Floyd's “Moon” Gets Face Lift - Rolling Stone
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Floyd’s “Moon” Gets Face Lift

“Dark Side” remastered for thirtieth anniversary

On Tuesday, for the thirtieth annniversary of Pink Floyd’s landmark
Dark Side of the Moon, EMI is releasing a completely
remastered, 5.1-channel surround-sound, Super Audio CD (SACD)
version of the 1973 album. The SACD version — which also includes
a remastered stereo layer that plays on standard CD players —
completely re-imagines the set’s soundscape to make full use of
five speakers and a subwoofer. Pink Floyd’s longtime producer James
Guthrie, who also worked on 1993’s twentieth anniversary edition,
took this remastering further than any previous update (Alan
Parsons’ unapproved 1973 “Quad mix” of Dark Side only used
four speakers and no subwoofer), but everything essential remains
in place. The SACD version also features new cover art and a
booklet with photos designed by Storm Thorgerson, creator of the
original album art.

“We felt that the musical content should be consistent and
faithful to the original stereo mix,” says Guthrie from his studio
in Lake Tahoe, “but of course the balance is going to be altered
because you’re dealing with a much larger sound stage.” Though he
repositioned guitars, synthesizers, vocals and found sounds and
voices so that they come at the listener from all directions,
Guthrie was mindful of being arbitrary or gimmicky. “I did not want
to turn this into a video game,” he says. And he did not: The
overall sound is still gluey and homogenous, like a
three-dimensional sonic soup.

Since many of the tracks on the original stereo mix are actually
second- and third-generation material (a result of premixing
multi-track tapes onto new multi-track tapes and overdubbing to get
all the sounds in), Guthrie went back to an earlier generation of
tapes to get the original recordings. As a result, the new
multi-channel 5.1 mix features first-generation drums, vocals and
guitar, among other instruments, which results in a noticeable
warmth and richness in the sound. Because the instruments and
tracks are separated and distributed onto a larger sound stage,
more details can be heard — for example, the low-end of the
synthesizers in “On the Run” and the interplay of guitars and
synthesizers in “Any Colour You Like.”

The remix also has a more cinematic feel, with the sound of
insane laughter, voices and scurrying footsteps behind the
listener. The echoey elements of “Us and Them” hit home even
harder, as Dave Gilmour’s voice resonates back and forth between
the back speakers. Backing vocals are generally in the rear
speakers and signature sound effects, as in (cash register opening,
change clinking, receipt ripping) “Money,” are distributed to four
different speakers.

Most apparent in this version are the voices, which are easier
to discern than in any previous mix. “You’ll hear more of what was
said,” says Guthrie, “Some of the bits and pieces that were buried,
the ones that people were guessing about — all will be revealed
now.”

According to Guthrie, this remix awakened a thirty-year-old
argument in the band about the level and intelligibility of the
speaking voices. “Roger and Nick always preferred to hear the
theatrical elements louder and more intelligible, while Dave and
Rick always wanted to hear the voices wetter and more mysterious,”
says Guthrie. In the end, they compromised.

“I think they all accepted the fact that as long as we retained
the emotional impact of the song, that this mix could be slightly
different,” says Guthrie. “Dynamically there are changes.
Inevitably, if you place a voice in the rear, for instance, there
are fewer components competing with that voice, so just by its
nature it will be more intelligible.”

With the exception of “a tiny bit of extra guitar added to ‘On
the Run’ from the original multitrack tape,” the remix’s content is
idenitical to the original. After hearing the new mix, Roger Waters
said, “Dark Side of the Moon really lends itself to 5.1.
There’s more space for all the theater. James’ new mix adds a whole
new sonic dimension . . . I love it.”

In This Article: Pink Floyd

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