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Pink Floyd A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (1987)

Pink Floyd - 1987 - A Momentary Lapse Of Reason(Capa)From

Perhaps not as proverbially bad as it is often described – this record does have its redeeming moments, after all. But it’s so dull that it’s almost unlistenable – the amount of real energy is at a zero level, and the main forte of Pink Floyd is gone: the few special effects don’t have any thrill at all and mostly sound like weak parodies. The melodies are simple to the extreme, the lyrics are crap, and moreover, the band members don’t even play on the album: except for Gilmour’s obligatory guitar solos, the instruments are played by a swarm of session musicians.

So why a 5? See, there’s just no reason for this album to be necessarily weaker than all the kind of modernized progressive stuff of the era. Yes, Emerson, Lake & Powell, Asia, everybody was putting out this stuff called ‘modern prog’ that pretty much all sounded the same, and yet, even though I am sometimes tempted to write all this mess off as a profanation of the original art, I still try to sit through these heaps of potential garbage to fish out the few pearls or, at least, the stuff that could have sounded good with different arrangements an epoch ago.

In this context, A Momentary Lapse doesn’t sound particularly appalling. Take it as a product of its epoch – not as a permutation of the original Pink Floyd sound (which it was) caused by the departure of Roger Waters (actually, by the ‘departure’ of everybody but Gilmour). Oh, well. At least it’s better than Big Generator.

Funny, though, how badly Dave wanted this to sound like a genuine Pink Floyd album. To do this, he even incorporated an oddly titled instrumental (‘Signs Of Life’; they wanted to name the album likewise at first, but changed their mind after Dave remarked it would give the critics a sneering chance – what’s the matter with the actual title then, I wonder?), like I said, an oddly titled instrumental that begins with strange noises, sounding like a watermill to me, that apparently are supposed to remind you of the ominous intro to Dark Side.

And the music itself is certainly a rip-off of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, right to the closing Dave solo. Needless to say, one can only shrug one’s shoulders at the attempt, because it seems like a pigmy parody. Where the moody synth lines and heavenly solo in ‘Shine On’ meant total and immediate catharsis, these weak recreations only make me yawn. What’s the matter Dave? Where’s your talent at putting together heavenly solos? Gimme something better!

Even worse, Dave did try to replace Roger in his primary function – finding new thrilling gimmicks to plaster the record with ’em. Fortunately, he only found a few, because they don’t just suck, they’re horrendous. ‘A New Machine’, with its spoken lines over organ playing that keep fading in and fading out, is a perfect example of how to make an unsuccessful Floyd parody, and the fact that Gilmour takes it all too seriously is even more terrifying to realize. And the roaring of dogs at the beginning of ‘The Dogs Of War’ (again, a concept unprofessionally stolen from Animals) just confirms the idea that the guy was at a terrible lack of ’em.

That said, there’s maybe only about a couple really bad songs on the whole album – ‘A New Machine’ is certainly one of them, but it’s short, even if it contains two parts (the second is a very brief reprise), and ‘Yet Another Movie’ is a piece of pseudo-metallic muck that was supposed to recreate the sinister notes on The Wall but failed once again. As for ‘Dogs Of War’, it is very banal, but I don’t hate it as much as everybody else does – I mean, sometimes I do find some dorky pleasure in listening to it. Everybody needs some guilty simple pleasures in life, and anyway, it’s at least memorable and a teeny-weeny bit energetic.

The other material has only one fault – it drags. Apart from the great sky anthem ‘Learning To Fly’, the only deserving classic on the record, the other four songs just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on… somebody stop me, but it’s so. Slow, melodyless, mostly built on some presumably moody but feeble keyboard playing, then presumably picking up steam when Dave hits the chords but in reality just being totally predictable… like, you know, ‘it’s already four minutes into the song and old Gilmour hasn’t soared yet.

He’s bound to take off in a couple of seconds. Oh, there he goes. Okay, guys, lunchtime!’ This might be good background music for you to enjoy in the car if you have a long way to go, but don’t expect to get any emotional thrill out of here. At least the solos are good – I mean, there’s very little dentistry on these four songs. Perhaps a couple minutes on ‘Sorrow’, that’s all: Dave mostly sticks to normal guitar tone. But that’s no consolation, really. There was no future for the band after Roger left. Not that there would necessarily be any future for ’em had he stayed, as witnessed by The Final Cut. In an age when special effects and thriller-type gimmicks didn’t really matter much more, a band like Pink Floyd were bound to begin rolling downhill.

The only thing that could have saved them (as it briefly saved Paul McCartney, for instance) would be to begin paying more attention to melody. But when did a band as smart as Pink Floyd pay a lot of attention to a thing as trite as melody? I’ll refrain from saying ‘never’, but you know the directions of my thought…

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Pink Floyd A Momentary Lapse Of Reason | | Leave a comment