Street Sounds: Pink Floyd flows back to the past

English classic rock band Pink Floyd’s 15th album The Endless River is a tribute to late founding member/keyboardist Richard Wright.

English classic rock band Pink Floyd’s 15th album The Endless River is a tribute to late founding member/keyboardist Richard Wright.

The instrumental album is a tribute in more ways than one, and it’s supposedly the last from what now constitutes the Floyd.

The Endless River is a curious release. The tracks are from sessions done around the time of The Division Bell, recorded 20 years ago and largely feature Wright’s moody keyboard washes and guitarist David Gilmour’s bluesy leads. The album plays like a lengthy soundtrack with thoughtful moods and flights of fancy.

This isn’t a departure as the Floyd acquired a rep early on for embarking on exploratory space jams during concerts. Sonically, the band mainly references three time periods in their past during these atmospheric sessions.

Clearly falling back into their own musical language and shared vocabulary, they evoke sounds from Live at Pompeii (Skins), Wish You Were Here (It’s What We Do) and The Wall (Allons Y [1]).  So in a sense it’s also the sound of the band moving through its own back catalogue while jamming.

As with all of the band’s post Roger Waters’ work, it has a calm atmosphere without the heavy drama that Waters summoned up.

The instrumental context is fitting for this keyboard-based album and the zoned-out ambiance allows for open-ended interpretation – if you’re not in a Floyd- induced trance. But the majesty and hints of faded glory are intact as they should be, considering Pink Floyd’s history of casualty, loss and disaffection.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews new releases for The Morning Star every Friday.