I got this album and confessed to Alex that, although I know plenty of Floyd tracks, I’ve never listened to a whole album in a sitting before. There are always connotations with Pink Floyd of it being ultimate hippy music, and only people smoking things they shouldn’t can enjoy it.
Well, I’m sober as all hell, and this is what I think.
Okay. My first foray into 70s prog rock.
We begin with Speak to Me, which leads with a heartbeat pulse that beckons, and teases you with some chattering and giggles somewhere far away – and suddenly, screaming. If you weren’t paying attention before, you really are now. Melodic guitar and organ and echoing harmonies lead you into Breathe (In The Air), segued with sci-fi style bleeps and bloops. One thing I noticed was just how seamless the blends into the tracks are – there are no pauses, just gentle leads.
On The Run incorporates actual sounds of someone running with crazy surround sound guitar screeches (definitely, listen to this album with dual sound) and a horrific apocalyptic crash, then…
One thing Pink Floyd knows about is the importance of crescendo and silence. There are so many points in this album where you climb a scale, only to fall back down it and into a soft silence, and it takes you on such a journey.
We then move into Time, with its intro of ticking clocks and alarms – then, the twanging guitar, holding your hand through the rhythm until the drum fill takes you to the vocals. Rhythmically, the album takes a lot of cues from a sort of swinging, jazz vibe.
The Great Gig in the Sky is our first balladic song, with a gentle piano to start and these words:
I’m not afraid of dying. Any time will do, I don’t mind.
I kind of think that’s the album in a nutshell. It’s full of life and strangeness, brimming with an odd finality of purpose, almost like the band feels that if this is the last thing they ever create, it’s all right by them. GGITS had grand sweeps of guitar noise and screaming, swooping wails of vocal sound – then silence.
Money is probably the song everyone came to the album for. Its distinctive opening of cash register and coin jingles into that uber-cool bassline and bright synth descends into guitar solos and wah-wah.
Us and Them utlises synth organ and melancholy scales, and eventually brings in a saxophone (because why not?!). The vocals echo into nothing, juxtaposed with sudden, almost orchestral breaks, taking off into realms of outer space.
There is a science-fiction feel here, like those cheesy B-movies from the 70s. It’s shown best in Any Colour You Like, which has wobbly guitar noises and the old Hollywood sci-fi electronica.
Brain Damage goes back to the start of the album, with laughter heard throughout, starting soft and low and finishing in an anthemic rise, taking us to the end of the album and Eclipse. And what an end. It feels final, taking all of the tropes previously set up and throwing them all together into a sophisticated final track.
We finish with a heartbeat. Like all good things, we end where we began.
Is This Album For You?
I’m going to be honest – Dark Side of the Moon isn’t going on my playlist any time soon. I think if you isolated the tracks, it would lose a lot of what it has going for it, that seamless, smooth transitioning that makes this less of an album, and more of an experience. There are more instrumentals than vocal tracks, so if you’re up for a sing-a-long, maybe give this a miss. I would recommend you hear this album at least once. It’s definitely a product of its time, and a memorable foray into the weird world of the 70s.
My scores here definitely reflect the respect I have for the crafting of this album, rather than my need to listen again. It is a piece of musical art.