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Pink Floyd - The Endless River CD (album) cover

THE ENDLESS RIVER

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.36 | 643 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars The irresistible urge to hear Pink Floyd's new album is unprecedented. "The Endless River" has to be one of the most anticipated albums of the year as far as I am concerned, but also an album to be approached with a great degree in trepidation. The reasons are obvious; will it live up to the colossal reputation of the band? And furthermore will it be a fitting tribute to the late great Richard Wright? To state this is a mere cash in is an injustice as the band would not do this merely for the money and their reputation is already engraved in music history as indelible. So it goes back to the notion that the band genuinely are sincere in producing something worth while musically to add to their incredible back catalogue of masterpieces, and in due respect of Richard Wright.

These tracks are studio outtakes and remasters of the classy "Division Bell". The style on the album is predominantly instrumental and melancholy. It becomes obvious on the first track "Things Left Unsaid" that has the same ambience and keyboard driven atmospherics as "Shine On". Every reviewer will pick this up, but its painfully obvious; though there are no vocals outside of a few narrative moments earlier. The absence of vocals does not necessarily mar the enjoyment but part of Pink Floyd's greatness rests in the complex themes and brilliant lyrical poetry. Therefore the absence of this component was jarring. Gilmour is a masterful guitarist as usual and the band create very strong emotions in the music, but I longed for some vocals.

It segues into "It's What We Do" and then the dreamy "Ebb and Flow" that could have all been mixed as one track such were the seamlessness of the music. I love that quiet tranquil solitude generated in the music thus far. Richard Wright's ghostly keyboards are enchanting and haunting at the same time.

"Sum" has a wavering synth that is different and a heavier guitar crashes in with characteristic Gilmour slides, reminding me of "One of these Days". This is a definitive track on the album, fantastic instrumentation sounding at times like the rhythms and riffs of "Keep Talking". It could be misconstrued as an extension of that track such is the tempo and overall style.

The shrilly violins are wonderful; very ethereal and portentous, segueing into the next track. "Skins" moves into drumming territory showcasing the incomparable skill of Nick Mason. He is indispensable as the rhythm machine of Pink Floyd and it is great to hear him waxing eloquent on the skins. The mood is similar to the mid section of "Echoes" like shrieking Humpback whales.

"Unsung" is a shift in mood but still maintains violining guitar slides. The orchestral accompaniment is a great augmentation, but this is certainly a darker sound. This quickly segues into "Anisina", with beautiful Wright piano accompaniment. Gilmour takes off on those trademark licks on his axe.

"The Lost Art of Conversation" is dreamy ambience to fall asleep to. Very nice but it feels like a filler track. "On Noodle Street" has Gilmour kanoodling eloquently with some layered keyboards and mellotron sounds. Pleasant throughout but a bit tuneless. It segues to the acoustics and atmospheric keys of "Night Light". I like the moodiness generated here, lending an eerie esoteric quality.

"Allons-y (1)" reintroduces drums and a more coherent beat is welcome. Its over in a flash and we hear "Autumn '68". This is a Wright keyboard showcase. The beat returns on "Allons-y (2)" and it's the same style as the first part. Really one wonders why the tunes aren't merged together as one because they are too short to stand alone.

"Talkin' Hawkin'" is a throwback to the Stephen Hawking soundbites of "Keep Talking". Its slower and its nice to hear vocal "Aaaagghh"'s. The outtakes of Hawking's revelations about mankind's achievements works for me. The man is a genius so we should listen to what he has to say.

In no time at all we are at the pointy end of the album, side 4 and "Calling" moves into ambient territory again. I like the high pitched synths and dramatic essence, and the way it is unlike other Pink Floyd music. "Eyes to Pearls" has nice Wright keyboard crashes like "One of these Days" accompanied by Gilmour's acoustic prowess. Seamlessly we are lead by the hand into "Surfacing", feeling like a lost memory from "Division Bell". Gilmour's vocals are heard as intonations to augment the music; lots of "oohs" with multi harmonies. This is beauty on a major scale as divine as Pink Floyd can get. Again the slides on the guitar are angelic and the emotionally charged atmosphere rings of a time gone by, never to return to. The sadness of Wright's departure is felt strongly.

"Louder Than Words" is the song on the album that feels out of place after all the instrumental workouts but is still welcome as the vocals enhance the mood. Gilmour harmonises "we bitch and we fight, dissing each other on sight" and "with world weary grace we've taken our place, we could curse it or nurse it and give it a name." Gilmour croons "it's louder than words, this thing that we do, the beat of our hearts is louder than words". Later there is an album reference with "it's there with a pulse". I love how Gilmour mournfully sings and it's wonderful to know that he is doing this again on a genuine Pink Floyd album with his old band mates, sans Waters. Talking of which Waters' bass is replaced by Bob Ezrin and Guy Pratt; unfortunately nowhere near as good as Waters. His absence is a blight on the album which would have been so much better with him putting aside all differences and appearing in respect of Richard Wright's memory; an opportunity missed there.

Final conclusion has to be this is not a great Pink Floyd album but it is good enough to check out. It doesn't stand up to the likes of any of the other Pink Floyd albums from "Meddle" to "The Wall" and is nowhere near the value and quality of "Division Bell" or for that matter "A Momentary Lapse of Reason". It has to be reviewed on its merits of course, as an afterthought after a brilliant career; Pink Floyd will never be forgotten, even if this is how it all ends in the studio for this mesmirising indispensable band.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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