By Jon Platt
Pink Floyd produced a new album 20 years after its last work to say one thing: goodbye.
However, this latest release is not necessarily a new album.
A few years ago, drummer Nick Mason, the only member of Pink Floyd to appear on every album, and guitarist David Gilmour were looking through old recordings from the ’90s and stumbled across instrumental loops that eventually became the album.
This album, titled “The Endless River” (Columbia), echoes pieces of each concept from the previous five decades of Pink Floyd’s work.
Each song is like a time machine, evoking flashbacks deep into Floydian art. And this is perfect for a send-off album because it offers first-time listeners the artists’ musical breadth, while at the same time providing nostalgia and closure for fans from yesteryear.
From their beginnings in 1965, Pink Floyd continually pushed the boundaries of music by incorporating multiple styles and concepts within a single song. They saw explosive success with their initial album “The Piper At The Gates of Dawn” (Pink Floyd Music Ltd, 1967) and produced two of the most iconic ’70s rock albums, “Dark Side of the Moon” (Pink Floyd Music Ltd, 1973) and “The Wall” (Pink Floyd Music Ltd, 1979).
Arguably, the band’s continued success is possibly due to efforts to incorporate story into its music. An album-by-album journey from “The Piper At The Gates of Dawn” to “The Endless River” not only shows the depth of Pink Floyd’s musical ability, but also incorporates a linear tale of subjugating authority.
In this nature, “The Endless River” integrates concepts from the anti-war illusions of the ’60s and loops it side-by-side with the independent, rough rock of the ’90s.
Ultimately, with each new album Pink Floyd has sent the message to listeners that art – specifically, rock n’ roll – always transcends time, political power and oppression. And, in the band’s final work, they reinforce this idea with intentional auditory precision.
It should be noted that, unlike any previous work by Pink Floyd, “The Endless River” is almost exclusively instrumental tracks.
For this reason, the new album is not ideal for Floydian virgins. For true appreciation of the four-sided LP’s depth, one needs to have spent time absorbing the style of Pink Floyd.
Synthesizers, guitars and sound loops make up this piece of art for 17 songs. Track 18, however, is a new vocal release for the group, titled “Louder Than Words.”
This one track of four minutes and 43 seconds encapsulates all of Pink Floyd at once. Beginning with the ebb and flow of an ’80s rock ballad, the work quickly transitions to a piano and synthesizer.
And then the magic happens.
Throughout the track, pieces of the band’s most iconic songs can be heard. Most notably, a deep-running reference to “Comfortably Numb” is prevalent. But to say the song is a mere repurposing would be like saying the album is not a new work of art.
To first-time Floyd fans, this album will come with some learning curves.
To veteran followers, this album is worth every creative second.