Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pink Floyd - Vantage Point (1969)

Pink Floyd – Vantage Point
(a soniclovenoize re-imagining)

Side A:
1.  Ibizia Bar
2.  No Man’s Land
3.  Long Gone
4.  Cymbaline
5.  Terrapin

Side B:
6.  The Nile Song
7.  No Good Trying
8.  Love You
9.  a) Embryo
      b) Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up
10. Dark Globe

This “re-imaging” is the second of a trilogy of albums that asks the question “What if Syd Barrett hadn’t been fired from Pink Floyd?”  Vantage Point, the title of which is culled from the lyrics of “Cymbaline” and references the famous cover art of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma, is the theoretical album released in 1969 by a Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd, following my re-imagined 1968’s The Shape of Questions To Heaven and the very real 1967’s The Piper At The Gates of Dawn.  All tracks have been volume-adjusted and most of the songs have been tightly crossfaded for continuity and cohesion.  Two entirely new and original edits of songs were created and one unique remaster to an otherwise forgotten track. 

The primary source material for Vantage Point is the second and third recording sessions for Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs in 1969, the third session as even produced by former bandmates Gilmour and Waters.  This allows us musical and conceptual continuity for this re-imagining, as a core group of quality and eccentric compositions can be chosen: “Terrapin”, “No Good Trying” “Love You”, “No Man’s Land”, “Dark Globe”, and “Long Gone”.  These tracks all seem to have a unifying sonic design: Syd Barrett’s signature songwriting, surrounded by atmospheric and post-psychedelic meandering.  No alternate Opal versions were used here, as the album versions all sound sonically complete and coherent (as opposed to the previous Barrett selections on The Shape of Questions To Heaven).  With over half an album already represented, we turn to what the other Pink Floyd members were pre-occupied with when not helping their former bandleader with his debut solo album.

As it turns out, 1969 was a scatter-brained year for Pink Floyd, recording music for two different soundtracks (More and Zabriskie Point) and collecting some of those ideas for a conceptual performance and intended live album, The Massed Gadgets of Auximenes, known by fans as “The Man and The Journey”, in reference to the two suites of experimental and conceptual music contained within.  While a studio version of The Massed Gadgets in itself would be an interesting reconstruction for this blog, Pink Floyd chose to utilize the material in their 1969 album Ummagumma, a double album with lengthy selections from their current live tour as disc one, and some of the recycled instrumental studio pieces creating disc two, each offered as solo recordings from each member of Pink Floyd.  The chaotic nature of this double album and its preceding projects illustrates Pink Floyd’s search to find their own fate and to exorcise the ghost of Syd Barrett, which haunted them on A Saucerful of Secrets.  It wasn’t until the following year’s Atom Heart Mother in which Pink Floyd began to discover their own voice. 

Knowing that at this point in time a Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd is still a song-based band rather than a largely instrumental and improvisational-based band, “Ibizia Bar”, “The Nile Song” and “Cymbaline” from the Soundtrack From The Film More were chosen to sit alongside the six Barrett songs, fitting perfectly in mood and atmosphere.  In this alternate Barrett-led Pink Floyd timeline, we can presume that the rest of the band harnessed more songwriting weight on their albums, compensating for Barrett’s inevitable decline, and we must represent this on our re-imagining.  A 1969 live staple “Embryo” was taken from the compilation Works (which features a crisper remastering done by myself) and was edited into “Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up” from Zabriskie Point.  This creates Pink Floyd’s staple epic psychedelic odyssey album-cut on Vantage Point, as seen with the previous albums’ “Interstellar Overdrive” and my own unique edit of “Golden Hair/Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. 

The ‘pink’ frosting on this cake would be the concluding track “Dark Globe”, my own unique creation which begins and concludes with the flutes from “The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party”, found on Ummagumma.  Adding a medieval atmosphere to a song already structurally and melodically reminiscent of European folk ballads, we are left with a melancholy and prophetic closing track that also introduces the aesthetic of my third and final re-imagined Barrett-led Pink Floyd albums… 

Sources used:
Pink Floyd – Soundtrack to the Film ‘More’ (1987 remaster)
Pink Floyd – Ummagumma (1994 remaster)
Pink Floyd – Works (original 1983 master)
Pink Floyd – Zabriskie Point (1997 remaster)
Syd Barret – The Madcap Laughs (1994 Harvest Remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR, Audacity & Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pink Floyd - The Shape of Questions to Heaven (1968)

Pink Floyd – The Shape of Questions to Heaven 
(a soniclovenoize re-imagining)

1.  Vegetable Man
2.  Apples and Oranges
3.  Late Night
4.  Remember A Day
5.  a) Golden Hair
      b) Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun

Side B:
6.  Lanky, Part One
7.  Paint Box
8.  Clowns and Jugglers
9.  Scream Thy Last Scream
10.  Jugband Blues 

I received a number of requests for this, so I thought I’d give it a try and see how well it comes together.  Luckily it seemed to come together rather enjoyably, so here is the first of a trilogy of my re-imagined albums that postulate “What if Syd Barrett hadn’t been dismissed from Pink Floyd?  The Shape of Questions to Heaven is the theoretical 1968 follow up to 1967’s The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, and culls material from Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets sessions and Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs sessions to create a second album of Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd, an album that most certainly never was.

At what the band believed to be the height of their popularity in 1967, Pink Floyd witnessed the mental collapse of their lead singer and songwriter Syd Barrett.  Caused by copious amounts of psychedelics and possibly a tendency for madness and erratic behavior in the first place, Barrett was known at that time for blank stares half-way through a Pink Floyd performance, spells in which he would just simply stop playing his guitar and vacantly stare motionless into the audience.  He was becoming unreliable inasmuch as the band resorted to hiring a second guitar player to back Barrett up, a guitarist by the name of David Gilmour.  After sessions for the second album had begun (which would eventually become A Saucerful of Secrets), Barrett’s madness climaxed during a rehearsal in which Barrett attempted to teach his bandmates a new song, allegedly entitled “Have You Got It Yet?”, in which every run-through of the song, Barrett altered the structure so the band could not follow along, and then sung to the band members “Have you got it yet?”  In one of the great moments in Rock History, Roger Waters simply didn’t pick up Syd for rehearsals and Pink Floyd continued without Syd Barrett, the crazy diamond himself.  This era in Pink Floyd’s history can only be remembered in the sole album featuring Syd Barrett as the lead singer/songwriter of Pink Floyd, the psychedelic-pop masterpiece The Piper At The Gates of Dawn.  But no longer does that have to be the case.  

To create this second Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd album, we must put forth very specific constrictions of what source material to include.  The first of the source material would be the only songs on A Saucerful of Secrets to feature Syd Barrett: “Remember a Day”, “Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun” and of course “Jugband Blues”.  More Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd songs were recorded during these late 1967 recording sessions which didn’t make the album that we can also include: the single release “Apples and Oranges” and “Paint Box” (taken from The Piper At The Gates of Dawn 40th Anniversary remaster and Relics, respectively) as well as the unreleased Barrett-penned “Vegetable Man” and “Scream Thy Last Scream” (taken from The Syd Barrett Tapes bootleg).  Already we have more than half an album!   

After Barrett’s dismissal from Pink Floyd, he gathered himself in 1968 to record his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs.  The album was essentially recorded in three sessions: May-June 1968 with Peter Jenner, April 1969 with Malcolm Jones and July-August with former bandmates David Gilmour and Roger Waters.  For the sake of chronological continuity, we are only going to utilize the material Barrett recorded in his initial 1968 sessions (swiftly overlooking the overdubs made in 1969, of course), pairing them with the aforementioned material from the A Saucerful of Secrets sessions recorded in late 1967 and early 1968.  Focusing on the material that sonically fits with the previous seven selected Pink Floyd recordings, we are using “Late Night” and an alternate version of “Golden Hair” from The Madcap Laughs remaster, as well as “Clowns and Jugglers” and “Lanky (Part One)” from the Opel remaster.  

The sequence of The Shape of Questions to Heaven was heavily influenced by its actual previous album The Piper At The Gates of Dawn but almost all of the tracks were crossfaded to create a continuous two sides of music (a tactic Pink Floyd would later explore in the following years).  My re-imagining begins with a duo of uptempo rockers (“Vegetable Man” and “Apples and Oranges”) before a low-key decent with the following two songs (“Late Night” and “Remember The Day”), allowing the side to slowly wind down.  Side A concludes with an original edit of “Golden Hair” and “Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun”, crossfaded into each other creating a seven-minute epic.  Although placed with a record-flip in-between, the psychedelic-jazz jam “Lanky, Part One” continues the mood set by the previous suite, even staying in the same key and mode.  After the rare stereo mix of Richard Wright’s “Paint Box”, the album picks up for a glorious and increasingly paranoid finish with “Clowns and Jugglers”, “Scream Thy last Scream” and the prophetic “Jugband Blues”. 

The Shape of Questions to Heavens shapes out to be an album very indicative of Syd Barrett’s mindset in 1968.  Although we largely have similar full-band Pink Floyd song arrangements as found on their debut psyche-pop debut, the off-kilter songwriting leans towards the bizarre, with two Richard Wright and a Roger Waters-penned song picking up the slack for their slipping songwriter.  We are fairly certain the album would have been a commercial flop, probably too avant-garde for the mainstream 1968 and too lacking in commercial singles, with “Apples and Oranges” the only possible contender (which was a failed single in itself).  Regardless, it is an enjoyable listen and an interesting alternative to A Saucerful of Secrets, and succeeds in creating an album that demonstrates just what Pink Floyd could have done with their lunatic on the grass.  

Sources used:
Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets (1994 remaster)
Pink Floyd – The Piper at The Gates of Dawn (2007 Remaster)
Pink Floyd – Relics (1996 reissue)
Pink Floyd – The Syd Barrett Tapes (bootleg, 2008 Needledrop Records)
Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs (1994 Harvest remaster)
Syd Barrett – Opal (1994 Harvest remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included