Pink Floyd
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn


4.5
superb

Review

by Justin Swope USER (86 Reviews)
November 10th, 2012 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pink Floyd's first album is a bold psychedelic gem, fronted by the mastermind Syd Barrett.

Pink Floyd was certainly a different type of band in their earliest stages. Back when Syd Barrett was calling the shots, Pink Floyd had an entirely different sense of style, entailing extremely ornate psychedelia. The band's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is nonetheless an iconic album that delves into the disturbed mind of Syd Barrett himself.

Without a doubt, this LP is peculiar and highly outlandish, and its ingenuity transcends the facets of traditional rock music. Barrett's vision of a mystical world comes to life through bizarre noises, playful vocals, and contorted song structures. Listening to this album feels stepping onto a completely different planet and trying desperately to find one's bearings. After the spacey opener "Astronomy Domine" kicks in and breaks any links with reality, it is very unclear as to where the album is headed. The real challenge with the album is discovering what all these songs mean, but the absence of lucidity from beginning to end makes the album a delightful enigma.

For an album that was released in the 60s, the production on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is really quite impressive. Each instrument sounds as clear as it wants to be, and the album carries a very supernatural flavor. The guitars on the hefty "Lucifer Sam" are very defined and intense as Barrett amplifies his voice during the tumultuous chorus. The track exudes enthusiasm through a sound that is large in scale and ambition. Many parts of the album are clearly drug-induced and expose the most anomalous fragments of Barrett's mind. "Matilda Mother" is presented as a interesting story that gradually descends into madness. The song journeys into a land of fantasy ruled by a dignified king. The unknown mother plagues the mind of the speaker as Syd sings, "Why'd you have to leave me there, hanging in my infant air, waiting?", but she also serves as the speaker's source of comfort.

The shift between tracks is purposefully disorienting, yet the album channels the band's energy through grand guitar solos and amusing lyrics. Listening to this LP requires blind acceptance of the illogical. The imagery of "Flaming" transcends reason and is conveyed as an elaborate daydream. The track floats upon a wave of psychedelic sound effects and frolics along like an exuberant game of hide and seek. The LP dives into a truly zany place with the ambitious, instrumental "Interstellar Overdrive". The track escalates with raspy guitar strums and eccentric background textures. In addition, it emits monstrous noise and distortion by implementing several crazy effects that magnify its breadth. Clocking in at just under ten minutes, it is a dense song with a haunting tone that transports the listener into a chasm of darkness.

After the breathing room of "Interstellar Overdrive" Barrett returns to his post as the storyteller, as he sings about tiny creatures who eat, sleep, and drink wine. "The Gnome" is a blissful little tune that is as enjoyable as it is strange. The multiple vocal layers carry a hint of eeriness alongside merry lyrics. The band shifts gears with "Chapter 24", a more delicate track with a heartwarming chorus. The band's unity comes to the forefront with the accented chant of "Sunset, sunrise". Despite the ambiguous lyrics, Barrett comes across as settled and placid, more so than any other song on the album. The track is truly an overlooked gem in the band's back catalogue.

The influence of mind-altering drugs on this LP is fairly evident from the gaudy imagery and nonlinear composition. Pink Floyd embraces an obscure identity for the sake of an intriguing musical form. Additionally, this form benefits from remarkable songwriting and lighthearted musical recreation. Barrett's style clearly differs with Floyd's later albums, but his musical ideas are equally awe-inspriing. His talent as a vocalist is another interesting attribute displayed on this LP like, for instance, on "The Scarecrow" which showcases one of his finest vocal performances. This simple track spices the album up with perky percussion and unique instrumentation that sets it apart from its surrounding tracks. Barrett creates sympathy for the inanimate scarecrow to the point where it appears to be an analogy for his own life.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn might not be everyone's cup of tea. It is completely different from future albums like Animals and Wish You Were Here. This is primarily because The Piper is the only LP in which Barrett was ultimately in charge. The end product is an unconstrained LP that is heavily psychedelic and dreamy. While it took me a little while to get into this album, I was mesmerized once I came to appreciate its distinctive style. This album is definitely not for everyone, but those who give it a chance are in for a real treat.

Favorite Tracks:
The Scarecrow
Chapter 24
Interstellar Overdrive
Lucifer Sam
Matilda Mother



Recent reviews by this author
Ariel Pink Pom PomBuilt to Spill Keep It Like a Secret
Flying Lotus You're Dead!Alt-J This Is All Yours
Rustie Green LanguageCloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else
user ratings (1828)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
November 9th 2012


11224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Paperback's gonna flip

KILL
November 9th 2012


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album ruuuules

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

breakingthefragile
November 9th 2012


2966 Comments


One of my favs.

Digging: Molly Drake - Molly Drake

clockrotate07
November 9th 2012


2 Comments


Amazing!

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
November 9th 2012


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

And flip I did, Jack.

Excellent review, man. I absolutely love this album. I prefer the more mature and progressive style of the later albums, but the songs here are just too irresistibly catchy to pass up. Syd's lyrics is the most fun part of it all.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
November 9th 2012


16147 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review

Digging: Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega

SCREAMorphine
November 10th 2012


1763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, pos!

jtswope
November 10th 2012


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks guys!

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 10th 2012


3505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album is great. When I listen to it, some of the songs just haunt me for days, such as Flaming or Scarecrow. See Emily Play on the US release is an amazing song. Pos for the good review man.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Motorpnakotic Fragments

ViperAces
November 10th 2012


12504 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Havent checked.

Chortles
November 10th 2012


18102 Comments


gr8 album

Digging: Cocteau Twins - Treasure

CaptainDooRight
November 10th 2012


30338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well yeah but whats Tony the Tiger have to do with this

tommygun
November 10th 2012


25425 Comments


Great album great review, pos hard. Might jam this and some of Syd's solo shit tonight m/

tommygun
November 10th 2012


25425 Comments


Which version of this do you guys have? The one I bought has two discs, one mono one stereo. I can't decide which one I prefer. The stereo one is trippier but the mono has more balls.

pissbore
January 20th 2013


9934 Comments


the piper AT THE GATES of dawn m/



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy