The Endless River: Floydian Soundscapes

Indulging in the bewitching soundscapes of Pink Floyd 20 years after…The Endless River should leave no one indifferent. It has been so many years since the fans last savored the band’s High Hopes and Co., and finally the much-awaited revelation is here.

The English band that had shaped Progressive Rock in the 1970s took a long break since their last album, The Division Bell. Many things have happened ever since, including the painful fact that Richard Wright whose imprint had electrified albums like The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Meddle, has passed away. Earlier in the 1980s, Roger Waters had left the band in a move that, to many, meant the end of Pink Floyd. It was not the case, even though his departure marked a before-and-after.

Gilmour’s tunes are as sweet as ever, his solos are mature and hypnotizing. Mason is perfect, if somewhat discrete. Together, they offer a full spectrum of sounds that range from their early psychedelic feel and all the way to New Age and even jazzy flavours. These are two legendary gentlemen that still rock. Gilmour is generous to the fans, his music seems to flow effortlessly and is unmistakably his.

The video tracks that come with the iTunes album are an extraordinary plus…where else can you see the last recording sessions of Richard Wright?

But there is one thing that I do not like about The Endless River: it’s not intriguing. Musically, it’s a triumph; conceptually, not so. It lacks the ‘landscape’ quality of tracks like Echoes, the explosive genius of ‘The Trial’, the intensity of ‘Time’. Moreover, the lyrics and song titles are a bit cheesy. Gilmour and Mason are first class musicians, but it takes Waters (as in, Roger Waters) for an album to become epic. Nevertheless, it’s not fair to bring Waters into the picture now.

Gilmour and Mason, masterful as they are, show exceptional ‘craftsmanship’ proper of their age and their experience, their music is carefully composed with little or no room for whims or spontaneity. The best part is that you can always forget about this review, play The Endless River, and surrender to the current.

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Explosive Cartoon on the Holocaust Memorial Day

Political cartoons have always been capable of inciting several controversies and even led to marches of protest and violence in some cases (like the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad). The justification ‘package’ has always been readily available: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of press.

The newest case cannot resort to these excuses because it messes with one of the global taboos that no one wants to touch: anti-Semitism. This time the author of the cartoons is the legendary Gerald Scarfe (famous for the animations and graphics he did for Pink Floyd’s The Wall). Scarfe ventured a cartoon that caused all hell to break loose: it shows a ruthless Netanyahu building the Israeli apartheid wall over the bodies of Palestinian civilians, with the title ‘Israeli Elections: Will Cementing Peace Continue’?

This sounds purely political, where does ‘anti-Semitism’ fit into the picture? Well, two things: first, it was published on the Holocause Memorial Day (bad coincidence?) and, second, it was interpreted by the Jewish lobby(s) as alluding to the blood libel attributed to the Jews (ritual murder of kids for Jewish rituals), a horrible medieval accusation that lacked (and still lacks) any evidence.

The interesting part is how Robert Murdoch pathetically ‘washed his hands’ from the ‘crime’ of Scarfe: “Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times. Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon.” I say ‘interesting’ because his reaction was the exact opposite to that of the Danish newspaper that refused to apologize over Prophet Muhammad’s cartoon (with a bomb in his head, as a terrorist, also attached below) on the grounds of freedom of expression. It has to be remembered that fostering Islamophobia is not -yet- a crime or a taboo.

Anyway, and regardless of what I think of Netanyahu and the Israeli government, I share the cartoon because, Holocaust and Blood Libel apart, it is an interesting case on the far-from-resolved clash between freedom of expression and respect for different religious, ethnic and racial groups.

Will cementing peace continue
Prophet Muhammad's cartoon