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Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother CD (album) cover

ATOM HEART MOTHER

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.88 | 2104 ratings

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rogerthat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I must confess that the ONLY reason I kept off this album for a long time was that BOTH Gilmour and Waters dismissed their own once-lovingly nurtured child as a load of trash. I figured that since Gimour and Waters agreeing on something is such a rare event, they must be right. How terribly wrong I was! It seems to me that their only possible intention in saying so could have been to keep casual listeners or first time Floydians well away from this album, lest it scares them off from their more accessible later works. Coming to the album, it opens with the 23 minute long Atom Heart Mother suite. This is almost a dry run for the 'real' masterpiece Echos. The pompous-sounding orchestra and the completely unintelligible human noises in the middle of the track put off most listeners from concentrating and appreciating the striking similarities between this and Echos. Funky dung is very similar to the 'upbeat' guitar section in Echos and there is a wailing keyboard playing in the keyboard, just the way you are led into the 'whale' section in Echos. But for me, it's the tender violin section supposed to be 'Breast Milky' that's the highlight of the whole 23 minutes you spend on this track. Turn to side 2 and you have three songs each for Waters, Wright and Gilmour in that order. Waters and Gilmour adopt a lazy pace, taking up all the time in the world to say what they have to, while Wright surprises you with an up-tempo and uplifting pop track. I can promise you it's nothing like anything Floyd you've heard. Whether a happy Floyd song is a good or bad thing is upto you, of course. It works for me. The interesting thing about these songs is how similar the voices of three very different musicians sound. Yup, it clearly belongs to a time when Floyd was more of a band rather than a Roger Waters enterprise. Infact, the overall atmosphere of the albums from Atom Heart to Welcome to the machine in WYWH is not so different, because up until that song, Waters hadn't yet embarked on his style of filling entire songs, then albums with his rants - although very well-written rants at that - about the world in general. So while Floyd sounded sometimes eerie and sometimes irritatingly playful, from Welcome to the machine onwards (no wonder it sounds worthier of The Wall rather than WYWH) there was a focussed anger in their tone.So, while Atom Heart influences are present in all albums until then and even in Animals, things change when you run into The Wall. But enough about their later work. Now let's turn our attention to the last and much- reviled track in the album - Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast. IMO this isn't anywhere as trippy or plain irritating filler as the title suggests. There are three instrumental themes preceded and bound together by sounds right out of the breakfast table. But if you are patient and reasonably tolerant of the band's directionless ramblings, you can once again see how this 'load of trash' found its way into subsequent and much acclaimed Floyd albums. Though the themes are slow to develop and don't really develop into much anyway, it's still good music - prog or not, psychedelic or not. On the whole, this compares very favourably with their later works musically. Unfortunately, Floyd haven't yet discovered how to cut the diamond in the rough into a priceless gem. In more cynical terms - how to build up a relatively simple theme into a grand concept and how to do the best possible job of recording your work so that it packs that extra punch. But clearly, a prog-rock fan can't be looking at good packaging as a criterion of the quality of the music. If you think this is at the end of the day musically shallow, then it pretty much holds true for the rest of their work as well. Floyd have never really been about intricate and unplayable instrumental passages though they were a bit of the latter in the Barret era. They have tried to evoke an atmosphere through the music and convey thought-provoking messages through the lyrics. The band struggles on these counts in this album, but there is a distinct mood to this album as well. If you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last!
rogerthat | 4/5 |

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