The Endless River - Pink Floyd
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Review of "The Endless River - Pink Floyd"
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Having not recorded anything together since 1993’s Division Bell and with Roger Waters no longer in the band and Syd Barrett and Richard Wright now sadly dead it seemed that the chances of a new album from the band were very slim. So when I saw that the Endless River by Pink Floyd was available on amazon I was both intrigued and surprised to see that the band had released something new. Of course this time David Gilmour has officially stated that this would be the bands last recording and thus the end of Pink Floyd.
Where Did It Come From?Taking the fact that despite a brief reunion in 2005 for Band Aid and the fact that once again Waters has gone off on his own and the death of Richard Wright it seemed a bit of a surprise that the band were releasing something almost 20 years after their last album. This album actually takes its routes from the release of Division Bell as at the time there had been a suggestion that they would release a separate instrumental and relaxed album but it never came to fruition.
During the sessions for the Division Bell they recorded almost 20 hours of material that never made the album, so Gilmour and Nick Mason went into a studio earlier this year and listened to it all and choose the bits they were most impressed with. They rerecorded sections and brought the sound quality up to modern standards and the result was Endless River, an album released 20 years after its conception and featuring Mason, Gilbert and Wright’s parts from the original recordings with a few tweaks and new sections to really enhance the work.
So Is It Any Good?The fact the album isn’t all new material and came from the sessions around the Division Bell, which has to date sold over 12 million copies would suggest that the results would be pretty reasonable. It’s an album broken into 4 parts, the first of which has three tracks, two of which are made up of 4 parts and the other made up of 7 and I think the best way to tackle the album would be to review each of those parts rather than running through it track by track. Each section is grouped well and it’s hard to tell where each track ends and another begins, which leads to a very chilled out 53 minutes of music.
The opening section of the album is made up of four parts and starts with the very haunting “Things Left Unsaid”. It’s a very mellow start to the album with a nice steady low pace and feel that really sets the tone for the whole album. The instruments build nicely throughout the track and from there lead nicely into “It’s What We Do” and despite listening to this album quite a few times already I still can’t spot the change. The guitars are quite early and accompany the keyboards beautifully and the addition of a drum beat brings the tone of the album up a little.The join with the third and final section of part 1, “Ebb and Flow” is a little easier to identify than the previous one as the instrument start to ease off and the keyboard once again takes the lead role, providing a very mellow and haunting end to this first section.
There is a proper break in the album between parts 1 and 2, as “Sum” builds out of the quiet ending to part 1 with the keyboards leading the way before the guitars and then drums really kick in. This is a more up tempo section of the album with the guitars really taking the lead before we move on to “Skins”, which once again molds into the previous track. There is a lot of percussion and psychedelic sounds at the beginning of this track which give it a more unique sound than those that have gone before.From the end of Skins, “Unsung” carries on in a similar manor with the keyboard taking center stage and providing a base for the guitars to experiment from. Of course over their lifespan this is exactly what Pink Floyd have been good off, using each others abilities and musical talent to see where a piece of music can take them and that is exactly what happens on Endless River.
The final section of Part 2 is “Anisina” a keyboard led track that is probably the least experimental part of the album so far. It has the keyboard at its base once again with the guitars really using it as a safety net and creating some amazing riffs, in addition the saxophone appearing midway through the track gives it another lift and makes this an excellent way to end part 2 and probably the best track on the album so far.
Part 3The third section of the album is the longest, made up of 7 parts, however the majority of these parts are only a minute and a half long. As it follows on from Anisina, you would expect the album to be a little more uplifted but instead it heads in the other direction. The start of “The Lost Art Of Conversation” is low and quiet and it never really lifts back up. It has a good keyboard basis once again but I think in comparison to the last track it’s lost its way a little. “On Noodle Street” begins a slight recovery but it’s still quite quiet and haunting. By this point in the album it is clear that what they have made here is a very ambient album that makes more of a background soundtrack to a lazy Sunday than something to really lift you up.
Once again the connection between tracks is hard to spot and “Night Light” really carries on the low and haunting section of the album before “Allons-y 1” brings the lead guitars back into the fray and lifts things up again. The guitars and drums work well in this section to bring a more upbeat feel to the third part of the album. For me it then losses that brief moment and returns to the more drab and haunting sounds of the opening part of this section with an almost funeral inspired sounds of “Autumn 68”, which for me is the worst piece on the album.The second part of “Allons-y 2” manages to bring thinks back after the disappointment of Autumn 68 and once again the guitars create some rather impressive riffs that complement the drums really well before leading the album into the final part of this section “Talkin’ Hawkin’”. Even though it slows things down slightly this is a really good track. There is an excellent relationship between all of the instruments on display and this really feels like a Pink Floyd track. It even gives the album one of only two section of vocals, coming from Steven Hawkin’ talking over a section of the track. All in all this is my favorite point of the album and had Autumn 68 not interrupted the flow I think the final section of part 3 works extremely well.
Onto the 4th and final part of the album we once again return to a quiet and experimental start to “Calling” before the symbols start to really herald in the track. There is once again the haunting feel from part 1 about this section of the album. Whilst there is a slight build up and more instruments are introduced I think this is a little too slow for this section, especially following the end of part 3 and whilst I appreciate this is a mellow and chilled out album there are times when it feels it has gone too far down that route and this is one of those.Thankfully “Eyes To Pearls” starts the way you would wish part 4 itself had started. The guitar working its way through its range, accompanied by a nice soothing backing, works really well. It then leads nicely into “Surfacing”, which picks up the guitar and adds the drums to really give the track a bit of grounding. It’s a very experimental piece but it sounds really good.
Its then onto the albums final and longest track “Louder Than Words”. It carries on nicely from the end of Surfacing and once again the guitar and keyboards really complement each other well. This is a nice chilled out track that adds some really well timed vocals. The lyrics are excellent and really provide a decent ending to the album.
Did It Work?As a fan of Pink Floyds work I can see why they have released the album, both as a tribute to Richard Wright and as a closure on the recordings they made 20 years ago. This is a very chilled out album that will provide an excellent background to a relaxing day. There is a part of me though that doesn’t feel totally satisfied by this album. It has some fantastic moments and in places works superbly but in others the track ordering just doesn’t work for me.
There were a few areas where you could feel the album becoming a little more upbeat and to where you would like it to have been aimed, however when you got to almost where it felt it should be it seemed to drop back into haunting and slow leaving me personally a little disappointed. As a piece of music this is an excellent album and the instrumental idea works well, I just felt it wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting.I do feel though that fans of the band will enjoy it as this is Pink Floyd doing what they do best but there is an element of this album being hyped up a little too much. There was a reason they didn’t do this 20 years ago and although it acts as a great tribute and showcase for their collective talents I just can’t help feel that it misses the mark a little in terms of being an all-time great Floyd album.
Released – 10th November 2014
Amazon - £8.99
Product Information : The Endless River - Pink Floyd
Manufacturer's product description
Sub Genre: Progressive Rock
Original Release Year: 2014
Performer: David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright
Label / Distributor: Parlophone UK
Studio / Live: Studio
Listed on Ciao since: 24/10/2014