Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Pink Floyd

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Review by Gary Hill

It’s amazing how divisive one CD can be. This album is a real bone of contention amongst Pink Floyd fans. Those who are Roger Waters fanatics consider this sacrilege and think it should not bear the name “Pink Floyd” at all. There are others who think it’s one of the best albums the band ever produced. Well, I personally like Roger Waters a lot, but I also think this is a great album. Of course, I’m also a huge Yes fan – and that means I’m used to having members of my favorite group disagreeing with one another and thinking that a release isn’t official because they aren’t on it.

The truth of the matter is, you’ve still got Rick Wright and Nick Mason here. David Gilmour – hmmm – OK, you are right he’s not an original member of the band. He’s been on nearly every single real Pink Floyd release, though and his guitar sound is such a part of the vintage Floyd that I can’t imagine why anyone would consider him not “real Pink Floyd.” The truth is, this is a great disc. Roger Waters may not be on it (Gilmour handles the vocals and Tony Levin was recruited for the bass duties) but it can stand up with any of the great Pink Floyd discs of the 1970’s.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Signs Of Life
This instrumental starts gradually with “signs of life” in the form of waves hitting a dock or boat – or at least that’s what it sounds like – holding the first portion of the track. Keyboards come in after a time. At first they are pretty but then a more dark atmosphere enters here and there. Other sound effects join and as the music becomes more melodic some of that darkness (at least the ominous tones) goes away. The rest of the group join a little before the three minute mark but this still doesn’t rise up fully. Instead this remains a moody piece that reminds me of Wish You Were Here.

Learning To Fly
Here we get one of the more well known tracks off this disc. It fires out with the distinctly heavy David Gilmour dominated Pink Floyd sounds. It’s slow moving but also quite potent. They drop it mid-track to an ambient section laced with sound clips of radio traffic. Then it comes back to the song proper after a short burst of a guitar solo.

The Dogs Of War
The feeling on this is dark and ominous. It calls to mind both “One of These Days” and “Welcome to the Machine.” Growling sounds are merged with an industrial (think heavy machine slamming down in a mechanized pattern) rhythm. There is a rather symphonic element here, too – but more in the effect, not the instrumentation. The keyboards really dominate this providing the main backing for David Gilmour’s vocal line. Around the half way mark they power it out for a smoking guitar solo (bringing in a bit of an Animals feeling). Then female backing vocals are added and we get a saxophone solo following that – both of these bringing references to other periods of the band’s musical history. They drop it back to the earlier segment to carry forward – with a bit of extra energy brought to the table.  Tuned percussion is the last thing heard and carries us into the next number.

One Slip
This comes straight out of “The Dogs of War” and twists more towards sound effects dominated weirdness at times. We get a return of the tuned percussion and then they build upon this until they reform the track with another guitar oriented sound. More “cheery” than anything we’ve heard so far there is a feeling to this one that seems more like something from a David Gilmour solo album. This is a strong number and represents a change of texture from a lot of the rest of the album. That makes it a nice slice of variety even if it might not have the same power and prowess (in terms of mystery and atmosphere) that a lot of the rest of the disc has. You can really hear Tony Levin on the latter half of this number.

On The Turning Away
Here we get a pretty and moody acoustic guitar based ballad. This is a powerful number that is without question trademark Pink Floyd. They add intensity and layers of sound as they carry forward. It becomes a hard rocking jam (very much in keeping with the sound of The Wall) for a short time mid-track. A wall of voices serves to fill out the sound later and then they take it back to The Wall for a guitar solo section. This movement eventually serves as the extended outro.

Yet Another Movie/Round And Around
The first movement of this track is a moody keyboard and effects driven section. This portion is instrumental. Tony Levin makes another distinctive appearance as this powers up. Then they shift it out for the vocals. It’s a rather textural, but still rocking musical motif. David Gilmour gets a tasty slow motion solo. The track is intensified even more a little before the four minute mark and Gilmour takes us out for another solo – this one more scorching. They drop it back down to the vocal segment and continue on from there. After the vocals they move out into an instrumental movement that’s trademark Pink Floyd and laced with soundbites. Then they work it into a different movement that’s quite a change. This gives way to a drop down to very atmospheric musical textures. They take that to a fade out to end it.

A New Machine (Part 1)
This is a short cut (a little over a minute and a half). It is essentially a pairing of David Gilmour’s voice with keyboards that simulate his voice. It’s unusual, but definitely Pink Floyd.

Terminal Frost
I’m going to make an unusual statement here. This instrumental really conveys what this CD is about better than anything else here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not one of the strongest cuts here. More than any other piece of music on the album, though it combines all the elements without giving more weight to one or another. David Gilmour’s guitar, Rick Wright’s keys, Tony Levin’s bass/stick and Nick Mason’s percussion all seem to have equal sway here. We get both harder rocking sounds and mellower motifs. It has plenty of the trademark Pink Floyd sound effects and loops. There is a wailing saxophone solo. This might not be the standout cut, but (other than the fact that there are no vocals) if you want a single track encapsulation of the sounds of this work, this would be the one.

A New Machine (Part 2)
At quite a bit less than a minute in length, this piece continues and expands the track that preceded “Terminal Frost,” thus creating a book end effect.

Much of this song has a bombastic (albeit understated) texture that feels like it really could have been an outtake from The Wall. There is one mellower and moodier section of vocals and a dramatic spacey instrumental placed in the midst of this. It’s one of the coolest pieces of music on show here and a great disc closer.

Return to the
Pink Floyd Artist Page
Return to the
David Gilmour Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./