Progressive rock was seen burgeoning back in the mid-60’s that vigorously advocated for transcendentalism and the platonic realms of music to be decoded into tape and that, there brought together the hypnagogic fusion of fuzzy guitars, airy reverb, electronic synthesizers, phasing effects and classical eclecticism. It was a huge musical milestone that not only bridged the convergence of blues, folk, psychedelic and jazz into an entirely new musical genre but immortalized the meditative appeal of these long, trance-inducing jams to this day. Speaking of, a name that “shines likes a diamond” and is substantially interchangeable with the genre itself is “Pink Floyd”. The brainchild of Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason that surfaced as “Sigma 6” in 1963 also acknowledged as the “Pre-Floyd Days” which only a year later evolved into Pink Floyd in 1964 involving the initial three members, Syd Barrett and lastly David Gilmour joining the band in 1968 around the time when Barrett’s mental health got severely unbalanced. Pink Floyd went on to produce records that were not only conceptually superior to its contemporaries but alienated the generic norms that in retrospect were deemed essential for the music to sell giving a whole new dimensional twist to the the hippie counterculture facing a decline back in the late 60’s and helped it thrive over the years.
You can pick out any Pink Floyd album and there’s a guaranteed chance you’d be bewildered by the generous experimentation that conjured surreal soundscapes into being. The lush cascade of a hallucinogenic drone hybridized with the kaleidoscopic spell of acoustic & electric guitars is downright phenomenal. Growing up with this sort of music as a hermit was very rejuvenating on a personal level. My favorite Pink Floyd albums would undeniably be:
3, The Wall
Released in 1979, “The Wall” is Roger Water’s abstraction that is fairly autobiographical and features 26 tracks composed entirely by him. A concept album that transcribed the story of a character “Pink” juxtaposed with themes like war, fascism, paranoia, tyranny, drug abuse and mental detriment. This two-disc album has majorly a resounding rock opera compositional form with an art rock directed dynamization. First disc opens with “In The Flesh?” which has a projectile solo with reverberating drums that towards the end fade into infantile cries to merge with the prelude of the next song “The Thin Ice” which basically includes soothing pianos and high-ranging guitars. “Another Brick in the Wall” is a song shredded into three parts comprising of a curtain raiser, main body of the song and the climax. This best-seller of a rock anthem is self-navigating in its upbeat symphony and features a sublime guitar solo that glistens it to perfection. The kids chanting “We don’t need no education” in defiance is a great sing-along tune. Songs like “Goodbye Blue Sky”, “The Happiest Days of our Lives”, “One of My Turns”, “Don’t Leave Me Now”, “Goodbye Cruel World” and “Mother” encompass the depressive mania that follows the period of adolescence directly exposed to war and being love-forsaken. One of my favorite moments on disc 1 is when “Empty Spaces” with the wearisome delivery of the verse “How shall I fill the final places? How should I complete the wall?” kicks off with the brazenly pushing rock template of “Young Lust”. It’s a straightforward confession of a rockstar giving in to empty sex as an aftermath of being cheated by his partner to get rid of the frustration it brews. Disc 2 starts off with “Hey You” which is concurrently empathetic and introspective. It’s a direct calling to the emotionally burdened central figure of the story and his state of social isolation sang like a compassionate appeal to retreat back to his sanity. A near-perfect song with soaring guitar solos and insightful lyrics. “Is Anybody Out There?”, “Nobody Home”, “Vera” (a song about the famous singer British singer Vera Lynn during the 1940’s and the WWII), “Bring the Boys Back Home” have transient melodies and cite the sense of abandonment seeping in as the war takes its toll. An sensitive oxymoron like “Comfortably Numb” for a song-title is pretty self-explanatory about the sonic manipulation of tranquil guitars, galloping prog-rock influences and mind-altering beats to conceive a song that’s therapeutic yet sardonic, heart-breaking yet insanely beautiful. It’s written about the protagonist’s inward battles, narcotic escape and solitude. “The Show Must Go On”, “In The Flesh”, “Run Like Hell” and “Waiting for the Worms” mark the point where Pink goes off the rails after being inflicted with medicine-induced psychosis, mental imbalance and fascist propaganda. The speedy textures of the songs and the inbred lunacy conforms to the demanding turning points. “Stop”, “The Trial” and “Outside the Wall” are the album closers. The story concludes with the bitter realization that it’s this vicious cycle that crippled his sense of rationality and he takes an antidotal refuge in the memories of his innocent days to combat the self-destructive ways that led him to personal seclusion and consequently hit rock-bottom. Water’s and Gilmour’s vocals offer a unique contrast of harsh and soft variants as per the fluctuating mood of the songs. Conclusively, the album gets more liable to a storytelling perspective than conventional songwriting being a promising conceptual album demanding short junctures and dramatic meddling throughout.
2, Dark Side of the Moon
The magnanimous amount of musical integrity that the era-defining album “Dark Side of the Moon” emanates is what makes up for one of the most unique listening experiences in the history of rock n’ roll. The panoramic diversity and futuristic psychedelia integrated into the song structures declared it an ahead of its time creation. “Speak to Me/Breathe”, “One the Run” and “Time” embark on the spaced-out lead melodies with unconventional transitions. “The Great Gig in the Sky” has an immensely liberating vibe and features Clare Torry’s rhapsodic choir that gets escalated to a maniacal disposition giving a significant operatic value to the song. “Money” is crafted with pompous guitars, interposed jazz solos with a meandering funk storm. “Us and Them” and “Any Color You Like” are distinctly soulful and proto-prog electronic numbers. “Brain Damage” concerns a man’s mental derangement as he spirals down through his life towards absolute insanity that allegedly signifies Syd Barrett’s schizophrenia citing deep lyrical gems like “You lock the door and throw away the key. There’s someone in my head but it’s not me”. “Eclipse” finishes of this conceptual package of prog-rock grandeur with the ending verse “Everything under the sun is in tune but the sun is eclipsed by the moon” reciting the overpowering paradoxes it’s hugely inspired from and eventually making peace with the inevitably turbulent phases of life. “Dark Side of the Moon” is an iconic record with an unshakable credibility that accomplished a witty play on the human dilemma corresponding with astronomically-oriented themes, byzantine analogies and cryptically poised lyrics.
“If your head explodes with dark forebodings too. I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”
“Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd
1, Wish You Were Here
Back in the day when local radio stations were still a thing and aired some exceptionally good classic rock and explored the various obscure sub-genres of music, as a little girl I stumbled upon a beautiful ballad titled “Wish You Were Here” and I vividly remember waving my phone in the air to pick the right frequency being tricked by the intentionally vague opening notes of the acoustic guitar which only within seconds got clearly audible casting a spine-tingling aura that lived on for the rest of my life. That little incident marks the starting point of my journey with these prog-rock maestros. “Wish You Were Here” is a close to flawless studio album that epitomizes the otherworldly sound of these connoisseurs of music. “Welcome to the Machine” is a critique on the worldly humdrum that’s inevitable and our prosaic generation in general. It’s primarily electronic and fidgety in progression that mimics the elusive bouts of a nervous breakdown. “Have a Cigar” is satire directed towards the music industry and its controlling ways that violate a musician’s psych and soul. Instrumentally, it’s a very flippant and playful composition therefore qualifies as a great jam to wind out to. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is a sensational tribute to the band’s former seminal member Syd Barrett which the quintet has done total justice to. It’s a delicately weaved sonnet with awe-inspiring verses like:
“Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd
It comprises of nine parts that are split between two songs fluently running the span of more than 10 minutes each and is intelligently wired with transcending guitars implied on scintillating solos that are addictive to tireless degrees, saxophone fragments, crooning vocals and an ambrosial groove of the 60’s.
Pink Floyd’s enigmatic song-writing and maneuvering with multiform conceptual challenges had an artistic loftiness and experimentally bold approach that received critical acclaim throughout their musical career. The penetrating miasma of escapism and anarchic scheme of things spawned the evolutionary templates of their anthems. Their concept-guided adherence to jazz, blues, electronic and psychedelic spicing defined what progressive rock virtually is today.