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Home arrow Reviews arrow Albums arrow Pink Floyd's The Endless River vinyl 2LP review
Pink Floyd's The Endless River vinyl 2LP review Print E-mail
Written by Paul Powell Jr.   
Sunday, 23 November 2014
Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition

For our next review, we are going to take a very close look at The Endless River vinyl LP. Pink Floyd vinyl enthusiasts have long clamoured for high quality records, and The Endless River is no exception. It is not a coincidence that the four suites of music presented on this album are a perfect fit for a vinyl LP.

You would also be absolutely right to speculate the composers, producers and engineers preconceived The Endless River to be enjoyed to the fullest on vinyl. Think of it as a gift for loyal fans who grew up on vinyl over the decades.

The LP's eighteen songs transition quite rapidly, clocking in at a total of 53 minutes. Luckily I experienced all of the Floyd's music for the first time on vinyl records and those memories run deep and remain the strongest. The virtues of vinyl LPs are very well known; the warmth and smoothness of analogue sound coming off a great vinyl record is simply astonishing. Those sonic attributes coupled with owning a tangible and weighty physical product makes vinyl truly special.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition

The first thing you judge an album by, and more so with a Pink Floyd album, is the cover. Over the decades, graphic art designer Storm Thorgerson elevated album cover art to a new level of excellence with his beautiful yet enigmatic cover images. With his passing in 2013, the task to find suitable art for The Endless River began.

Work from numerous artists and photographers were submitted, but it was a search on the art forum behance.com by Hipgnosis designer Aubrey Powell that discovered 18-year old Egyptian artist Ahmed Emad Eldin. Self trained as a digital design artist, Ahmed's original image of a man rowing a boat floating above the clouds was ultimately chosen to become the cover of The Endless River. I consider it a very brave move on so many different levels to pick Ahmed's art for the new Pink Floyd album. His mysterious graphic image is open to interpretation, and is perfectly suiting a Pink Floyd record cover. Ahmed is a great new talent and I hope we see more of his work gracing future Pink Floyd projects.

The music on The Endless River is divided into four suites, each a continuous progression of songs per side. After listening to the LP over the course of the last few days, each side revealed it own particular flavour, reflecting different eras of Pink Floyd's illustrious recording career.

A rich palate of music is represented ranging from the exotic tapestry of the A Saucerful of Secrets LP through their mid-70's super-nova years to The Wall's more commercial dynamic productions. I was not prepared however to hear Richard's grandiose Royal Albert Hall pipe organ recording 'Summer 68' on side three, nor the spiky cacophony of 'Skins' or the cinematic exotica of 'Anisina' on side two.

The entirety of side one is rather holographic while retaining the rich organic sound of the classic Wish You Were Here album, peaking with the celebratory 'It's What We Do'. Side four traverses neon illuminated cityscapes beginning with 'Calling' to emerge reflective and lyrical on 'Louder Than Words'. These are just a few choice moments on The Endless River, but I must stress it is mistake to single out any particular song here; rather you must listen to the four 'sides' to really enjoy this LP at its full potential. The one thing I know everyone will agree on is The Endless River embodies the classic Pink Floyd sound, reconstructed for the 21st century.

The Endless River is foremost a tribute to Richard Wright who very sadly passed away in 2008. Richard has eleven composer credits here, and plays on sixteen songs. His keyboards form an integral part of The Endless River in both composition and spirit. Richard was by all accounts a quiet and gentle musician, tremendously talented and in retrospect under-appreciated. Left to freely compose in his own space, Richard could amaze everyone with the warmth and depth of his playing. His piano tones and keyboard melodies are every bit as identifiable as David's range of guitar excursions. I cannot imagine a Pink Floyd without Richard's presence.

Never preoccupied with the classical bravado and gimmicky flash of fellow progressive keyboardists, Richard had a true love of the great jazz pianists such as Miles Davis' band member Bill Evans, whom he especially loved on Miles' seminal Kind of Blue LP (1959). In terms of modern Pink Floyd compositions, Richard's gospel-tinged 'Great Gig in the Sky' illustrates the dynamic of his compositional skills. At the core of the song is Richard's beautiful piano melody; a tide of plaintive notes ebbing and flowing with Clare Torry's ecstatic wordless vocalizations. In the Pink Floyd canon, 'Great Gig in the Sky' stands as the band's most emotive composition.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition

Holding The Endless River makes you appreciate why the venerable LP has endured so well over the decades; it is a weighty LP with eye-catching graphics, a thick cover spine, and crisp ultra-modernist fonts. The LP cover stock thickness is approximately the same as The Division Bell, but where that LP cover has a high gloss laminate, The Endless River utilizes a silky matt finish which resists fingerprints, and casts a rich colour tone to the image. Inside the LP gatefold sleeve is a black and white photo of Richard, David and Nick during the 1993 Division Bell sessions. The two inner sleeves have a gloss finish and feature the same geometric print on one side, with a different black and photo on each for the backside. A great deal of preparation went into the composition of The Endless River, as every element of its design coalesces to make a top shelf album package.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition

Remember how great The Division Bell sounded on vinyl? Expect the same level of quality here. The Endless River was Engineered and mixed by Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins. The vinyl was mastered by Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab in Los Angeles. The record pressings are courtesy of Quality Record Pressings in Salina, Kansas.

So how does The Endless River really sound on vinyl? In a word - AWESOME.

The Endless River casts its wide hypnotic sound across the room, beguiling us with its highly textured presentation, warm flowing midrange, silky smooth highs and nimble resonant bass. It's all wide-open breathing space here folks, with no unnecessary compression or pushing the sound levels into red-zone distortion. When the precious few vocals are silky or coarse, you hear every syllable.

The stereo mix is impeccable; guitars dive and soar, snare drums rattle, clarinet and sax breathe, pianos resonate, and ambient sounds fly in from the periphery. The dimensional space surrounding each musical note is classic Floyd. Each side of the record is an intricate construct of musical conversation. The Floyd are masters of this art and make their craft seem effortless.

The Endless River unwinds in vivid detail, evoking images of rustic concert halls, leaving footprints in dusty stone amphitheatres, meditating in idyllic country meadows, floating downstream towards a sunset, watching caravans cross sunburnt landscapes, to racing at high velocity across time-lapsed asphalt jungles. Yet more than any other aspiration, The Endless River covets the emotions of persons whom have left our physical realm and celebrates their talent. This feat is even more astonishing when you consider how many different sessions the four producers: David Gilmour, Phil Manzanera, Youth and Andy Jackson had to source, and the variety of recording media used to capture the music. If not for Pro-Tools, The Endless River would not exist in its finely wrought form.

The Endless River's vinyl records are pressed on quiet black slabs of heavyweight vinyl. The choice to press The Endless River on a 180-200 gram record was a very good one since heavier records are more stable on the turntable platter. As expected with all QRP vinyl, my LPs were flat, perfectly centred and without defect. Because of the short playing time per side, ample room was left in the dead wax area of the records, so the groove spacing is not compressed. That physical attribute makes for better sound. Earlier in my vinyl listening session, I downloaded the 24bit/96kHz file of The Endless River. Now while both formats have their strengths and weaknesses, it is the vinyl records I kept going back to for my preferred listening enjoyment.

The picture labels of The Endless River LP are based on the same graphic image, only each record changes the background, colour scheme and position of the elements. You will recognize these same images as geometric designs first seen in promo video ads for the album. Also included in the LP package is a fantastic, colour plus back and white 16 page book, containing photos of the guys recording, relaxing and chatting during the 1993 studio sessions for The Division Bell. You also will find detailed composer and musician credits as well as lyrics to 'Louder Than Words'. If downloading a mp3 is important to you, locate a small card in the LP sleeve with the download code to get your free copy, or better yet, consider gifting it away, go introduce someone new to the music of Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition
Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition Pink Floyd - The Endless River 2LP vinyl edition

The recent media attention given to this 50 year old group has been absolutely incredible if not overwhelming. No one was expecting a new Pink Floyd album in 2014. The event borders on the surreal. I spent some time this weekend reading what much of the news media and Pink Floyd community thought about the LP. It seems the overwhelming sentiment agreed upon is The Endless River is a very emotional recording. I agree wholeheartedly. We know the band feels the same. The one thing you can count on among Floyd fans is we are very passionate about our music.

Does it really surprise anyone that The Endless River is the most pre-ordered album of all time on Amazon? Pink Floyd are undoubtedly still relevant in today's music scene proving music fans, old and new, do care deeply about the quality of well created and presented music.

The Endless River not so much closes a chapter in Pink Floyd's deep catalogue of music as adds to it like an important missing musical link; a selection of sonic immersions into an endless river of sound. It has been called by many as their swan song. But I would rather like to think The Endless River opens up doors for a great many artistic possibilities. Stay tuned.

Catalogue Number and Matrix Numbers:

Columbia - 88875007881

Record One, Side One - 0825646215478-A TML-M 10900 1A
Record One, Side Two - 0825646215478-B TML-M 10900 1B
Record Two, Side One - 0825646215478-C TML-M 10900 1C
Record Two, Side Two - 0825646215478-D RE1 TML-M 10900 2D

ORDERING INFORMATION:
For those who are yet to buy their chosen format(s) of The Endless River, here are direct links to each format at various Amazon stores. Any purchase made after entering Amazon using one of our links, results in a small but vital contribution to our ongoing site running costs, which is hugely appreciated!

2-LP VINYL EDITION:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 
CD & BLU-RAY BOXSET:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 
CD & DVD BOXSET:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 
CD ONLY EDITION:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 

For those who prefer their music digitally, but don't have the MP3 download card from the vinyl edition, you can now order the deluxe edition of Pink Floyd's The Endless River through iTunes.

 
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