At one time, Pink Floyd was far-out, freaky even. Their work in the electronic capabilities of rock was more advanced than most people recognize. Their use of a third, rear, sound source anticipated quadraphonics. And their music, if it wasn’t memorable, reached into the limits of their experimentation. Most other groups, when they thought in terms of electronics, thought only of painful feedback. Pink Floyd used sounds no one else thought of and could make them lyrical besides. Their last album, Ummagumma, while a bit drawn-out, had all their best elements.
Atom Heart Mother is a step headlong into the last century and a dissipation of their collective talents, which are considerable.
Side one is a suite, almost a symphony. It has a lot in it. They use orchestral elements and a choir. The best that can be said for it is that it’s craftsman-like and that in spite of its many parts, it’s an entity. But that’s all.
It turns out to be an Impressionist orchestral sketch of (I think) a morning that includes some rock elements. As Impressionism, it’s occasionally effective, but on a very imitative level. The beginning does sound sunrisey. And, there are sounds that draw pictures. But, as a whole it’s awful schmaltzy and a little vapid.
Side two is generally worse. “If” is English folk at its deadly worst. It’s soft and silly. Ditto “Fat Old Sun.”
The only redeeming feature on this side is the last cut, “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” and then only partially so. The part is not the music, but the integrated Arising and Breakfast sounds.
I was listening through earphones, and so three-dimensional and realistic were the sounds that I took off the phones to see who was breaking in. I couldn’t believe it to be part of the record. Once I got over that, though, it was the same insubstantial melange as the rest of the record.
If Pink Floyd is looking for some new dimensions, they haven’t found them here.
Try freaking out again, Pink Floyd.