The Progressive Aspect

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/21/david-gilmour-live-at-pompeii-to-be-released-in-september/

David Gilmour announce the release of Live at Pompeii, through Sony Music, on 26th September 2017 and will be available on 2-CD, Blu-ray, 2-DVD, 4-LP, deluxe Blu-ray box and download.

“The Blu-ray and DVDs include highlights from the concert performances of both shows, filmed in 4k by director Gavin Elder. The audio, available on CD and LP, was mixed by Andy Jackson and David Gilmour, assisted by Damon Iddins. The formats run to around 148 minutes each, with more than 2 additional hours of material included in the deluxe 4-disc Blu-ray / CD set.

The Pompeii concerts marked a return by David to the venue 45 years after Pink Floyd filmed in the legendary Roman Amphitheatre there, his two spectacular shows forming part of the year-long tour in support of the No.1 album Rattle That Lock. David’s performances were the first-ever rock concerts for an audience in the stone Roman amphitheatre, and, for two nights only, the 2,600-strong crowd stood exactly where gladiators would have fought in the first century AD.

The stellar performances are complemented by an audio-visual spectacle, featuring lasers, pyrotechnics and a trademark huge circular screen, but paramount is the music; the show includes songs from throughout David’s career, solo and with Pink Floyd, including One Of These Days, the only song that was also performed by the band there in 1971, and six songs from Rattle That Lock, as well as two from 2006’s On An Island.

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The release of Live At Pompeii will be preceded by a worldwide cinema screening… details can be found HERE

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/20/stanley-clarke/

The Fleece, Bristol
Wednesday 19th July 2017

Some gigs should never happen.

The obvious question here is – and with no disrespect at all to the venue – what on Earth is STANLEY CLARKE doing playing somewhere like The Fleece?! For four very rare U.K. shows outside London, an event that in all likelihood hasn’t happened since the ’70s, Clarke and his band of wonderful young musicians are playing in venues with capacities of a few hundred. That is just wrong!

Could it be that the smaller venues are an indication that the man, now 66 years old, is past his prime and playing wherever he can for change? Not a bit of it, from start to finish this was a blazing display, not only of raw talent and intuitive technique, but of musical understanding, it becoming obvious early on that this was to be a band performance, not simply a star with some side men. All of the players got their time in the spotlight, actively encouraged by Clarke who supported them strongly and was clearly getting a kick out of what they were doing.

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The word ‘legend’ is oft used, but couldn’t be more appropriate for a man of Stanley Clarke’s reputation. Innovative and hugely influential, his playing has been used as a yardstick for the bass guitar for more than 40 years now. I’ve had the good fortune off seeing some stunning bassists over the years but Clarke was a revelation, putting in a jaw-dropping turn with effortless ease. From slapping, strumming, harmonics and rhythmic percussive outbursts on the electric, he followed through to beautifully ornate and sophisticated jazz, his soloing always of the most melodic tone. It really didn’t matter what he played, and most of it was probably unknown to all but the fiercest SC die-hard, but there was a mighty cheer when the ubiquitous School Days made its expected appearance, a thrilling display of chops and tune that could never fail to get the people moving.

Stanley Clarke

The added improv skills of the ridiculously talented trio of additional players brought energy and inspiration off which Clarke fed. He has a history of developing young talent but in pianist Ruslan Sirota, keyboard player Caleb McCampbell and drummer Mike Mitchell he has one fiery group of musicians at his disposal. To put it in context, unbelievable as it may sound, the band were so good that I often forgot that Mr Clarke was also on the stage! Ruslan’s exquisite technique and dexterity were highlighted early on, his melodic flights taking the music to new and unexpected places. The two keyboardist set up is an unusual choice but it works a treat, McCampbell adding more sweeping synth lines whilst also soloing to magnificent effect. For brief passages he deployed a Vocoder-like piece of equipment to add treated vocals to the mix, including a snatch from Paul McCartney’s Yesterday at one point.

Drummer Mitchell is a full-on force of nature who deserved his time to shine, playing with time signatures and massaging tempos whilst smashing his kit to matchwood one minute, adding the most deft and delicate touches the next and grinning like a man possessed throughout the whole near two hour set. Some commented afterwards that three drum solos was a bit much, and that may be true, but with almost psychic talents of this magnitude, when Mike goes off on one Clarke is shrewd and professional enough to let him get on with it.

All of the performances brought incredulous shakes of the head from the audience, people turning to each other in disbelief as the band eloquently showed why the best jazz musicians are the best musicians there are. After humorously introducing himself as Louis Armstrong, on Clarke’s part the set was split in two, the first focusing on the electric bass whilst the second resulted in some mesmerising double bass work, Stanley showing his equally magnificent technique on the upright, belying the unruly nature of the massive instrument and making it sing and dance, bright harmonics skittering off in all directions, sometimes coupled with Clark beating out rhythms on the shell. Sounds appeared that I’d never thought could come out of an acoustic bass and his playing was frequently outrageous and audacious, a majestic and enthralling performance throughout. Legend? You betcha, and on numerous moments tonight, Stanley Clark was the coolest dude alive.

Stanley Clarke

Having overrun the curfew, the band returned for a brief and funky encore, Clarke returning to his electric. I was hoping for more of this towards the end of the show but that was not to be and it is clear that the double bass is where Clarke’s heart lies these days, so it was nice to see it getting so much attention, despite my drooling anticipation of more slapping fireworks.

A complete honour to witness such a masterful display, a masterclass of technique, control and unadulterated enthusiasm for what they do, not a dry and empty experience built on technique alone but a complete performance to be savoured and enjoyed. Whoever decided that this was a show for The Fleece should be applauded as to see skills of this magnitude in such a compact environment was a thrill not to be missed, despite the comfort and sighting issues associated with standing venues.

Stanley Clarke

If you missed this, there’s still a couple of chances to catch this magical band in intimate surroundings in Glasgow and Leeds on 24th and 25th July. If you’re able, you know what to do.

And that was that. Having driven home I sat quietly, looking at my own trusty bass guitar, thinking of the hideous sounds I manage to wrench from it and dreaming what it might be like to play like Stanley Clarke. Realising the inevitable I took a hammer to it. And then cut my fingers off and fed them to the cat.

[With thanks to Mel Allen for the photos and video.]

SETLIST
Other than School Days, no idea!

MUSICIANS
Stanley Clarke – Electric Bass, Double Bass
Ruslan Sirota – Piano, Keyboards
Caleb McCampbell – Keyboards, Vocals
Mike Mitchell – Drums

LINKS
Stanley Clarke – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/19/roger-waters-premieres-new-video/

Roger Waters releases a video for Wait for Her, a track taken his new album Is This the Life We Really Want?.

“The video features Waters and his band performing the song in the studio juxtaposed with emotional footage of a scarred flamenco dancer preparing for a performance as painful memories anguish her. Azzura, who previously appeared in Waters’ harrowing “The Last Refugee” video, plays the dancer.”

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“We met Azzura, the actress/dancer, while doing a casting for the part in ‘The Last Refugee,’” Waters’ Film and Creative Director Sean Evans tells Rolling Stone.

“That part called for a woman who was an experienced flamenco dancer and who could convincingly have a mother/daughter interaction with a child actress. Azzura was perfect: she’s a trained dancer and when not dancing, she works with kids. She did such a fantastic job during the filming of ‘The Last Refugee,’ that Roger and I wanted to include her in ‘Wait for Her.’ The song has a yearning that we felt a band performance alone wouldn’t quite address.”

The lyrics to “Wait for Her” were inspired by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s “Lesson From the Kama Sutra (Wait for Her),” which also informed the video. “When Roger wrote this song, his adaptation of the poem took on a sensual yet melancholy tone, and the video needed to represent that,” Evans said. “It needed to show femininity and sexuality but also needed to have an air of loss and pain, and longing for a time that was.”

As for the dancer’s scar in the video, Evans said, “That mark was important to the video – it is a symbol of the physical torment refugees endure.” The scar, like the lyrics on Is This the Life We Really Want?, is symbolic of the tragic death of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, a refugee whose body washed up on a Turkey shore in September 2015, as well as the work of German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer.

“It is sort of a continuation and also sort of a prelude,” Evans said of “The Last Refugee” and “Wait for Her.” “They are companion pieces, but are not meant to live in linear time with each other. Both were intentionally created that way and are meant to be open to interpretation.” Evans added that he and Waters have ideas for further chapters in the story.

SOURCE: Rolling Stone

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/18/cheer-accident-putting-off-death/

You know that thing where Henry Cow gatecrash a Randy Newman song? No? Well it happens on the opening track to Putting Off Death, the 18th(!) album from redoubtable Chicagoan avant rockers CHEER-ACCIDENT, and their third for Cuneiform Records. They are a band who have skirted the edge of my musical minefield for a long time, but I’d never really taken any notice until now, and boy, what was I thinking? I should have invited them in for a cup of tax-free tea many turns of the moon ago.

That opening track is entitled Language Is and through the eleven and a half minutes of its length we are treated to ruminative piano ballad, spiky avant rock, massed horns, all underpinned by an unobvious time signature jostled about twixt piano and drum. The thing breaks down in a white boy funk strop that will invert your kneecaps and have you punching out the walls in angsty frustration, after being told “Don’t. Don’t wait up. Don’t waste your time.” Marvellous!

Yes, my coracle is made as buoyant as a pea in a pan of boiling water by this joyously adventurous album, that melds together disparate styles and takes chances, simply because it can. When the core of a band has been together for almost 30 years, as have Thymme Jones and Jeff Libersher, what comes out the other end of a recording console should be exactly what the creators wanted to do, regardless of fashion or commercial considerations. That is most definitely the case here, and as a result the somewhat dourly titled Putting Off Death is a musically fun ride, and this dozy phantom is certainly enjoying his time on the ghost train provoking the ghouls and timorous beasties that leap out of the speakers at the thoroughly entertained listener. The man with the scythe ain’t coming for us yet, “there’s still something to prove”, as Jones says in the PR blurb.

Comparisons are odious, but admittedly useful, and here you will find references to all the classic pop and avant rock bands aplenty. I won’t bother listing who I consider CHEER-ACCIDENT bear sonic familiarities to, as you can find that out for yourself by listening to the music writhing away under the various links in this missive. Suffice to say that a band that has been ploughing its own furrow for as long as this would have to be pretty unimaginative not to have developed their own sound, and CHEER-ACCIDENT do not disappoint in that respect.

Having come through adversity in their 30-year trip, not least the sudden death of guitarist Phil Bonnet from a brain aneurysm in 1999, the core duo arrive in the here and now a strong unit that has the intention of hanging around as long as it is feasible. “It’s a till I die kind of thing” said Libersher back in 1999 as a statement of future intent after tragedy. Here they are aided by an expanded cast who provide crafty and skilful backing to their wonky but perfect constructs.

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The lyrics dance with semantics and metaphor in interesting combinations, and four of the songs were co-written with Scott Rutledge, who has been the group’s chief lyricist for over 25 years now. One of those songs is Immanence which contains the album title in its alluring prose, beckoning us outside to explore new frontiers, leaving decay behind. Jauntily bouncy and optimistic in the face of “rust and erosion”, and sung by Carmen Armillas in a defiantly matter-of-fact fashion, the abstractions of “A catalog of sounds, a prosphetic leg” and other offhand observations juxtapose neatly with the direct hit of the music.

Some of the most eerily psychedelic music appears on the following song Wishful Breathing, which has a Wyatt-esque surreality to it. This ticks more than a few of my irregularly shaped boxes, I can tell you.

The various reeds and brass instruments come together in the wonderfully musically melancholic Hymn, which closes the album. This tune also contains more of the clever wordplay, which as with most of Putting Off Death leaves an impressionistic air for one to ponder over.

“Like the weightless economy
distance not the same proximity
what naivete
airborne allergy
always something to be in pain for
not the wind, it’s the train horn.”

Repeated listens reveal different interpretations, and this is an album where the lyrics are an integral part of the whole and should be listened to properly. This is why they are reproduced in full in the CD booklet, after all.

Putting Off Death contains adventurous but accessible music made by a band that displays an easy confidence and a wilful stoicism to go its own way in the face of an increasingly inward and backward looking prog world. If, like me, you yearn for the genuinely progressive and the different this is most certainly for you.

TRACK LISTING
01. Language Is (11:24)
02. Immanence (4:13)
03. Wishful Breathing (3:45)
04. Falling World (3:40)
05. More And Less (3:01)
06. Lifetime Guarantee (6:59)
07. Hymn (5:12)

Total Time – 38:18

MUSICIANS
Jeff Libersher – Guitar, Trumpet, Vocals, Keyboards
Dante Kester – Bass, Keyboards
Thymme Jones – Drums, Vocals, Piano, Trumpet, Keyboards, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Moog, Noise
Carmen Armillas – Vocals
Mike Hagedorn – Trombone
Teria Gartelos – Vocals
Sacha Mullin – Vocals
Cory Bengtsen – Baritone Sax
Beth Yates – Flute
Julie Pomerleau – Violin
Joan Morrone – French Horn
Ross Feller – Tenor Sax
Rob Plesher – Tuba
Todd Fackler – Tuba

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalogue#: Cuneiform Rune 446
Date of Release: 12th May 2017

LINKS
CHEER-ACCIDENT – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/18/elp-career-spanning-box-set-announced/

BMG’s comprehensive Emerson, Lake & Palmer release series continues with Fanfare: Emerson, Lake & Palmer 1970-1997 which will be officially released on 29th September 2017.

“The Fanfare box set offers a wealth of ELP treasure for their ever increasing fanbase: All of ELP’s remastered 11 albums; 5 previously unreleased CDs of never issued recordings; a never before issued triple vinyl set (‘Live In Italy, May 1973’); 1 x Surround Sound Blu Ray audio, plus some high quality memorabilia including a 40-page hardback book with rare band photos, as well as tour programmes and a must-have repro 7” of ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’. An expansive set befitting for one of rock’s great super groups.”

ELP - Fanfare Box Set

FANFARE 1970-1994: BOX SET

The remastered 11 classic original ELP albums (1970-94), on CD, with original sleeve artwork reproduced:
– Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970)
– Tarkus (1971)
– Trilogy (1972)
– Pictures At An Exhibition (1971)
– Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
– Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends (1974)
– Works Volume 1 (1977)
– Works Volume 2 (1977)
– Love Beach (1978)
– Black Moon (1992)
– In The Hot Seat (1994)

• Previously unreleased, gatefold, triple vinyl LP album:
– Live At Velodromo Viorelli, Milan, Italy [4th May 1973]
– Live At Flaminio, Rome, Italy [2nd May 1973]

• Previously unreleased CD albums, mastered by the internationally celebrated studio engineering team of Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham::
– Live At Pocono International Raceway, Long Pond, US [9th July 1972]
– Live At Waterloo Concert Field, Stanhop New Jersey, US [13th August 1992]
– Live At Birmingham Symphony Hall, UK [27th November 1992]
– On The BBC: The Old Grey Whistle Test [1979]
– Live Ar Elysee Montmartre, Paris, France [2nd July 1997]

• Audio Blu-Ray, containing the stereo 5:1 and surround sound mixes of the albums:
– Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Steven Wilson – 2012)
– Tarkus (Steven Wilson – 2012)
– Trilogy (Jakko Jakszyk – 2012)
– Brain Salad Surgery (Jakko Jakszyk – 2014)

• Remastered 7” singles with reproduced original sleeve artwork:
– Lucky Man / Knife Edge (1970)
– Fanfare For The Common Man/Brain Salad Surgery (1977)

• Deluxe, hardback 12” book with band photos and extensive notes from acclaimed journalist Chris Welch, featuring quotes from Keith Emerson, Greg Lake & Carl Palmer

Reprinted original 1970 promo poster, 1972 promo brochure, 1974 and 1992 tour programmes

Metal & enamel ELP logo pin badge

SOURCE: Hall Or Nothing PR

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/17/stackridge-the-final-bow-bristol-2015/

Harold Wilson once famously said that a week was a long time in politics; I wonder what he would have made of my forty-six years of following one band fandom?

It was forty-six years ago today I first heard Stackridge on the radio play, (hmmm, that doesn’t quite scan the Sgt Pepper’s way it did in my head.) and despite the diversions of new music trends and styles, my latest favourite bands, new music icons, Stackridge alone have been a constant. Even more a constant than my parents – and they had the temerity of dying rather than calling it a day with a valedictory packed gig in their spiritual home of Bristol.

That gig was on December 19th 2015 and was their Final Bow, this is the album.

A double live CD of that evening and, in the colloquial, it is a corker. Songs spanning the decades delivered with an energy that belies the ages of some of the songs, the performers and the audience to say nothing of the number of times they must have been played the songs.

If you put two Stackridge fans together with someone yet to be converted, the conversation will spin around the room, with observations that George Martin produced an album, they played the first and last songs at the first Glastonbury, Elton John signed them for his record label, two of them were also The Korgis who had pop hits in the ’90s, and that one member played on John Lennon’s Imagine album and toured with both Julian Cope and Tears for Fears.

But, the main topic of conversation will be the bemused lack of understanding as to why Stackridge were never as ‘big’ as they deserved.

There is a theory that it was the band’s unwillingness to comply with a single style, and there is a case that can be made for this; a perfect pop/prog rock first album, quirky pop second, an almost mainstream third, a Zappa-esque fourth and then came a concept album about an old man in a nursing home – just as punk rock changed the rules. I can imagine the bemusement of someone attracted by the radio hit Do the Stanley with its stomping simplicity finding themselves faced by a ten minute prog tune about a homesick elephant in Bristol Zoo!

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I’ve seen Stackridge live dozens of times over the years and quickly understood that they were unlikely to have the same line-up or ‘sound’ as they had the previous time I saw them, but always there was something quintessentially Stackridge which ever route they were taking.

The line up for this last ever excursion under the Stackridge banner is one that has been consistent for a few good years, and even before this last night I’d rated them as the perfect balance of all the disparate parts of the Stackridge canon.

There isn’t a single member of the band who has been in every line up, but as any Stackridge fan will tell you, James Warren (vocals, bass) and Andy Davis (vocals, guitars, ukulele) together are always part of the dream team. Sharing all but two lead vocal on this album, their voices apart and together make Stackridge songs simply soar.

Augmented and supported by Clare Lindley (violin, vocals, ukulele), Glen Tomney (keyboards, vocals, flute and trombone) and Eddie Johns (drums, vocals) the final line-up brings to life a catalogue older than some of the performers and a guest appearance by original member Mutter Slater on flute for two numbers completes the picture.

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The set list starts in a typical ‘let’s be bloody-minded’ choice of an atypical new song, Horizons, a piano led ballad written by Eddie the drummer with lead vocals from Clare Lindley, but then the beauty of the melody takes hold and the effortless vocals pull you in and it’s not atypical of Stackridge at all, it’s crafted songwriting, melodic and breathtaking.

From here on in the set becomes reassuringly familiar. Until it gradually dawns that there’s lots of lovely changes from the original recordings – the lead vocals are taken by someone else, the arrangement changed, the gear changed down or up. Tracks from all their studio albums find a safe home in the running order and each manages to surprise you. What is also surprising, if not shocking is how vibrant and modern they sound – even the ten minute song about an elephant!

Mutter Slater guests on the ProgFests that are the instrumental Purple Spaceships over Yatton and monster tale Slark to obvious audience delight

Another highlight is the stunning fiddle work by Clare Lindley on God Speed the Plough (the perfect allusion for a band that constantly ploughed their own furrow). Glen Tomney performs his ‘quiet man of pop’ routine perfectly, his contributions help glue everything together without once saying ‘look at me, I’m having the time of my life’ when he quite obviously is, and Eddie Johns is in the driving seat on his drum stool.

Andy Davis shines on so many tracks but Red Squirrel and The Final Bow glow to my ears. Of course we mustn’t forget little James Warren, who many consider to be the band’s Paul McCartney to Andy Davis’s John Lennon. Here that likeness is reinforced with sweet vocals and Beatlesque harmonies and melodic bass lines, amply showcased on Fundamentally Yours and The Last Plimsol. (And yes you do recognise James Warren’s voice – he sang lead on The Korgis worldwide smash Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime.)

Both the two aforementioned songs though, first appeared on the George Martin produced The Man in the Bowler Hat, an album he held in much affection and is often considered to be one of the finest albums he produced outside of the Beatles.

In many ways the Beatles comparison is obvious and fitting, the constant need to develop and change, pulling in influences from disparate musical traditions but always remembering to write a killer tune. The difference of course is that no-one wonders why the Beatles are so under appreciated…

This parting gift is full of similar killer tunes, and after 46 years of loving them I am going to miss Stackridge live, but I have this wonderful memory of a wonderful day.

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TRACK LISTING
CD 1

01. Over The Horizon
02. The Road To Venezuela
03. The Last Plimsoll
04. Red Squirrel
05. Syracuse The Elephant
06. Fundamentally Yours
07. Highbury Incident
08. Teatime
09. God Speed The Plough
10. Long Dark River
11. Purple Spaceships Over Yatton (with Mutter Slater)

CD 2
01. All I Do Is Dream Of You
02. Fish In A Glass
03. Something About The Beatles
04. No Ones More Important Than The Earthworm
05. Lost And Found
06. Boots And Shoes
07. The Final Bow
08. Lummy Days
09. Slark (with Mutter Slater)
10. Dora The Female Explorer
11. Do The Stanley performed by Aviator Brass band assisted by the Audience)

MUSICIANS
James Warren – Vocals, Bass
Andy Davis – Vocals, Guitars, Ukulele
Clare Lindley Volin, Vocals, Ukulele
Glen Tomney – Keyboards, Vocals, Flute, Trombone
Eddie Johns – Drums, Vocals

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Angel Air
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 14th July 2017

LINKS
Stackridge – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/07/16/pink-floyd-their-mortal-remains-exhibition/

Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Running to Sunday 1st October 2017

A healthy queue greets my arrival at the magnificent Victoria and Albert Museum. Having played around with the online booking system, it was pleasing – and a little surprising – to discover that booking for most days during the week appeared to be down to a final few tickets. Three years after the release of their final album, The Endless River in 2014, Pink Floyd remain one of the most iconic, influential and successful bands with worldwide sales in excess of 250 million albums. To warrant such an extensive exhibition at the V&A and come close to selling it out is both an impressive feat and testimony to their ongoing appeal.

Nor should there be any surprise in the extravagant advertising which supports the exhibition: “Experience a spectacular and unparalleled audio-visual journey through Pink Floyd’s unique and extraordinary worlds, chronicling the music, design and staging of the band, from their debut in the 1960s through to the present day.” Such extravagance, attuned to the spirit of the band’s own expansive and flamboyant designs is certainly justified. Armed with a pair of Bluetooth Sennheiser headphones, you ‘experience’ an immersive journey which is, without doubt, beautifully conceived and intelligently delivered.

The headphones are actually key to making the exhibition such an engaging success. Without them I suspect you would have little more than a fairly dry walking tour of vaguely interesting historical displays of instruments, props, pictures and sundry artefacts. The V&A’s unquestionable brilliance is in making the band’s music the central feature and soundtrack of the tour and combining it with inspired lighting, a fascinating diversity of formats and displays and some exceptionally clever set-piece exhibits.

How it works takes a while to get used to but you quickly get to grips with the fact that everything you hear is triggered by where you are. The exhibition is arranged over eight chronological zones, each zone marking a distinctive stage in the evolution and development of the band. As you move between zones, the music of that period becomes the generic accompanying soundtrack on your journey. Approaching a specific display will trigger a corresponding piece of music; approaching one of the many TV screens built into each wall triggers a two or three minute interview with the band, or producer, or documentary style clip.

Combined with the creative use of lighting along with some ingenious holographic projections and 3D images, the overall effect is quite remarkable and strangely moving. It’s not until you see the band’s history laid out from beginning to end in such a clinical but compelling way that you truly begin to understand just how significant Pink Floyd are both in the context of British music as well as their undoubted impact on the world stage. The ‘Punk vs Pink’ section will certainly bring a smile on seeing Johnny Rotten’s “I Hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt again.

What is perhaps striking amidst the various displays and visuals is just how little we actually see of the band themselves. Whilst there is an excellent and deserved tribute to Syd Barrett, a lot of the exhibits feel strangely ‘academic’ and a little impersonal, with the rest of the band content to remain quite firmly in the background. Indeed it is Ummagumma, released in October 1969, which marks the last time any of them appear on an album cover, rather they seem content for their ‘identity’ to be channelled through the hugely significant relationship built with the Hipgnosis studio and the exhilarating designs of Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson. When you think of Pink Floyd you normally think in terms of images; 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon prism, 1977’s floating pig and the Battersea power station (Animals) or even 1979’s cane-wielding school teacher and the simple white bricked wall (The Wall).

Pink Floyd seemed to intuitively grasp the inherent connection between music and striking visual imagery, forging everything they did around building conceptual hooks which would allow them to combine the two in changing and expanding relationships. This in turn became a catalyst for pushing the boundaries of technological innovation in the way music is created and played, developing a distinctive architecture for live performances and even driving aspects of social and cultural fashion design to accommodate the message of each album.

The exhibition ends in the performance zone and I urge you now to wait and see it all from start to finish. Sennheiser have created a fabulous digital surround experience which is simply jaw-dropping. Part of that experience is the live performance of Comfortably Numb recorded at the band’s reunion concert at Live8 in 2005 and will damn near leave you speechless by the time it is over. It is a poignant reminder of the simple power of music, the contribution of this particular band in pioneering so many developments in the way music is conceived, presented, played and performed and a testament to the perceptive inventiveness of the V&A in creating such a powerful experience.

Well worth a visit.


ADDITIONAL INFO
Location: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
– Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2000
– Email: contact@vam.ac.uk
Ticket Prices: £20 – £24 (Free for V&A members)
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 – 17:30, Friday 10:00 – 21:30
Time: To really do it justice, I recommend you allow at least two hours

LINKS
Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains – Website
Pink Floyd – Website | Facebook
Victoria and Albert Museum – Website | Facebook

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