Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, Dec 1st, 2014

Pink Floyd: The Endless River

endless riverPink Floyd
The Endless River
(Columbia Records)

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This new Pink Floyd album is a sprawling aural set taken from 20 hours of ambient snippets intended as song connections for their 1993 The Division Bell album. Heavily influenced and mainly co-written by original Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright (who passed away in 2008), these songs were cleaned up and augmented by Floyd drummer Nick Mason and helmsman guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour, plus a slew of outside musicians and producers.

The first side here consists of three Gilmour/Wright pieces, the slow and ambient synth and high guitar mourning, “Things Left Unsaid,” into the very “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”-sounding (mainly because Wright uses the same synth sound here as he did on “Shine On”) “It’s What We Do,” the truly only real song here with Mason sticking in his laconic drumming and Gilmour adding a very fine, studied lead into “Ebb and Flow.”

Side Two’s “Sum” begins us with space burps/shucks and a buried, shimmying keyboard sound that metastasizes into Wright’s organ, distinctive Mason tom tribal stuff, a mean Gilmour vibrato bar slicing and a hint of piano at its tail. “Skins” relies on Mason’s roto-tom-sounding drumming with metallic curly-cue noises from Gilmour reminding one of the Floyd classic, “Echoes.” We finally get some Wright piano (something I personally was looking forward to) starting in the quick “Unsung,” but leading the full-fledged, sax-led elegy instrumental that ends this side, “Anisina.”

“The Lost Art of Conversation” opens side three with mainly just pulsating keys under Gilmour’s single notes and then single bluesy piano notes from Wright. “Allons-y (1),” with its chunky slap-back guitar and Guy Pratt bass, “Autumn ’68” (which is a snippet of Wright playing organ live with Pink Floyd in 1968) and “Allons-y (2)” picking up the beat from the beginning of this trio, move along quite nicely, one into the other. There’s drums, bass, piano (!), backing female “ahhh’s,” soaring Gilmour single notes plus Stephen Hawking talking (as he has before on a Pink Floyd album) for “Talkin’ Hawkin.” Again, Pink Floyd tackles the subject of communication with Gilmour’s soaring, single notes and Wright’s chill-inducing piano.

Side Four stars with those distinctive metallic Gilmour slices in the “Calling” on what is basically an almost completely Gilmour-penned last side. This song flows sweetly into the guitar plucking of “Eyes to Pearls” then into “Surfacing,” where we get acoustic guitar and a synth line floating over those Mason toms. The Endless River ends with the only actual song here, Gilmour singing his wife Polly Samson’s lyrics (she has contributed to later Floyd albums and Gilmour solo work quite a bit) on “Louder Than Words.” There is floating acoustic, piano and a doubled harmony vocal about rising above one’s differences to create something better than one’s self.

The Endless River is not the Pink Floyd album for uniniated Floyd fans. But for those of us who miss Rick Wright and ache for every last Floyd morsel the river flows on here with this 15th studio album from a band that will surely make no more.

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Pink Floyd: The Endless River