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David Gilmour - On An Island CD (album) cover


David Gilmour


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3.54 | 403 ratings

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3 stars The Pink Floyd name is far too big, and expectations are far too high, for any of their ageing former members to be bothered with cranking up the machine again for another album or tour. So 12 years after "The Division Bell" it's pleasing that Dave Gilmour still has the inclination to make music. This is only his third solo album (unless you count "A Momentary Lapse of Reason"!), but for lovers of his much-imitated searing guitar sound, mellow vocals, and trad-Floyd spacey arrangements, it's pure ear candy.

Recorded on Dave's houseboat studio on the Thames, it's not too far in spirit from the Greek island lazing of his Floyd colleague Rick Wright's "Wet Dream". With Dave's breathy voice, an unrelenting slow, lazy pace and fluffy orchestral padding, it's comfortable music evoking a comfortable lifestyle, with only a gentle melancholy creeping in. The sound is slickly adult, or more precisely, middle-aged, with Dave's casual guitar licks, organ noodling and a liberal dash of strings merging into a pastel-coloured wash. The tunes generally aren't anything to send a postcard home about, but the pick of these is the single "On An Island" itself. "The Blue", with its sighing solo guitar breaks, is so completely relaxed it's starting to sink through the floor. "Smile" is almost the same but with the guitar unplugged. "Take a Breath" is a welcome increase in pace, with some darker harmonies, but he was careful to make this not too exciting.

The opening "Castellano", an atmospheric chaos of orchestra, sound effects and ambience, seems to be a deliberate Floyd pastiche, ending up pretty but predictable. It's the kind of thing that turned many people off about the Division Bell and Momentary Lapse, evoking studios dripping with money. Thankfully Dave eventually announces his presence with that guitar, in the style of a live show. Only the spotlight and cheering crowd are missing. Other musing instrumentals here include "Red Sky At Night" which suffocates a saxophone with orchestral mush. The most pleasing is "Then I Close My Eyes", where he gives the overt Floydisms a rest, and strips down to some gorgeous restrained harmonies, tinged with jazzy trumpet and brush drums.

There's a place for this kind of ear candy which does very little, and this album can be pleasing in that place. Such as on the kind of holiday where you sit on a beach and do very little, or on a long summer drive through a monotonously green English countryside. Don't expect to feel challenged or excited, just forcibly chilled.

Open-Mind | 3/5 |


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