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Pink Floyd: Obfusc/ation

Doug Collette By

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Lavishly designed and annotated packages on the order of Pink Floyd's The Early Years (Sony-Legacy, 2016) would be meaningless if the enclosures didn't so warrant the concepts. But the fact of the matter is content on the high order of Obfusc/ation 1972 demands treatment comparable to a precious books in an extensive library. The set, one of six now available separately after being originally released as part of a set, stands on its own terms as a piece of history as much as a reflection on the band's past.

In fulfillment of a commission, Pink Floyd wrote and recorded Obscured by Clouds (Harvest-EMI, 1972) as music for the film La Valle, in a style, as essayist Mark Blake observes so astutely, 'more linear' than their previous studio records, such as Ummagumma(Harvest-EMI, 1969). Indeed, the experimentalism of those early records-and this title song-is tempered to surround structured material such as "Stay," the contrast of which is all the more vivid when hearing the second of the two cd's Live at Pompeii: consisting of the forward thinking likes of "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," it's still clear, at least in retrospect, how the band progressed to Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest-EMI, 1973), then beyond, almost in a logical extension of this music.

When playing the ancient amphitheater in Italy, Pink Floyd was able to eschew the pyrotechnics of their stage production they had developed for use around this time (which, as shown in the other concert clips included, seem altogether quaint compared to latter day techniques). To a great degree, Antoine Maben's 'director's cut' rightly allows the landscape to provide the backdrop for the deeply ambient likes of "Echoes;" the band's own lack of stage presence (t-shirts, jeans and stoic visages rule the day), however, invites the video manipulation that occasionally looks contrived. And it's odd the audio to the film is hardly so all-encompassing as the otherwise enhanced audio in Obfusc/ation.

Printed content that accompanies the audio and video material so scrupulously presented within the 5.5" by 7.5 hardbound book cover here includes mini-replications of posters and handbills that evoke the times in an arch manner indeed: co-billing of The Floyd with proto-punkers Slade is only slightly less laughable than witnessing the camaraderie so obvious within the quartet in their days recording the music herein. Given the latter-day rancor between them, shots of guitarist David Gilmour and bassist Roger Waters amusing themselves together and conducting co-interviews with the press will surely bring a rueful smile or two.

After summarizing the course of events involved in her research, compilation and technical prep (including remix and remaster as well as 5.1 sound) of this archive material, Lana Topham offers the caveat "It is crucial to preserve and maintain the recorded performances of our iconic artists for future generations" a disclaimer (sic) that should be included on any such exhaustive project as this. However, it may never apply more aptly than to Pink Floyd's The Early Years and Obfusc/ation.

Track Listing: CD 1: Obscured By Clouds - Obscured By Clouds; When You’re In; Burning Bridges; The Gold It’s In The... ; Wot’s...Uh The Deal; Mudmen; Childhood’s End; Free Four; Stay; Absolutely Curtains. CD 2: Live At Pompeii - Careful With That Axe, Eugene; Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun; One Of These Days; A Saucerful Of Secrets; Echoes ; Careful With That Axe, Eugene (Alternative Take) DVD / Blu-ray - Recording of Obscured By Clouds, Soundtrack for the movie ‘La Vallee’ – Wot’s... Uh The Deal; Pop Deux Documentary; Brighton Dome, 29 June 1972: Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun ; Careful With That Axe, Eugene; Roland Petit Pink Floyd Ballet: Actualités Méditerranée;. JT Nuit: Les Pink Floyd; JT 20H: Pink Floyd at soundcheck; Journal de Paris: Dancers and Pink Floyd performing + David Gilmour Interview; Poitiers – Autour Du Passage Des Pink Floyd ; Live At Pompeii: Careful With That Axe, Eugene ; A Saucerful Of Secrets; One Of These Days; Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun; Echoes.

Personnel: David Gilmour: vocals, guitar; Nick Mason: drums; Roger Waters: bass, vocals; Richard Wright: keyboards, vocals.

Title: Obfusc/ation | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Sony Music

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