Music fans rejoiced around the world when Pink Floyd announced this summer that they were releasing one final album. The Endless River, the first album released by Pink Floyd in 20 years, serves as a tribute to founding member and keyboardist Richard Wright, who passed away from cancer in 2008. What many fans do not realize is that the album is not all “new” material. It is simply a memory to the legacy of Pink Floyd’s sound. The album features “lost” tracks, modeling the sounds of different eras throughout their years as a band. However, fans may be disappointed if they are looking for a vocal and lyric-based album. I, however, love the beautiful instrumental work produced in this album. It is primarily an instrumental collaboration between David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and archived tracks of Richard Wright.
The album opens with the track “Things Left Unsaid.” Throughout the track David Gilmour’s ethereal guitar strokes make one feel that they are drifting through space, without a worry in the world. The track “It’s What We Do” highlights Wright’s heavenly-like keyboard playing, modeling the classic haunting sounds of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and “Welcome to the Machine.” During “Ebb and Flow”, Wright’s ethereal keyboard sounds are brought to center stage, and serve as a dominating force within the track. I imagine myself drifting into heaven as the keyboard strokes slowly fade to chimes, making it impossible to do anything but become one with the music. The track “Sum” borrows the intro from the previous track, “Cluster One.” Gilmour begins to shred the guitar and I feel myself begin to go throw a whirlpool of emotions. Thoughts of anger, sadness, and mystery all run through my head.
As the album fades into side two, Dave Mason’s harsh, bongo drums lead the song “Sum” into a state of confusion and calamity. I imagine myself on top of a building running from someone, something. Danger is approaching as sirens ring. The track “Anisina” begins as a form of light or hope within the darkness in this album. As the saxophone kicks in, I’m reminded of the sounds of the classic Dark Side of The Moon track “Us and Them.”
Side three opens with the track “On Noodle Street.” I’m in a state of confusion much like the sounds in A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The track “Night Light” embodies Gilmour’s classic steel guitar mixed with Wright’s dynamic keyboard strokes. “Allons” opens with the banging drums with the shrieking screams of Gilmour’s Stratocaster, resembling the essence of The Wall. The track “Autumn ’68” clearly is a darker, contradicting version to Wright’s cheery 1968 track “Summer of ’68.” “Allons 2” starts off slow and sweet, but the raging bass and rolling drums kick in, modeling the sounds of “Run Like Hell” and “Another Brick in The Wall.” Side three closes with the track “Talkin’ Hawkin’.” This track models the track “Keep Talking.” The track features the haunting vocal work featured in the album “The Division Bell.” It then features Steven Hawkins lyrics talking about the importance of human communication. Steven Hawking says the exact same lyrics repeated in the track “Keep Talking” and repeats the key phrase “All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
Side 4: The sounds of eerie space-like noises come crashing down as the feedback from Gilmour’s guitar creates a screaming noise, much like one suffering. The feedback gets deeper and darker, modeling the chord progression in the classic 23-minute track, “Echoes.” “Eyes To Pearls” features Gilmour’s soft classic melody produced by his Steel Guitar assisted by Mason’s raging drums, and Wrights swirly, chaotic keyboard sounds. The track “Louder The Words” opens with the first few notes of the classic hit “High Hopes.” Gilmour’s voice becomes apparent for the first time on the album with back up vocals from wife, Polly Samson. As this song closes the album, the overall message seems to be that: music has more effect on us than words do. The music slowly fades and the last 15 seconds are silence, making us all reflect on the beauty that we just experienced.
It is safe to say that The Endless River serves as a proper final goodbye to Pink Floyd and their legacy. The 18 well-constructed tracks take listeners on a ride through the journey of a lifetime. The raw talent of Pink Floyd combined with the beauty created within this album only serves as a reminder that no other band can match the perfection that is Pink Floyd.
Emily Lord / International nap advocate / KXSU Programming Director