Ah, now I remember why punk had to happen.
Culled from some 20 hours of old Division Bell session outtakes edited and revised to form one long, continuous flow, The Endless River is depressingly symptomatic of the stasis that a certain kind of ponderous prog-rock had reached by the late '70s - and in this case, there's not even the engagingly sour lyrical personality of Roger Waters to spike the somnolent progress.
A mostly instrumental album featuring just one vocal amongst its 18 largely indistinguishable "tracks", The Endless River's character is epitomised by the title "On Noodle Street": it's just aimless jamming, one long thread of Dave Gilmour's guitar against Rick Wright's pastel keyboards and Nick Mason's tentative percussion, with nary a melody of any distinction alighted upon for the duration.
The title is fraudulent: like living things, rivers pass through stages as they proceed from source to sea, from the frothing cascades of youth, through the majestic flow of maturity, to the meandering ruminations of old age and eventual accession into oceanic oneness; but Pink Floyd here have jumped straight to the late stage, which may be hardly surprising for such elder statesmen of rock, but doesn't make for a narratively gripping exercise. It just trickles on and on and on, and when it's over, it's as if it never happened. It just evaporates away.
What's particularly irritating is the way the album apes previous Floyd tropes in ersatz manner, with the spoken-word intro mumblings of "Things Left Unsaid" simply reminding one that the comparable mutterings on Dark Side Of The Moon actually served a thematic purpose: here they're just window-dressing, luring fans into a desperately disappointing experience.
It would take a Barrett-load of drugs to make this sound remotely interesting, though I wouldn't advise that. But what's blindingly clear is that, without the sparking creativity of a Syd or Roger, all that's left is ghastly faux-psychedelic dinner-party muzak. Which is fine, if you're thinking of throwing a ghastly faux-psychedelic dinner-party.
Download this: On Noodle Street
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