Much like the means and methods used by the surviving Beatles to approximate a full-on reunion using John Lennon’s previously recorded piano and vocals, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Nick Mason re-purposed recordings made with their late keyboardist Rick Wright during the sessions that yielded the band’s last effort, 1994’s The Division Bell.
Whether or not this constitutes an entirely new Pink Floyd album or merely a rehash of old unused material could be cause for debate. Still, having something current that bears the band’s brand is worthy of headline status in and of itself, The resulting recordings adhere to the standard template regardless, complete with whooshing synthesizers, droning guitars and emphatic rhythms, all underscored by Floyd’s usual majesty and mystique. With vocals figuring on only a handful of the selections, these entries better resemble amorphous soundscapes as opposed to actual finished songs. Likewise, most of the tracks literally meld into one another, offering the impression that this is one continual meandering suite instead of a series of individual selections. The only exception is the final track, “Louder Than Words,” which stands out thanks to Gilmour’s familiar hushed harmonies
Overall, The Endless River recalls experimental Floyd forays like Meddle and Ummagumma rather than the radio-ready sound of Dark Side of the Moon. The emphasis on ethereal ambiance over the allure of accessibility may be disappointing to some, especially since the only numbers really worth a second listen are “Allons-Y (1),” “Allons-Y (2),” “Sum,” and the aforementioned “Louder Than Words,” songs which rank as the best the album has to offer. That’s a scant selection to hang an entire album on, but given the fact this is likely the band’s swansong, it should be embraced by all the Floyd faithful.
– Lee Zimmerman