The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

1. Astronimy Domine 2. Lucifer Sam 3. Matilda Mother 4. Flaming 5. Pow R. Toc H. 6. Take Up Thy Stethescope and Walk 7. Interstellar Overdrive 8. The Gnome 9. Chapter 24 10.Scarecrow 11.Bike


This is not your father's Pink Floyd. Maybe not even your Grandfather's. The band who would become famous a decade later for complex dramatic themes, heavy concept albums dripping with mood music, and dynamic, visual concert performances actually began quite differently all together. For a short time in the latter half of the mid sixties, "acid rock" was a new form of avant garde music that was usually based around strange experimentation with basic instruments, loud wacky clothes and messages that no one could possibly understand (at least if they were clean and sober). In many ways, Pink Floyd (or The Pink Floyd as they were known back then) were the trippiest of the lot. The music would quickly go out of vogue, so it's not surprising that this style didn't last with them too long.

Of course that could have been for other reasons as well. When you look at the history of this band, it's interesting to note that they only had a total of five musicians throughout their career, and three of these individuals would establish themselves as the "leader" of the band at some point in time. For this album (and this album, alone), that distinction belonged to singer-song writer and guitarist Syd Barrett. Because of too many bad trips and unpleasant episodes of schizophrenia, Syd's career in the band was basically limited to this one album. Who knows what the history of the band would have been with him leading the way in future endeavors?

The quality of music on this album is amazing. That's not to say it's easy to digest. A very open mind is required. The music is so different from anything most people have heard that, unless you were doing LSD in the mid sixties, you may find the atmosphere simply too much. There are spacey synthesizers emulating space travel on such tracks as Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive along with acid laden guitar strumming throughout, that the whole experience can be quite scary. In other words, it's not an album to play in a small child's room if you're trying to soothe the infant to sleep.

The whole experience is quite fascinating, however. This isn't really an album to listen to in the background, but rather an album you would want to study. It's breathtaking how the band uses the then-new technology of "stereo" to enhance this record. There are so many instruments going from the left ear to the right that it can quite literally make your head spin (a bonus disc was added to later releases with the whole album in "mono". Interesting for comparison, but not nearly as good). There's very little here that you can "sing along to". The one exception might be the closing track Bike, but it's just as bizarre as anything else on the record, it's just a tad more accessible.

An interesting thing about the history of this band was that, before they had a record deal, they were paid a fee to play music in clubs as background ambiance to visual presentations of colors, lights and other groovy elements of the time that the stoned audience would stare at upon large projection screens. The album cover sort of typifies what the experience of the album was like. Keep an open mind, and this one will blow you away.

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