There are a few ways you can view this new album from Pink Floyd called The Endless River. On one hand you could look at it as crass opportunism to leverage the buzz built around recent reissues of their last official album, The Division Bell, something I’ve heard some grumbling about in various and sundry online forums.
Being a believer in the band as a group of people who are bigger than that, especially based on some of the videos I’ve watched interviewing surviving members, I really don’t think that is the case here.
On another hand you could look at it as the band simply wanting to put forth more music for the fans, who are (likely, perhaps) hoping this might signal an eventual opening of the archives for other future unreleased jams.
I like this viewpoint…
For those prone to reading between the lines for hidden meaning, given the titles of the songs on The Endless River and the overall sound which is very much akin to classic Pink Floyd circa 1975, one might view this release as something of open peace-making letter from the surviving band members, Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason, to their estranged bandmate, Roger Waters.
I’ll let you decide whether anything like that might be conscious, subconscious or even there at all…
Tracks like “Things Left Unsaid” feature recently deceased keyboardist Rick Wright’s trademark synthesizer soloing which sounds very much like an outtake — or an homage, more likely — from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album. This leads into another jam sounding very much of that mid-seventies era called “It’s What We Do.” Later there are songs called “The Lost Art of Conversation.” At the end of the album is a song with lyrics and vocals from David Gilmour, a lovely tune called “Louder Than Words.” “Anisina” revisits themes from Dark Side of the Moon‘s “Us and Them,” replete with saxophone solo and Dave Gilmour’s beautiful slide and lead guitar soloing.
You get the idea…
I think, that if you are a Pink Floyd fan you’ll want to own The Endless River in some form, be it download (iTunes, HDTracks), CD or LP or DVD or Blu-ray. If you are casual fan and happy with your copies of Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon, you probably don’t need this new album.
However, if you are someone who would like to have some lush instrumental, progressively-oriented rock music that you can keep on in the background during a party, well The Endless River may well be your cup of tea. Please note that I’m saying this in the best possible way… I don’t think The Endless River is any sort of pedestrian, throw-away album. It is another snapshot of the inner workings of Pink Floyd, presented in a sort of instrumental manner. These were reportedly pieces of music made during The Division Bell sessions which originally was supposed to have a strong ambient music element to it, an approach which was abandoned as the more song oriented vibe took hold as the primary direction for the record.
]]>All that aside, perhaps The Endless River might appeal to a new generation of younger listeners, fans of newer bands such as Sigur Ros and Caspian and any number of other atmospheric instrumentally-driven groups.
As one might expect from Pink Floyd the sound on this record is very much high fidelity and … well… lush (I know, I said that earlier…). I can’t tell you whether it is analog or digital — given that it has some guest producers involved including Phil Manzanera, Youth and Andy Jackson, one suspects the music entered the digital domain at some point — but I can tell you that it sounds real nice! On Blu-ray in 5.1 surround or regular stereo at 96 kHz, 24-bit resolution, the sound is mighty sweet and despite its instrumental focus, decidedly Pink Floyd-ian.
The 5.1 surround mix is fairly straightforward, presenting a mostly stereo sound-stage, using the surrounds for selective instrumentation and effects. Sometimes you might hear Gilmour’s acoustic guitar feeding back a bit in the rear channels or perhaps you might feel Rick Wright’s liquid sounding organ tones reverberating around you in a virtual concert hall. It is a subtle mix that works effectively with this music.
As a bonus on this disc you get some fascinating rehearsal type video — albeit stereo only — featuring many songs on the album as well as others that didn’t make the final cut (no pun intended). It is neat to see the band playing in a spiffy home studio type environment…
The packaging on the special edition The Endless River is a very nice, somewhat larger scale box — think fancy Hallmark greeting cards! Not as over-the-top wonderful as the Immersion series, this deluxe version of The Endless River is also a whole lot cheaper! Actually, the greeting cards analogy makes sense given that the package does come with some postcards and it pictures of Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, some alternate artwork from The Division Bell and even a really neat lenticular image that’s pretty trippy. The package includes a nice hardbound, oversized booklet with pictures of the band recording as well lyrics to the final song.
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar I find this deluxe CD + Blu-ray offering to be the most worthwhile value of the three options out there. For about $30 you’re getting two versions of the album — in high-resolution resolution stereo and 5.1 surround sound — plus a regular CD… and postcards… and a hardbound book. That’s a pretty cool deal for 30 bucks! Consider that when you buy the LP you just getting the two discs (and a download) and you have to get up every 15 minutes or so to flip the record.
For this kind of almost meditative music, I think that the continual listening experience is the best option, be it on Blu-ray, DVD or an HDTracks high resolution download (yes, you can get it there too!)
So…. turn the lights down… light a few candles and maybe some incense too … close your eyes …. and just let the music take you away…
On a journey…
(Wait for it…)
(Here it comes…)
The Endless River.
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist the cheesy cliché ending)