Are you sitting comfortably (numb?). You soon will be, careering sleepily through The Endless River of Pink Floyd’s career trajectory/ personal Time Vortex- more of which later.
The third studio record from the ‘minus Roger Waters’ line-up, following in the wake of 1987’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason & The Division Bell, ringing as it did in 1994 finds them in ambiently sombre mood, raiding the archives for source material and paying fond musical tribute to Rick Wright whose keyboard contributions played a vastly understated part in their music: a balance which to their credit David Gilmour and Nick Mason seem to have done a fine job of restoring to the mix here with a little help from co-producers Phil Manzanera, Youth & Andy Jackson.
Perhaps now he will be awarded rightful credit as the man who build the foundations for the Wall as opposed to a mere day labourer, simply another brick in it. Of course his time spent as the quiet lynchpin of the Pink Floyd sound was not entirely without incident- an enforced resignation after muddying the Waters during the recording of The Wall, Rog threatening to abandon ship on the album if his fellow founder member (alongside Mason & the late Syd Barrett) refused to jump before he was pushed, followed by a humiliating spell as a session musician on the resulting tour. Despite all that, there remains only one of their fifteen albums upon which he doesn’t play- 1983’s The Final Cut given over to Waters’ abiding preoccupation with war and its after-effects (the death of his father on active service during the Second World War casting a long shadow)…
But let’s now cast our punt a little further back along the banks of time’s River Cam. Take a listen to A Saucerful Of Secrets– Barrett’s second and final major contribution to the band. Back to the start then. The roots of what will be belatedly celebrated several years hence can be found on Remember A Day and See-Saw though it’s not until Wright and band come back from a trip to the Dark Side Of The Moon with The Great Gig In The Sky and Us & Them from Rick slotting in nicely alongside the Waters and Gilmour-dominated remainder of the record. Perhaps mindful of this, it’s not surprising he shifted his focus to musical embellishment- an ear for detail helping to make Dark Side….what it is, as it had on Meddle. Take a listen to One Of These Days, the opening instrumental, and marvel at what it sounds like you’re hearing reproduced with around three minutes gone… www.youtube.com/watch?v=75V4ClJZME4
How fitting then that here now stands a regenerated Floyd, albeit minus one for 2014, carefully-selected earlier snippets of the past interspersed with a little of something new to create an end product which is still unmistakably them, older and wiser while sounding younger and fresher for the first time in years, though it would appear this is their last hurrah- the controls of their TARDIS seemingly set on taking the old girl for one last trip into the heart of the Sun.