By Russell J. Zazueta
After 20 years on hiatus, psychedelic rock innovators Pink Floyd released their final LP, “The Endless River,” last week, demonstrating their music wizardry to the world once again.
In 1993, during the writing sessions of the “Division Bell,” written with then-alive founding keyboardist Rick Wright, Pink Floyd cut 20 hours of tapes for a disc of ambient music to be included with the album. It was a plan that ultimately got scrapped.
Fortunately for all the Pink Floyd fans, guitarist/singer David Gilmour, 68, dug up those lost tracks a few years ago and made the decision with drummer Nick Mason, 70, to use the material to create one last album comprised mainly of instrumental music, before throwing in the towel.
“The Endless River” is a pleasing 18-track wormhole that’ll lead listeners down a psychedelic journey through four different movements, each with their own distinctive ambience, right smack into the heart of Pink Floyd.
Tracks like, “It’s What We Do,” “Surfacing” and “Sum” have an incredible throwback feel to classic Pink Floyd, channeling a variety of influences from albums like “Dark Side of The Moon” to “Division Bell,” as well as everything in between.
For all those Floyd-heads who absolutely feel that the band’s 1975 “Wish You Were Here” era is the best, look out for “It’s What We Do” during the first movement of the record.
It’s a hypnotic track with phenomenal elements resembling “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” and it’s nestled in between two seamless songs that are apt to a warm and eerie dream.
Just like in the classics, Wright’s presence can be heard in the foreground of nearly every track.
His knack for creating psychedelic sonic landscapes set the tone for a rollercoaster of weeping guitar textures played by Gilmour.
On the second movement, Mason shines by exploiting his upbeat jazz and tribal abilities.
“Sum” is a track that’ll leave progressive music fans hungry for more.
Progressive drumming is a very complex style of playing, and in this track Mason demonstrates just that with tasteful flurries of tom hits and polyrhythms that build with the song as it reaches its climax.
“Skins” is another remarkable song that crescendos into insanity with Mason again running the show on drums.
Guy Pratt’s chunky bass lines back him while Gilmour’s web of ‘60s-type screeching sounds layer over Mason’s groove and grow louder and crazier as the song builds into mayhem.
Pink Floyd has never ceased to surprise its audience with new music or innovative laser shows and “The Endless River” is no exception.
Being that they are masters at setting moods that speak for the cosmos, their idea to invite astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to join in on “Talkin’ Hawkin’” makes total sense.
He goes on to say many lines like, “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking,” and “All we need to do is make sure we keep talking,” in his renowned robotic voice on a backdrop of moody Pink Floyd tones. This song is a must listen.
Also, in the third movement, there’s a track called “On Noodle Street.” It is a song that can only be described as slipping into a hot bath on a cold day.
The Album wraps up with “Louder Than Words,” the only track to feature Gilmour’s vocals, with lyrics written by his wife about the band’s tumultuous history: “We bitch and we fight, dis each other on site, but this thing we do.”
Overall, “The Endless River” is an amazing album. The sequence of songs and movements can play from beginning to end without it ever feeling like it drags.
For all Floyd fans, the band has a deluxe package of “The Endless River” out that contains three extra tracks, hours of videos and lots of photos of the band during the Division Bell sessions.
“The Endless River” is now available in stores and on iTunes.