Pink Floyd - The Endless River


posted by on in Music Reviews Print  

SCORE: 0 HUZZAH!*
Sometimes, when you have a band as distinctive, a band that has achieved so much, as Pink Floyd, it is better to snuff the flame rather than desperately try to keep the remnants of the wick alive without wax.


OK, we're here less than 2 months, and I'm about to break a cardinal rule of Dave's Place: I'm reviewing an album I can't say, hand-on-heart, that I genuinely like.
 
"The Endless River" (nice title, although I don't see how it applies ... and I really don't find myself motivated to find out ... although the unbreaking flow of each track to the next might be all there is ... I dunno ... or care) is a major disappointment ... as an album. If this was a carefully assembled bonus CD in a Pink Floyd box set, fair enough. I could very well be mildly raving a bit about the odd track.
 
It clearly has had a lot of work put into it. It is finely mixed and engineered, sounding pristine and suitably nebular.
 
It may be good as background music, but for what activity I have no idea, and I doubt I'll have it playing often enough to discover what that activity is.
 
Michael Engelbrecht of Manafonistas.de (good stuff! Investigate!) doesn't like it, and already is calling it "the worst album of the year". I wouldn't go that far, myself. However, I can, knowing Michael, understand why he wouldn't like it. He alluded to an article by Andy Gill (of The Independent - one of the best UK newspapers that manages to have one of the worst websites - my browser goes into slow motion if I have more than a couple of tabs open at the same time when I visit it ... so I rarely do: probably why I read The Guardian more) and one I discovered Michael felt motivated enough to join in on an "argument" that was precipitated by Gill's opening remark: "Ah, now I remember why punk had to happen." That irked me, too, I must say. The reverence shown to punk as a "movement" is ridiculous. Was there a corollary moment where "new romantics had to happen" in response to punk? Not at all. Punk was something that happened at the right moment, alright, but aside from The Sex Pistols and a few others, it mostly happened in the heads of a few journalists, albethey influential ones. The music we now regard as punk has its classics and its rubbish, much like any other genre. Saying that Pink Floyd needed to be eradicated by punk is like saying The Sex Pistols needed to be eradicated by Kylie Minogue. Or better yet, by Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. But I digress (as I so often do).
 
"The Endless River" is simply too amorphous to be considered an album. It is effectively a remix made of spare parts. Obviously, it is meant as a tribute to Rick Wright, but that doesn't elevate it as music. For what it is, it is fine. But what it isn't is an album. The musicianship on display is great, as always, but the compositional side of things is almost completely absent. As Gill points out in his review, "On Noodle Street" is an unfortunate, yet utterly descriptive title for everything that goes on here. Until "Louder Than Words" arrives. It's a SONG. The lyrics made me cringe: that use of the word "diss" annoys me immensely, for example. Aside from that, it sounds like Pink Floyd, yet it does so in a way that makes it seem inauthentic.
 
Leaving all of this behind, what is most interesting about the album - in the long run - is the fact that it has generated such interest. Massive pre-orders, already Spotified into submission, swirling through torrents and clouds, and appearing when you're about to have a qualified stranger poke around your gums or remove bits of your hair - previously unlikely scenarios for "The Floyd" to appear in the past 30 years (except when the odd track popped up on BBC Radio 2).
 
For all that I could say about why I think it's not a great album by any measurement I can come up with, there's a part of me that likes it a little. But only a very tiny miniscule little. I would still rather listen to "Atom Heart Mother" or watch "Live at Pompeii", or bask in the holy trinity of "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals". For me, the only "new Pink Floyd album" that might have worked would have involved Waters, Wright, Gilmour and Mason as a unit. And even then, from all the evidence I've heard since "The Wall", that would have done little to improve matters. Sometimes, when you have a band as distinctive, a band that has achieved so much, as Pink Floyd, it is better to snuff the flame rather than desperately try to keep the remnants of the wick alive without wax.

* The DPM Rating System
When we rate an album or concert etc we rate it on the "Huzzah!" system. A score can be between 1 and 3 huzzahs:
1 Huzzah! - The reviewer likes it. You should give it a listen!
2 Huzzah! - The reviewer recommends it - and is delighted it is part of his/her collection
3 Huzzah! - The reviewer strongly recommends it - and it has already entered heavy rotation on his/her personal playlists.

On rare occasions there may be a 0 Huzzah! review. The reasons will be explained in the article. On equally rare occasions you may even see a 4 Huzzah ... well explain that another time :)

We dont do negative reviews because we review what we like.



permalink: permalink -- -- tagged: • Pink Floyd • The Endless River • Parlophone 
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RELATED POSTS


Dave 12.11.14 16:58
posted by: Dave

BTW: Is it just me, or does the cover make anyone think of "Life of Pi"? It's a nice image, but hardly on a par with Storm Thorgerson's work ... Lacks a biting edge, really ...
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13.11.14 20:35
posted by: Nitya

Didn't you mean bask in the holy trinity of Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here? Cover looks kind of like Pi, you do know Storm is no longer with us, right? The CD booklet has some nice photos in a nautical theme.
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Dave 13.11.14 23:00
posted by: Dave

I like "Animals" :) Particularly "Dogs". "Meddle" is great, but the inclusion of "San Tropez" and "Seamus" rules holiness out: this is why I mentioned "Live @ Pompeii". :) I think "Animals" was the album where Roger Waters's lyrics began to slip. "The Wall" is good, but shockingly patchy. I also like "Ummagumma" a lot for its sheer lack of commercial intent. Splendidly experimental within the limits of their abilities.
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14.11.14 00:50
posted by: Nitya

Yes well the Meddle LP is actually "Echoes" on one side and "One of these Days" and some other stuff PF didn't know what to do with on the other. Of course with the CD we don't get the record flip we got with the LP. I used to play "Days" and flip it over and play "Echoes". Don't forget "Obscured by Clouds", some nice stuff there.
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Dave 13.11.14 23:04
posted by: Dave

And yes, I knew about Storm. I just felt that the cover - and video to "Louder Than Words" was a touch "New age". Storm's work always had a dark trickster side to it. This is like a fat-free version with half a bucket of xylitol.
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16.03.15 20:23
posted by: Nitya

Revisiting The Endless River

After repeated listenings I think The Endless River (TER) is more of an extension of the groove from David Gilmour's album On An Island (which featured Richard Wright) then Division Bell where the '94 tapes originated. TER was originally to be a bonus ambient style album titled The Big Spliff packaged with Division Bell. The first track is nondescript until the guitar solo and the final track is the only vocal with banal lyrics written by Gilmour's wife Polly Samson but with a pretty good melody.

TER is a slow digest, I didn't think it had much going for it on first listening so I left it in my car stereo and after about 4-5 rotations front to back began picking out parts I liked until I made the decision to just consider track one an intro and try to ignore the lyrics on the final track. Notwithstanding the album is book-ended by it's two weakest tracks there is some amazing guitar work on TER as there was on the On An Island studio album and the two concert videos of the On An Island material. "It's What We Do" being a prime example of Gilmour's unique bluesy style with most tracks played on his custom modified Stratocaster. I believe most of Gilmour's guitar work on TER is recent and not from the 1994 tapes with Wright and Mason for The Big Spliff due to Gilmour's more current sounding guitar riffs.

Dave also mentions in his review the "un-breaking flow of each track to the next might be all there is ...is a major disappointment ... as an album". Dave must have listened to a digital copy (well yeah that's what reviewers do these days in't it?) of the tracks because when listening to the CD or vinyl album there are three breaks which cause the album to have four movements (as described by co-producer Phil Manzanera in a Rolling Stone article dated October 24, 2014) which divide the album into four sections each the average length of a side of a vinyl record. The double album flows much better with the old style "record flip" breaks or two seconds plus of silence in the case of the CD every 15 minutes or so.

I am a little disappointed Gilmour and Mason branded Endless River as a "Pink Floyd" album. IMO it should be a homage to Richard Wright featuring Gilmour and Mason. I am sure Gilmour didn't need the money a Pink Floyd branded album released right before Xmas would generate but maybe Mason is financing another Formula One race team and needed the extra cash? I would give the album 3 HUZZAH's for Gilmour's amazing guitar playing alone.


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Dave 05.05.15 14:51
posted by: Dave

I've heard it both digitally and with the "record flips", and I'm afraid I still find it disappointing as an album. Yes, Gilmour's guitar is great, but context is everything, and I think this is just weak, really. The more I've listened (which probably isn't as much as you seem to have, Nitya!) the less I'm drawn to it. I started giving up after 10 minutes and listening to class Floyd instead. When you have classic Floyd, you don't need this :D
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10.05.15 01:02
posted by: Nitya

I must admit it is actually David Gilmour's solo album "On an Island" and it's follow up concert DVD's mentioned in my comment above I am still enthusiastic about and can listen and view repeatedly. But what I also really enjoy is listening to The Endless River BluRay disc in 5.1 DTS Master Audio surround sound. One thing Floyd and the Gilmour band (which are actually one and the same on these recordings with the exception of the drummer) know how to do is surround sound. I still have TER in my rotation and enjoy it. Dave, I think you are in the minority on this album regardless of what the Manfonista (and other critics) think. The music buying public has spoken and The Endless River was and continues to sell both BluRay and CD.
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10.05.15 01:08
posted by: Nitya

This comment by "Manduke" re The Independent (bad) review Andy Gill of TER is quite good IMO: "For a Pink Floyd aficionado--the type who has listened to every album the band released--this album is a poignant swansong, echoing countless jam sessions by three creative musicians: Wright, Mason, and Gilmour. Anyone who appreciates albums like Meddle would also appreciate this album as something not aimed at pleasing the current music scene; instead, the album is a nod to a decades long musical journey. Sadly, those countless jams can actually be counted, and now they are at an end. With Wright's passing, this album is a fitting capstone to Pink Floyd's journey and an homage to Wright, whose creativity shines through."
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