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A Momentary Lapse Of Reason - Pink Floyd

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Genre: Rock - Progressive Rock / Artist: Pink Floyd / Audio CD released 1987-09-07 at EMI

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    6 Reviews
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      30.08.2013 11:52
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      A really horrible David Gilmour solo LP masquerading as a Pink Floyd album

      Pink Floyd essentially stopped functioning as a band just after they released 1977's 'Animals', which I think is marvellously cold and biting and angry, and it might just be my favourite in their catalogue. However, Roger Waters had become a much more dominant presence in the group, and they found it far more difficult to work together. 'The Wall' was pretty much his entire vision, and even guitarist David Gilmour admitted that radio staple 'Comfortably Numb' was the 'last embers of Roger and I being able to work together'. And 'The Final Cut' really is a Waters solo album, with the other members turning up occasionally when they were told to.

      Waters left in 1983, leaving the other members with the dilemma of continuing, or calling it a day. I really wish they'd gone for the latter, as this record comes across as nothing more than either a thinly-veiled attempt to cash in on the name of one of the biggest groups on the planet, or a snub towards their
      former bandmate with their tit-for-tat legal moves and countermoves over the use of the Pink Floyd name. Certainly its musical content seems to be a second thought.

      Released in 1987, this unlucky 13th and penultimate studio album from Pink Floyd (except it wasn't really Pink Floyd - see below), is their biggest misfire since Ummagumma. I'm no fan of 'The Wall', as I find it overly long, bloated and mostly depressing, but I'd much rather listen to it than this, which I find even more depressing as it's the sound of a band trying to sound like they used to, and getting it all wrong.

      Deceptively, the album opens reasonably well, with the instrumental 'Signs of Life', which while recycling a few ideas from 'Wish You Were Here', sounds all very Pink Floyd-y and as one might expect. Its spacey synths and somewhat darker sound bear their trademark sound, but it noseives really quickly into mediocrity and a frankly embarrassing sound. Third and final instrumental 'Terminal Frost' is massively 80s and cheesy, and sounds like it should be the backdrop to Top Gun. It just sounds of aviator shades and white BMWs and yuppies, with a meandering saxophone crooning over the gated drums. This isn't what I'd expect from a band of such calibre.

      There's also no cohesion to this at all. A recurring theme from later Pink Floyd albums is that, if they don't tell a story in the way some concept albums do, they do at least have a unifying feel. 'Dark Side' was about the tolls of modern living on the sanity of the individual. 'Wish You Were Here' was about alienation, not just of Syd Barrett to whom they dedicated it, but anyone who has felt isolated. 'Animals' was a capitalist inversion of the zoological Orwellian take on communist dictators, and 'The Wall' and 'Final Cut' were, err, a big rant from Waters about everything that had gone wrong in his life. This has no direction at all, and they were clearly struggling from the absence of Waters' creative visions.

      Lyrically it's also very poor. 'Learning to Fly' sees Gilmour taking inspiration from his newly gained pilot's license to use as an allegory for spreading one's wings and being free and so on and yuck. It became a bit of a radio staple, but it sounds really clunky today.

      This album is horrible. It's drenched in that slick, 80s MIDI production that sounds way more dated now than their analogue recordings from the 70s do, and peppered with boring sax solos and the lyrics stink, especially given the cold edge that Waters used to give them. Gilmour's voice starts to grate a bit as well over the course of the album; no member of Pink Floyd was ever a great singer, but it was a bit secondary as their skills lay in their respective instruments and unifying them into a sum greater than their not inconsiderable parts. Looking at the potted recording history of this, it's pretty evident that this is basically a David Gilmour solo album, rather than a collaboration between the remaining members. Even keyboardist Rick Wright had to be hired as an extra hand as his contractucal position with the band was too complicated to allow him to be a full member, and Nick Mason felt too out of practice to contribute his drum parts. And Gilmour roped in a load of external help for the writing and recording. I can imagine Patrick Bateman enthusing about this album in the same way he does about Genesis' 'Duke'...

      Bleurgh. I wanted to like this album since I have a lot of time for Pink Floyd, but there's no denying that I found this to be a total stinker of a record. Truth be told, there's little after 'Animals' that I find really engaging in the way I expect Pink Floyd to be - there's a few tracks off 'The Wall', and even 'The Final Cut', but nothing gels well. At least this wasn't the last Pink Floyd record, as they went on to release 'The Division Bell', which was still underwhelming but managed to have much more worthy content than this bungled LP. Roger Waters dismissed it as a third rate facsimile of the band's old sound, and I think he's right. They'd become the 'surrogate band' that Waters envisaged on 'The Wall', a poor imitation of their former selves. Shame really, as they were once brilliant.

      Should you feel the need to, this can be picked up on CD for a few pounds on Amazon, or on vinyl for a shockingly high £15-20. The cover is cool though, instantly recognisable as a Storm Thorgerson piece, who had designed the covers for a number of their albums, so if you do end up with a copy, I'd frame it and hang it on the wall. I'd really only recommend this if you are a truly dedicated Pink Floyd fanatic, and need to complete the collection. And if you are one of those, maybe you'll find something to warm to on this record, but that sadly eluded me, even after the 3rd listen.

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        20.11.2011 12:01
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        Highly enjoyable music.

        "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" is the 13th studio album by the British rock band, Pink Floyd. It was released in 1987 on the EMI label and was produced by Bob Ezrin and David Gilmour. The official line-up was David Gilmour (vocals/guitar/keyboards) and Nick Mason (drums). Also appearing on the album was original Pink Floyd member, Richard Wright.

        From start to finish, this album is pure Pink Floyd joy, full of the musical genius that has kept them at the top of their game for so many years. "Signs of Life" is an instrumental masterpiece that contains only a few seconds of Nick Mason's voice, electronically changed, reading poetry. It has been said that the two verses may be about former members Syd Barrett (first verse) and Roger Waters (second verse), but I have never heard that confirmed as truth.

        David Gilmour's love of flying (he is a licensed pilot) is the inspiration behind the song "Learning to Fly", although other interpretations could be about his feelings about his new role as leader of Pink Floyd once Roger Waters left. Whatever the true meaning behind it, it is a very inspirational piece of music.

        Written by David Gilmour and Phil Manzanera (guitarist for Roxy Music), "One Slip" is generally interpreted as regrets at the end of a relationship that was never meant to be, simply because people let their guard down. The album's title comes from a line in this song.

        David Gilmour is quoted as saying, "Sorrow was a poem I'd written as a lyric before I wrote music to it, which is rare for me." No real drums were used for this song, only a drum machine, and the guitar into was recorded at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. "Yet Another Movie/Round and Around" features soundbites from the classic movie "Casablanca"

        Every song on this album is a musical masterpiece, making it one of my very favourite Pink Floyd albums of all time. It is one album everyone should listen to at least once in their life.

        1. Signs of Life
        2. Learning to Fly
        3. The Dogs of War
        4. One Slip
        5. On the Turning Away
        6. Yet Another Movie / Round and Around
        7. A New Machine (Part 1)
        8. Terminal Frost
        9. A New Machine (Part 2)
        10. Sorrow

        My rating: 9/10

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        25.11.2008 19:17

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        ***

        A Momentary Lapse Of Reason is one of the most bizarre things I have listened to recently,and is bedded firmly within the David Gilmour 'Pink Floyd' era - and it beings with one of the best pieces of music written by the group full stop - the dreamy ambient piece Signs of Life. The album soon moves on to much stranger pastures with The Dogs of War which is a powerful and ruckus affair vocally, with plenty of female backing singers and guitar.

        The highlight of the album is the immense On The Turning Away which plays out as almost a power ballad in a away, with a fantastic sonic guitar solo during the closing stages - certainly a lot more accessible, as is the album as a whole, than some of the older more up tight material.

        Having said that many fans had discredited the band by this stage, and while personally I'm not into their 70's output, I enjoyed this in a strange sort of a way. In fairness it isn't really all the great because there are far better experimental albums, but it remains worth a try.

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        11.02.2007 05:54
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        Pink Floyd's thirteenth studio album (1987).

        Despite being the most enduringly revered band of progressive rock, Pink Floyd’s artistic integrity nonetheless managed to burn out after little more than a decade. Different fans will have differing views of the point at which the band peaked, ‘sold out’ or ran out of ideas, largely depending on whether or not they loathe Roger Waters and deify Syd Barrett, but the common consensus tends to be that 80s Pink Floyd, through creative differences, exhaustion and legal fracas, sucked. The only debate that remains is which of ‘The Final Cut’ or ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ sucked the biggest.

        The debate isn’t a pointless one, as both albums represent polar opposites of the band’s output. ‘The Final Cut’ was the final album to be produced under the totalitarian thumb of Roger Waters, whose creative control had been progressively spiralling out of control since 1977’s ‘Animals.’ Bearing the unflattering subtitle ‘A requiem for the post-war dream by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd,’ the album is most palatable when viewed as the first Waters solo effort, with a couple of nice guitar solos from David Gilmour, used very sparingly. Waters’ angst-ridden departure from the band shortly thereafter, and its subsequent reformation under Gilmour, led to the third David Gilmour solo album effectively becoming Pink Floyd’s ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason,’ with one major difference: Gilmour was expected to tailor his songs to sound like Pink Floyd. Or, as the irritable Waters later put it, ‘a pretty fair forgery, or a good copy’ of the distinctive Pink Floyd sound.

        A Momentary Lapse of Reason was the first Pink Floyd album for five years, and as such was inevitably destined to be a hit, whether it was critically well-received or not (for the record, it largely was not). Three hit singles fuelled a sell-out tour on which the majority of the new material was played, free as it was from the copyright blight inflicted by Waters. The material itself is largely forgettable, but not completely without merit: a couple of stand-out tracks successfully update the Pink Floyd sound to the 80s electronic scape, amidst a load of bland, tedious and intrusive noise. Pink Floyd staples such as a backing female chorus and overlong guitar solos (especially) set this up to be almost too much like an imitation, but like all Pink Floyd albums it doesn’t really sound too much like anything else. The dominant tone is still dingy, slow and brooding, though not to the extent of ‘The Final Cut,’ but the song structure and arrangement of the album is fairly unique, and in some places noticeably radio-oriented. At the very least, this stands out from the collection.

        Gilmour’s incarnation of the band was perhaps doomed to failure, its structure being something of a shambles after the five-year absence, and was fortunately able to scrape together a far more consistent release with their final album in 1994, largely due to the involvement of keyboardist Richard Wright in the writing process. Wright is largely absent on this album, and is still not officially a member of the band, which consists solely of Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, amidst a throng of gathered session musicians. Mason himself was disappointingly out of practice, meaning that even his contributions are limited and extremely ineffective, leading Gilmour to program his own drum machine to jam along to in the final song, in absence of a suitable human to provide the repetitive backing beat. As many critics note, Gilmour’s lyrics pale in contrast to those of Waters, but at least that leads to an album that’s less angry and bitter, and doesn’t mourn for a dead daddy that the singer never even knew.

        ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason,’ (EMI, 1987)

        1. Signs of Life (instrumental)
        2. Learning to Fly
        3. The Dogs of War
        4. One Slip
        5. On the Turning Away
        6. Yet Another Movie
        7. Round and Around
        8. A New Machine Part 1
        9. Terminal Frost (instrumental)
        10. A New Machine Part 2
        11. Sorrow

        For the first time, all songs are written by David Gilmour, though the majority were co-written with producer Bob Ezrin and session musicians – neither Mason nor Wright had any creative input. This immediately lends a sense of repetition to the album, a far cry from the rather insane juxtaposition of styles on the early Pink Floyd albums for which each member would provide a song tailored to his own speciality. Gilmour’s speciality appears to lie in long, identical-sounding guitar solos and raspy vocals, which sound like he suffered from a sore throat during every stage of the recording.

        The instrumental tracks are particularly noteworthy and well thought-out, the opening piece setting the scene for an intensely spacey and atmospheric album, perhaps the pinnacle of the band’s achievement at truly conveying a sense of outer space in music ('Astronomy Domine' succeeds better, but for different reasons). This is aided exquisitely by the foregrounded keyboard and organ, but the use of a distorted vocal sample, what sounds like communication between NASA and a shuttle, ruins the atmosphere a little for me. It would have been more impressive to rely entirely on the music to conjure the intergalactic image, perhaps with a little help from the title, but it wouldn’t be a Pink Floyd album without extensive audio sampling would it? Right, Dave? ‘Signs of Life’ is a great mood piece, though a little long and a bit of a 70s new-age throwback, reminiscent of Vangelis’ ‘Mare Tranquillatis’ from the superb space-jazz record ‘Albedo 0.39’ (right down to the transmission sample).

        The other instrumental comes in the form of ‘Terminal Frost,’ and is a little more like the jams a Pink Floyd fan is used to, starting softly with a piano, soon to be joined by a nice melodic guitar wail and expanding to greater density as the minutes slowly tick by. It works really well as an instrumental piece, but is hindered by its hideous bookends in the form of the pointlessly excruciating ‘A New Machine’ parts one and two. This represents the peak of Gilmour experimenting with ever-more-distracting ways of keeping the listener’s attention, as we’re subjected to around three tormenting minutes of screeching a capella, distorted through some device or other. Separating ‘Terminal Frost’ from these segments, which really are completely unnecessary, it’s one of the better pieces the album has to offer, even if John Helliwell’s sax solo is more reminiscent of a gameshow opening theme than the great contributions of Dick Parry to ‘Money’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ in the 70s.

        Disappointingly, alternating between so many hired musicians really adds very little variety to this recording. The drums on ‘One Slip’ are played by Jim Keltner, but aren’t that different from the machine Gilmour programmed for ‘Sorrow,’ or Mason’s competent-but-unremarkable work on ‘Learning to Fly’ and others. The bass is equally reliable to the point of unoriginality, only really audible in the bass-led ‘Dogs of War,’ which is easily one of the weakest songs Pink Floyd ever recorded. Shattering the chilled atmosphere at such an early point in a similar way to ‘A New Machine’ later (though not quite as bad), this is several minutes more than necessary of Gilmour barking half-arsed politics far too close to the microphone, while intrusive organs erupt every several seconds. There’s a guitar solo too, but that’s really stating the obvious. It’s a shame really, as the songs surrounding it are fairly enjoyable, and would work much better if the mellow atmosphere had been allowed to pervade the recording without these uncomfortable jarring moments.

        First single ‘Learning to Fly’ would probably have remained a live staple of this ‘new’ Pink Floyd if it had remained active to the present day, and was an unsurprising presence on both of the live albums it released. A good, catchy and enjoyable pop-rock song, this sees Gilmour in full melodic mode (think ‘Comfortably Numb’) over a background of pseudo-electro instrumentation. The chorus is nice and subdued, and the solo nice and relaxed, making this another highlight of the album. It’s perhaps aimed a little too directly at MTV play, in contrast to the ‘art rock’ indulgence of earlier albums, but that doesn’t really count against it. After ‘Dogs of War’ has run its discordant course, the album jumps into a slightly higher gear for the U2-like ‘One Slip.’ Only one gear though, it’s nothing radical. Probably the most positive song on here, it’s also enjoyable in a poppy sort of way, even if it doesn’t strictly belong on a Pink Floyd recording. Much better is the dismal ‘On the Turning Away,’ a slow song with a vast and booming echo, dominated by impressive acoustic guitar that interacts well with the throbbing synthesiser. This is my favourite piece of the album, succeeding far better than the closing song, though an abrupt fade as the guitar solo lasts just a little too long spoils it, as does the repetition of very ‘Wall’esque riffs.

        The remainder of the album is fairly dull, mainly for coming after these earlier songs have already exhausted the ideas. ‘Yet Another Movie’ is similar to ‘On the Turning Away,’ though not as good, and fades out with the fairly pointless fifty second epilogue ‘Round and Around,’ which might as well have been the same song. ‘Sorrow’ is the biggest disappointment for me, beginning with ominous and earth-shaking keyboards and melancholy vocals from Gilmour in yet another vast, empty space, before the drum machine comes in after two minutes and it just becomes a waiting game until the final guitar solo fades out after reaching the point of tedium, and I can go on with my life. The bragging title and excellent set-up lead only to a repetition of what we’ve already heard five or six times over the course of the previous fifty minutes, but the fault lies largely in the rubbish drum machine. Would it really have been too hard to draft in one of the hired hands to play something more interesting to close the album? As evidence, the song is improved on live recordings with Nick Mason handling the drum beat and Gilmour’s indulgent solo being allowed to properly run its course, without feeling stunted and unsatisfied, as it does at the end of this mediocre release.

        ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ is probably the least essential item in your Pink Floyd collection, especially as some of the best songs appear on the excellent live album ‘Pulse,’ as well as the rather less excellent live album ‘The Delicate Sound of Thunder.’ Gilmour’s Pink Floyd is little more than a shambolic money-making exercise for a man whose solo career was faring only adequately, and it’s a shame that 1994’s ‘Division Bell’ is the only effort the band made in remedying this problem and maintaining their credibility. The best songs on here can be found elsewhere, while the worst (‘Dogs of War’ and ‘A New Machine’) should have remained on the cutting room floor. To address the all-so-important debate I mentioned earlier, Waters’ ‘The Final Cut’ is probably better than ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason,’ though both show a band in a decade of unmistakable decline.

        The only Pink Floyd album that’s probably less appealing is the studio disc of 1969’s ‘Ummagumma,’ which is really, really terrible and even something of an embarrassment for those involved. A momentary lapse of reason by a young and stupid band, before they became old and rich and should have known better. By 1987, there were plenty of bands imitating the Pink Floyd sound and achieving far greater results than this.

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          10.08.2005 16:13
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          An album by the greatest rock band of all time

          As I have been off the anti-depressants, I have been doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things – creative writing, going into town, walking all around our local area. It has been a liberating few weeks! As I have been feeling especially creative, I have found myself listening more and more to my favourite band – Pink Floyd.

          To me, they are an amazing band. Almost thirty years since their first album came out and over twenty albums later, they are the most imaginative and versatile musical group I can think of. Their work evokes such emotional responses in me, from tracks that make me want to cry to ones that make me want to get up and strut my stuff.

          They also write wonderful lyrics which can be read effectively as stand alone poetry. Pink Floyd is made up of intelligent, well-spoken and well-educated men. (And Dave Gilmour is damn sexy, whether with long hair or as he is now!) I know the group has a reputation associated with being a stoned hippy, but a lot of that was Syd Barrett’s influence and he left in 1968. As the band has become older, their ‘drug-influenced music’ seems to have decreased. Needless to say, you can love the Floyd without doing drugs!

          I was first introduced to Pink Floyd in 1986 by my boyfriend of the time, Patrick Ferguson (who coincidentally shares the same initials as Pink Floyd!). I latched on to The Wall quite early on, with Dark Side of the Moon soon becoming my favourite album – and it still is. A few years on, I had thirteen albums of theirs on tape. Now I am trying to get them all on CD – hence a fairly recent purchase of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, an album I only previously owned on cassette.

          This album was released in 1987, when the group consisted of David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright – so not only post Syd, but also post Roger Waters. The CD lasts just over fifty-one minutes and has ten tracks on it, the longest being eight minutes forty-five seconds. Pink Floyd are not known for their brevity! If it needs saying, they will take whatever time is necessary to say it in – and good for them!

          A Momentary Lapse of Reason is a good album, but it pales against their greats – not only The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, but in my opinion, it is also inferior to Wish You Were Here, The Final Cut and Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Whereas many of their albums affect you with every track, Momentary Lapse (for short!) can pass you by somewhat and is ideal for relaxing to or to play in the background.

          This is epitomized in the opening track – Signs of Life – an instrumental over four minutes long that is perfect for listening to in a darkened room. I equate Floyd with this kind of listening pleasure. Much of their work can relax you to an almost trance-like state and I find it wonderful therapy for clearing your head of the unwanted ills of the modern world.

          However, the second track here – Learning to Fly – is my favourite. As usual, it has wonderfully poetic lyrics which deal with so much more than falling in love, the usual subject matter for music. Pink Floyd deal with deeper and darker matters of the mind – insanity, psychological influences, war, death.

          Learning to Fly even has a catchy chorus in Floyd terms, with the beautiful
          “Can’t keep my eyes from the circling sky
          Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I”

          This is the track I am usually left singing at the end of the album and I do find it to be the most memorable.

          Pink Floyd are happy to experiment with different effects in their music, stretching their range vocally and producing some amazing sounds from several instruments, especially their famous guitar work. They have a kind of theatrical feel to their albums, with sound effects being used impressively – especially on The Wall – although Momentary Lapse has fewer of these. Overall, it does seem an understated album without the big showy audio gestures.

          The album title is echoed in the chorus of One Slip, a good song but not as memorable as some of the others here. However, it is an upbeat track which contrasts well with the slow one that follows – On The Turning Away. This once again has some stirring lyrics – something that could be said about the album in general.

          Yet Another Movie is a lovely poem, but somehow seems disappointing when put to the music. This seems a common thread in the album. I find it somehow fails to live up to its promise. This is not to say the album is bad, but when compared to other work the Floyd have done, it doesn’t make the grade. Also I can happily listen to The Wall or Dark Side over and over on repeat (Something which drives my husband and kids mad!) but Momentary Lapse isn’t as playable.

          Strangely enough, on the tracks where the lyrics are few (such as A New Machine), the music seems more imaginative and creative. But there is still nothing to really compare with Dark Side’s The Great Gig in the Sky.

          So overall, this is a good album and worth getting if you are a die-hard Floyd fan like me, who wants Dave Gilmour’s babies. But if you’re a more casual fan, you’d be better off buying one of their more famous and more commercial albums.

          You should be able to pick it up easily from any music store or online at Amazon for £8.99 or look out for bargains on Ebay. You’ll find though that Floyd albums still sell well after four decades at the top and you’ll be lucky to find any on the bargain shelves.

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            17.07.2000 21:06
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            The first post Roger Waters album and not really a great favourite of mine. Dave Gilmour takes over the vocals and much of the songwriting,employs a fair bit of outside assistance, and produces a competent but not a classic album with a couple of really good tracks,"learning to fly" and "one slip". The remaining eight tracks are, with the exception of the rather grim "dogs of war" listenable but not particularly memorable. there is an air of melancholy to the whole album with Gilmour`s lyrics being a bit depressive. This really comes over as more of a Dave Gilmour project than a Pink Floyd one, and is a little disappointing as a result.

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        • Product Details

          Disc #1 Tracklisting
          1 Signs Of Life
          2 Learning To Fly
          3 Dogs Of War
          4 One Slip
          5 On The Turning Away
          6 Yet Another Movie
          7 Round And Around
          8 New Machine
          9 Terminal Frost
          10 New Machine (1)
          11 Sorrow