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Flowing down the The Endless River
Jyaneswar Laishram | 08 Jan 2015

One landmark end point that marked the end of the year 2014 for me was Pink Floyd's final album The Endless River. But the fact is that being final or first album does not make much difference to me when it comes to mulling over any Pink Floyd sound—which is timeless.

The time when I first discovered this British progressive rock group was in the mid-80s in my hometown Bishenpur. But it was not at all a big bang discovery. I merely stumbled upon a couple of songs—Another Brick In The Wall-Part 2 and Hey You—which were found at times in the playlists of some pirated cassettes on classic rock collections that I borrowed from friends in Bishenpur. Even those friends of mine neither properly knew Pink Floyd nor owned any of the band's albums then. Overall rock music scene around my semi-hilly town of Bishenpur in the 80s was something like the hills loved Bon Jovi and the plain adored Scorpions. Breaking the regional tradition I plugged in Pink Floyd on my playlist when I was stationed somewhere outside Manipur for higher study in the mid-90s. The Division Bell was where I first discovered the real taste of Pink Floyd sound. Later, I explored down on Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, Meddle, Atom Heart Mother... a complete cycle of the band's discography, like hardcore Pink Floyd fans do to enjoy the same old timeless songs all over again and again. And those who have completed the cycle must surely enjoy The Endless River in endless ways these days. Critics all over the world deliver mixed reviews of The Endless River. But I discard the dark side and define this album as a comprehensive anthology of Pink Floyd from different eras. Molten out of the 20 hours of unreleased materials preserved during a string of free jam sessions the band had while recording The Division Bell in 1993 at David Gilmour's studio Astoria and Britannia Row in England, The Endless River is also a 'Swan Song' tribute to Richard Wright whose untimely demise six years back eventually braked the pace of Pink Floyd to a halt. But in The Endless River, Richard Wright is quite alive and kicking, posthumously, alongside David Gilmour, Nick Mason and a galaxy of session musicians. Exactly the way the band jammed while recording the Wish You Were Here in 1975 was resumed in the The Division Bell sessions in 1993. In 2013, David Gilmour and Nick Mason re-explored those sessions that remained untouched for two decades and they immediately decided to make the tracks available very exclusively as part of Pink Floyd repertoire. Then the two remaining members of the band reworked on the instrumental pieces for more than a year to mould them into an album, which turned out to be The Endless River, produced by David Gilmour along with three co-producers. Sometime in 2013, when the band was doing a round of some home tasks on The Endless River, buzzes of criticism surfaced all around on social and other media about the fifteenth and final Pink Floyd album. Many friends of mine argumentatively opined that Pink Floyd somewhat managed without Roger Waters to certain extent, but things could be fallen out of order in absence of Richard Wright and cutting a successful full-length studio album just a dream. Of course, departure of Roger Waters from the band in 1985 really resulted in a cavity. But it never marked the end as The Division Bell and Pulse (Live) proved the band's continuing survival and The Endless River is yet another bequest of old wine in a new bottle. Arranged on four sides for 21 songs and six videos, The Endless River is an eternal album on instrumental piece with just one song having a lead vocal track, Louder Than Words, in which Richard Wright's idiosyncratic keyboards still intones the eccentric Pink Floyd sound. He along with David Gilmour and Nick Mason recorded this song together on the Astoria houseboat studio. But they reworked on it with the new lyrics by novelist and David Gilmour's wife Polly Samson who also took pivotal part in writing some songs in The Division Bell album. Clubbing to the same sounds the band composed in different eras, The Endless River is perfect amalgamation of those familiar and unique reverberations of Pink Floyd playing in the 70s, 80s, 90s... now echoing directly or indirectly in almost every song in the album. Most of the songs in The Endless River are connected to the band's all time favourite classics. Selectively look at some, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Album: Wish You Were Here, 1975) is shone somewhere in It's What We Do; Echoes (Album: Meddle, 1971) is very correspondingly reflected in Skins; Allon Y Part-1 totally runs along Run Like Hell (Album: The Wall, 1985). As long as songs of Pink Floyd reflect eras of different trends and styles, the band in the 80s even had a little shake of disco in Another Brick In The Wall Part-2 and Hey You underscored a surreal glam rock, which is now closely attuned to Louder Than Words. This song is sounded as something to today's young generation as Hey You was to me and my friends in the 80s around the semi-hilly Bishenpur town during the era of pirated cassettes. Indeed the endlessness of Pink Floyd!