Pink Floyd: One of the most iconic recording artists for a time that nears half a century; beloved by ageing hippies whose flowing hair has long since been sheared and young stoners alike. Since the 1994 album The Division Bell, they have been in a state of permanent hiatus, only rereleasing their classic works like Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and Animals with more disks of content than the average listener knows what to do with, all for eye-watering prices. 2014, however, is different. They have released a much-anticipated collection of 20-year-old ‘new’ music.
They have called this The Endless River, presumably because after two tracks (can it be a song without lyrics?) one could easily start to wonder if an end is in sight. Endless has been marketed as being part progressive rock and part ‘ambient’, an unusual combination that doesn’t work – at least initially. Digital versions of the album are helpfully marked with the side of the LP they appear on, genuinely giving a better listening experience through this simple act, with side one being far too ambient and non-traditional for the casual music fan to enjoy.
The first side’s orchestral roar builds gradually before the second act takes over. This, starting more rock-centred, fades to ambience and becomes forgettable – even as it plays. This reviewer found the middle tracks of the album to blend as one, and in this soup they lost all flavour. Each of these recordings are recognisably Pink Floyd’s, but only in the sense that they sound like an overly elaborate introduction to their better-known and more successful work from the 1970s.
As Side 3 comes to a close, the most eagerly anticipated (and most publicised) track of the album plays out – “Talkin’ Hawkin’”. This, as its name suggests, features Professor Stephen Hawking’s vocal input, aptly speaking about the importance talking has to humanity as a whole. The only other track of any note on the album comes as the only song and the lead single “Louder Than Words”, one that is truly reminiscent of a greater time for Pink Floyd.
The true highlight of the album is the artwork – only the fourth release of Floyd’s not to be designed by the late Storm Thorgerson – that was created by the teenage Ahmed Emad Eldin. The digital image depicts a man rowing on a body of clouds towards the horizon, creating a calming sensation that is perhaps needed for those who forked out for the vinyl edition.
Ultimately, this album is for diehard fans of Pink Floyd (and those who enjoy sound they don’t have to listen to), certainly not for the casual music fan.
Listen to: “Louder Than Words”, “Talkin’ Hawkin’”