Pink Floyd – Endless River

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It’s been 20 years since the last Pink Floyd album... the same 20 years since I saw them in concert.  Twenty years doesn’t  buy what it used to...

And the band is picking up where they left off, which is not so amazing as they raided 20 hours of leftover recordings from that recording session.  David Gilmour, one of two remaining members, attributes this year long effort as a tribute to Rick Wright, their keyboardist who died in 2008, upon whose recordings this album is principally built. 

If that’s the case, I’m fine with it.  I’m not sure that he ever got the credit he deserves for shaping the Floyd sound.   And if 47 minutes of this album are instrumental, that’s okay, too.  There are plenty of us whose ears track to the music, certainly more than the “trials and tribulations of a rock star” lyrics which tended to infest their lyrics back in their heydey.

endless river

Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason have augmented those tapes, as 60% of the content involves re-recording and supplementing the source material.   It is said that there was some discussion about taking the instrumental sections that were left over and making an “ambient” music album, way back then.  Twenty years later, this release delivers far more interesting music than what Brian Eno might place in that genre, but it’s also not the earth shaking musical release for which many might hope. 

I have no doubt that this sum is greater than the pieces with which they began.  What is left, though, is an aggravating, but rewarding... no, a rewarding but aggravating experience.

This is a beautiful recording.  It really is.  It’s produced to perfection, with crisp acoustic and electric slide guitar providing context or, on occasion, forward movement to Wright’s keyboards.  Other instrumental adornments shape the music for a pleasing accessibility.  And, the Endless River is 53 minutes of bona fide Pink Floyd music.   If Roger Waters, their former bassist/lyricist/singer who departed the band over tensions with Gilmour, might still remark that the music created after he was separated from the band “doesn’t sound Pink Floyd enough,” it does to my ears – and always has. 

That said, if I credit this as an instrumental album more than an ambient one, it still lacks the context or substance that Gilmour or Waters might add via lyrics.  It’s said by some that there are four musical sections or movements within the greater whole.  I don’t hear it.  Maybe that’s because some try to find purpose in a double vinyl album which would equate to roughly 13 minutes per side.  Puhleez.

Instead, I hear beautiful music which lazily makes it way, eventually finding a heartbeat when Gilmour decides to shape the tones into something more evocative.  And when he awakens the listener from the slumber, there’s a hope for something aggressive around the corner, where he uncorks his guitar and lets it loose. 

That moment never arrives.  “Anisina,” Allons-Y (1 & 2), and “Surfacing” each have an elevated pulse but never break a sweat.  Which leaves, by default, the closer, “Louder Than Words,” as the CD’s most satisfying song, not because of the (admittedly welcome) vocals, but for the sense of structure and purpose for Gilmour’s flourishes. 

Endless River is an apt title.  It has a sufficiency in its duration, the production values are pristine, and it flows like a Saturday afternoon nap.  I’ll enjoy it for what it is.  But, what I wanted was something that might be more aptly titled Turbulent Waters.  Or, to be contrary at a literary level, “Comfortably Numb.”  

Instead, Endless River flows with the smoothness of a Swiss watch’s automatic movement, and at 53 minutes, we reach the end of Pink Floyd’s final cut.    

3 of 5 STARS



1 comment :

  1. Well, you got my interest up. Thanks for the review!