The Thnikkaman reviews Darkside of the Moon

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The Thnikkaman reviews Darkside of the Moon

Post  _Rhesus Perplexus on Sun May 10, 2009 10:39 pm

Hello. My name is the Thnikkaman and I'm a huge music aficionado . I also have a great love of writing. This lengthy review is a combination of both of my pleasures. (I worked my butt off writing this, this took me like a week to write Bored or Blah) This is a review of an album, many a classic rock fan hold near and dear to their heart, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon. Please enjoy!

Roger Waters: bass, vocals, lyrics
David Gillmour: guitars, vocals
Richard Wright: keyboards, vocals
Nick Mason: drums, sound FX, other stuff

Rating: A+

Don't get me wrong - I love the album, but what could I possibly add to the discussion that hasn't been said a million times before? Everyone has heard this record a gazillion times, and it has has been analyzed and over-analyzed to the point of, well, pointlessness. But who gives a crap, its certainly a very cool album even if all the critical praise has certainly made this album overated.

We all know the story of Dark Side Of The Moon. The unprecedented 714 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. The accolades from fans and musicians alike. But what most people don't know is that it isn't all that great. OK, just joking, it is fantastic - undoubtedly one of the top ten albums in rock history, and Pink Floyd's crowning achievement as a band. It is a concept album in every sense of the word, as Roger Waters' lyrics feature universal themes such as greed, madness, death, travel, and war. The sequencing is brilliant, the sound effects (the "money" sounds, the "heartbeat" drum sound, the synths, the random voices, etc...) add to the album's mystique, and the repeated musical patterns unify all of the tracks into a single entity. The album is a triumph of both engineering and production, and thirty-plus years later it is still a benchmark for recorded sound. Not only that, but Dark Side Of The Moon is filled to the brim with great songs that succeed outside of the context of the record, giving the post-Syd Barett version of Pink Floyd its first taste of commercial success. The music is good, the musicianship sharp, it's presented in an interesting way, and the lyrics seem to be actually saying something. And while it isn't clear what exactly Roger Waters is saying, the ambiguity actually works to the benefit of the music, adding an element of mystery to this landmark musical document. The words simply reflect Roger's life experiences: Syd's mental illness, the death of his father in World War Two, his disgust with the greed and corruption in the music business, and his fascination (and fear) of death.

The record begins with 'Speak To Me,' a unifying musical montage of sound effects found in various songs on the album, which quickly segues into 'Breathe,' a drugged-up, slowed-down track somewhat reminiscent of 'Echoes.' The atmosphere is heavy and haunting, but Gilmour's vocals are light and airy - a great track. The song quickly morphs into the instrumental 'On The Run,' which features some very interesting sounds generated by the VCS3 synthesizer. Random notes are fed into the synth and sped up, a warbling sound is produced by a wah-wah pedal, a bomb goes off at the end - and the effect is startling, and it conjures up frightening images of being chased down a dark alley somewhere. This track boasts what is quite possibly the most ingenious use of a synthesizer I have ever heard, and I never get tired of hearing it.

After that we get 'Time,' which has clocks chiming and alarms ringing in its intro section. This "hard rock" song laments the perception of time passing more quickly as we age, and it's a true classic in every sense of the word. David Gilmour's vocals are both abrasive and soothing, and his guitar solo is probably the best he ever put down on tape. The backing vocals are heavenly too. The song segues back into Rick Wright singing the 'Breathe' refrain, which in turn leads to the overrated 'The Great Gig In The Sky,' which is one of the weaker moments on the album. The chord progression is amazing, and the crazy voices are cool, but I have very little tolerance for the kind of improvised, pointless screeching that guest vocalist Clare Torry contributes to this track. Supposedly, they told her to scream like she was having an orgasm. Some say it's a brilliant piece about death, I say it's kinda annoying, but I suppose that over time I've gotten used to it and will no longer skip the track when it comes on.

The second half of Dark Side begins with its most famous track, 'Money,' with its distinctive coin and cash-register sound effects. The only Pink Floyd single to hit the Top 20 in the USA (it wasn't released as a single in the UK), this is probably the group's most overplayed track, but I've never grown tired of it. The song uses the very unusual 7/8 time signature, although it does go into the more traditional 4/4 meter during Gilmour's guitar solo, which seems to give the track the illusion that it is speeding up slightly. The bass riff is one of the most famous in rock history, the anti-record company lyrics are witty, the sax solo is perfect (the instrument would feature prominently on future Floyd recordings), and it is quite simply a brilliant song.

Next, things slow down a bit for 'Us And Them,' a jazzy, piano-based ballad that seems to be influenced by the death of Waters' father in combat during the Second World War. It is easily one of the most powerful anti-war songs ever created: the words are poignant, and the dynamics are impressive.. Good sax solo too. Next up is 'Any Colour You Like,' an instrumental piece that is for all intents and purposes a reprise of 'Breathe,' albeit one that sounds a bit faster and funkier than the original. The VSC 3 synth bits sound a bit dated to modern ears, but overall it does an effective job of unifying the album, and its a short track (three minutes), so all is well. This leads into the majestic 'Brain Damage,' a Roger Waters-sung track about Syd Barrett's descent into madness that features the distinctive "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon" chorus. The song immediately segues into 'Eclipse,' a transcendent song that U2 later nicked on its hit single 'Walk On' (e.g. 'all that you touch/ all that you see/ all that you taste/ all that you feel").

All in all, this is a classic album, one that any self-respecting rock fan must own. There are a couple of relatively weak moments ('The Great Gig In The Sky' and 'Any Colour You Like), but even these have their strengths, and don't bring down the quality of the album in any way. No matter how many times classic rock has overplayed these songs, they'll always be great, and anybody who wants to understand why Pink Floyd is so revered in the rock community needs to listen attentively to Dark Side Of The Moon. Sure, it's all dressed up with sound effects and miscellaneous studio trickery, but even without the embellishments the songs stand up on their own. The FX are just the icing on the cake. And the cake is very tasty indeed. If this album isnít currently sitting in your household, I strongly recommend this being your next music purchase.

Last edited by The Thnikkaman on Sun May 10, 2009 11:55 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : im stupid)
_Rhesus Perplexus

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