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Pink Floyd - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn CD (album) cover

THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.87 | 2297 ratings

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theCoagulater
4 stars As their first album, Piper does a great job of establishing a sound for the rest of this discography. Something to build off of in new and interesting ways. Unfortunately, this is the only album that Syd fronted on before his departure, leaving us with the Pink Floyd we know and love. And love we do, the aftermath of Syd has left us with one of the most universally recognized and praised discographies ever, and I as a fairly big Pink Floyd fan wouldn't trade that for a thing. But it is still cool to see and take the plot of land Floyd could've built their discography if things just went a little differently.

Astronomy Domine sets up what they're doing very quickly. This is gonna be pretty fucking Psychedelic, with a capital P. There's a spaceship beeping, weird astronomical sounds, and official-sounding voices as if we were hearing some cool NASA mission going down. That's the word I would use to describe this song, cool, this is some incredibly cool shit. The lyrics don't say much, they don't mean much (at least to me), just a lot of space stuff. But the lyrics are cool, and that's what the rest of the song is too. It's all just creating a whirlwind of cool. I don't know much about surf music, so forgive me if I say something stupid here, but the opening bass riff sounds pretty surfy. There are a lot of things later in this album that makes me go "ow, surf's up I guess". I don't know what sort of cross-contamination surf and psych had then, I wasn't alive, but there seemed to be some.

Lucifer Sam gives us our first little glimpse into the mind of Syd, the lyrics are no mistake his. They're riddled with mental illness, a fascination with a childlike state of being, and English romanticism. Very much unlike what Roger found himself writing in a couple of years. It's really adorable though, it's just a fucking cat, and the instrumentation is really deep, whirly, and layered. The vocals are so too defined and enunciated in a way that implies it's being serious, but Syd's voice almost instinctively doesn't take itself seriously. All of it somehow works and the tape that holds it all together is Syd.

Matilda Mother (a song I can't stop calling Mother Matilda) is not a song about Danny DeVito's 1996 masterpiece and the mother of the title character; it's a song about a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The first half of the track before the interlude has some of the best vocal inflections of any Pink Floyd song. Verse three is great, I think a lot of people can relate to it, with how much we as people value imagination and childlike wonder.

Flaming has a really neat intro, the howling sound sorta sounding like some sort of train whistle. It's a childlike song, with rainbows and unicorns and shit. Really cheesy, really Syd, wonder why they made this out of any of the other songs on here a single. It's so singalongy and optimistic. I want to be in whatever awful state Syd was in while singing this.

Pow R. Toc H. goes so unnecessarily hard it's embarrassing. Everyone's just kind of making bird and pet sounds, but at the same time, they're just playing fire (metaphorically, not the Jimi Hendrix song). It's another whirly dirly instrumental, this has more depth than the stuff prior on the record, it's so wide-eyed that it's almost impossible to dislike. I mean you can dislike it if you want, but you're probably not very cool if you do.

Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk is Roger's first written song on an album. Imagine an aspiring songwriting researching their favorite lyricists. They remember Comfortably Numb and The Dark Side Of The Moon and think this track is going to be another baseline explanation of Rog's writings. Then they turn it on- "DOCTaR DOCTaR" and the other lines of assorted wackiness strike. It's the most meaningful song on the record so far, man's sick, music helps man get better, and it's all said in very entertaining lines. The instrumental is going further down the rabbit hole of what this album's already done, but it's more (proto-)prog, got more depth, and has better dynamics. I also really like the line "Doctor kindly tell your wife that I'm alive", implying that the doctor's wife cares. Why would the doctor's wife care? Simple, Rog is slamming her.

Interstellar Overdrive is the centerpiece of the album, the track that gets the basic bitch nerds saying "OMG OMG!! Impairstellor Ovadrive is Thyd's mathterpiece!!" while spitting all over your Wendy's 5for5. It's good, wtf you want me to say? Badass riff, a trippy middle 90% of the song, an awesome reprise at the end, and an incredible transition into The Gnome. The stereo mix sucks ass though. Instead of letting the end of the track be carried by the riff, they stroke their stereo cock by trying to make it sound like the song is circling around you. It works, and it's cool the first couple of times, but it's so much worse than the mono version which doesn't try anything funny. This is one in a few Syd and Roger era songs where Rog remembers that he's supposed to be a bass player. And since it's all very avant- garde Rog is doing some funny shit, which is very nice coming from him, a pseudo-bassist who probably doesn't know how to spell his instrument.

The Gnome starts with that great transition I mentioned before, the clacking and cowbell (I think). It's a romp that's sorta retelling the events of The Lord Of The Rings through the eyes of "WOAH!! The world is so beautiful", contrary to the book. It's sweet and puts the intensity of Interstellar Overdrive into perspective.

Chapter 24 is... I don't get it, it's lost on me. I can hear the George Harrison Love You To sorta thing they're doing, making their own thing of it. But the lyrics don't strike any primer, maybe it's super thoughtful and deep. But I don't listen to this album to get some incredible insight on myself and the overall state of the world from a schizophrenia acid head. That's what his solo albums are for. If you have an interpretation of the lyrics please dm me, 'cause I got no clue what any of it means.

The Scarecrow is kinda boring. Like the sound is interesting, and it's always nice hearing Syd talking about whatever made-up bullshit. But the entire rest of the album has that, so it's not like this one is anything special. They really could've done more with this sound. Another thing about it is that it's the last thing standing between me and Bike, and it does nothing for Bike nor for itself. So it's just building up unused tension.

Bike is Syd's greatest work. He's doing everything he does best and doing it the best he can. It has his childishness, it has his romanticism. But instead of another song about whimsical scenery, critters, and creatures, he's putting his efforts and talents into a love song. This is what I imagine an actual child would write if his second-grade teacher prompted him to write a love song; It's stupid and uses odd and dumb wording. But since this is an actual guy writing an actual love song with actual ideas and passion put behind it, it sends it to an astronomically high level. It's the cutest, most genuine love song I've heard (Good Vibrations might have that crown too but I'm not talking about Good Vibrations right now, so that's kind of irrelevant). The song starts with the bike verse, basically the overture, describing what the entire song is about in the first verse. He has something, he'd give it to you 'cause he loves you that much. The fact that it's a bike is important, it's not an item you would normally just hand over to someone else. It's like he just randomly picked it when his love interest was there, he wanted to convince her of his love, 'looked around, and went "I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like" while describing random things about it to make it seem like an incredibly loving gesture. Only to remember that he borrowed it and can't give it away. The chorus reinforces the idea the first verse set up, and keeps it going throughout the entire track. Syd describing the cloak tells you he has a sense of humor, like "look at my cloak, it's all tattered up", and then timidly saying "If you think it could look good then I guess it should". The Gerald the Mouse verse isn't about "oh, look at this thing of mine. You can have it!", it's about personality. Having a mouse roaming around where you live isn't a necessarily positive thing, but being okay with it and even giving it a name shows what kind of a person he is, and shows that he's open with his to-be gf. The gingerbread man verse is about cooking. "Look, I made something for you!! Take it". It's the D in the D.E.N.N.I.S. system (of course this time it's meant genuinely). The musical room verse is the end-all of the song. The vocal effects I feel reflect that. Now that he's shown what he has to offer, he pops the question, "wanna get together?" The actual sounds of clockwork I interpret as a "yes", she said yes and now they're in the musical room, they're together. I guess you could also interpret it as having more of a sexual meaning, but it doesn't read like that to me.

So overall I feel this is a pretty great album. Of the albums that built prog, and a must for anyone even slightly interested in psychedelia and psychedelic music. This being the only album lacking Gilmour really shows the holes this band has in terms of musicianship. It's the start of their fragile sound built on ideas rather than skill. I don't know if they would have that without Syd. There are so many different ways this band could've gone if Syd was either never there, or never left. People will be theorizing about that until the end of music. And this is the album that will be discussed in every single one of those conversations.

theCoagulater | 4/5 |

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