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Home arrow Reviews arrow Albums arrow Roger Waters: The Dark Side Of The Moon Redux
Roger Waters: The Dark Side Of The Moon Redux Print E-mail
Written by Adamo Prina   
Friday, 20 October 2023

Roger Waters: The Dark Side Of The Moon Redux album release reviewTime for another guest contribution: Adamo Prina, who has made a couple of contributions to the site in the past, has been considering the new Redux version of The Dark Side Of The Moon, by Roger Waters. As you will know by now, it's a new take on the classic, not a cover, or a re-recording, but Waters as a 79-year-old mulling over the themes and ideas within the 1973 classic, and realising that much of it holds true today, some 50 years later.

Adamo has done his own mulling over of the album, and shares his thoughts below. Our thanks to him, and of course we always welcome contributions from any of you who wish to add their views or analysis of things - if you want to do so, please contact us through the normal address ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

The Prism Glass of an Aged Man's Memories

During the recording of The Dark Side of The Moon in 1972/73, Roger Waters came up with the idea of interviewing the studio staff using flash cards. Some were trivial questions, like "What's your favourite colour?", while others probed deeper into the album's themes, such as "Are you afraid of death?" or "When was the last time you were violent?".

Waters aimed to elicit spontaneous and non-preconceived responses, and integrate them as sound elements in the recording, alongside heartbeats, ticking clocks, and jingling coins. In certain tracks, the voice is clearly audible, such as the words that mark the opening of The Great Gig in the Sky: "I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it, you've got to go sometime". In others, the voices overlap chaotically, as happens at the end of Money, where all answers to the question "were you right the last time you were violent?" blend into an indistinct chatter of mingled voices. Often, these voices are crucial to the musical dynamics, like the words "I've been mad for fucking years - absolutely years" that open the album, or the laughter interspersed in the song Eclipse.

Though this method might seem marginal, it is indicative of how Waters approached a music album: not just a collection of songs but a cohesive piece, both thematically and musically. With his interviews, Waters wasn't merely seeking answers but also unifying elements and textures, sounds, and voices to bridge the gaps between songs or to inject unforeseen pathos or evocative content. Consider the words whispered at the album's end by Gerry O'Driscoll, the doorman at Abbey Road Studios in 1973: "there is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun."

When I played the new "REDUX" version, my curiosity led me to immediately drop the needle on the record's end to see how that iconic voice was replicated. To my surprise, the voice was missing. In his place was Roger Waters responding directly: "I'll tell you one thing, Jerry, me old mucker. It's not all dark, is it?".

Despite my initial astonishment, when considering Waters' artistic evolution, his answer to Jerry feels more consistent. Darkness has always been an undercurrent in Pink Floyd's universe, not as something mysterious but musically, like a soundscape of indistinct sounds and voices upon which melodies seamlessly graft. There wasn't outright praise for darkness, but an acknowledgment of it as a vital, pulsating base, never entirely eradicated from the music stemming from it.

The latest Waters, on the other hand, has been trying to bring everything to the fore, in the direction of greater clarification. Dialogues have become more cinematic, evidenced by his work The Wall evolving into a movie. That very wall, initially symbolizing alienation, became a giant projection screen for metaphorical images, political proclamations, increasingly clear and distinct content, on all possible sides, where envisioning a "dark side" is impossible, as seen in his This is Not a Drill tour.

In line with this evolution, in this new The Dark Side of the Moon, it's not so much the blurred sound, but rather the clarity of words, poetry, and narration that dominate. The new Speak to Me opens with a few bird chirps, followed by Waters solemnly reciting the Free Four lyrics, words he's presenting as carved in stone and which he has mentioned were the original inspiration for the album's concept.

Some may argue this version feels darker, because it is more sombre, and melancholic. To an extent, it's true: Waters' voice has deepened and matured; occasionally it's merely whispered. Yet this lends in any case more clarity, setting his voice apart from instruments and other vocals. Instruments aren't "louder than words" – an allusion to a song penned by David Gilmour in the final Pink Floyd album – but instead take a backseat, either reinforcing dynamics or setting the mood. Sometimes, they're purely evocative: the musical theme is hinted at subtly without full development, allowing our memories of the 1973 album to fill in the gaps. Indulgent guitar solos, which could distract from the core message, are wisely omitted. Waters stands as the sole interpreter and emblematically chooses not a caricature of a hunched dog with a long snout and droopy ears – as seen in his 1984 The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking tour – but a proud pit bull with a keen eye, robust muscles, and a tongue that sways cheekily to the 7/4 rhythm of Money.

It's not about self-centeredness, but a fierce artistic intent to internally revisit the creative phase of the 1973 album, aiming to capture its essence. Waters does so, striving not to mimic or replicate arrangements from that era, but to exploit the rich timbre of his octogenarian voice. With headphones on, one can discern the most intimate vocal nuances, including breaths, revealing his intent to convey an intense vocal expression of his emotional interpretation, reminiscent of his singing style on The Final Cut album. The focus is on a sheer sentiment stripped of excessive musical frills: the feeling we encounter when face with the fear of death, the fleetingness of time, the Mephistophelean nature of money, or the need to empathize with all our brothers and sisters in the world, without prioritizing money or greediness.

In this regard, I especially appreciate the beginning of Time. Rather than the well-known overpowering alarm clocks and pendulums, there are dissonant tones reminiscent of clock springs and gears. It's no longer about passively hearing a clock's alarm but diving into its innards, delving deeper. Waters makes this depth his own, embodying it with his pit bull voice, not just through words but with a renewed and passionate interpretation. All this, 50 years later, for an album that time has been making more and more opaque compared to its origins.

As self-celebratory and personal as it may seem, the overall sentiment of this "REDUX" is a desire to make an epoché of the old album, only to reinterpret its pivotal moments even more vividly, setting aside not just guitar solos but also the noisy darkness that still was pervading the original record. In the end, it's really not all dark if you see through the prism glass of an aged man's memories. Waters' "REDUX" seems to stand as a testament to this notion, emphasizing the importance of cherishing our "short warm moment". Just as the Free Four lyrics suggest, as we age, the memories that remain often are the brightest, most impactful deeds from our prime. While we all inevitably journey towards the dark side of the moon, it's within our power to ensure that journey is bright and creative, even if only in the brief "twinkling of an eye".

Our thanks to Adamo for the article above. For more of Adamo's writing, visit take-one.eu. For more information on Roger's Redux version of The Dark Side Of The Moon, including ordering details of the nine different colour vinyl editions, click here.

 
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