It’s that time of year!
Pink Floyd fans have something to rejoice about: there’s a new solo album by their spiritual leader, David Gilmour. I say spiritual leader because he’s more or less kept the flag of Floyd flying for the past 30 years. Meanwhile Roger Waters, Yang to Gilmour’s Ying — or perhaps Ying to Yang — continued to explore the darkside of the gloom, seemingly endlessly trudging out The Wall just one time too many, like The Who’s many Tommy’s.
No disrespect to Mr. Waters, mind you — or Tommy for that matter! — I still dig a lot of his stuff but, hey, the times they are a changin’ and its nice to see our favorite artists grow a bit, or at least achieve some sense of peace in their lives.
At least from this reviewer’s perspective, Gilmour’s 2006 album On An Island was just that: a welcome reprieve of pastoral bliss and serenity, at least musically, if not lyrically.
So here we are in 2015 drifting in the wake of The Endless River a pleasant non-starter stop-gap of Pink Floyd outtakes issued in 2014, and, frankly, many of us are more than ready hear Mr. Dave rock out a bit again while sharing his visions of adult life in a post-Pink world.
And I’m happy to report on those results in the form of his fine new album called Rattle That Lock.
Since I don’t have all that much space to write I’m not going to bore you with my song-by-song analyses and other rock reviewer type blather…. Instead, I will get right down to the meat of how this album sounds particularly the Blu-ray disc version…
Rattle That Lock mostly sounds great! With three listening options to choose from, I first started with the stereo mix to get to know the music a bit. I found the high-resolution 96 kHz 24-bit two-channel audio to be warm and inviting, with crisp highs, nicely defined midranges and a round bottom end. It sounds pretty sweet for what is most likely an all digital recording — in one of the included books in the deluxe edition package, there is a picture of Mr. Gilmour working at a digital workstation, so one can connect those production dots accordingly.
David Gilmour’s guitar always sounds glorious, whether he’s plucking out a fierce electric guitar solo or gently strumming jazzy type riffs. In fact, he does this on “The Girl in the Yellow Dress” which, by the way, contains one of the best sounding saxophone solos I’ve heard on a Pink Floyd-related record since Dark Side of the Moon. This is audiophile demo-worthy stuff, folks.
I do love how that song sort of appears almost out of nowhere on the album, very very (very) loosely recalling the almost vaudevillian Roger Waters tune from Pink Floyd’s Meddle, “San Tropez,” but with a much richer, bluesier execution and message to deliver. Billie Holiday or Tom Waits could sing this tune and it would ring true…
The 5.1 surround sound mix is warm and inviting as well, with a defined soundstage for the band in the front channels and a nice gently immersive use of the surrounds for assorted guitars, voices and other effects. Not sure why but on this disc I prefer the PCM version over the DTS HD Master Audio option. Just a personal preference, if there are any differences between the two versions, they are indeed subtle.
Gilmour summons his inner Leonard Cohen (as well as, probably, Kurt Weill & Bertold Brecht) on “Faces of Stone,” blending a decidedly theatrical fragrance with his inevitably Floyd-ian flavors — woodwinds and acoustic guitars emerge from the rear channels while big piano tones fill the room, front to back…
“Dancing Right in Front of Me” has some wonderful subtle dynamics going on with the multi-layered guitars sparkling from the different channels…
This deluxe version of the Rattle That Lock set comes with a CD of the album that sounds perfectly fine in the car (or if you rip it to play on your mobile listening devices)…
The boxed set also comes with two hardcover books, one of which reproduces “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, which was some of the inspiration for the title track and the music video — which, by the way, you get as a bonus on the Blu-ray — It vividly bringing the song’s story of the fallen angel to life. Its a fascinating and complex work of art; so much so, Mr. Gilmour has included a making-of styled documentary showing how the animation was designed to reflect illustrations appearing in original edition’s of Mr. Milton’s work. It’s quite a mesmerizing piece and simply stunning to watch the credits scroll by realizing just how many people worked on making it a reality.
Serious Pink Floyd fans will be pleased with the bonus jams included in the set — I suspect these are among the last sessions done with late Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright in Gilmour’s barn studio (circa 2007). Nothing utterly groundbreaking here, but still there are fun things to see / hear as some real nice grooves come together. But really, mostly its just so sweet to see them playing together again in such an intimate setting.
There’s much to explore and enjoy in the set and if that were not enough we also are given one of Mr. Gilmour’s custom guitar picks as a bonus! You also get a nifty postcard from France that is in the style of art found on the animated video for “The Girl With The Yellow Dress.” Or perhaps the art on the video is styled after the postcard.
Oddly enough, exploring this album makes me want to go to back to visit Europe!
It also makes me really want to see David Gilmour live in concert on this tour because I think it’s going to be a particularly grand show.
Until then, I suspect Rattle That Lock will be a regular listen for me.
I might even pick up the vinyl version if it comes on sale.
I like this album that much.
Its a keeper, as they say…