHT himself, and his wife (then his girlfriend--her first name is Millie). Openly emotional in nature, this story will bring you to tears. The story is very personal to RICK WRIGHT--the experience of watching his girlfriend endure clinical depression. WRIGHT wrote this album, in part, as a means to help deal with the aftermath of this painful episode.

The album is divided into four sets, each containing four songs. Each part deals with a particular "phase" of his girlfriend's life. Most of it is "narrated" by WRIGHT, but two songs are sung by Sinead O'Connor, who represents his girlfriend. Here's a quick summary as I understand it, but I feel that in this case I have to be careful in stating my interpretations, since this album deals directly with the lives of two real individuals. In Set 1, WRIGHT describes the childhood abuse his girlfriend endured--some of it probably sexual (from "Hidden Fear": "Why do we feel this adult pain/And hold these secrets that don't belong?"). If the title of this set's last song relates the true course of events, she runs away from home. Set 2 deals with womanhood and her attempts to repress all the pain of her childhood--but the pressure keeps building. Set 3 deals with the breakdown, the depression, and the terrible pain it caused both his girlfriend and WRIGHT himself. In Set 4 she makes a gradual, but eventually successful recovery with WRIGHT giving her his love and support. (After the events of the album itself, Richard and Millie Wright married--a true happy ending after a harrowing ordeal.)

The sound of the album itself is difficult to describe--quite otherworldly in many places, almost verging on techno for a few tracks (most notably "Satellite"), but nearly classical on a few others (most notably "Hidden Fear" and "Blue Room in Venice"). Yet another instrumental track is reminiscent of The Division Bell's "Cluster One" ("Sweet July"). Always otherworldly, the album shows off the wide range of musical moods and textures WRIGHT is capable of producing. Though he often goes unrecognized, WRIGHT's work truly is an influential, if sometimes subtle part of the PINK FLOYD sound.

WRIGHT's vocals are noticeably different on Broken China than any of his earlier work. Probably the closest comparison would be to TDB's "Wearing the Inside Out." However, to many of the songs, there's a much more melodic quality to his singing--he makes much more use of vibrato than any other FLOYD member ever has (ex. "Hidden Fear"), but he takes care not to overdo it. WRIGHT's singing is not harsh or overbearing. Though his voice is rather deeper-sounding than fans of early FLOYD would be accustomed to, his voice hasn't suffered over time-it's as clear as ever. WRIGHT said in an interview that in the making of Broken China he felt freer to experiment with his voice to find a way he felt most comfortable. To my ear, it came out wonderfully.

Though the music is probably the primary focus for most, the lyrics are emotionally very powerful. One of the most powerful examples is in "Far from the Harbour Wall":

"Now, because I could not cope with pain How things are not the same, she's got no remedies. A heartbreaking fall and I fear a change of course I feel like we were born insane, I hear the love, I fear the love For the heart is so low, see how it grows apart."

My heart really went out to WRIGHT here--it sounds as if he's blaming himself for everything that's happening to her, and how painfully strong the love is that he has for her. Oh, how that hit home--I could feel it so strongly. I cried when I heard this, because I felt his pain as if it were my own...just as it seems WRIGHT felt HER pain as HIS own, not to mention his own private pain from what he was seeing.

"To all those brave enough to face their past," says the album's dedication. Indeed--it took a great bravery for WRIGHT to do this. He may be quiet, but there's no denying that he is truly brave. The same applies to Mrs. Wright for agreeing to let him create Broken China and to eventually decide that she was all right with letting him tell the full story about her. This is an album about an issue that affects one out of ten people. ONE out of TEN--think about that.

"We were cut off from our lives, by a wall of pain, It can't be seen, it's so routine, it has no face or name." --"Along the Shoreline"

It HAS a name, and it CAN be treated. I think that is part of the reason that WRIGHT released this album--so perhaps someone out there somewhere might be spared the suffering the two of them endured. This is the deep bravery that arises out of love--this is what offers hope in the darkest of circumstances. This is the secret of Broken China.

"To all those brave enough to face their past."

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Send comments to FloydWright (BETA) | Report this review (#31910)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
mrwrick@freem
4 stars The only thing I can tell about this album is that this music is very GOOD! On the other hand it is a bit tough. In my case, it required to be listened to for three times in order that I could really enjoy it. While you keep listening, you feel this "tough being" of the Pink Floyd music that not existed on the albums of the 80's and on the Division Bell tracks (exept for the Wright-co-wroted tracks (Marooned, Keep Talking etc.). Everybody who would like to listen to this album has to know what inspired Wright (his wife's deep depression - as I know) to write music like this - otherwise it can look to be pointless. But if you can understand what Wright felt, you will hear a sad, but very-very enjoyable album. I advise to get it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#31911)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cluster One
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars more acurately. This complex, and ultimately creative album can be described in a single word: moody. The tone and feeling from the majority of the music here is heavy, and you really have to pay attention to get the full 'feel' of what is going on here. There is no 'fluff' or filler here, and easily accessible this album is not, but rather it is a very deep inspection of one man's soul, that of Rick Wright, and the depression his wife suffer's through.

At times extremely claustrophobic, and frequently melancholic, I am reminded first and foremost of Leonard COHEN when I listen to Richard WRIGHT sing on "Broken China". WRIGHT often uses his keyboards to kind of layer his music rather than play any specific melody. It's also very hard NOT to make sombre music when you use instruments like the cello and oboe.

For what it's worth, this album is a rewarding listen IF you can stay deeply focused for the entire hour's worth of listening. And you definitely have to be in the right 'frame of mind', because driving or party music this is not. Think ENYA on anti-depressants and you are nearer the mark.

I hate Sinead O'Connor, and much to my chagrin she appears prominently on two different tracks on this album (Ironically, I do like her performance on Peter Gabriel's "Us" however). Considering half of the pieces on this album are instrumentals, O'Connor's presence on the very few vocal tracks is all that more troublesome.

Rick Wright redid his song 'Breakthrough' on Dave Gilmour's 2002 Meltdown concert. His vocals, and Gilmour's guitar parts make that version infinitely more enjoyable than this studio album version. There is great bass work on 'Satellite' and some annoying dance-music influence on 'Runaway'. All in all, "Broken China" is conceptual brilliant (see FloydWright's passionate review of this album for the definitive meaning of its concept) right on down to the Storm Thorgerson CD artwork. Musically however, it is way too inaccessible to the average listener, and it's continuous dark, sombre and moody musical themes will alienate the more impatient among us. "Broken China" is the Yin to Rick Wright's debut album Yang ("Wet Dream").

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Send comments to Cluster One (BETA) | Report this review (#39488)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars After 'the Division Bell', Rick Wright was a little bit sad because this album was not a real concept album. So he decided to return to the studio and write a full concept album about depression. And the result is one of the best things Pink Floyd & Co have ever made.

The composition is complex and not instinctive. Especially the musical pieces which go in very different directions. Some titles are very calm and it can even be distressing at some times (Hidden Fear, Unfair Ground) whereas some others are very rhythmic (Runaway, Satellite). The combination of these different atmospheres describes in a talented way the feelings of depression. The work on rhythms is particularly interesting: Manu Katch and Pino Palladino on bass do a great job all along the album.

Rick's voice brings emotion to his compositions and the songs are very powerful. 'Night of a thousand furry toys' and 'Far from the Harbour Hall' are very oppressive and, again, it seems to be very in adequacy with the subject of this album. The work on Keyboard is remarkable and Rick Wright use a lot of different sounds of synthesizers to describe the feelings he wants to describe and it works incredibly well (Interlude, Black cloud, Drowning, Sweet July...). No useless demonstration (Rick Wright would not be able to do so as he is not Rick Wakeman!!) but some very inspired and clever use of textures and arrangements.

The two best songs are at the end of the CD. The first one 'Reaching for the Rail' is a duet between Rick and Sinad O'Connor full of emotion. This song has a perfect melody and remembers us that the author of this album is the man who wrote 'Us and Them' and 'The Great Gig in the Sky'. Sinad O'Connor is the best choice Rick could have done for his female voice. Here again, different synths, organ and piano are used in a perfect way. The second one is 'Along the Shoreline', a surprising rock song, with an incredible bass line and a very nice synth solo at the end.

Rick wanted to give a happy ending to his album and it happens at the very last song. Breakthrough gives a ray of hope and finishes the album in a good way.

While listening to this album, it's impossible not to think about some stuff of Pink Floyd as 'Dark Side of the Moon' or 'Division Bell', and I believe that Rick succeeded in making as well as these two classics.

I also think of 'Amused to Death' of Roger Waters. These 2 albums are rather similar... except the fact that Roger decided to end his album in a more pessimistic way (surprising, isn't it?).

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Send comments to Gus82 (BETA) | Report this review (#46841)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. This is a mature work that is both dark and emotional, and moves quite slowly, especially the first half of the record. The subject matter is very personal, and is about the clinical depression that Richard's wife has been fighting for many years. Of course Richard's life has been affected in a major way by this affliction. The cover of the album is fantastic as it shows a woman diving into a pool of water, and her front half is breaking up (broken china), while on the back cover it's the other way around as she's diving back out and her front half is back to normal (healing). Yes this story fortunately has a good ending !

This story is told in four sections of four songs.The first section deals with her childhood and the abuse she experienced. A line in "Hidden Fear" says "This pain no child should feel". The second section deals with her womanhood, and trying to come to terms with her abuse.The third section reveals her breakdown and pain.The final section deals with her recovery and healing. Richard's vocals remind me of a cross between David Gilmour and Andy Latimer.

The first two songs blend together as one. Opening with thunder and rain depicting the storm she was experiencing as Richard's sad vocals come to the fore. "Hidden Fear" opens with the sound of a child's music box, and as this song plays out i'm reminded of ANATHEMA. "Runaway" and "Unfair Ground" feature samples of eerie noises in a dark soundscape. "Satellite" is more uptempo with the drums leading the way. "Woman Of Custom" features vocals, synths, acoustic guitar and drums.

"Interlude" is a slow, haunting piano melody.This atmosphere continues in "Black Cloud" with spooky sounds. "Far From The Harbour Wall" is just plain sad, while "Drowning" has no words. Gulp. Yes this is emotional. "Reaching For The Rail" features the amazing vocals of Sinead O'Connor acting as Richard's wife. She also sings on the final, uplifting tune "Breakthrough", in both songs her vocals are reserved. "Blue Room In Venice" is a depressingly slow song with Richard's emotional vocals that blend into "Sweet July" an instrumental with guitar melodies. "Along The Shoreline" is catchy with some PINK FLOYD moments. This reminds me of the "Division Bell" that came out just before this release.

This is a journey that for the most part is sad and dark, but this is real life and i'm sure there was some more healing for Richard as he made this record.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#106086)
Posted Friday, January 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclipse
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The best solo album ever done by a Floyd member. Rick fortunately had the guts to release such a personal and deep work with so much passion (it's about his wife's depression problem)...definitely he seemed to has "unblocked" himself and showed here how creative his mind can get. Much better than any solo stuff Roger Waters ever did, and more enjoyable than some Floyd albums, this surely shows how Rick's musical skill were hidden within his own locked mind during the Water's domain years at the Floyd. Sinnead sings here and acts as his wife, making a great performance too.

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Send comments to Eclipse (BETA) | Report this review (#109249)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I arrive at my hands this disc in truth did not wait for more than another sample of the its first disc, but I was in truth a quite pleasant surprise since its content is pleasingly pleasant, touching somewhat lands of the NEW AGE that often sees interlace with the progressive one, in truth I like much because it is a disc that has moments which they move and they surprise, is one hurts that this musician did not remove more discs within this concept, but if he is something that can be enjoyed and in truth I recommend it for any person, Why, so that a side is virtuous that people will not be able to listen in previous discs and so that she simply shows beautiful compositions and full of elocuencia, they must listen to it and if they do not like they please make say it to me.

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Send comments to Shelket (BETA) | Report this review (#111587)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars If you exclude Richard Wright's collaboration with Dave Harris on their 1984 Zee project, Broken China was Wright's second solo effort released 18 years after his debut solo album. A lot has happened to Wright over all those years and it culminates in this deeply personal and moving solo album. Broken China, in my opinion, is the best of all the Pink Floyd solo albums and carries the essence of what Pink Floyd used to mean to people. Wright delivers this with his deep, personal lyrics, haunting atmospherics, and exceptionally well done compositions. These aren't ordinary songs. They're also not really complex (like in the Gentle Giant sort of way), but they have layers upon layers of sound that invoke a different kind of complexity that can only be appreciated with repeated listens. The album goes through a lot of emotional moods, from sadness and bleak darkness to joy and happiness.

Broken China also features a number of talented guests including the beautiful voice of Sinad O'Connor, the guitar work of Tim Renwick and Dominic Miller, and the drums of Manu Katch. Their contributions add immensely to the overall atmosphere of Broken China. Although I enjoy this album immensely, it isn't quite a masterpiece, though very, very close. Some of the short instrumental tracks between songs seem too undeveloped to me. Maybe the minimalism of these pieces were intended by Wright to evoke some sort of emotion. Perhaps I'm just missing their point? Still, it is much better than his debut album and I think it's quite a bit better than Division Bell. I'll give Wright the benefit of the doubt and round up my 4.7 to a five-star rating. An almost masterpiece that is highly recommended. Essential for Pink Floyd fans.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#136555)
Posted Thursday, September 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It all depends what you're looking for

I like Richard Wright and believe he made strong contributions to the Floyd sound over their first decade. I'm sure it was not easy being the "George Harrison" of Pink Floyd often caught between two rather sizable musical egos. I admire his willingness to delve into the deeply personal subject matter of "Broken China" and I think it has some fine moments but I can't agree with many of my cohorts here that this is an "essential masterpiece of progressive rock." Far from it. "Broken China" is an unique album that is clearly "for fans" of two camps: Rick Wright fans (and I consider myself one) and fans of deep melancholy.

Compared with some other solo Floyd projects Broken China fares well.which of course isn't saying very much. The album runs too long (perhaps 10-15 minutes so) with the better moments separately by instrumental passages that just aren't compelling enough to survive repeat listens. Unlike other albums where the instrumentals are often full of great dynamics here they are mostly pretty dull keyboard noodlings and overly-produced session-sterile contributions. I must say I'm really disappointed with Rick's composition of his keyboard parts.given the emotional places he has taken me in the past he really missed the boat here. There was so much potential for him to shine here given the emotional subject matter and I don't believe he nailed it. Vocally I believe he did. Wright's average vocal ability is no problem for me, I rather like his singing and appreciated the raw openness of his style. O'Connor's vocal contributions to two tracks are a welcome change in dynamics even if she seems to be phoning them in. The heavy lyrics are quite good as you read them so it's yet another disappointment when you realize that Wright didn't write them. If ever an album cried out for the lyrics to be written by the artist it was this one. He may not be the greatest lyricist but he would have done just fine and the album's impact would have been far more gripping knowing they were from him. Imagine "Plastic Ono Band" had John made someone else handle the lyrics.I don't know that it would have had the same emotional meaning for people. Without getting into 16 individuals track I describe them collectively: slow, somber dirges with pain-filled vocals and occasionally interesting guitar lines. They succeed perfectly in making your body feel surreal and slow-mo as it may while going through a funeral and in that sense I would proclaim it a success.

I know that fans of this album will want to scream at me that the subdued, morose, flat-line pace of the album is an intentional choice to fit the subject matter of depression and I certainly understand that. I simply believe you could take a subdued/somber intent into the studio and make it far more interesting that Wright does here. I love what he's *trying* to do here and it is somewhat engaging the first few listens, I just don't believe he has made a lasting progressive work that anyone but his most fervent fans will wish to revisit in the way that they would, say, a Waters-era Floyd album. In the same way that Waters solo albums have something cool in them but lack the completeness of a Floyd album, the same is true here. By all means check this out if you enjoy solo Floyd albums-just realize it may be a title you play about once a year. A partial success mostly for harder core fans. 5/10

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#172289)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Rick gets it absolutely Wright

If we ignore Wight's venture with Dave Harris under the name Zee, which by all accounts was not a resounding success, "Broken China" was his rather belated follow up to 1978's "Wet dream". Even allowing for his post Roger Waters contributions to the output of Pink Floyd, especially "The Division Bell", he can hardly be accused of being prolific. Perhaps needless to say, none of the other Pink Floyd members were involved in the project, but Rick (or Richard as he seems to prefer now) does call upon a small team of talented musicians to support him including Pink Floyd friend Tim Renwick.

"Broken China" is an excellent piece of work, demonstrating that when he wants to, Wright can still "hack it". It is also pleasing to report that this album has a very progressive feel to it throughout. In the best traditions of his former band, "Broken china" is a concept album focusing on depression (suffered by Wright's wife Millie), with Wright providing the music for lyrics by Anthony Moore and Gerry Gordon. The tracks are grouped into four sections, each dealing with a phase of life. The third phase for example deals with the actual depression, while the final phase focuses on the subsequent "Breakthrough".

We open with one of a number of instrumental tracks which for obvious reasons are built around keyboard sounds. "Breaking water" sounds reassuringly Floydian with slow, soothing motifs and sundry effects. Rick says himself that he does not rate his vocals highly, preferring to let David Gilmour do the singing. Here though he takes on most of the vocals himself, having reversed his original plan to make an instrumental album. The first vocal track, "Night of a thousand furry toys" shows that he has more singing talent than he gives himself credit for, the Gilmour like guitar once again reminding us of Wright's past.

After an even more effective vocal on "Hidden fears", Rick presents four consecutive instrumental tracks, which segue to form a wonderfully symphonic and melodic phase. Some tracks, such as "Satellite", incorporate quasi-dance rhythms, the overall effect being a sort of "Dark side of the moon" for the 21st century.

Despite the aforementioned dance rhythm, there is nothing overtly upbeat here, no out and out rockers. This give the album a continuity and atmosphere throughout, the emphasis being on strong melodies and considered performances.

The Depression section contains the two longest tracks, both of which run to just over 6 minutes. The track lengths are though largely academic, the album flowing as a complete piece from start to finish. The second of these two tracks, "Reaching for the rail" sees Sinead O'Connor contributing the first of her two vocal performances on the album. The duet between Wright and O'Connor works remarkably well, the song is an undoubted highlight of the album.

As we come out of the darkness, "Blue room in Venice" remains melancholy, while offering hope, the oboe of Kate St. John portraying positive reflection rather than sadness. Dominic Miller's guitar work on the final instrumental "Sweet July" is very Gilmouresque, sounding particularly like that on the post-Waters Pink Floyd albums. This track owes more than a little to Mark Knopfler's superb "Local hero" soundtrack. And suddenly, the haze is lifted and we are walking "Along the shoreline" without a care in the world. Here we have another highlight of the album, the positive lyrics melody offering an excellent counterpoint to what has gone before. Sinead O'Connor returns to provide vocals on the closing song "Breakthrough", a piece which ties things together perfectly.

I find it difficult to avoid endless streams of gushing superlatives when reviewing an album such as this. "Broken glass" simply oozes quality; it is an album by someone who has been right to the very top, yet still has plenty left in the tank. Quite why this album has not been placed alongside the best of the Pink Floyd albums is something of a mystery, it is quite simply a truly great album.

Tragically, Rick passed away just as I was completing this review.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#182517)
Posted Monday, September 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have been listening this albums lots of time during this last fortnight. At times distractively in my car, at times with a much more dedicated focus (as now).

I always have the same feeling of a very appealing record which sounds pretty much as Floyd during some tracks (Night of a Thousand Furry Toys). But the majority of the music features atmospheric music. It reminds me furiously the B-side from Low (Bowie). Hidden Fear is such track.

This album is very relaxing; almost new age at times (Runaway). Some short instrumental tracks are being added and don't necessarily improve the quality of the work (Unfair Ground, Interlude or Drowning). Some others are more extended and do have more character like Satellite: it has a Floydian feel but I also tend to hear some Roxy influences (the bass play is close to the one available during the intro of Manifesto). It is a good instrumental track.

Rick is also doing well on the vocal side, even if some more passion could have been incorporated, the elegance of Woman of Custom is another pleasant moment of his Broken China.

My fave song from this work is probably Far from the Harbour Wall. It starts as an early Floyd song (ASOS period) and combines a fine melody together with more experimental passages. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. So poignant.

Actually, the last part of the album is more attractive and features several very good songs like Reaching for the Rail which holds an excellent vocal performance from Sinead O'Connor.

One of the most emotional part of this album is without doubt the excellent instrumental Sweet July (at least IMHHO). Another great Floydian track. The shadow of the band is not alien to Along The Shoreline which is pretty close to the last Floyd album (Division Bell).

And finally, Breakthrough is a beautiful closing number: another fine vocal part from Sinead, a quiet melody. I miss some good guitar to close, probably. It will be available on the live at the Royal Festival Hall from David and featuring Rick on the vocals.

This work needs your investigation. I would rate it with seven out of ten. Still, I prefer to upgrade it to four stars than the other way around. Rick brought me some marvellous musical moments and each time I will listen either to his solo work or to a great Floyd song, it will sound differently. A prominent member of the rock music is physically gone, but he will always be spiritually present. Thanks a lot Rick.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#184640)
Posted Friday, October 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars A bit bleak...

The Pink Floyd keyboardist's second solo album is a rather bleak affair. Apparently a concept album about depression, the mood is suitably gloomy, mellow and dark throughout. The sound perfectly depicts someone who has given up on life because there are virtually no signs of aggression or fear, or any other emotion apart from those of depression itself. The music comes off as rather flat, and with just a couple of exceptions, it basically stays in the same mood throughout its hour long running time. I find it very difficult so stay interested for the entire album and the good moments are too few and too far between. It could easily have been shortened.

Some tracks are almost ambient and often feel like mere transportation to get to the vocal parts. There are no real up-tempo songs, but there are a few glimmering passages with drums and David Gilmour-like guitar licks. The drums are sometimes looped and sound a bit sterile and lifeless and too contemporary for my taste. Night Of A Thousand Furry Toys is probably the best track on the album and it reminds me of Steve Hackett's Darktown. Same kind of atmosphere and feeling.

Wright's vocals are perhaps not the strongest, but there is a certain charm in them and it is not because of the vocals that I complain about this album. Indeed, I find some enjoyment in this album, but it is not enough to impress me. Pink Floyd's last couple of albums, Momentary Lapse Of Reason and The Division Bell are much better than this and Wright's first solo album Wet Dream is also more to my liking than this.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#212553)
Posted Monday, April 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars This is the last concept album from a Pink Floyd member, and sadly the last from Rick Wright. It has a mathematical structure. Divided into 4 sections of 4 tracks each with at least one non- instrumental, like it was planeed to be a double vinyl.

What appears clearly is that the floydian element is not present in all the tracks. Some of the instrumentals are a sort of dark Krautrock, but all the album is dark and experimental. This is the first great merit of this album. Being experimenal for an over-60 artist who was obscured in his band by the ego of Waters and sometimes Gilmour, is source of regret for what he could have done with just a bit more temper.

Tracks like "Runaway", with its unusual rhythm, or also the opener "Breaking Water" that sounds like early Tangerine Dream or "Unfair Ground with dissonances in the style of Amon Duul II atlernate with more ambient moments, like "Satellite" or the psychedelic "Black Cloud".

The songs are dark too, but the melodies are more floydian and the two songs featuring the voice of Sinhead o'Connor are highlights. Rick sings Breakthrough on a Gilmour's DVD, and the song is great even sung by him.

Forget the quite and sunny athmosphere of Wet Dream. This album is closer to the studio disc of Ummagumma or to the best parts of Identity. It represents the eclectic side of Richard Wright and I'm sure that fans of Krautrock or Eclectic prog will be more intrigued by this album than the usual Pink Floyd fans.

For those reasons this is an excellent addition to ANY prog rock collection, not only for Floyd's fans. It deserves 4+ stars.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#330854)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars This is not an album to be overlooked by any fan of music.

By that I mean fans of Pink Floyd, fans of specifically Richard Wright's work with Floyd, fans of prog or fans of rock or fans of even broader genres of music.

Sonically pleasing in a way much different than Floyd material, Wright approaches this album as a soft ballady long piece with ambient jazz inflections abound. A concept album about his wife's depression, Broken China is perhaps one of the most emotional pieces of music by any artist related to Floyd. It has moments of light and moments of dark and reflects a clinically depressed mind so well it has a sort of indefinable morbid beauty about it.

It's definitely one of those albums the listener can really enjoy sitting in a dark room while pondering the questions of life. It has enough going on in the background to be interesting like most Floyd records but also retains the listeners interest through concept and through moments of pure catchiness.

It's a sad fact that Richard Wright's solo material is often overlooked in the Floyd catalog (even Mason's work is gone to before Wright's for some people) and while it's more understandable with Wet Dream (a decent album nonetheless) there is no excuse for the under-appreciated Broken China record, a record with such glistening beauty that literally anyone who listens to music as an emotional plug in can relate to.

(Plus lead vocals by Sinead O'Connor on two tracks! Check it out, guys!)

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Send comments to The Truth (BETA) | Report this review (#874534)
Posted Monday, December 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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