Friday
Oct122018

Pink Floyd – 1972: Obfusc/ation (The Early Years 1965-1972, Volume 6)

7.0 – England – 1972/2016

The final volume in Pink Floyd’s series of reissues of their early works is a bit puzzling.  Whereas the 1969 and 1970 instalments revealed fresh looks at Pink Floyd’s middle period between the Syd Barrett years and their mid seventies stadium dominance, and the 1971 set, while slim, teased us with one of the demoes for “Echoes” and a sterling BBC session, this 1972 set seems rather forced and purposeless.

There are two discs of audio material here. The first disc is a new remix of the entire Obscured By Clouds album. Now, while that album is certainly an overlooked gem in the Floyd catalogue, and with this remix it does sound better than ever, I can’t quite work out why they did this. Like, the original mix didn’t sound all that bad, so the improvement, while welcome, hardly seemed necessary.  I mean, why remix this album and not, say, A Saucerful Of Secrets or the live portion of Ummagumma? Or give us the surround sound mix of Meddle that was rumoured to be an Easter Egg on one of these sets? And why include this already available album in a series devoted to unearthing portions of the Floyd’s extensive and unplumbed archive?

Still, “Mudmen”, though.

The second disc is slightly less puzzling and contains a stereo mix of the group’s 1972 filmed performance (sans audience) in the ruins of Pompeii. While the film has been available on DVD for years, this is the first time it has been available as an album. But, again, why here? Would this have made more sense as a standalone release?

One reviewer on Amazon complained that he had bootlegs that sound better than this mix, and predictably, he took some heat: like, sure, buddy, sure you have a bootleg that sounds better than something that has been professionally and properly remixed by the band themselves. Thing is, though, he’s not wrong. The stereo mix does sound rather thin and tinny. The performance itself is decent enough – it features probably the best of the many, many versions of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” on these sets – but both takes of “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” lack the energy and menace heard on earlier versions, and the splice midway through “Echoes” (when it switches over to the funky part) is a bit jarring and reveals the somewhat constructed nature of this “live” set: not only was there no audience (understandable), but the performances were done in a number of takes, including some parts recorded in a French studio.

The video component is no less unnecessary. The entire Live at Pompeii performance is included, newly remixed in 5.1 surround, which sounds much better than the disappointing stereo mix and is an improvement on the previous DVD release. Bizarrely, though, they’ve not included any of the studio footage featured in the 1974 reissue of the original film, but have retained the cheesy computer imagery added to the 2002 director’s cut.  The blu-ray is rounded out with some photographs and a brief interview from the Obscured By Clouds sessions and a fairly good live performance of, you guessed it, “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” and “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. There are also a series of French news reports on a ballet performance for which the Floyd provided some live music. Frustratingly, though, we only get a few glimpses of the actual performance itself (presumably, the ballet was not filmed in its entirety).

All in all, this set reveals the limitations of the year-by-year format of these sets (hey, they can’t all be 1970!), and leads the listener to think that, well, they needed to have something for 1972 to justify another $60 boxed set. Really, it would have perhaps been better to include the Live at Pompeii material on the already rather sparse 1971 set (especially given that the performance itself was actually filmed in 1971).

Still, “Mudmen”, though.

Friday
Sep212018

I Mother Earth - Scenery And Fish

6.5 - Canada - 1996

Vaguely metallic funk-prog Can-rock. The singles "One More Astronaut", "Another Sunday", "Raspberry", and "Used To Be Alright" have merit, descending according to order of release. After that, there's not much of note, but nothing really bad either. The jams are more interesting than the songs. "Shortcut To Moncton" is a most unexpected title for an extended jazz-prog workout.

Friday
Sep212018

Eberhard Schoener - Bali-Agung

7.5 - Germany/Indonesia - 1975

Rather pretentious hippie orientalism in which a German progger goes to Bali to find himself amidst the gamelans. Decent results, though: atmospheric proto-electronica with field recording vibe overdubs. Thing is, the whole time you're just waiting for the closer, "Gong-Gede (Orchester)", which is tremendously top-flyte indeed!

Friday
Sep212018

Ten East - Extraterrestrial Highway

7.0 - USA - 2006

Instrumental guitar jams from a Yawning Man reconfiguration. The first couple of tracks rock, but after that it all blends together into a nondescript haze. Perhaps the first two tracks shine for not having had the fatigue set in. Still decent though.

Friday
Sep212018

Joel Plaskett Emergency - Down At The Khyber

7.0 - Canada - 2001

Catchy can-rock pop from the former Thrush Hermit front man that's as indebted to Zeppelin as the Beatles. Must be something melodic and indie in the waters down Halifax way, methinks. Lead single "Maybe We Should Just Go Home" is a massive winner, and the title track's pretty good. Some schlock abounds, however, such as "There's Love In The Air", and the second side loses momentum. Plaskett's a decent enough songwriter, but I'm not sure his voice is strong enough to carry a full album. But, man, those drums sound fantastic.

Friday
Sep212018

Labradford - A Stable Reference

7.5 - USA - 1995

When you listen to this album, after not very much of a while, it gets quite dull, but then after a bit more a while, it becomes beautiful. Another while more and it's dull again. And so on and so on and so on. Most of it is based around a slow, repeated guitar figure. In fact, track 4, "Banco", begins as if it were a continuation of "Streamlining", but soon finds new textures to explore. By "Star City, Russia", though, this pattern begins to get a bit played out. On balance, though, it's just pretty enough to be good.

Friday
Aug032018

North Texas State University Lab Band - Lab 78!

6.5 – USA – 1978

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Friday
Aug032018

Counting Crows - August And Everything After

6.0 – USA – 1993

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Friday
Aug032018

Pearl Jam - Vs.

7.5 – USA – 1993

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Saturday
Mar032018

Papir - III

8.0 - Denmark - 2013

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