The last in Pink Floyd's series of 1970s film-inspired works, OBSCURED BY CLOUDS, like much of the band's music, has a cinematic feel. In retrospect, however, the album sounds like a warm-up for--or even a collection of high-quality outtakes from--Floyd's next and greatest record, DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. The opening title track is the sort of proto-ambient music that Pink Floyd helped pioneer and, with its spooky slide guitar, sounds uncannily like some of Eno's work with U2. After another instrumental, the album takes a more traditional, song-based turn and the next seven tunes cover a dizzyingly diverse array of styles.
There is stomping, Grand Funk Railroad-style hard rock and gentle ballads like "Stay" and "Burning Bridges" (which recalls Hendrix's "Little Wing"). "Childhood's End," a funky psychedelic number, sounds like a work-in-progress version of DARK SIDE's "Time." David Gilmour, especially, is on top form. Whether creating Robert Fripp-esque soundscapes or blistering Clapton-style blues solos, Gilmour always plays for the song, effortlessly walking the thin line between guitar hero and ensemble musician. Throughout, the band weaves a beautiful, yet decidedly un-flashy, tapestry of sound that makes for a subtle, varied, and ultimately essential Pink Floyd album.
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