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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful Of Secrets CD (album) cover

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.67 | 1709 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having made such an impact during the brief yet relevant Syd Barrett-era, Pink Floyd was restlessly pushing itself to move forward not only because Barrett was losing rapidly his way into the ordinary world but also because the important standard of psychedelic rock stated in The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was in itself a catapult to new things on the brink of the British underground rock's development. The first statement of Pink Floyd was also their rocket engine for higher musical propulsions. Pink Floyd was eager to leave behind the connections with pop-beat that were still very present in the early repertoire, and luckily, Dave Gilmour was around to provide the proper touch of proficiency (he didn't still make compositional contributions, but it didn't take long before that), slowly yet convincingly making room for himself to contribute an important dose of sonic power in the band's global sound. His hard rock and blues backgrounds joined with ihs open mind to the experimental sign of the times allowed him to move comfortably (not comfortbaly numb, eh?) in the artistic situation assumed by PF in the writing and recording processes of A Saucerful of Secrets. I respect and enjoy the Syd-era, but definitely, in my opinion this is the first great PF album. The opener 'Let There be More Light' is a perfect example of how well PF managed to instill exotic Asian flavors to the melocies and rhythms of their most explicitly psychedelic pieces; another example is in this very album, 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' (other ones? - 'The Embryo', performed live extensively by the band in the late 60s although never included in a Floyd album, and the second section of Gilmour's 'The Narrow Way' in Ummagumma Volume 2). 'Let There Be More Light' starts with a hypnotic jam that leads to a less frantic but more magical sung section, whose coda features an amazing lead by Gilmour (as if he were particularly interested in making himself noticed from the very beginning). A fantastic opener, indeed, that shows a band tighter than ever with its lightly refirbished line-up. 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' comprises a more constant structure, with Wright's organ deliveries and Mason's pounding drumming stealing the show from the other instrumentalists. Caught between the two is the lyricially evocative 'Remember a Day', penned by Wright about the subject of nostalgia for lost innocence and childhood gone. Even though the main motif and arrangements are playful, the mood is genuinely melancholic. The same can be said about the other Wright-penned song, 'See-Saw': greyish nostalgia wrapped in a colorful paper. The song is slower but with a richer instrumentation: the use of tuned percussion adds nuances to the piano lines and mellotron layers, while the soft guitar phrases emphasize the song's dreamy nature. The title track is a PF staple in itself, long left behind in live setlists yet never forgotten. This studio version takes advantage of the controlled recording environment, with a clever utilization of volume processors, sound effects, overlapped keyboards and percussions, and of course, a celestial choir with an augmented use of Gilmour an Wright's vocalisations for the final section 'Celestial Voices'. The 'Syncopated Pandemonium' section is a prog classic i nitself, with its mixture of tribal madness and avant-garde alleatory weirdness. 'Corporal Clegg' is the closest to pop that PF gets in this album: this sounds to me like a mixture of Revolver- era Beatles, 'Matilda Mother' and a touch of Zappa humor. The subject of wounded survivors of war is treated with all the sarcasm it deserves, and countless times have men witnessed the downfall of unattended heroes who after a day of public glory are left behind in oblivion without any kind of support from the same Powers-that-be that sent them to the destructive insanity of war. The closer is the last Barret contrinution to the band: 'Jugband Blues' is a playful exercise on humoristic psychedelic rock, including a Salvation Army brass band's chaotic improvisaton. Barrett's lyrics are very touching: they can refer to either the mental alienation that was driving him apart from people or the distance that was separating him from his fellow PF members - my bet is for both issues, since one is connected to the other. Dadaistic humor in the music, sad ironic reflectiveness in the lyrics: wah ta way to bid farewell to the band, what a way to close this album. This is a great PF album, and as such, indispensable in any good rock collection (prog or not).
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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