Review Summary: Though a bit of a depressing outing for the Pink Floyd alum, his solo material showcases Wright's contributions to his band's composions.
Hailing from one of progressive rock/rock n’ rolls most celebrated acts doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for personal space and breathing room. It’s often difficult for artists desiring a chance at a solo effort to break free of the niche they’ve found themselves tucked into upon the success of their flag-ship unit. The result can leave an artists attempts at defining their own creations sounding more like a clone than anything, leaving listeners with the impression that perhaps there isn’t anything to the individual in question outside of the cohesion of a band. This anchor effect can indeed create an opposite reaction to the listener, leaving things in a much more positive light for the solo musician than ever before. Enter the case of Pink Floyd’s keyboardist/composer/vocalist Richard Wright. On Wright’s solo compositions (1978’s Wet Dream
and 1996’s Broken China
) there was a remarkably similar sound to Pink Floyd. This, however, shows exactly what Wright brought to Pink Floyd’s table: a sense of melody and mood are showcased, showing just how integral he was to the overall sound of his legendary band.
Now, as with a lot of records – those released as a solo effort by other Pink Floyd alumni included – there are bound to be weaknesses that just don’t add up to the sum of the whole. Indeed, if one is looking to compare this work to that of the mentioned band, you’re going to miss the point of the album and the musicianship on it. Again, the majority of the work put forth here by Wright echoes of his obvious input/impact within Pink Floyd. This record, however, has much more to it. A concept record based off his wife’s battle with depression, Rick Wright’s second solo effort, Broken China
can be both droning and powerfully emotional – perhaps following suit with the subject matter. The disc begins similar to a Pink Floyd record (I’ll really try to stop with the comparison thing) with a sprawling, atmospheric instrumental in [/i]Breaking Water[/i]. Though there isn’t much to the track, it lays the foundation to the record’s soundscape (since this isn’t a real word to my knowledge, my definition is the “musical landscape” of the record). The disc starts to liven up – as much as one of this nature can – with the second track [/i]Night of a Thousand Furry Toys[/i]. This has a jazzy bass-line and tempo, and incorporates a nice series of guitar solos – even if they desperately sound like a poor Gilmour imitation. Later down the track-list on the instrumental Satellite
a similar structure is produced. On this record Wright’s vocals seem dryer and deeper, somewhat sadder. This may have to do with the nature of the album’s lyrics, or perhaps even his illness, since his vocals on 1994’s Division Bell
with his band sounded phenomenal. There is indeed a sense of longing and sadness on the disc though, and Wright does a good job creating the mood his material required. Reaching for the Rail
utilise the vocals of Sinead O’Conner, which further add to the album’s concept.
The record is sparse as a whole, again probably due to the content being put forth, but unfortunately sometimes this causes the disc to have a dragging feeling. Littered with instrumental tracks – which normally would be outstanding – there just isn’t enough instrumentation behind Wright to properly pull it off (case in point, Runaway
and Unfair Ground
paints a emotional backdrop of fear, despair, depression, isolation, and eventually hope and promise: powerfully ideas that seem like they should have taken on perhaps a stronger form here, but nonetheless fulfilled by Wright’s haunting presentation of them. I don’t want his death to add or take away from this recording, but Rest in Peace to Richard Wright, a legendary musician (1943-2008).
Though this album would probably be most enjoyed when listened in its entirety, there are a few tracks that are able to stand on their own: Night of a Thousand Furry Toys
, Far From the Harbour Wall
, and Reaching for the Rail