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PSYCHEDELIC/SPACE ROCK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Psychedelic/Space Rock definition

Psychedelic Progressive Rock

Progressive rock music has its roots in the mid 1960's psychedelic cultural phenomena. During that time the British Invasion and folk-rock bands began to expand the sonic possibilities of their music. These groups slowly started to abandon the concise verse-chorus-verse patterns of rock & roll, and moved towards fluid, free-form oriented song structures. Just as important was the incorporation of elements from Indian and Eastern music. Along them the principles of free-form jazz were included to the psychedelic sound, emphasising spontaneous emotions over calculated and estimated compositional constructions. Experimenting with new studio technology, electronically altering instruments and voices, was a part of this altered approach as well. Acid rock groups like THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE and CREAM stand as descriptive and popular examples of the path from psychedelic sunshine pop towards a more aggressive and distinct rock expression, in particular showcased in their improvised live performances.

The boundary dividing the "Experimental" and "Progressive" classification is a thin and at times contested one for this era. The pioneering psychedelic progressive rock bands to be found at www.progarchives.com will in most cases be found in the Proto-Prog section of the site. Amongst these pioneering outfits are acts like THE BEATLES, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE AND VANILLA FUDGE. Artists such as PINK FLOYD will not be found there though, as their career extended well beyond these first, formative years.

Psychedelic progressive rock music may contain the elements previously described in varying combinations, but the artistic perspective of progressive rock is another factor. Some psychedelic rock bands stuck to the mid 1960's beat rock style in purist form, not partaking in the experimental development of the impressionistic possibilities of psychedelic rock music others spearheaded. The evolution of the psychedelic depth within a progressive context could be seen for instance in the 1960's recordings of ARCADIUM and BABY GRANDMOTHERS. One good example of early 70's Continental European progressive psychedelic rock is the album by AHORA MAZDA, and from Britain JADE WARRIOR's early efforts fuse psychedelic rock and ethnic music. Current artists exploring the vintage 60's/70's style and sound are acts like THE SPACIOUS MINDS and ACID MOTHER'S TEMPLE.

The entire Western pop culture scene was influenced by the psychedelic culture to some extent, including other prog genres such as Prog Folk. In Germany, artists influenced by the British psychedelic movement formed their own genre called KRAUTROCK. The pioneering early 70's bands in this genre represent the progressive acid rock sound of Germany, experimenting with long instrumental improvisations, emphasizing the use of psychedelic effects and weird electronic sounds. Some examples are artists like AMON DÜÜL, ASH RA TEMPEL, CAN, GÄA, NECRONOMICON and YATHA SIDHRA. The PROGRESSIVE ELECTRONIC style emerged from Krautrock. Some of the most influential artists of this genre, such as TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE, explored a distinct psychedelic musical style at first, which was influential for the development of the "space rock" sound:


Progressive Space Rock

The late 1960's psychedelic rock scene also spawned the birth of the space rock genre. The pioneering acts of this genre assimilated krautrock elements like repetitive hypnotic beats and electronic/ambient soundscapes as they moved away from the common musical and compositional approach. The synthesizer with its bubbling tones and spacey patterns, provoking a gliding flow, is a typical instrument of this genre. Guitars are by preference played with glissando technique and delay/echo effects are heavily used, and elements originating from reggae/dub are fairly common. Several bands combine their live performances with trippy lightshows using random fractals. Albums in this genre will often include at least one long meandering jam based on a main theme, where loops and wavelike fluctuations provides slight variations to this structural foundation.

Stories, images, song titles and album names referring to cosmic themes are fairly common features of the genre. HAWKWIND's live album "Space Ritual" is said to be the ultimate space rock album due to the collaboration with sci-fi author Michael Moorcock. His lyrics are performed by a narrator and underlaid with synth elements. PINK FLOYD can be regarded as pioneers of spacey music during the band's early phase, as exemplified by certain tracks from "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" or the stirring live performance of "Careful With That Axe Eugene" from "Ummagumma". GROBSCHNITT provides another fine example of classic space rock with their epic effort "Solar Music". Other bands explored the space rock sound for a limited time period only. GONG released groundbreaking albums in the genre at the start of their career, while British hard rock band UFO released the extraordinary album "Flying - One Hour Space Rock" as their sole contribution to the genre in 1971.

A space rock scene can be found in most countries sporting artists producing music with a western-oriented or influenced sound. Swedish bands are known for a brisk exchange of musicians among each other. The "Strange Daze" festivals from 1997-2000 showcased the American space rock scene. Japan is an inexhaustible reservoir of artists exploring both psychedelic progressivce rock and progressive space rock. Representative examples of the style are bands such as ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE with their focus on long grooving improvisations, QUARKSPACE and OZRIC TENTACLES with their stronger emphasis on electronic elements and VESPERO and HIDRIA SPACEFOLK with their inclusion of ethnic-originating musical components. Other groups like ESCAPADE and THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS represent an avantgarde approach to the genre, whereas SUBARACHNOID SPACE and KINSKI are examples of artists that provide transitions to the post rock genre.


The boundaries of Psychedelic Progressive Rock connected with Stoner Rock and Acid Folk

The 1960's and 70's were a time of liberation, a time of rebellion against rigid rules and strict moral boundaries. In those "freedom of expression" days, an artist would typically herald their liberal attitudes as a mind-expanding trip on stage together with the audience in two ways. One was to realize audio/visually the visual and auditory hallucination as it was, and another was to play their repertoire spiritually and improvisationally under the trip. As for the latter approach, they devoted themselves solely to slow-to-mid tempo playing with low-tuned guitars in a heavy and expansive manner for playing steadily under this twilight condition. In the same time period, this approach to the musical trip was also taken on by some artists especially in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. This new style, drenched in heavy and downer psychedelia, was called "Stoner Rock". The name originates from the expression "stoned", referring to people in altered states of mind while under the influence of psychedelic substances. The Stoner Rock genre was universalized "as a strict musical style only" by the Industrial Grunge Rock genre that gained worldwide popularity in the early 1990s. The common denominator of all the artists mentioned is the representation of their personal cultural and political backgrounds, whilst playing slow-paced depressive songs with heavy guitars and echoic rumbling drums as the dominating features. Most of current outfits claiming to be the so-called Psychedelic Heavy Progressive Rock ones should be much influenced by the traditional Stoner or Grunge Rock as well as the early Psychedelic Progressive Rock. They can be considered as a borderline case between Psychedelic Progressive, Heavy Progressive, and Progressive Metal.

"Acid Folk" can be mentioned as another musical style with hallucinogenic approach. Psych Folk or Psychedelic Folk are other names for this genre, and is vaguely defined as a rock subgenre due to the mixture of folk rock and psychedelic rock. This is a style lacking in strict definitions, and it is contested whether or not the term was actually used at what is deemed the dawn of the genre. It's an undeniable fact that the Acid Folk scene gained some popularity by the efforts of artists in "The Folk Revivalism", but it's important to remember that there were two distinctly different approaches taken by those who helped shape the genre in the mid 1960's. Some folk singers approached a psychedelic rock structure as was popular at that time, while some psychedelic rock outfits tried to absorb and incorporate techniques and elements from folk rock. Both have great importance in the development of Acid Folk, and this may be the reason that strict definitions of the genre cannot be given. In view of the history, it's no exaggeration to claim that TYRANNOSAURUS REX, SYD BARRETT or THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND in UK rock scene seasoned the "traditional" Acid Folk with a more progressive spice. They, as eccentric or heretical rock outfits, accepted and incorporated Middle-Eastern and Oriental elements or instruments, and the result was the foundation for the current progressive Acid Folk movement. And in the Eastern parts of the world, different acid streams was provided by artists such as TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS or MAGICAL POWER MAKO who exerted a great influence on younger progressive bands. Their amazing achievements resides in the twilight zone between the Prog Folk and Psychedelic Prog subgenres.


A path that never ends

In addition of the styles described, psychedelic elements can be found in many other genres of progressive rock. The psychedelic cultural explosion had an immense influence on the western popular culture, and traces of it can still be heard also outside of progressive rock circles. The collective techno rave parties carry on the legacy of the audiovisual attack from the PINK FLOYD concerts in 1968, to cite one example. As the psychedelic movement was a large cultural phenomenon, it is difficult (and maybe unnecessary) to fence it to a clear category. Psychedelic progressive rock has been developing towards several different directions over time, and the task of classifying them as distinct genres and sub-genres is an ever ongoing process, often loaded with strong opinions. The psychedelic rock artists which are not considered as progressive in style are not listed in the databse of www.Progarchives.com. This in order to maintain the site's scope to be a progressive rock reference.

The aim of this description is to be a tool of reference for potential and existing fans of the genre, and we hope that this will aid those who read it to a better understanding of the genre as well as to enjoy and discuss the subject at hand both in the forums of the Progarchives website as well as in other places online and offline both.


Psychedelic Rock / Space Rock team April 2010

Space rock definition by Rivertree
The boundaries of psychedelic progressive rock chapter by DamoXt7942
Other text by Eetu Pellonpää
with kind guidance and support by Windhawk


Current Psychedelic/Space Rock Team Members
as at December 2014

Uwe (Rivertree)

Psychedelic/Space Rock Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Psychedelic/Space Rock | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.62 | 3202 ratings
WISH YOU WERE HERE
Pink Floyd
4.59 | 3376 ratings
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Pink Floyd
4.52 | 2852 ratings
ANIMALS
Pink Floyd
4.31 | 2406 ratings
MEDDLE
Pink Floyd
4.22 | 799 ratings
OCEAN
Eloy
4.15 | 287 ratings
RITUAL
Nemrud
4.10 | 501 ratings
WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME
Hawkwind
4.12 | 346 ratings
JURASSIC SHIFT
Ozric Tentacles
4.22 | 119 ratings
BY THE WATERS OF TOMORROW
Vespero
4.13 | 240 ratings
LEGACY
Hypnos 69
4.05 | 2317 ratings
THE WALL
Pink Floyd
4.12 | 214 ratings
TOGETHER WE'RE STRANGER
No-Man
4.06 | 434 ratings
A TAB IN THE OCEAN
Nektar
4.05 | 472 ratings
DAWN
Eloy
4.07 | 244 ratings
EVERYONE INTO POSITION
Oceansize
4.04 | 396 ratings
THE OCTOPUS
Amplifier
4.21 | 79 ratings
TAKO
Tako
4.06 | 251 ratings
EFFLORESCE
Oceansize
4.16 | 102 ratings
THE FUTURE KINGS OF ENGLAND
Future Kings Of England, The
4.02 | 487 ratings
SILENT CRIES AND MIGHTY ECHOES
Eloy

Psychedelic/Space Rock overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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Secret Saucer
FOAM
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Spacious Mind, The

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Latest Psychedelic/Space Rock Music Reviews


 Performance by ELOY album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.82 | 163 ratings

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Performance
Eloy Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Lewian

3 stars I've got to say that I'm quite keen on the fact that this one is not about journeys between stars and planets, downfall and rescue of humankind etc. Treating some real life issues for once is nice for a change, although I may not be a proper prog-minded person in this respect. Also I respect the artistic motivation to declutter and produce straighter songs. I think it's unfair to blame them for just trying to be commercial here. Artists shouldn't stand still and going with the times is a legitimate move. Bornemann was apparently not happy with this move, at least not in hindsight, but other band members probably were. Fair enough. As always, this is well produced, mostly keyboard oriented but with stronger impact of guitar, bass and drums than before. The bass is fantastic (as Matziol usually is). The drums sound too much like 80s and are a bit too straight, but at least they are precise and driving. Randow is a very good drummer but shows this better elsewhere. Regarding the quality of the songs, this is a mixed bag. In Disguise works very well as a catchy rocker; Shadow and Light and Broken Frame are fine, too, and a bit more complex. Broken Frame is actually one of my Eloy favourites. Mirador is a rather sparse instrumental, which is nice but not all too remarkable, and I can connect less to the remaining three songs. It's a development that I respect, with some highlights and some lesser tracks. And I can enjoy the marvellous bass playing day in day out.
 200 Years After The Last War by OMEGA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.91 | 71 ratings

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200 Years After The Last War
Omega Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I don't have a whole lot of Omega albums in my collection, probably due to my local record stores don't stock them too often. I often wonder if it's just lack of any Hungarians or Americans of Hungarian descent living in Oregon that has a lot to do with it. Probably. I could just as easily go online and buy them. I did find a copy of 200 Years After the Last War at a Eugene record store, a German copy on Bacillus, naturally, and it's by far the best album I have ever heard from them. Two songs are English language remakes of stuff from Omega 5: Szvit, that is "Suite" and "You Don't Know". "Suite" is a side-length suite, hence the name, and while the original is still great, they improved by the presences of Mellotron instead of real strings. So it ends up sounding a bit like the Moody Blues meets Uriah Heep. The more calm moments remind me of the Moody Blues, the more heavy moments, with Laszo Benko giving some heavily fuzzed organ (in the Jon Lord and Ken Hensley tradition) gives the Heep reminder. Then you have the original "Nem Tudom a Neved" called "Help to Find Me" (the Hungarian language version later appeared in 1975 on Omega 6: Nem Tudom a Neved). This is another great song, particularly dig the extended creative synth solo. The title track is English language version of a song from an album they were doing around 1972 that was never released at the time (opinion being that the communist censors rejected it, the other was due to Gabor Presser's departure for Locomotiv GT). name escaped me. This album was their second Western recording, and I have to say this is great stuff, and a great place to start if you don't know Omega.
 A Peaceful Nacht In Hell by ONE OF THESE DAYS & THEE HEAVY RANDOM TONE COLOUR LAB album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 4 ratings

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A Peaceful Nacht In Hell
One Of These Days & Thee Heavy Random Tone Colour Lab Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars ONE OF THESE DAYS (& Thee Heavy Random Tone Colour Lab)!!! - such a cool band name alone is whacked out enough. And then they hatch a language crossover album title like ... who the hell is cooking this up, eh? At first I thought about a nordic band in some way, but they definitely are from Spain though - four musicians hailing from the A Coruńa scene exactly, who have recorded this challenge within three days. And at least guitarist Diego Veiga is well known to me due to his collaboration with the band LÜGER.

Okay, crazy approach, anybody can manage this more or less, one might intervene ... but those chaps can top it with extraordinarily entertaining songs, you should know. So please stay tuned. Designed for a vinyl release most likely the album delivers four extended songs, somewhat 70's retrospective styled, also considering the cover art. They are definitely capable of following in their paragons' footsteps due to a virtuoso style overall. And so The Word Or Instructions For Taking Opium In A Root comes with extracool trombone input and luxuriant organ respectively synth work.

Backed by a simple though very effective synth loop Beautiful Things sees them also experimenting with voice samples. The track title hits the nail right on the head. Further Than You Can Imagine finally constantly moves between spacey ambiance and headbanging drive. This album turns out to be an irresistible affair in four movements, featuring hints from Moonwagon, Diagonal, Hypnos69 and Beardfish. Based on a psychedelic fundament and refined with jazzy and heavy rock portions a pleasant listen again and again.

 Ummagumma by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.48 | 1310 ratings

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Ummagumma
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by SteveG

4 stars "I agree that it's art. But can one dance to it?"

No, one does not dance to Ummagumma. That's not what the album was created for. Ummagumma's importance is generally overlooked by the prog community, especially as a major catalyst for the development of the kruatrock genre, and the album's influence on German artists like Tangerine Dream, for starters.

Recorded after the more rock friendly offering of the OST album More, Ummagumma was a brave and expensive concept with both live and studio albums combined, I believe, for the first time on a record. And a double record at that.

The first album is the live counterpart with selections from Saucerful Of Secrets and Piper At The Gates of Dawn redone with the Gilmoured version of Pink Floyd, as well as expanding the songs in the case of Careful With that Axe, Eugene and Saucerful's title track. These live recordings find the band more confident and accomplished, to state the differences between the studio originals and live versions simply. Even Astronomy Domine without Syd Barrett's vocals or guitar playing is not missed. Except for the ultra sentimentalists. A good starting point for this ultra ambitious undertaking which finds the second studio album divided equally amongst the four group members as what is essentially solo offerings.

First up is Rick Wright's four part keyboard opus Sisyphus which works quite well as separate movements that evolves and dissolves into dissonant sounds that seem be tape manipulated and altered piano chords with tympani that collides with Wrights' stately piano and later, his eerie mellotron, which evokes the feeling of building up, pushing up, giving up and collapse. Just like Sisyphus' futile attempts to push the giant stone up the hill in the Greek legend. This is the first song to demonstrate the group's preoccupation with recording tricks that will culminate in the Nick Mason's closing piece entitled The Grand Vizier's Garden Party.

Indeed, it's electronic recording effects that dominate the heart of the studio album in much the same way that Sgt. Pepper's dominated the mindset of the Beatles. The effects came first and the music suffered. Not intentionally. But studio recording tape manipulation at this time required labor intensive effort on the part of both the musicians as well as the recording engineers.

Water's attempt to simulate chasing a fly at the end of his understated and under developed pastoral outing titled Grantchester Meadows demonstrates this missappropriation of studio time that necessitated the hours required to record, overdub and rerecord numerous vocals (by trial and error) and then have those recorded pieces played back on tape loops at wildly different speeds or completely backwards, and then deftly synced together in order to the create the mind blowing Dadaesque absurdist instrumental piece titled Several Species Of Small Fury Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict (which immediately follows Grantchester Meadows) . This piece features the first of Water's spoken personas and you can almost hear the "Stand Still, Laddie!" character trying to breakthrough his faux Gaelic ranting that concludes the piece. The folky Grantchester Meadows seems underdeveloped because of it's stark and simple acoustic guitar strumming that sounds like Waters trying his best to conjure some body from two double tracked acoustic guitars, but failing miserably. A lead guitar solo by Gilmour, either acoustic or electric, would have greatly complemented and completed this sleepy lackluster song. But Gilmour is sadly AWOL.

Was David too busy with his own repeated guitar overdubs and experimentation with backwards and forwards recorded guitar sounds for his own song? And, even possibly, of playing a lead passage in reverse order and reversing the playback of the tape only to find another completely different set of sounds than those that were originally envisioned? A common experience with studio experimentalists in that era. And again, very time consuming for a band that made its living from heavy touring.

Gilmour's three part song The Narrow Way starts out with a more sophisticated acoustic guitar introduction, supported by dissonant tape manipulated electric guitar tones, that's more reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's acoustic outings from that time, but never develops into a truly memerable song. The second part features heavy guitar riffing that never develops into a climatic lead guitar frenzy that this kind of song calls for. That would come later in Pink Floyd's recording career. And Gilmour's meandering lyrics will not hold the listeners attention.

Two strikes for the band so far until Nick Mason saves the day with the most avant-garde piece ever recorded in the Pink Floyd canon, the Grand Vizier's Garden Party. Bracketed by mournful flute, this Stockhausen-like percussion based collage piece is the absolute apex of combining recorded music with studio effects that, to my opinion, has never been bettered since.

The final tally on the studio disc: two hits and two misses. But at least the Floyd were brave enough to try and that's what really matters with Ummagumma. The type of risk taking by a popular group that one would never see attempted again in the age of modern pop music.

Despite Waters' and Gilmour's songs coming up short, both Sysyphus and the Grand Vizier show just how talented and creative Wright and Mason were at this juncture of Pink Floyd's development, and why they are regarded, quite correctly by those in the know, as Floyd's secret weapons immediately after the departure of Syd Barrett.

The true magic of an album that contains music like this is that it's so subjective that another listener might reject my favorites and replace them with songs that did not impress me. Or one listener might appreciate all the songs on the studio disc, while another might dismiss all of them.

So, is Ummagumma a collection of fine dance songs? No would be my opinion. But for those with two left feet, or think with the right hemisphere of their brains, this album will do quite nicely. 4 stars.

 More by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.15 | 1010 ratings

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More
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by SteveG

4 stars Sometimes less is more, goes the saying.

After the zeitgeist of the nineties unplugged crazed died off, music listeners started to pay attention to more basic or stripped down offerings from their heroes. And nothing fits that description better than Floyd's third LP and first OST of the 1969 movie titled More.

Putting their psychedelic space rock on hold, the Floyd, now with David Gilmour fully integrated and Syd Barrett and his lyrical influences completely jettisoned, we have the new mark II version of Pink Floyd that has produced an album that is mysteriously enchanting as it lacks almost all of the pretentious that we have come to expect and appreciate from this band. And that's why More is a minor gem. Good without the gimmicks.

The lead off track Cirrus Minor is a slice of dark melancholia that only the Floyd seemed able to get away with in 1969, and shows off Pink Floyd's most secret weapon of that era, Rick Wright's farfisa organ and understated piano. Following immediately is the sonic assault of The Nile Song, which to this day remains one of Floyd's heaviest workouts, and, like most of the songs on this album, does not sound dated by production tricks of the era.

Only the 7 minute long atmospheric keyboard altered and recording tape vary speeded sound of the song Quicksilver reminds you that you are still in the domain of the Floyd, while the gentle ballads of Green Is The Color and Cymbaline draw one temporary to other views. Gilmour's sweet vocals on these two magnificent songs could not have been more dissimilar than those just heard on the hard rocking Nile Song, along with close sound alike cousin, the rocking Ibiza Bar, which quickly follows. Perhaps there is something more going on here that meets the eye, or ear, if you like. Pun not intended.

And that's part of the secret charm that More holds over a listener that will give it half a chance against better known and more experimental albums like Ummagumma. Sometimes less is really more. Pun intended. 4 stars for this unheralded jewel.

 The Final Cut by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.17 | 1417 ratings

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The Final Cut
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by aglasshouse

2 stars Roger Waters' seemingly fetishistic lust for rapidly producing concept albums mostly started after the booming success for The Wall. People would run hither and thither, exclaiming the prowess Waters handled such a delicate concept with such ease, and indeed Waters got the message. Like any musician bent on making a profit, he naturally thought if he could make more of the same his popularity would rise even farther. When '83 rolled around and an album was released by the tangled soon-to-be-broken Pink Floyd, what had grown was not Waters' social affluence, but more was his already over-inflated ego.

The Final Cut was indeed the final cut onto the frayed strings that held Waters in the band, and a few years later he departed. The real question however is, is his last hurrah of sorts indeed remarkable? No, not really.

The album is very similar to The Wall; spoken word is prominent and used frivolously, Waters uses his signature strained and distressed vocal style, as well as heavy amounts of piano and acoustic guitar. Unlike The Wall however, Waters is obviously trying to do the exact same thing as it on The Final Cut. While people's general consensus on The Wall was very positive, The Final Cut is a lackluster, bumbling attempt at a prequel of sorts. The songs are indeed very poetic in nature, but more follow the creed of being "art for the sake of art". Gilmour and Mason (Wright was brutally shoved out by Waters) weren't in the least bit excited to play for Waters on basically his solo album. What came from that attitude was an over-abundance of aforementioned acoustic songs with just Waters and a guitar, and songs that didn't have it rambled on halfheartedly. An album that showcases only one invested member is something that has a 75 percent chance of failure in the hit or miss scenario, and The Final Cut really missed. There was one semi-memorable track, 'Not Now John', but I only catch myself listening to it every once in a while.

All in all The Final Cut is a heavy-handed attempt at a part three to The Wall, squashing all life out of the already beaten band. Although some uses of choral and orchestral styles can be interesting, the overall effect is a foolhardy stain on the bands almost perfect history.

 Asylum by LEGENDARY PINK DOTS album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.62 | 15 ratings

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Asylum
Legendary Pink Dots Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars Welcome to the most inconsistent band of all time. I present to you 'The Legendary pink Dots'. Born in England but raised in Holland and developing the weirdest accent you're likely to hear this side of Uzbekistan .

There's never a dull moment with Edward Ka-Spel whose lyrics reveal a man fit for the psychiatrists couch.

'Asylum' was their most ambitious and yet complete recording until this point. There's some great haunted house vocals on 'Femme Mirage' which resembles pale white Victorian faces staring out of mansion windows as plinky plonky piano patters evily in the background, whilst heavily reverberated strings which sound like those used in 'Cannibal Holocaust' flutter around in the background.

One highlight comes early on with the ultra Syd Barrett-like 'The Hill' which describes a sniper outside a schoolyard. I can't believe there's so little reference to Ka-Spel sounding like the spitting image of Floyd's originator. Close your eyes and every tune this guy sings just sounds like Syd.

It's all a bit like listening to creepy nursery rhymes where at times it's light and bouncy but is immediately followed by huge slabs of darkness in the lyrics. 'Asylum' has a lot of psychedelia and space-rock at its core. Much of it sounds a bit dated, particularly the keyboards which must have sounded passe even in '85. There is however some excellent usage of violins and strings which sets this apart from their contemporaries.

There's a schizophrenic yet whimsical sound that prevails through the entire recording, where at times there's beautiful strings played in an orchestral manner to be met with such wonderful titles as 'Fifteen Flies in the Marmalade'. What does it all mean?

'So Gallantly Screaming' has machine guns and a U.S civil war bugle calls to arms. This is where things go a bit mental with chopped up banging and short stabs of electronics coming to the forefront. All the while 'Ka-Spel' plaintively sings tunes from his clearly damaged mind. I guess the amateurish cover makes a bit more sense whilst listening to his insane mutterings.

Things certainly get more bizarre and odd towards the end with string arrangements accompanying the vocal derangements. The last three tracks are superb as they go completely off the rails but remain tuneful. Of particular note is the final track 'This Could be the End' with it's treated violins and mashed up vocals and a whole load of sound effects.

'Asylum' is a lengthy double album with much lunacy, completely crazy lyrics and is superbly played by a group of clearly highly skilled musicians. It's therefore very difficult to give a sensible rating.

Four stars, only just.

 The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.89 | 1562 ratings

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The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by SteveG

3 stars A tale of two Floyds.

It's pretty easy to say that most American Pink Floyd fans never really warmed up to Syd Barrett and that's for reasons that are not so easy to distinguish. Some point to the overt 'Englishness' of Syd's lyrical stance. Other's point to Barrett's material that is only marginally psychedelic such as the bulk of the recorded output on Piper At The Gates of Dawn.

My own belief is that the Piper material was just too removed from the accessible, but still over the top, head trip that was the Dark Side Of The Moon album, the gateway album for Americans into the world of Pink Floyd.

But let's backtrack a bit. When Piper was first released in the US, EMI's, American subsidy Capitol Records issued Piper with the inclusion of Floyd's second UK hit See Emily Play in place of album opener Astronomy Domine. It seems the west coast folks who were gearing for the Beach Boys to take over the rock world were at a loss with this strange album opener that sang of 'lime and limped green...ice waters surrounding underground', had even less of a clue to the actual music. This was not the Beach Boys. This wasn't the Beatles, who they knew would sell whatever they recorded. This Astronomy Domine song was just, well...strange.

It would be nice to think that the American counter culture of 1967 was immune to similar feelings of unease, but it was not. Piper was a curiosity in the short age of American psychedelia. Fortunately, the US editions of Piper that were issued following the success of DSotM restored Astronomy Domine to its proper tracking order and this track, along with the instrumental Interstellar Overdrive, and the DSotM clockwork collage cloning album closer Bike, is what DSotM fans glommed onto. This material was familiar in it's space rock grandeur, made more mysterious by it's descriptive lyrics, that was relatable to DSotM fans. Floyd as the veteran psychedelic space rockers won this round.

However, round two that centered on Syd's whimsical lyrical songs such as Matilda Mother, the Gnome and Scarecrow, were merely entertaining, at best, while dadaesque workouts like POW R TOC H simply fell short. Years after the acid revolution, the actual sounds made by the human mouth were simply not as fascinating as those conjured up by synthesizers and VCS3 sequencers. The age to enjoy Piper as a whole had simply past.

So, where does this put Piper At The Gates of Dawn in the 21st century? Exactly where it was in the last century. A curio of an earlier lysergic age that some quickly dismiss or that a few embrace as a fleeting display of genius. Only the listener of this album knows for sure and is therefore the ultimate judge. 3 stars.

 Relics by PINK FLOYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1971
3.55 | 300 ratings

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Relics
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by SteveG

5 stars Five stars for a review of a compilation album? Surely you jest?

No, I'm quite serious. It's not often that one gets a history lesson as pleasurable as listening to an album like Relics, for starters. It is also a skeleton key, if one knows how use it, to see why Pink Floyd started out as a singles band and could not maintain their stature as a British Top of the Pops hit band.

For those unfamiliar, Relics, released in 1971, contains Floyd's two certified UK chart hits, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play. Both songs contained enough pop sensibility to scale the British charts in the era of psychedelia, while also ensuring a social critique or character study in Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, respectively. This was something that songwriter Syd Barrett would never duplicate in his career and that other members of Pink Floyd either failed to grasp or ignored until Roger Waters started spilling his guts on the Dark Side Of The Moon album that was released in 1973.

When Barrett became mentally defunct, keyboard player Rick Wright stepped into the breach and penned the truly wonderful Remember A Day and the fantastic pop tinged psych wonder Paintbox. Both of these songs delivered on what The Zombies were trying to produce on their Odyssey and Oracle album from the same year but only hinted at. Wright's vocals are sublime as are his understated but heavily treated keyboards, with the rest of the band taking up the slack and virtually carrying this material in Syds' mental absence. However, Remember A Day and Paintbox did not sound like Syd's pop ditties and did not have the lyrical connection that a song like Arnold Layne had with the public. We're all guilty, at times, of doing something that hurts no one and either having regretied it or having been punished for it. So we're all Arnold Layne. We are not all part of Rick Wright's psychedelic daydreams, however, so the British public didn't respond to Remember A Day or Paintbox. Next up in the songwriters box is Mr. Water's wonderfully moody Cirrus Minor and angry Nile Song, with the newly acquired Dave Gilmour showing off his wares to good effect with both excellent voice and guitar playing. Again, two stellar songs, while not intended as singles but certainly had the quality to be released as such, still went unnoticed from the OST from the 1969 movie titled More.

Where next? Another crack at a group instrumental, naturally, with the studio version of Careful With That Axe, Eugene that, while not being as good as the live version found on Ummagumma, is every bit the equal of Interstellar Overdrive which was also included on Relics, having been taken from the seminal Piper At The Gates of Dawn album from 1967. Relics also includes the previously unreleased blues and New Orleans' like brass band concoction, from 1971, titled Biding My Time, which is quite good and displays Water's ever growing lazy vocal style to great effect.

The Floyd still have melodic muscle and inventiveness and decided to go forward from there with their next album, the ambitious Atom Heart Mother. So everything sounds like it will go to plan until we come to the closing track on Relics, the clever endearing Bike, also from Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, that top's off Syd Barrett's great lyrical and vocal work with an astounding sound collage of clocks, bells and chimes which quickly reminds us, after the fading panning kazoo sounds, that the Floyd are in for a steep uphill climb from here until they reach The Dark Side of The Moon.

As I stated, these songs are not only sublime in themselves, they also have been meticulously tracked by the Floyd so as to flow seamlessly from one to another. They are also a most pleasurable history lesson.

 The Endless River by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.44 | 426 ratings

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The Endless River
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was a given, this album. After all, the Water-less Floyd has never returned to prominence since his departure. but perhaps the emotional passing of Richard Wright, and his immobilization in one final album will bring it all together, to finally rediscover that lost "Floydian" sound.

I'll admit, there are quite a few "Marooned" references here, but I don't consider that to be a bad thing. Hell, "Marooned" was one of the few tracks that were even listenable off "The Division Bell".

(Before I truly go knee-deep, I felt it interesting to point out the desire by Gilmore to NOT make this album "for the iTunes, downloading-individual-tracks generation', hence the continuation from one song to the other, which I've always maintained is the way to get people to buy full albums and not just single songs. If you cut up a pizza in so many tiny slices, you might as well just buy the whole damn thing rather than each tiny individual piece, you'll still be hungry afterwards!)

Side 1 gives me hope. The classic ambiance is there on "Things Left Unsaid" and Gilmore's classic, gut-wrenching guitar solos return on "It's What We Do". Fitting title name, really, because that IS what Pink Floyd do. Or, did, anyway. It sounds familiar, and yet still fresh, and touch, since this album is a tribute to Wright, whose gentle touch is still noticeable here and there throughout the album. Gilmore even said it himself that "this is for the generation that wants to put its headphones on". Which is what Floyd always has been. The jams, the soundscapes, the distinct guitar solos. At the close of "Ebb And Flow", I've come to that conclusion already.

This is that classic Pink Floyd sound we (or at least I) have been waiting for. Redemption, finally, in the form of "The Endless River".

Ok, so maybe Side 1 might have been called "Marooned, Pt. 2", but Side 2 sounds like a "Animals" B-side. Mason goes to down pushing the groove forward on "Sum" and channels his inner Ringo on "Skins", a fitting title since the track is pretty much a drum solo, before it fades out into another electronic filled soundscape, while "Unsung" sounds like an orchestral sample ripped straight from the Halo soundtrack and "Anisina" kinda sounds like an homage to Lennon (with a Billy Joel sax solo). A bit more unusual, this side, but the good news is that the sound is unquestionably Floyd, and frankly, that's all that matters.

If that wasn't enough, Side 3 starts off dramatically, with another soundscape in the form of "The Lost Art Of Conversation (another dig at Waters? Maybe?), before a quite Mason groove creeps in "On Noodle Street". So if I'm going to play the reference game, if Side 1 echoed Maroon off "The Division Bell" and Side 2 echos "Animals, Side 3 is almost certainly going to echo "Another Brick In The Wall" off "The Wall, and while the acoustic solo on "Night Light" might prove me wrong, "Allons-y" proves the point. That subtle but intoxicating pluck from Gilmore's guitar is enough to sell me right away. It's a nostalgic power trip, basically, but after all Floyd, Gilmore and Mason have put up with, a nostalgic power trip is EXACTLY what they needed to get out of this funk.

Of course Side 3 isn't over. "Autumn '68" (perhaps in a reference to "Summer '68" off Atom Heart Mother?) is a haunting organ spot by Wright (recorded in '69, incidentally), especially all the more haunting knowing that he's gone, but soon "Allons-y" returns to brighten the mood again and push on towards "Talkin' Hawkin', filled with oohs, aahs, and more Gilmore tasty solos, along with a Hawkins sample of a commercial that was also used on "Keep Talking" off "The Division Bell".

So now we hit the home stretch with Side 4, and I've already come to the conclusion that this is as fitting a send off as any to the career of a fantastic band. Another typical ambiance to kick off in "Calling", before a Gilmore guitar spot in "Eyes To Pearls" leads into another ambient jam in "Surfacing" before Gilmore makes his first and last vocal appearance on the album in "Louder Than Words", a perfect way to describe the album, really, since it's mainly been an instrumental up until this closer.

So, now we (meaning I) almost certainly come to the end of Pink Floyd for good. An album too together to be a Gilmore solo album. An album too hollow to be a Pink Floyd album. It's tricky, but overall, it's a fantastic swan song to a fantastic band. All I could hope for was just a nostalgic look to the past and perhaps a return to the traditional "signature sound", and of course, it's not perfect, but it's better than I could've imagined, so I guess this will do.

By far not the best Floyd album ever, but still for Floyd fans who pined for that sound, you won't be turned away here. Perhaps it leans on too heavily of an ambient side, but then again, ambiance is part of the Floyd sound.

A fantastic tribute to a fantastic keyboardist, and as good of a swan song as there ever is or was. It still seems so short. Farewell, Floyd.

(Still wish you were here)

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